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Wildlife Tour Itineraries
Falling into the arms of nature is a great way to heal and rejuvenate for people of all ages, looking for a bonding with the countryside and the excitement of wildlife, pushing aside little difficulties of early morning treks or else crouching in the underbrush! So, you could get on board the `Roar of the Wild Holiday Package’ in the Tamil Nadu sector!
The first destination would be the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, located in Kanchipuram district, a delightful retreat dotted by islands of mangroves, evergreen scrub and thorn forest. The sanctuary mangroves create a floating habitat for the migratory birds, resting, sheltering and breeding on partially submerged trees. The place is like a bit of a park, open to everyone for a lazy evening stroll, but with a treasure of birds around. You can look for the white ibis, Asian spoonbill, grey heron, grey pelican, rosy pelican, sandpiper, night heron and cormorant.
You could take a short break in Kodaikanal which has secretive mountain paths, mist and bramble, hedges full of sunflowers, gardens full of roses, placid lakes,and a treasure trove of discoveries. These hills are alive in flora and fauna and you need to slow your inner rhythms to appreciate them completely. Around the Kodai Lake, you could begin with Coaker’s Walk offering impressive views of the valley, and on misty days the sweeping walk has a mystical aura. You may have a steaming` masala tea’ or home-made chocolates at one of the stalls here. It would be interesting to take a trek on the Uthamapalayam Forest Range, moving through dense forests and tasting the wildlife adventure.
Mannavannur is an hour’s drive from Kodai and the town just over a thousand homes is surrounded by an enigmatic countryside, Rolling Meadows, pine forests and hills. This is one of the last high-altitude grasslands left in the Palanis, enclosing a lake in the midst shining like a sparkling gem! Check out the Kundar Falls and panoramic views from Poompara village on the way!
Further on, the Palani Hills themselves hold the promise of fresh air, the sounds of nature, thick jungles, interesting hikes, a serene lake and wildlife and birds. The Shola forests here are tropical, temperate and montane grasslands, the last one being in the upper reaches. There is a Bison Wells Jungle Lodge which has a watering hole, attracting a congregation of bisons during the early hours of the morning, ergo, being the imaginative name. The valley below the Lodge has a charming lake, which tourists can have to themselves, and the hills that rise on the opposite bank are covered with thick shoals. Stroll down the lake and watch the reflection of the hills and the setting sun glisten on the surface of the water. Often you would see a sambhar walk out of the forest on the opposite side of the bank for a drink. The lake always has some grebes on it, and red wattled lapwings nest on the shores and keep calling out to their companions. At Bison Wells, you can go out on hikes in the surrounding jungles on the slopes of the hills. The alternative is to laze around in the sit-out with some reading material in hand and gaze at the quiet picturesque scenery around you on the `Roar of the Wild’ Holiday Package!
Cradled by the Palani Hills, the Elephant Valley is spread out over the edge of a reserve forest and more than elephants, it offers crisp, clean air, people who take things slowly, more birds than you can count and more trees than the eye can scan. The eco-lodge is like a cup of manna for the curious traveller. Old fashioned village houses, bushes thickly covered with hibiscus and horses grazing in a large open space are a beautiful throwback to some older world, but the stream that passes through the resort clinches it.
You may move on to the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary that runs through Parambikulam and Ernakulam and hosts the tiger, leopard, elephant and gaur as well as the nilgiri langur, the lion-tailed macaque, the great pied hornbill and many birds. Top Slip is the main tourist area and coach safaris, nature walks and forest treks are arranged to get a view of this enthralling stretch. If you move down further to Conoor, you could embark on the Nilgiri rail, which is a slow-motion, toy-sized version of a train journey against hilly, lush picturesque backdrops and across bridges strung at daredevil altitudes. The view is a constant play of vistas, thickly forested hills, breathtaking plunges, leafy walls carved out of mountains, wildflowers, streams…. and between Coonoor and Ooty, there is a neat weave of tea plantations with protective silver oaks standing upright. On bridges, you can look down and see the rough-hewn ends of the wooden sleepers sticking out of the tracks and then the sheer drop below.
Continue with the Red Hills in the Nilgiri Biosphere where lakes are abundant, the forests magnificent, the foliage dense, the air pure, small rivulets dance by and flowers bloom. After going on a hike or trek, you could mix around with Nilgiri tribes, called the Todas to gain an insight into their lives. Primarily cattle breeders, they would barter ghee and butter for grain in the old days. Their semi-rounded bamboo and cane huts, revered long-horned buffaloes, typical shawls and jewellery, songs and legends, and customs for respect towards the elderly, are absolutely fascinating on this `Roar of the Wild’ Holiday Package!
Move on to the Mukurthi National Park held by the Mukurti Peak Towers, as the Sanctuary houses thick pine and shola forests, dotted with jewel-like lakes. One of these lakes is formed by the Parson’s Dam on a stream, the air around which is clean, but with a lingering smell of pines. Acres and acres of rhodododendron and pine forests swirl with hiking trails, sparkling streams and falls, and interspersed with open grasslands. Several treks are possible in the area. Sand Mound a large area of grassland surrounded by a pine forest is a short, half-hour trek away. A longer trek is possible to the Mukurthi Earth Dam and you can pack food and water and follow the trail to Kuru Mund and Mudi Mund, which are on the other side of Mukurthi Peak, The Park is famous for spotting the Nilgiri tahr.
Further on there is the Mudumalai National Park, located on the lower reaches of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and considered as India’s best elephant country. There are mini-bus safaris inside the park offering ample opportunities to view wildlife as the rides go on specially laid-out roads called `game roads’ which usually pass close to grazing areas, salt licks and water holes, and offer excellent views of the forest. Most of the common wildlife, such as deer, gaur, elephant and langur, can be seen at close range. Jungle rides on elephants are also available and you may visit the Theppakadu Elephant Camp which has elephants that work in the forest, log timber and do other forest activities. Take a look at the Moyar river that meanders out of the Nilgiris and emerges in the dry jungles of Bandipur- Mudumalai, where it passes through a spectacular formation of hills referred to as the Moyar Gorge or `Mysore Ditch’. On the Bandipur side, this can only be reached by a jeep safari or trekking but on the Mudumalai side; even bus safaris can take you to see the gorge. Also, at Mudumalai, a watchtower offers an awesome view of the gorge and the Moyar Falls, the latter being a fabulous sight in the rainy Season. The Sigur Plateau harbours extensive scrub and bamboo forests, and with the Nilgiris looming above, there are some incredible views to be had at the Bison Valley Viewpoint on the Mysore-Ooty Road from this end. It is an excellent birding and walking country, though a guide would be required to keep a watch on elephants!
Most of the sanctuary spots and adjoining areas would have photographs, carvings, posters, magnets with specialities of the areas, curios of deities, some antiques and artefacts, and other clothing necessities in the resort or the nearby markets.
The packages would mostly be inclusive of the stay and meals, Most of the packages are inclusive of stay and meals, sometimes customised according to the needs of the tourists, besides the provision of a few eateries in the markets where you can get by with some foodstuff, snacks, savouries and sweets.
October to March would be the best time to visit these Parks so as to be able to get the optimum advantage of the outdoors, though Mudumalai may be closed due to forest fires from February to April. However,in case you just want a respite from the grind of routine life, it would be worthwhile taking a chance any time of the year, as you could get a fantastic view of the parks from your indoor lodges, and spend some quality- time in the green environs, on this `Roar of the Wild’ Holiday Package!