Drawing on the wild and natural beauty of the place, the State-run Kerala Forest Development Corporation has developed an eco-tourism project to attract more Nature lovers and adventure tourists to the place.
It takes a two-hour journey by jeep from Kumily to reach picturesque Gavi which is blanketed by the greenery of tea plantations. Advance booking with the Kerala Forest Development Corporation is appreciated as entry passes have to be obtained from the forest check post en route at Vallakkadavu.
There are three different tour packages offered by the KFDC at Gavi. The first is a day-time package from 8 am to 4.30 pm. The overnight package provides for accommodation at Green Mansions, the eco-tourism centre near the lake. In another overnight package, guests spend the night at a jungle camp site to which they are taken in jeeps.
The picturesque beauty of the place attracts a steady stream of visitors including deep jungle trekkers, bird watchers, Nature lovers, research students, and those looking for a break from the daily grind. The recently introduced eco-tourism project by the Kerala Forest Development Corporation provides a memorable wildlife and jungle experience.
During the two-hour jeep ride to Gavi, one has to drive past hills, valleys, tropical forests, grasslands, sholas, gushing waterfalls and cardamom plantations. All along the way are beautiful places like Mundakkayam, Kuttikkanam, Peerumedu and Vandiperiyar where one gets to see Nature at her best.
As Gavi is adjacent to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, visitors will have to pass through a large area of the reserve forests. The view of the amazing greenery and a glimpse into the wildlife are two of the major attractions of the journey.
An important landmark en-route is the Pampa Reservoir. The Pullumedu peak is also on the way.
Cooling off in the waters of bubbling brooks among thick greenery inhaling the fresh air scented with the aroma of cardamom is a magical experience that very few places other than Gavi can offer. The wild animals like the Nilgiri Langurs, the herds of elephants and the diverse avian fauna make the place all the more attractive.
Activities involved in the project
The eco-tourism project have come up with various activities for visitors including treks in deep jungles, night safaris, outdoor camping, elephant safaris, wildlife watching, bird-watching, stays atop tree huts, visits to Paradise Cove at Ninnumulli, boating in Gavi and Kochupampa lakes, stays at the eco-lodge overlooking Gavi Lake, leisurely walks through spice gardens, visits to cardamom factories and so on.
A team of KFDC men supervises the various tour packages offered to visitors. During treks and jungle expeditions, visitors can avail the services of guides. From Gavi, one can trek to Meenar, Chenthamara Kokka and Valley View. The trekking course passes through patches of dense forest. During treks into the deep jungle, apart from guides, there will be a local 'elephant chaser' accompanying visitors. They are also called patanki men and they use their ingenious noise-making device to protect the team from dangerous wildlife encounters.
Meenar offers tranquil and pristine natural beauty while the Chenthamara Kokka offers a scenic view of the dangerously alluring deep ravine with thick forests below.
A boat-ride across Paradise Cove at Ninnumulli is another magnificent experience. The cove has many exquisite wild flowers and one can also hear the musical chirping of birds in the backdrop.
The KFDC has organized outdoor camping and night safaris at Kullur, Gavi Pullumedu, Kochu Pampa and Pachakanam. Through these camps and safaris, visitors can enjoy the dark beauty of the tropical rain forests at night as well as night-life in the jungle. If you are the very adventurous sort, you could also try night camping in the forest, an unforgettable experience. Tree houses are also available for use by campers.
Guests can also take a walk through the spice gardens and visit the cardamom factory near Gavi.
Apart from tree houses and tents that are put up in the jungle, there is an eco-lodge, Green Mansion, set up by the KFDC at Gavi. The stay at the Green Mansion is a unique experience. It offers a spectacular view of Lake Gavi and the forests around. A short trek from Green Mansion will take you to Kochu Pampa, where you can spot the endangered Nilgiri Tahrs.
The eco-tourism project is planned in such a way that it supports the KFDC’s conservation efforts. Apart from taking all measures to avoid the slightest of disturbances to the eco-system, the project also creates awareness among visitors about the necessity to protect the forest and the wildlife. The eco-friendly measures that are adhered to during the adventure travels are appreciable and the journey through the forests is explorative and educative.
Involvement of local populace
The eco-tourism project at Gavi is conceived in such a way that it involves the local community. The local tribal community is actively involved in the tourism projects and often act as guides, cooks and gardeners. This gives them a much needed extra income and helps them make a living. As they have abundant knowledge of the forest, they are able to lead visitors expertly through the Nature trails and offer them a lot of information on the flora and fauna of any area.