When you read guide books, they will tell you that the most beautiful part of Kerala is an area known as Wayanad. Located in the North East of the state, it’s home to some of the largest tracks of jungle where you can still see wildlife including elephants, tigers, birds, snakes, deer, and a multitude of other creatures. After a hectic schedule of temples and palaces, we thought this would be a great place to unwind and take in some of the more natural sights of India. We booked our cab and set off in hope of a relaxing ride to paradise, but fate was not planning on letting us get there as easy as that…
As we showed the cabbie the map of where we wanted to go, we were informed that when he was in our country, he’d look at a map, in his country, he knew where he was going. This instantly had all of our backs up a bit as we tried to explain that there were multiple ways of getting there and we wanted a different route than we wanted to take. Maybe chock it up male ego, or maybe just lost in translation, but he assured us he was right and we would get there for the price quoted and we were going his way.
Google Maps had showed our route at just under three hours door to door. When we pulled in just over seven hours later, the relief on all of our faces was intense, we were all so ready to put the drive behind us. While in the taxi, the ride had a whole list of emotions flowing through us all: anger, frustration, and, finally, acceptance. But, I must add that we had some experiences in that ride that we never would have gotten had we just gone the right way. The highlight was definitely seeing the wild elephants as we drove through the nature reserve. Not only did we see elephants, but the first one we saw even charged at the cab and required a high speed escape! This totally sold me on the drive, even if the other two were still choked about it.
While in Wayanad, we tried to embrace nature as much as possible. We took a 12 km hike up and down one of the tallest peaks in Wayanad, and were told of all the wildlife we “could” see on the trek. While we accepted that seeing wildlife is a luck of the draw kinda thing, the two small birds we encountered did leave us a little underwhelmed on the wildlife side of the excursion. However, the views and exercise were both tremendous.
We also took a morning safari in a jeep through Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary hoping to increase our chances of a wildlife encounter. I think the 3rd or 4th time the guide stopped to point out another peacock, my hopes of getting lucky with the wildlife viewing had faded. He only pointed out another couple birds here and there, and a monkey in a far off tree, so when that very, very bumpy ride came to an end and we were able too return to the resort, I’m pretty sure we were all relieved.
In truth, the rest of Wayanad never got as exciting as that initial cab ride. We saw some interesting animals, including a couple deer at the hotel and world’s largest species of squirrel just outside it. And as mighty and amazing as you can imagine a large squirrel being, I think the disappointment of not seeing anymore elephants, let alone any tigers or bears, kinda out weighed a squirrel. All in all, it is definitely a beautiful area, however one that if I ever visited again, would choose to go just after the rainy season when the jungle wouldn’t be quite as dry and dusty as it was for us and skip the add-ons of jungle excursions in favour of keeping eyes peeled while on the road.