Are you planning a vacation to Periyar National Park in Kerala? Here is everything that you would require to plan an exceptional vacation here. For starters, Periyar National Park is a protected region located near Thekkady of Idukki district in Kerala. This is a very famous tiger and elephant reserve.
Flora and Fauna
This park is filled with grasslands, river ecosystem, moist deciduous forests, tropical evergreen forests, orchids and numerous flowering plants. There are more than 171 species of grass in this region. You can also find fire resistant grasslands here. Notable trees in this region are rosewood, jamun, mangoes, sandalwood, sacred fig, kino tree, bamboos, banyans and others. This is also the only place where south Indian conifer and gloriosa lily grow.
Periyar National Park is one of the top 6 wildlife sanctuaries in South India; and has around 35 mammals and 266 bird species. Top migrant birds to spot are brahminy kite, Sri Lanka frogmouth, Oriental darter, spider hunter, black-necked stork and others.
There are 45 species of reptiles including turtles, snakes and lizards. Frogs and toads are the only amphibians in this region. There are around 40 species of fishes in the rivers and lakes inside the park. 160 species of butterflies are present inside the park including the largest butterfly of south India, Southern birdwing.
Regions inside the park
Mangala Devi temple region – This region holds an ancient Hindu temple of Mangala Devi. Rituals and celebrations take place once during a year.
Pullumedu – The name can be loosely translated as grassland. This is geographically, a grassland overlooking the Sabari Mala Ayyappa temple. If you visit during the harvest festival of January (January 15th), you can spot a glittering star in the sky, which is assumed to be the deity in the spiritual form.
Lake Region –This region is famous for river rafting. Bamboo rafting starts very early in the morning. You can spot many animals in this region. Boat cruise, boat rides and birdwatching are common here.
Cardamom hills –The hill is covered with cardamom plantation. You can find jeep safari through the hills. This region of the park can be visited from outside too.
Forest region – This is the thick forest region of the park. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary region is famous for forest trekking.
Best time to visit Periyar National park
The summer starts in March and ends in May. Summers are quite hot and humid in the park than the surrounding region. The small water bodies inside the park dries during summer and animals visit the lake to quench their thirst. Thus, it is very easy to spot animals near the lake. Summer evening safari is the best time to spot numerous animals.
Monsoon is the most beautiful season for sightseeing. All water activities and safaris will be restricted or closed during this season. Spotting animals during this season is very hard. Monsoon starts in June and ends in September. The park receives mild to moderate rainfall during monsoon season.
Winter starts in October and ends in March. This is the lush season of this region. Most of the flowering plants will be at bloom during this season. Spotting migration birds and animals with their little ones are much easier during winter season. Best time to visit the park is from December to April.
Safari in Periyar National park
Safaris available inside the park are boat cruise, jeep safari and elephant safari.
Boat cruise is the best for spotting herbivorous animals and large mammals. Each boat cruise stretches for 30 minutes. Every day, boat cruises start at 7:25 am, 9:15 am, 11:15 am, 1:30 pm and 4 pm. The service is provided in first-come, first-serve basis.
Elephant safari is the best to enjoy an exotic time here. You can watch carnivorous animals at close quarters. Do you know that the tiger is afraid of elephants? Elephant safaris start at 6 in the morning and ends by 5 in the evening.
If you are looking for deep jungle trips, jeep safaris are the best. There are two types of jeep safaris in the park. The daytime safaris take place in the morning and evening. The night safaris start at 11 in the night and ends by 3 in the morning. This is the best safari for spotting nocturnal animals.
Best places to stay
Kumily is the nearest town to the park. It is just 4 km away from the park. You can find many boutique hotels, resorts, wildlife themed resorts and other luxury accommodations in Kumily. You can also find many exclusive hotels in Thekkady junction and in the Kumily Thekkadi road. Thekkady also holds many budget hotels.
There are lodges and government hostels inside the park. The facilities might be primitive but you can enjoy a unique stay. The demand for these accommodations is very high, especially during tourism season. Plan your trip and pre-book your accommodation as soon as possible.