A day at the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

The enchanting Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary takes you close to nature. Rivulets gushing through clumps of shrub. Free-roaming wild animals and exotic birds. The air is so fresh you'll feel a new person. Take a trip here on your next vacation.

Our journey from Kannur to Wayanad can best be described as mesmeric. We thought nothing could better that experience, but then our halt at a home stay on a plantation proved us wrong! It turned out to be a totally new experience for city dwellers that we were, and an enthralling one at that. We had enjoyed the journey from Kannur to Wayanad and our stay at the plantation and were now enthusiastic about our trip to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary – not knowing whether it would be worth it.

Ecotourism at Wayanad

We woke up early, fresh after a good night's sleep. We woke up to dense fog and the sound of peacocks - the young lad who brought in our coffee confirmed it was indeed peacocks.

Foggy morning

The last 48 hours had been ever so enchanting that our expectations of the next few hours were set high. And why not, we were soon to head into a wildlife sanctuary.

Muthanga & Tholpetty the two ecotourism centres in the sanctuary offer a range of activities for tourists. Entrance fee and other charges were pretty reasonable for Indian citizens, but foreign nationals were required to pay more.

Also Read Wayanad, much more than a hill station

It's been a few years so I don't remember all that was on offer, but some of the things the Forest Department made available to tourists included –
  • Jeep safari through the jungle
  • Bird watching in the early hours
  • Visit to the elephant training camp, within the sanctuary
  • Visit to a herbal garden with rare medicinal plants
  • 3 day camping in the sanctuary
  • Guided trekking programmes of varying schedules
  • Tribal folklore by actual tribal people
  • Watch towers on tree tops and concrete structures
We'd have loved the 3 day camp but were unfortunately short of time. We'd have liked a trek too, but could not find a slot to accommodate us. We gave the elephant training camp a miss, had been to one in Top-Slip. We'd have enjoyed the bird-watching (we had our own binoculars too), but then we arrived late at the sanctuary. So, we opted for the best option available to us – jeep safari.

Jeep safari in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

Taking a jeep safari proved to be a wise decision. We boarded the jeep with one thought on our minds - would we be lucky to spot free-roaming wild animals!

The people employed in the sanctuary as guides are either tribal or local villagers. They know the forest like the back of their hand. Not just that, they also recognize tell-tale signs that animals leave behind. Having them as guide is advantageous because they know exactly where to look for animals and that increases your chance of spotting wild life.

Like all wildlife sanctuaries this one too is known to have elephants, various big cats (tiger, leopard, panther etc), bears, guars, many species of deer, wild dogs, foxes, reptiles, birds etc; and we hoped to sight at least one of these creatures, if not more.

Picturesque sanctuary

The dirt roads offered a bumpy ride. The jeep wasn't the best of vehicles; no shock absorbers, uncomfortable seats. But, the surrounding scenery was so breath-taking that we forgot the discomfort we were inadvertently subjected to. We crossed many vantage points that offered amazing views of the sanctuary. Pity we didn't possess a sharper camera.

Lush greenery in the forest

Flowering trees and colourful butterflies

Flora in the jungle
We witnessed nature's exceptional beautiful. The sights and sounds continued to captivate us - pretty butterflies and birds, and so many of them. In the concrete jungle that I lived in I'd forgotten the existence of butterflies.


Guzzling water in a rivulet seemed the perfect place to wet our feet in, but the guide wouldn't let us set foot off the jeep. Not safe, is what he said.

A bubbly stream inside the sanctuary

Sighting wildlife in the sanctuary

We reckoned we were in tiger territory, maybe there was a wild tiger in the precincts, hiding behind a thicket. The guide suddenly signalled at us in sign language, gesturing for us not to speak. He peered into the copses along the path we were travelling. I could hear my heart pounding. Was there a tiger around? Alas, we found no tiger, and after what seemed like a very long time, we moved forward. We wondered if that was theatrics the guide puts up for all tourists. Well, maybe not, for a little further down he stopped the vehicle and pointed out fresh pug marks in the moist sand by the rivulet. A tiger had been there, not very long ago.

Tiger pug marks

Pug marks is as lucky as we could get as far as spotting tigers was concerned. And it was exciting, our trip seemed worth it. But, there was more to come, we weren't done yet.

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The rickety jeep (that looked it belonged to another era) took us deep into the forest, for an almost hour long ride. The tree cover at places was so dense that it stopped the sunlight from filtering through. Vivid shades of green merged into each other. Also fascinating was the burst of colours when we'd come upon a tree or creeper in full bloom. The forest was naturally aromatic - enveloping us in its sweet-scents, flowers, pine trees and eucalyptus, all so fragrant. Certain events are best experienced, they cannot be described and this is definitely one of them.

We did spot gangs of deer, a solitary gaur, herd of elephants, a languor, giant squirrel perched high up on a tree and a sounder of boars.

Gaur & Red Giant Squirrel

It was an excellent culmination of our short holiday in Kerala. A trip worth all the bumpy rides. Kerala is God's own country and I know why.

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Guest Author: Umashankar Pradhan08 Jun 2016

We visited Coorg in the last quarter of the past year. It was an awesome experience. But, our friends in the city says that Wayanad is much more exciting and cool place to be, especially for trekking and adventure sports. Anyone knows if Waynad is drivable from Banglore for a couple?

Guest Author: Nidhish Pant16 Jun 2016

That was an awesome read. I would like to visit Wayanad some day and seems it is possible to have a lot many tourist spots in close proximity. Did you go to Chembra peak? Does it need trekking?

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