Eco Tourism Kerala
Eravikulam, Chinnar, Parambikkulam National Parks
Eco Tourism Kerala should be a runaway success. Kerala has 13 wild life sanctuaries, five national parks, ever green rain forests, mountains, beautiful lakes and numerous rivers. Despite of this diverse geography rich in flora and fauna, eco tourism circuit is far from reality in Kerala.
Eco Tourism Kerala has not developed to its true potential in Kerala, though the tourism authorities are trying their best. Silent Valley National Park is a very popular wild life destination
But, in a way Kerala tourism is parallel to the concept of eco-tourism like green and natural beauty. The Western Ghats region in Kerala can be projected as eco-tourism zone in the true sense.
Recently MSN India's article on 10 eco-resorts of India features two resorts from Kerala, Anappara resort, Wayanad and Banasura Hill resort Wayanad.
Anappara (Elephant rock) is a small, 5 room guest house with the luxury of no TV, News Paper or phones with nature in its truest form. They generate their own electricity, source water from natural springs, recycle the waste, practise minimal plastic usage and employ local labour and services. This is a perfect example of eco tourism in Kerala.
Banasura Hill Resort, located at an altitude of 3500 ft, is the Asia's largest earth resort, built from mud and recycled wood. The resort is nestled on a 35 acre eco farm in the midst of a forest and close to indigenous tribal hamlets.
Is Gavi in Pathanamthitta district is the most famous eco-tourism destination in Kerala?
Some may not agree; but it has the significant international attention, mainly from European countries. Alistair International listed Gavi among the leading eco tourism centres and one of the must see places in India.
Green Mansion, the forest lodge, is the only accommodation for which one has to obtain an advance booking if you want to enjoy eco tourism of Kerala here.
Tourist have to obtain passes from the state forest department to enter this eco tourism project area which offers outstanding trekking experience and camping facilities overseen by the trained local people.
Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary
Periyar the tiger reserve popularly known as Thekkady is internationally acclaimed eco-tourism spot in Kerala.
Observing the wild animals at the close quarters while cruising in the lake, if you are lucky you can spot an elephant herd or a tiger family quench its thirst, is one of the main attraction and activity in Periyar.
The boating that was called off in the wake of the mishap that drowned 45 people in September 2009 was resumed in January 2010 with five boats belonging to the Kerala forest department and the Kerala tourism department, closely overseen by the authorities and strict guidelines being enforced.
The jungle camp program is a camping facility for maximum of 30 persons at the Periyar Tiger Reserve, with active participation of local communities and members of the eco development committees.
Periyar also offer you tribal colony visits, trekking through the forests and bamboo rafting.
The bullock cart discovery is journey in the picturesque farmland of Kambam valley adjoining Periyar Tiger Reserve is another local participation for employment generation while offering a none carbon foot print travel experience to the tourist. Eco tourism of Kerala and the local involvement form a perfect partnership here.
Periyar being the International tourist destination has many resorts and accommodation facilities for the various tourist requirements and it is well connected by road.
In connection with the eco- tourism I should refer CGH's Spice Village, imagine a top class resort without no air -conditioning, television or night club but a living harmony. This is the tribal village reborn for the modern traveller.
Eravikulam National Park / Chinnar Wild Life Sanctuary
They are the other two famous destinations due to its proximity to Munnar. Periyar and Munnar are the most celebrated hill stations in Kerala. Trekking programme in the dry forests of Chinnar is highly recommended.
Trekking, rock climbing, elephant safari, wilderness camping, river cruise by rafting, wild life watching and bird watching are the main activities in the eco tourism Kerala projects.
But tourist has to be very careful and selective on the safety accepts of such activities because many such places may not have the international safety standards and expert medical help will not be available immediately due to the terrain and travel facilities.
This tells us the slow growth in eco- tourism in Kerala because most of the eco-tourism resources in this region comes under the forest department, so the private participation and development of eco- resorts in this properties are not to be expected.
The government initiative has the objective of minimum environmental impact but I can say it also has the minimum impact on the Kerala Tourism map.
Let me give you the name of some of the eco tourism Kerala projects undertaken by the Kerala government under the collaboration of forest department and tourism department.
Many of these tourist destinations are frequented by the local tourist only mainly due to the lack of infrastructure and none proximity to the known tourist destinations.
Parambikkulam Wildlife sanctuary and Others
Located in Palakkad district it is known for its luxuriant vegetation and all kind of magnificent wild life of Kerala. Offering trekking, night halt packages, jungle camps and day packages
It is a small village at the foothill of Western Ghats in predominantly forest area with Shenduraney wild life sanctuary as the most important recourse.
Again in the forest tracts of the Western Ghats, the place is known for the majestic wild elephants and a training centre of elephants.
This wild life sanctuary in Kannur district is the northern most sanctuary in Kerala.
This recreation spot near Ponmudi, Trivandrum is on the way to Ponmudi mostly attracted by the local tourist.
Nelliampathy Large extent of cardamom plantation in this hill station with panoramic view of spice gardens. Nelliampathy has couple of decent resorts with basic amenities.
Nilambur is famous for teak plantations. Oldest teak plantation in the world named "Conolleys Plot" is situated here.
Located in Kollam district, Palaruvi waterfall is the main attraction and the nearest accommodation is Forest Guest House in Achankovil.
20 km from Thodupuzha, Idukki district this place is known for the series of 12 waterfalls over a distance of 5 km that pass through the lush green forest.
This is not a comprehensive list of eco tourism Kerala spots. There are many scattered around the state. Many of them are known locally only.