People oriented community based and park centered ecotourism is the hallmark of Periyar Tiger Reserve. These programmes are conducted by locals who are responsible for the surveillance. By taking tourists along they not only interpret the values of Periyar and enhance the visitor experience but also add to the protection of the park and earn a livelihood out of it. Hence, when a visitor joins in all these programmes is directly contributing to the cause of conservation and community welfare.
Nature Walk and Green Walk
It is an interpretive sandal protection trekking programme offering excellent opportunity of watching birds, butterflies and other wildlife through a range of habitats during the 4-5 km 3-hours walk. These programme are offered between 7 am to 3 pm in different nature trails inside the Park. A maximum of 5 persons can go for trekking at a time along each trail accompanied by a trained tribal guide. It is a programme where one can feel nature’s whispers and her sighs
This is a regular night patrolling programme in the fringes of the ecodevelopment zone of the Tiger Reserve in the company of armed guards between 7 pm and 4 am. This programme injects excitement into the experience while keeping smugglers at bay. One really feels like a cop protecting the precious forest wealth. Of course, this best suits younger visitors fit and disciplined enough to walk in the silence of the night.
It is day-long range hiking programme along the borders of Periyar Tiger Reserve. The route passes through undulating terrains and altitudinal ranges of 900 m to 1300 m where the trekkers can glimpse the lofty escarpments bordering the park, watersheds and the vast stretches of Cumbam Valley below. Gaur, sloth bear, elephants are often sighted apart from birds and butterflies. A maximum of 10 tourists can take part in the programme in 2 different groups. The trekkers along with two guides and an armed forest guard participate in the programme which starts at 8 am and ends in the evening.
This is the dust to dawn hiking and rafting programme through some of the richest forest tracts of Periyar Tiger Reserve. It starts at 8 am through a mosaic of habitats and forest rich in bird life, arboreal animals like Giant Squirrel, Nilgiri langur, herds of elephants and gaurs. The rafting is of about 3 hours duration where one gets a panoramic view of the forest clad hills reflected on the lake. Five tourists accompanied by 2 guides and an armed guard par taking the programme. This programme caters to a maximum of 10 tourists per day.
Periyar Tiger Trail
In the Tiger Trail, nature lovers are in the hands of a team of guides hardy and dependable who know the forest and its ways intimately. They were once poachers who have been transformed into the protectors of the forest and now part of the protection force of PTR. This is an adventurous camping and trekking programme of one-night – two-days and two-nights – three-days duration. The team consists of a maximum of 5 visitors, 5 guides and one forest official. Normally a distance of 20 to 35 kms is covered during the trail.
It is an eco-lodge and centre for experiential learning where 15 bamboo huts are clustered in an ecofriendly ambience along with a traditionally modern kitchen and a well equipped board room (Kalari). Experiential learning and nature sensitization of camps are conducted for discerning aspirants and visitors who dwell in the bamboo grove. Lectures, group discussions, audio-visual programmes, field visits are the attractions of this eco-lodge. Each hut can house two inmates. Traditional Kerala food here is an added attraction.
The programme provides tented accommodations for 30 persons at a time with a board room facility for projection, film shows, trekking in the forest (Windy Walks) and a chance to experience the traditional tribal food prepared by the Urali tribe. The site is located at the river view point in the banks of Periyar River at Vallakadavu, the sylvan surroundings of the forest in Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Bullock Cart Discoveries
This programme takes you in a unique experience through farm lands, vine orchards, jasmine garden, a typical tamil temple, coconut groves, a meandering river side trail and the sleepy village of Gudalur, the setting very similar to R.K.Narayanan’s Malgudi Days. And you ride on a bullock cart guided by people who were once poachers from Tamilnadu. This is a transboundary tourism initiative of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The programme starts at 6 am in the morning and 2.30 pm in the afternoon. It is a 3-hours package. The profit from the programme goes to rehabilitating the group who choose to join the mainstream society four years ago.