Periyar Tiger Reserve, at Thekkady in Idukki district, offers a multitude of eco-tourism programmes. These include Nature Walk, Border Hiking, Bamboo Rafting, Jungle Patrol, Tribal Heritage, Jungle Inn, The Bamboo Grove, Green Mansions and Bullock Cart Ride.
A programme structured to familiarise you with the terrain, the Nature Walk consists of a trek of about 5 km through dense woods. Bird and butterfly watching is an exciting part of the programme. There is restriction in the number of participants.
Border Hiking, envisaged as a conservation-oriented trek, covers undulating terrains and altitudes ranging from 900m to 1300m. The trek starts at 8 o' clock in the morning and ends in the evening. The trekking route is through the habitats of elephant, sloth bear, gaur, birds and butterflies. Guides and armed forest guards will accompany the group. There is restriction in the number of participants.
Rafting along the Periyar River is a memorable experience for travellers. The Eco-tourism Committee offers rafting on rustic bamboo rafts. The rafting is through one of the most scenic courses of the river. The experience is made all the more thrilling when one catches a glimpse of wild animals on the banks. A small trek is also part of the programme.
The jungle patrol is a programme for travellers to join the night patrolling in the sanctuary to help protect tigers. An armed forest guard and two protection watchers are part of a team and travellers in small groups are allowed to join them. This adventurous programme is not for the faint-hearted.
Tribal Heritage introduces to you an indigenous community which had been living in the inner forests of Periyar from time immemorial. The tribal community is called Mannan and it made its living from hunting, fishing and agriculture. Members of the community still live inside the sanctuary in a settlement and a heritage museum has been set up in the settlement. The museum has various artefacts related to the history and culture of the community. A trained member of the tribal community will be your guide.
You can watch the jungle coming alive around you when you opt to live in the Jungle Inn. The forest cottage at Kokkara, which can accommodate two persons, is in the midst of dense vegetation. Travellers can have a fascinating experience of the wild in the safety of a cottage. You can check into the cottage in the afternoon and leave at 9 a.m. next morning. Food is provided.
An eco-lodging is offered at the sanctuary in a bamboo grove on islets. The bamboo cottages here host nature sensitization camps and related programmes.
The eco-tourism programmes at Gavi have earned worldwide reputation.Green hills covered in tall trees, deep valleys, waterfalls are all part of the refreshing experience. 'Green Mansions' in Gavi is a retreat in the wild where accommodation is offered in the Green Mansions, a well-equipped modern-day cottage, which offers a scenic view of the greenery. There are also tree-top huts and tented accommodation for avid nature-lovers. Trekking is also offered along with trips to the verdant forests. You can opt for a memorable canoe ride in the calm waters of the lake with the greenery on the banks, animals peeping out of the woods, hovering birds and fluttering butterflies. Evenings are more ideal to go canoeing when the lake radiates in the orange glow of the setting sun.