Monday, 11 April 2011

Keralan Backwaters to Periyar

Our stay in Varkala was extended several days due to Emma developing a severe ear infection and fever. We enjoyed a spectrum of India's healthcare options; the 2 rupee general hospital that was by no means pleasant to visiting the immaculate surgeons house (though he did look like the crazy doctor from Return to Oz).The storms in the evenings persisted and we managed to capture some interesting lightning photographs.

Lightning above Varkala

Although she does look like a propped up corpse in this picture, Emma is enjoying this Varkalan sunset

Emma has since recovered well and we made swift progress to the backwaters in Alleppy, where we took a tiny boat out into the sunset - it was our most lovely moment to date, and the first moment of calm away from the racket of the towns. We were pleased having not taken the Gin-Palace houseboat cruises - they were both expensive and seemingly pretentious on the backwaters, only able to stay to the main large waterways. Our lovely little private boat (which was little more than a canoe with a palm tree canopy) sneaked down many narrow canals, where we got a wonderful view of life on the backwaters. We observed the villagers living with the water in harmony and it was very peaceful. We decided that the driver (captain?) of our little boat had the best job in the world, and he agreed. We putted along past his house whereby his wife popped out and waved!
 Our lovely boat in the Keralan Backwaters

A glimpse of village life

Next day we took the ferry from Alleppy to Kottayam, where we met two lovely German traveling companions who's names I cannot spell! As a group of four, we took the taxi to Periyar National Park and Tiger Sanctuary. This was the most spectacular drive through the mountains of the Western Ghats, passing huge rubber, tea and spice plantations.

On the following day we were encouraged by the German girls to rent scooters to take on the lovely quiet mountain roads. While Guy jumped at this possibility, remembering the days he rode his scooter a decade ago, Emma reluctantly agreed to join as a passenger. Well it turned out to be the most amazing day, surpassing even that of the backwater cruise, the freedom of the weedy scooter, cool mountain air in our hair and roads so beautiful and free of traffic. We felt as if we were in Easy Rider!

As we rode into the sunset, we passed waterfalls, monkey roadblocks and little dusty towns where we stopped for refreshments, while entertaining the idea of  being in Wild West towns, and us the cowboys. Groups of enthused locals would surround us and question us on our countries, cricketers and footballers. To finish off the perfect day, we rode to a spice garden, in which we were greeted by the incredibly multi-lingual spice aficionado owner. He took us around for an hour or so, and we were bewildered by the sights, tastes and scents of the fresh growing spices and medicinal herbs. This area is where 75% of all cardamom is grown and it smells delicious!

Four monkeys admire Guy's radical Hog

We stopped at a Mountain Waterfall

Today we took the early morning ferry inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and it was almost instantly a disappointment! Not only were the tickets expensive, we had expected we could just relax and go for a
lovely walk, but even got told off for straying about 50m from the path! Infact all you can do in the park is get a cruise on the ferry or pay loads for a guided tour. Well at least the boat made us laugh. All the action was inside the boat, nothing really happened outside! Most of the hundred or so passengers were sent to sleep (Emma included).
 The Joy of Cruising Periyar Lake

The slightest hint of a distant animal sent the passengers into havoc. During quiet moments I just wanted to stand up and shout "TIGER", however I resisted the urge! Even running for the queue was stressful - not the tranquil journey we had envisaged. We saw some distant bison, couple of monkeys and deer - not even an elephant and certainly no tigers in the Tiger Sanctuary! It was a beautiful place, spoiled by the fact one can not enjoy it freely.We hope that all of the National Parks will not be as strict and expensive in future.

 Periyar this morning

It has certainly been a week of highs and lows, a rollercoaster of emotions. Such is the way of traveling India. Tomorrow we look forward to moving on to Munnar National Park, also in Kerala.


  1. I'm glad Emma is feeling better. Your scooter day sounded amazing! And Guy, you totally should have jumped up and yelled, "Tiger!!". I would probably have nearly been sick from laughing :-) love to you both xx

  2. Amazing!!! Love it :) Big love to you both XXXX

  3. haha i love the piccys guys, especially the proped up corpse , and the bike! well done emma.
    you both look so happy!! love love and hug xx

  4. sorry babbys the travelling treehouse is just me, laura, nobody exciting :) xx