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Wayanad, the new gateway to Kerala

May 14, 2022 Headline News No Comments

Blessed with abundant flora, fauna and indigenous tribes, less explored Wayanad District is emerging as the new gateway for those looking for experiential and responsible travel in ‘God’s Own Country’- Kerala. Calicut was its nearest airport at 95 kilometres till recently. With the arrival of the new Kannur International Airport at 85 kilometres west, visitors now have two access airports to arrive into this nature and adventure laden district.

View of lush green mountains just outside Kannur Airport is tempting enough to tread further into nature rich Western Ghats that are classified under UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Vancheeshwaran, President, Wayanad Tourist Organisation (WTO), told eGTMedia: “Ours is actually a low traffic destination offering quality experience to visitors. Tourism has overtaken agriculture as the main source of income for the district as agriculture income is dwindling due to climate change. We tread cautiously to maintain our land’s sanctity.”  More than a quarter (27%) of Wayanad’s population is ethnic tribal.

Tourism contributes 23 percent of GDP for the district. Wayanad Tourism Organisation (WTO) is a non-profit organisation with 60 dedicated members that offer home stays, hotels, resorts and activities. The district has about 4000 room accommodations. WTO administers responsible practice norms to its members. Hotels and resorts produce less waste, use glass bottles for water and participate in upkeep of their surrounding environment.

Pradeep Murthy, Founder and Director at MuddyBoots Vacations, said: “Wayanad is not to be just seen, but is to be soaked-in and experienced. We offer a range of activities that can be enjoyed by all sections of people. We are preparing a visual to sensitize every guest who’s treading into our delicate bio-diversity.” A top management consultant who quit his corporate job 13 years ago to be with nature, Pradeep has created many popular adventure and experiential activities.”

Wayanad tourism website aptly lists its destinations as The Peaks, The Lakes, The Sanctuaries, The Plantations, The Waterfalls and The Dams.

Shaylesh, Owner, Edakkal Hermitage, said: “Kerala Government Tribal Department is setting-up a En Uru Heritage Village at Lakkidi. Scheduled to open in a month’s time, tourists can directly buy local products at the Tribal Market here. Tribal food outlets here will serve traditional food to enthusiasts.” Edakkal caves, two natural caves with stone age carvings, date back to 6000 BC and depict the presence of pre-historic man in the region.

Muthanga wildlife sanctuary is bio-geographically, one of the richest tracts of peninsular India. It has 387 square kilometres of wild life safari. The forest extends to 11,000 sqaure kilometres area that goes beyond into the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Beautiful red-tinged Giant Malabar Squirrel is endemic to this region.

Mr Murty said: “One can find amazing wildlife here, many of which are only found here. Banasura Laughing Thrush is one such rare bird. Peacocks and common Hawk Cuckoos are widely sighted. 800 to 900 birds are found in Wayanad and zoologists keep discovering 50 new species every year. Last summer we had 40 elephants walking down at our zipline end link.” Zipline activity is conducted above tea gardens along the beautiful valleys. MuddyBoots also offers treks, biking, hiking, rafting, kayaking and other adrenaline activities.

Wayanad’s forests have 2500 to 3000 elephants, 80 tigers besides many insects, snakes and other animals.

Vancheeshwaran said: “Kerala Government Forest Department is investing to offer better safari experience to visitors by assigning better vehicles and well-trained guides. There are plans to re-introduce trekking into forest along with armed guards, who are mostly tribals with good local knowledge.”

Wayanad’s thick green, rainfed mountainous terrain giving rise to many rivers and rivulets, makes for a happy home to many endangered species of flora and fauna.

David Raju, General Manager, Wayanad Wild Eco Forest Lodge, said: “Wayanad is among the best places to observe and immerse in the wild. I have served as a naturalist in wildlife parks across India, but the experience of the forest here offers a different experience altogether.”  Three kilometres rugged approach road to Wayanad Wild, owned by CGH Earth itself is an experience. The luxury lodge conducts exciting after dinner ‘nocturnal walks’ where guests dressed in knee length socks and gumboots can walk up to resort gates along with two naturalists who identify frogs, snakes, birds and insects and explain their characteristics.

Pookode Lake surrounded by thickly vegetated mountains is a popular tourist spot for boating. MTB Kerala, India’s only UCI (Cycliste International) approved Mountain Biking championship event is organised in Wayanad during winter season.

Written by Madhura Katti

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