Kerala with its raw nature and intact forests is considered as a tropical Eden among the tourists and those characteristics are the reason behind most of the Kerala visits. Geographical features such as tropical climate, coastline, interspersed lakes, and mountain range, have played a major role to create Kerala with its unique species – seashores, backwaters, lush coconut trees, paddy fields, and various plantations- to thrive. The Kerala vegetation includes 3872 plants of which 900 plants have medicinal value. Tropical forest, semi-evergreen forest, west coast, and wet evergreen are types of forests in Kerala. Sanctuaries are established with the purpose of ensuring natural conditions for protecting wildlife. Relocating animals is difficult and it will affect them badly. Most of the endangered species are being protected in the sanctuaries of Kerala. Each wildlife sanctuary has its management plan. The buffer zone, core zone, and tourist zone are the zones of a sanctuary. The core zone is the portion that is highly protected for wildlife conservation and natural resources. There will be no villages inside this core zone. The buffer zone is the one next to the core zone. This part is used for eco-tourism. The tourist zone is the part where tourists and the forest department can interact. Recreational activities, cultivated land, and tribal settlement are included here. The climate and the mind-blowing sceneries make the sanctuaries best places to visit in Kerala. Some of the wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala are described below.
Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary is in the southeast part of Western Ghats – 29km distance from Trivandrum railway station. Neyyar dam is within this wildlife sanctuary. This is a safe home to varieties of animals, birds, and medicinal plants. There is a lion park inside this wildlife sanctuary. From the entrance, by boat, you can reach this lion’s safari park from where you will get an amazing view of the Neyyar dam. Try not to tease animals on your visit for keeping the decorum of their home. The nearby attraction is the Crocodile Farm started in 1977. As this farm has enough trees to cover, you can walk around comfortably. An aquarium is there with varieties of fishes. Deer park on the bank of the river has a lot of deers. Deers can roam around freely inside this forest. Elephant park nearby is part of Neyyar wildlife sanctuary. You can do trekking and boating on your visit. The pilgrims traverse through the Neyyar forest to reach Agasthyamala pilgrimage. Monday is a holiday for this wildlife sanctuary. From October to March is the appropriate time to visit this wildlife sanctuary. Trivandrum airport is the nearest airport to this wildlife sanctuary.
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
Located 50 km away from Trivandrum city which is a hilly area and has the same climate and rainfall as that of Neyyar sanctuary. This is on the catchment portion of Peppara dam which was commissioned in the year 1983. According to the climate, its temperature varies from 16 to 34 Degree Celcius. This wildlife sanctuary is open for all 12 months but the best season to visit is winter. Trekking is the main attraction for adventure-loving tourists. While trekking, neither use perfumes nor colorful clothes. Early morning and evening are the best time to visit this forest. This green fairyland with hillocks, lush eucalyptus trees, and streams is an abode of 43 types of mammals, 46 types of reptiles, 233 types of birds, 27 types of fishes, 13 types of amphibians, and also medicinal plants. Its lush green forests and the varieties of birds and animals make this sanctuary one of the main destinations for nature lovers. Elephant, deer, Nilgiri langur, tahr, bear, leopard, white-bellied treepie, small sunbird, Malabar grey, hornbill, and tiger are some of the animals and birds you can see on your visit here. Aboriginals are the tribals belonging to this area who have traditional medicinal knowledge. Trivandrum airport is the nearest airport and Trivandrum railway station is the nearest railway station to this wildlife sanctuary.
Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary
This is a perfect location for wildlife aficionados to feel nature to the fullest. Shendurney sanctuary is located in the Kollam district which allows tourists to stay in the forest during the night. The stay in a hut at night time will provide you the chance to experience wildlife from a top view, i.e., from a hut placed on a tree and the sound of forests during night time. This is formed in the year 1984. Most of the forests are covered with tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forests.
Shendurney forest includes 1257 types of astounding plants most of which are flowering plants and also the rare tree with the local name Chenkurunji. It is a romantic tree used to treat arthritis and blood pressure. This sanctuary is lying on the sides of the Shendurney river with its splendid biodiversity. Kurunthotti Top Hut, Woody Rockwood, and Idimuzhangan Nights ecotourism activities offer trekking, campfire, and boating inside the forest. There are two types of trekking – soft and hard trekking. In soft trekking, a jeep is used to travel throughout the forest to view the lush greenery. Sea walks, wet and wild, and reservoir walks are types of hard trekkings. Chilling under the waterfall after long trekking will offer you a kind of rejuvenation. Different varieties of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes are available in this sanctuary. This sanctuary is open for all 12 months, however, the best time to visit this place is between October and February. Trivandrum airport is the nearest airport and Kollam railway station is the nearest railway station to this sanctuary with a distance of 70km.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
On the side of the Periyar river in Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts, this wildlife sanctuary is situated. This is the big wildlife sanctuary in Kerala with an area of 777sq.km and is the first sanctuary in Kerala State. This sanctuary is mainly for tigers and elephants. Other than that, giant squirrels, macaques, and flying squirrels can be seen. Approximately 1800 varieties of flowering plants, 171 varieties of grasses, 143 varieties of orchids, 35 varieties of mammals, and 265 varieties of birds are there in this sanctuary according to official data. Reptiles such as viper, cobra, krait, non-poisonous snakes, and amphibians such as Malabar frog, bicolored frog, and fungoid frog are present here. Boating in the Periyar river is an option to explore the wildlife in the forest. If you are adventure-loving, you can go either for a full day or a half day bamboo rafting. Elephant safari is also a thrilling activity you can do on your visit. Bamboo huts with modern furnishing as part of eco-lodge accommodation is available for your stay. Cardamom, pepper, tea, and coffee plantations abound in this sanctuary. Mannans, Uralis, Malayarayans, Ulladans, and Mala Pandarams are tribal communities settled inside this sanctuary. You can enjoy tribal dances, which give you an idea about their culture, conducted by Eco-tourism. Biodiversity of this sanctuary make it one of the best sanctuaries in India. Nature walks, green walks, jungle scouts, and border hiking are some of the trekking programs. The nearest railway station is in Kottayam and the nearest airport is in Kochi.
Eravikulam National Park
This national park in the Idukki district is the sanctuary for the Nilgiri Tahr – spread across the Devan hills in 97 sq. km area. On your visit, you can see this mountain goats in a large number freely roaming around the hills. Other than these goats, you can see animals such as Sambar deer, Indian Muntjac, Porcupine, Nilgiri Marten, elephants, and small otters. Flycatcher, Nilgiri wood pigeon, and Nilgiri pipit are some of the inhabitants of this park. The Eravikulam park is renowned among the locals and tourists because of the Neelakurinji flower which blooms every 12 years. The next blooming is in 2030. The national park with a plethora of greenery and animals makes Munnar which is 15 km distance from this park, a misty hot spot among tourists. The echo point with misty background, green blanket surroundings, and its echo phenomena lure the visitors. This protected area has been divided into three areas. Among them, the tourism area is open for visitors to see the beauty of hills, tea plantations, and green meadows. Trekking is possible here to explore these splendid views. Soft trekking called Kurinji trail for three hours takes you through the Nilgiri Tahr tracks and Neelakurinji grassland. Cascade walk is another trekking package. This one-hour trekking offers you close-up views of shola forests and Lakkom waterfalls. This park is commissioned in the year 1975. From February to March, the national park will be closed because of the birth season. After this period, wildlife authorities record the number of new born babies. Private vehicles are not allowed in the park. Thalassery railway station is the nearest railway station and Cochin airport is the nearest airport to this national park.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary in the Idukki district is an abode of 156 varieties of butterflies, and 200 varieties of birds and animals like elephants, panthers, gaur, giant squirrel, and hanuman monkeys. The sandalwood forest near this sanctuary attracts tourists. Vibrant-colored butterflies and birds are the reasons that enchant the birdwatchers in this paradise. Different varieties of 963 flowering plants and medicinal plants used to make medicines in Allopathy and Ayurveda are here according to official data. The annual rainfall rate is comparatively low than other sanctuaries in Kerala, so it has an ecosystem with grasslands, rocks, shrubs, and deciduous regions. The rivers – Chinnar and Pamabr are the main source of water inside this sanctuary and provide a picturesque background in the wilderness. Most of the eco-tourism activities are conducted by tribal communities and the forest department. Trekking – river, cultural site, jungle trekking, tree-house stay, and camping are included in these activities. Tribal residents cultivate maize, ragi, and lemongrass inside the forests. Because of the distinctive landscape of this sanctuary, trekking lovers prefer this place. This sanctuary is open all year round, but between December and March is the suitable time to visit wildlife sanctuary as after the monsoon forests will have greenery all over which will offer you infinite energy. The machans- treetop house- are available for your stay within the forest. Solar power is used in this tree house for the equipment. Madurai airport is the nearest airport to this sanctuary and Kottayam railway station is the nearest railway station to this sanctuary.
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary
Sanctuary in Palakkad district is commissioned in 1973 between Nelliyampathi and Anamalai hills. The tiger reserve in Parambikulam has been a highly protected area to increase the population of dwindling tigers from the year 2009. Because of the abundance of greenery and biological richness, Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary which is perfect for adventurous holidays, wildlife, and romance, is an exciting and attractive place in Kerala. It is the teak plantation which was being scientifically managed is a credit to this forest. The 350 years old teak which is the oldest and tallest teak, is an attraction of this sanctuary. Four persons are needed to encircle this teak. Worships are conducted by the tribals for this teak is considered the home to celestial beings. Malasar, Muduvar, Mala malasar, and Kadar are the tribal communities of this sanctuary. Guides for safaris and trekkers are from these tribal communities. Tourists can enjoy nature life without having any restrictions that allow them to respect nature. The activities to know more about nature and indulge yourself are jungle safaris, trekking, camping, tree-top stay, view from the watchtower, and bamboo rafting. Different varieties of birds and butterflies offer excellent bird watching for visitors who are eager for bird watching. According to census data, there are 250 varieties of birds, 120 varieties of butterflies, 1000 varieties of insects, 47 varieties of fish, 61 varieties of reptiles, 16 types of amphibians, and 39 types of mammals in this sanctuary. Fishing eagles, bay owls, pigeons, kingfishers, and woodpeckers are some of the birds that can be seen. Palakkad railway station is the nearest railway station and Coimbatore airport is the nearest airport to this sanctuary.
Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary
Idukki wildlife sanctuary is in the Idukki district and around the Idukki dam. At the time of the hydropower project, most of the rainforest had been damaged and the Government decided to save the remaining forest surrounded by the dam, and the sanctuary is established in the year 1976. There is a common artificial lake as a reservoir for the three dams present in this district surrounded by lush greenery. Boating in this lake is an immense pleasure-giving experience as animals frequently come at the banks of this lake which include sambar deer, elephants, and wild dogs. Other than these animals, there are barking deer, mouse deer, bonnet macaque, Nilgiri langur, and giant squirrel. The varieties of birds who are resident here include hornbill, bee-eater, heart-spotted woodpecker, Malabar trogon, jungle fowl, kingfisher, peafowl, and bulbul. Vibrant-colored butterflies are also residing here. Trekking is possible here to explore the beauty of the forest, but you have to get permission from the department of the forest. You can visit the dams also. There are three dams in Idukki- the arch dam, Kulamavu, and Cheruthoni. Kottayam is the nearest railway station and Cochin airport is the nearest airport to this sanctuary.
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary in the Wayanad district is commissioned in 1973 and its other name is Muthanga wildlife sanctuary. Wayanad sanctuary has two sections – North Wayanad and South Wayanad. There are tea plantations between these two sections to separate them. The animals such as tiger, elephant, panther, civet cat, jungle cat, bison, wild dog, deer, and bear are the residents of this sanctuary. Reptiles like snakes and monitor lizards can be seen here. Birds like peacocks, peafowl birds, babblers, owls, cuckoos, jungle fowl, and wood pecker are some of the birds that can be seen in this sanctuary. Animals of this sanctuary and from other sanctuaries spend time in this sanctuary during the summer season. So summer season is the idealistic time to spot animals. Approximately 345 sq.km. is the area of this sanctuary. Wayanad sanctuary comes under the southern Wayanad section which has four ranges such as Kurichiat, Sulthan Bathery, Tholpetty, and Muthanga. Chedalayam waterfall is an attraction among tourists. Tholpetty and Muthanga are ecotourism centers. The tribal communities residing here are Paniyas, Adiyars, Kattunaikkans, Ooralis, and Kurichyas. They live in and around the sanctuary to keep the harmony of nature. You will get a chance to know about the cultural activities during your visit to this sanctuary. Lakkidi is the river that flows inside of this forest. The place where now the sanctuary is once upon a time was a battlefield and the battle was between Pazhassi Raja and the Britishers. The scent of eucalyptus is everywhere in the sanctuary because there are a lot of eucalyptus trees. There is a camp in this sanctuary where elephants’ babies are being given training. If you cannot walk around the sanctuary, then the jeep safari is available to give you a ride in and around the sanctuary. While trekking, try to wear dull and dark-colored dresses. Kozhikode railway station is the nearest railway station and Kozhikode airport is the nearest airport to this wildlife sanctuary.