A long weekend in Kerala had us explore two of its popular destinations – Alleppey and Thekkady. The latter is located near the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, giving it a distinct culture and good accessibility from both states. Thekkady is also home to the renowned Periyar Tiger Reserve, making it a great destination for adventure and wildlife spotting! Alleppey (Alappuzha to locals) is about 138 km from Thekkady and a four-hour scenic drive through tea, rubber and cardamom plantations. This makes for a pleasant commute between these two well-loved destinations of Kerala. We spent two memorable days in each of these places and here’s how you can make the most of a long weekend in this part of India :
1. Boat ride in Periyar Lake. A massive water reserve, this lake draws visitors from far and wide. As long as spotting wild animals isn’t the only goal, boating is a pleasant and serene experience over these calm waters overlooked by rolling hills and dense jungle.
Birds perch themselves on top of these tree stumps presumably for the best views of the lake.
We caught this sunset just as the boat docked after a leisurely ride across the lake.
2. Jungle Night Patrol in the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Combine your love for animals with the adventure craving junkie in you with a late-night walk inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Only 2 teams of a maximum of 6 people each are allowed to tread into the jungle late into the night, for an encounter with its wild inhabitants and to experience a whole other side of the jungle. Each team is accompanied by two armed forest rangers.. The timings for the Jungle Night Patrol are 10 pm to 4 am, and this is an experience you will never forget.
Anti-leech socks are a must before you walk into this jungle, and for good reason. You never know what’s trying to get into your pants out there, and we found a few determined leeches stuck on the outside of our socks when we took them off after the walk. A leech bite is not the kind of memory you would want to take back from a trip, so we were glad the guides had insisted we wear these. Also make sure you’re wearing a pair of sturdy shoes that will withstand walks through swamps and rough terrain. Not a good place to have your shoes disintegrate, as some of us learned the hard way!
While we kept our eyes peeled in the dark for any signs of wildlife, we came upon this majestic 120-year-old tree.
3. Bamboo Rafting: Quite the offbeat way to experience the Periyar Lake and indulge in all the nature here. This happens inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. It begins with a hike through some of the most dense parts of the forest, where you might see a good variety of birds and animals. What follows is a three-hour ride on a bamboo raft. The raft accommodates 10 tourists at a time, always accompanied by an armed guard and 4 local guides. This begins at 8 am and ends at 5 pm, so be prepared for a long, physically demanding day.
4. Home-made chocolates of Thekkady
Many chocolate shops dot the streets of Thekkady town, and you can even watch the chocolate being made in some of these. Make sure to try out some unique flavour combos like the chilli chocolate and a few fruit & chocolate combos! They make for great gifting options as well as a sweet reminder of your getaway!
We stayed at the Carmelia Haven luxury resort our 2 days in Thekkady and it proved to be a great stay. Set amidst 55 acres of cardamom and tea plantations, it was the perfect place to relax, chill and reinvigorate ourselves.
5. Houseboating on the backwaters: The classic Kerala experience, offered in so many different ways thanks to the houseboat hub that is Alleppey. The slow pace of the houseboat soothes the most rattled urban nerves and calms the most restless souls. Once used for trade, the traditional houseboat is now a luxury experience with all the modern amenities you can think of. There are a number of companies offering luxe houseboat experience but we chose to stay with Spice Routes Luxury Cruises and I couldn’t recommend it more!
6. Canoeing through the backwaters
Owing to its intricate network of waterways cutting through villages, the canoe is the vehicle of choice for locals here. After a day or two on a houseboat, this is definitely something to take a swing at while you’re here. Gives you a closer look at the life of the locals here and is also great for bird-watching.
So these are a few of the ways you can experience Alleppey and Thekkady. Get the right mix of activity and leisure, adventure and relaxation, and you will have a highly memorable long weekend here to look back on. One that will make you want to come back for more slices of Kerala another time.