Gavi Eco Tourism in Periyar Forest, Periyar Wildlife Reserve
The Journey: Chennai to Pondy, Kumbakonam, Tanjavur, Karaikudi, Madurai, Periyar, Gavi, Vagaman, Vembanad, Kochi, Wayanad, Coorg, Mysore, Yelagiri, and back to Chennai
We got up with no rush as Gavi was not too far off, 40 Km, finally departing at 9:45 AM. Made it quickly to the KFDC office in Vandi Periyar town, but it took 30 minutes getting entry permits, completing registration etc. At the gate we had to repeat registration, another 15 minutes. It was a beautiful drive into the dense protected forest, on 2nd gear, and at 20 Km/Hr. The first 5-7 Km were Ok, but the next 15 Km or so were on a severely broken and battered road. We made very labored and slow progress, zigzagging between breaks and pot holes in the road, and finally reached about 1:00 PM. Had lunch on arrival after another lengthy registration. Got room after lunch around 2:30 PM. Then from 3:30 until 5:00 PM we went on a row boat ride, with our guide rowing.
It was a beautiful afternoon and another 2 hours by the lake chasing and photographing birds. Dinner was at 7:30 PM followed by bonfire. It started to rain heavily soon after the bonfire was lit, and this delayed our departure from the dining area. Finally we braved it using our umbrellas and torch (none were provided but luckily we were equipped), through driving rain, to get to our tent 100 meters away. We slept early about 10:30 PM, with really nothing to do marooned in our tent, raining and pitch dark outside.
Day11: Gavi Eco Tourism to Vagamon
Vagamon Tea Estates, Paragliding at Vagamon Meadows, Kurisumala Hill, Church and Ashram
Since our departure was to be delayed, the mini bus tour being in the morning, we decided that we couldn’t make it to Kumarakom. We decided to go to Vagamon among the tea estates not too far away but outside the forest reserve (which itself would take a couple of hours to exit).
First from 6-9 AM we were driven in a mini bus up and down the battered forest road leading from Gavi to KFDC secondary resort (no visitors were staying here) about 30 minutes away in the direction away from the gate, and a visit to a dam, where sometimes wildlife can be seen near the water. After breakfast we were taken for a walk up the ridge leading to a view point for Sabari Malai Temple. That took us till 10:30 AM. We checked out and departed at 11:00. We were out of the forest reserve and at Vandi Periyar for lunch at 1:00 PM. Just short of Vandi Periyar we bought honey at a honey keeper farm and shop, and then coffee at a 100 year old roaster. 3 x 100 gram packs, one with spices (cardamom ++). After lunch it took us from 1:30 till 4:30 PM to get to Vagamon, all thru tea estates and excellent vistas and views. Once there we could not get a place, all the decent properties were booked, so finally we stayed at a church guest house which we accidentally came across. Budget rooms for Rs.500/- for the night. Tomorrow we head off early to Kumarakom, to try and get in before 12 Noon and onto a houseboat for a 2 day house boat stay, directly. Again hoping for the best as we had no booking and no knowledge of where or how to go about getting a boat.