Place: Periyar Tiger Reserve
Highlights: Forest Walks, possible sightings from anything mundane to even the big cat, boat ride at the end of the walk.
Season: October to May, when it is not raining.
Time of the day: Morning - 6.30am to 8am
Distance: Approximately 3kms
Map. This is an interactive map of the walk. Zoom in to get a closer look. The walk begins near the intersection of four roads in the map and ends at the boat jetty.
Photos by Himanshu Sarpotdar and diametrik
Start from the gates of Periyar Tiger Reserve at Kumily. You need to pay a small entry fee to get in. Thick jungle begins the moment you enter through the gate.
It is almost an hour's walk from the gate to Thekkady, where all the tourist facilities of the reserve are located. Stroll slowly in the thick forest that surrounds you. Occasionally, you will get teasing glimpses of the big lake in the reserve, but not a full view till you reach Thekkady.
What you can sight on the way completely depends on your luck. It could be some interesting birds like White Bellied Treepie or Malabar Grey Hornbill, or some mammals like Wild Boars and Sambar deer. Lucky ones might even spot the tiger, but since you are on foot, you might be better off giving the big cat a miss.
Once you reach the place where all the tourist facilities are, you can have breakfast in the restaurant, take a boat ride, or sign up for jungle walks. You can hire a rickshaw for your way back, or walk back again if you prefer.