8 Nov 2013

Elephant Spotting In Wayanad

Our journey to Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary a remote jungle in north Kerala where you're almost guaranteed to see wild elephants took a little longer than expected. First we needed a train from Alleppey to Kozhikode, as always the timetable was prone to changes and we were in for a two hour wait at the station. The eclectic mix of young and old crossing platforms via the tracks rather than the footbridge kept us 'entertained' and showed us health and safety at its best.

calicut to wayanad

It's pretty difficult to go hungry or thirsty aboard a train in India as the porters come around with tempting refreshments at least every 10 minutes! We arrived in Kozikode about 7pm only to discover there was a bus strike the next day but we could take the overnight local bus - this option seemed pretty daunting in the dark so we decided to stay overnight in Calicut and treat ourselves to a taxi the next day. 

As we drove we were in awe of the scenery as we ascended very quickly and steeply to 1500m, grateful we were not on the bus given the missing chunks of barrier at the edge of the road! 

monkey india

We chose to stay at Varnam Homestay as recommended by our hostel host in Alleppey. Our hosts Beena and Vargese had a lovely home, very secluded and tranquil, all you hear are birds and insects chattering away, they even had a dog called Bruno who we could take for walks - bonus! Due to the tropical climate they can grow so many amazing things: avocados, mangos, figs, passionfruit, grapefruit, coffee, tomatoes, strawberries, vanilla etc as well as loads of spices and everything is grown organically. 

Due to the number of rubber trees on their land they can also produce and sell rubber: first they collect the rubber, mix it with formic acid and leave to set for 6 hours, its then pressed through two pasta/trouser press looking machines to create sheets and hung out on the line to dry. 

varnam homestay

rubber tree india

During our stay we enjoyed three tasty Keralan meals a day and an afternoon jungle safari to spot wild elephants. We saw a huge bison, lankurs (black face monkeys), peacocks and lots of spotted deer but alas, no elephants! 

ilankur india

bison india

After a relaxing stay we left the next morning - Steve minus a pair of pants - we think a small indian boy staying at the homestay wanted a souvenir from the handsome bearded Westerner! Our next stop was Mysore in the state of Karnataka, the best way to get there was by local bus so we sucked it up and climbed onboard, paid our 103 rupees fare and really enjoyed it - it was surprisingly comfy, cool and uncrowded. The route took us through Nagarhole National Park Tiger Reserve for about 30km creating another opportunity to spot wildlife and we were feeling pretty confident - the road signs here don't warn you about old people but elephants! And we did get very lucky, we saw three of the beauties munching on leaves at the side of the road alongside some cows. Brilliant!

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