We are back to normal after our little episode of gastroenteritis, yay! We left Kochi on a A/C bus we booked through the owner of our homestay (limited hostels in the South). The coach was lovely and I even managed to get some sleep on the insanely bendy roads leading up to Munnar.
Munnar is further inland, 1,700 metres above sea level and it’s where all the tea plantations are. Our homestay was outside of the town and on the edge of the tea plantations. On the afternoon we arrived, we did our own little walk to explore. We’d originally intended to only stay one night but in the end we opted for an extra night and full day of exploring.
In the morning we did a 2 hour hike through the plantations with the guy who ran our homestay. It was amazing! He pointed out so many little things that we would have otherwise missed; beehives, all the different fruit trees, black pepper plants, tamarind, coffee flowers, the different types of tea leaves etc. We walked to the agricultural parts too where he seemed to be mates with all the farmers and just took us up to their private houses to show us their fruit trees.
After showering (we were dripping in sweat and looked like we’d walked off the set of Grease lightning), we opted for a tuk-tuk for the rest of the day to take us around. The main attraction in Munnar is driving up to the Top Station (the highest point for overlooking the tea plantations) but unfortunately by the time we reached it, there was torrential rain and the fog had risen to cover it. It was still a great day, just because Munnar is so incredibly picturesque, I was literally grinning from ear to ear just looking outside. We did other little stop offs to visit various view points and the Mattupetty Dam. We also witnessed all the traffic stopping to let this huge snake cross the road. Our tuk-tuk driver kept saying it was a King Cobra; but after my extensive googling, I’ve decided it definitely wasn’t and was perhaps an Indian Rock Python instead. Our driver appreciated my love of animals and let us get out in the middle of the road to watch the snake (by us, I mean me, Dave doesn’t like snakes and only reluctantly got out after I did). We both agreed our favourite place in India so far has been Munnar. Having said that, in the evening, we went to watch a traditional Kerala dance, which was…interesting. Dave turned to me in the performance and said “I would literally rather watch paint dry” haha. It was basically just the telling of a story through facial movements and excessively loud drumming (to the point where I had my fingers in my ears for most of the performance). We definitely won’t be going to that again in a hurry!
We then headed off on another bus to Thekkady. This time, we caught a local bus. The only way I can describe the drive is if you imagine you were on a roller coaster ride, specifically a Jurrasic park ride (i.e the surrounding vegetation not dinosaurs). We were holding on to the bars on the seat in front of us as we swerved round hairpin bends. It was mental but also very scenic and it only cost £1 for the 6 hour journey.
Thekkady (or Kumily which is the main nearby town) was our next destination. It’s predominantly known for the Periyar tiger reserve where there’s a huge lake and you can do treks/safaris to see animals in the wild. If you know me, then you know this is my absolute dream. We booked our most spendy excursion to date (a full day in the reserve doing a trek and bamboo rafting on the lake). We got up early and were all ready to go… I then proceeded to take one step outside and fell over. I fell badly and knew instantly that I’d sprained my ankle and wouldn’t be able to do the trek. We managed to negotiate postponing our safari one extra day to see if I’d get better. Unfortunately, my ankle swelled up, and is still currently swollen, and I couldn’t walk on it (beautiful photo below for your viewing pleasure). I was so gutted I couldn’t go but it seemed silly for both of us to stay in the room, also we couldn’t get a refund, so Dave went the next day on his own. *Passes Dave the keyboard for the Periyar wildlife reserve*
*Dave: My group set off early on a 5-6km trek and instantly saw lots of beautiful birds, several species of monkeys and a gigantic bison. Slightly further along the path, another tour group walking in the opposite direction said there was a herd of wild elephants ahead. After getting super excited, unfortunately the closet we came all day to seeing the elephants was the remains of their breakfast. After a couple hours trekking through the forest, we came to an opening where our Bamboo raft was stationed. Those that know me well will know it doesn’t take much to make me sweat, so I’m sure you can imagine how sweaty I was after paddling for about an hour in the midday sun. There was nothing I would have liked more than to take a dip in the water. Unfortunately, the guides informed us that there were leaches present therefore I swiftly opted against it. After spotting some wild boar in the distance as we disembarked from our raft, we were luckily enough to cross paths with them shortly into our afternoon trek. While we could see evidence that the tigers were present in the area (scratch marks on the trees and the remains of their kill), I was actually a little thankful we didn’t encounter one during our day!
*back to Sophie*
I actually had closer encounters with wildlife than Dave from our hotel room balcony as a big group of monkeys hung around for most of the day! I was just chilling with my headphones on, having my fruit breakfast, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a massive monkey a metre away strutting across the railings! He and his mate then proceeded to steal my banana and the remnants of my breakfast!
Next stop is Alleppy. By the way, on the next post, any photos of Dave will have him with a super short buzzcut. I gave him a hair cut with his beard trimmer which turned out to be a total disaster and we could only salvage it by basically shaving it all off….my bad…
Thanks for reading!
Sophie & (genuinely this time!) Dave