The Western Ghats on its east and the Malabar Coast on its west, adorned with the emerald backwaters and exotic spice plantations, Kerala is blessed with a riotous variety of flora and fauna. Topped up with indigenous traditional cultural practices and art forms, Kerala is increasingly gaining momentum as a popular tourist destination all over the world. Showered with an eternal sunshine, Kerala- God's own country is a nature lovers' paradise. The lush tropical evergreen rain forests still largely miraculously unspoiled in Kerala, support a rich array of land, marine and avian wildlife.
Wildlife Tours to Kerala
The evergreen rain forests of Kerala are home to a large number of large and small sports. Internationally popular among wildlife enthusiasts and photographers much of the forest lands in Kerala have been turned into reserve forests and wildlife sanctuaries for the conservation of the wildlife in these areas. These sanctuaries and national parks are thronged by elephants, tigers, leopards, jaguars, deer, monkeys, Malabar squirrels, hornbills, kingfishers and many more which make them excellent wildlife vacation sites.
Here are the best wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala that will leave you mesmerized
Periyar National Park
Situated in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in Kerala, Periyar National Park is notable as an elephant and tiger reserve in India. Often termed as Periyar wildlife sanctuary or Thekkady, the national park is a home of various mammals like the Gaur, Indian Sambar, wild pig, Indian giant squirrel, sloth bear, Nilgiri langur and Travancore flying squirrel. Read more...
- Best time to visit - November to April.
- Nearest railway station - Kottayam
- Nearest airport - Madurai
- Nearest town - Kumily
Location: Kumily, Thekkady.
Silent Valley National Park
Largest national park in the whole of Kerala, the Silent Valley National Park is located in the hills of Nilgiri. Home to the biggest population of the endangered Lion-tailed Macaque, the national park is one of the last undisturbed tracts of South Western Ghats mountain rain forests in India. The National park is drained by the river Kuntipuzha from north to south. Read more...
- Best time to visit: December to April.
- Nearest railway station: Palakkad
- Nearest airport: Coimbatore International Airport.
- Nearest town: Palakkad
Location: Wildlife Warden, Silent Valley Division, Mannarkkad, Palakkad
Eravikulam National Park
One of the most popular national parks of Kerala, Eravikulam National Park is located along the Western Ghats in the Idukki district of Kerala. The park is spread over an area of 97 sq. km. Initially, the park was a hunting reserve of British planters. Today, it is one of the most well-known national parks of India.
Eravikulam National Park is home to highly endangered species of wild goat known as Nilgiri Tahr and remains closed between February and April, which is their calving season. Apart from the Tahr, the park is also home to Stripe-necked mongoose, Sambar Deer, Nilgiri langur and predators like Wild dog, Golden Jackal and the leopard. Animals such as Indian porcupine, Nilgiri marten, small clawed otter, ruddy mongoose, and dusky palm squirrel are also found in the park. A new reddish-orange-colored frog with multiple glands and extremely short limbs has been found in the Eravikulam National Park. This national park is home to around 29 species of mammals.
One can find around 132 species of birds in the park, which makes it a must visit for bird watchers. In the park, one can spot rare species like Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Martin and Kerala Laughingthrush.
The highest peak in south India, Anamudi (2695 m) is located inside the park, offering excellent opportunities for trekking and enjoying mesmerizing views of the sanctuary. Also known as Rajamalai National Park, the park promises a great and memorable experience to every visitor. The best time to visit the park is from the month of September to February.
- Location: 15 km from Munnar
- Best Time to Visit: September to February
- Entry fee: INR 15 per person (Indians)
- INR 200 per person (Foreigners)
- Timings: 0700 hrs to 1800 hrs
- Nearest railway station: Aluva, arpund 109 km from Munnar
Nearest airport: Madurai (Tamil Nadu) around 142 km
Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the most naturally richest areas of Kerala, the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at an altitude of 450-748 m above sea level. Having a coverage area of 105 sq km, the wildlife sanctuary provides habitat for various species of mammals, reptiles and birds. This includes elephants, sambhar and bison. Apart from this, poisonous snakes like cobra, viper and krait can also be found here. Read more...
- Best time to visit: December to April
- Nearest railway station: Kottayam
- Nearest airport: Madurai Airport
- Nearest town: Thodupuzha
- Entry charges: INR 15 for Indians and INR 150 for Foreigners
- Timings: 07:00 am to 04:00 pm
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary
Established in the year 1984, Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the slopes of the western ghats. Home to a varied wildlife, the sanctuary consists of 23 species of mammals such as Indian elephant, Sambar, barking deer, tiger, leopard, Gaur and Mouse deer. Amongst its list of birds, the place is a habitat for Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Malabar Pied Hornbill and Ceylon Frogmouth. Read more...
- Best time to visit - June to October.
- Nearest railhead - Thalassery
- Nearest airport - Karipur
- Nearest town - Kannur
- Location: Kannur, Kerala 670674
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
Located 60 km eastwards of Munnar, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected wildlife area in the lofty Western Ghats. Spread in an area of 90 sq km of land, this wildlife sanctuary is home to a decent population of Elephants, Deer, Leopards and endangered Grizzled Giant Squirrel. A bio-diversity hotspot, this reserve is home to more than 580 fauna species including 20 species of snakes, 152 species of butterflies and 34 species of mammals. Other animals that can be spotted here include spotted deer, Manjampatti white bison, hanuman monkey, Indian star tortoise, threatened Nilgiri Tahr, tigers, Bonnet Macaque, Indian elephant and common langur.
One of the most popular wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala, it is called home by as many as 245 species birds including throated bulbuls and peacocks. Chinnar and Pambar Rivers have around 42 types of fishes. The sanctuary also has more than 965 species of flora and also comprise of a huge sandalwood forest. Chinnar Reserved Forest was made a protected area in the year 1984. The stunning Thoovanam waterfall fall in the vicinity of the sanctuary and forms a popular sight. Rise up the watchtower to enjoy a lovely view of the sanctuary.
As many as 11 tribal communities, Mutuvas and Pulayars, being the prime ones, live in the demarcated areas within the Chinnar sanctuary. It is also believed to be one of the places in the world that has Dolmens. These are tombs made up of stones that are made during Neolithic period. Probably these dolmens belong to the Adi Chera royal dynasty. The sanctuary is also popular for trekking and camping.
- Best time to visit: December-April
- Entry fee: INR 10 (Indians)
- INR 5 (for children below 12 years and for bonafied students on tour)
- INR 100 (Foreigners)
- INR 150 (Video camera)
INR 25 (Camera)
- Timings: 06:00 AM – 06:00 PM (Open on all days)
- Nearest railhead - Aluva
- Nearest airport - Nedumbassery
- Nearest town - Ernakulam
- Location: Munnar - Udumalpet Road, Munnar.
Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Spread over the southeast corner of the western ghats, the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 128 sq km. This habitat in the southern part of India has over a hundred species of animals to be taken care of. The prime species include the Asian elephant, tiger, leopard and King Cobra. Apart from the fauna, the sanctuary is a repository of medicinal herbs. Read more...
- Best time to visit: October to March
- Nearest railway station: Thiruvananthapuram Central
- Nearest airport: Trivandrum Airport
- Nearest town: Neyyattinkara
- Entry charges: INR 5 under 5-year-olds | INR 125 for 5-12-year-olds| INR 250 for adults
- Timings: 09:00 am to 04:00 pm (Tuesday to Sunday)
Peechi Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary
Headquartered in the Peechi, Thrissur district of Kerala, Peechi Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary is a treat for nature lovers. Established in the year 1958, this reserved area in Peechi is part of the Palapilli-Neelliampathhy forests. With a coverage area of 125 sq km, it forms the northern boundary of the Chimmini sanctuary. The diversified fauna of the place include leopard, tiger, jungle cat and Indian bison. Read more...
- Best time to visit: October to March.
- Nearest railhead: Thrissur Railway Station.
- Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport.
- Nearest town: Thrissur
- Location: Thrissur, Peechi, Kerala 680304
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
Built on the catchments of the Peppara dam on the Karaman river near Thiruvananthapuram in India, the Peppara wildlife sanctuary covers an area of 53 sq km. Rich bio-diversity, huge populations of mammals and an amazing topography, all this describes the wildlife sanctuary at its very best. Over the years, the sanctuary has emerged as a big attraction for wildlife enthusiasts. Read more...
- Best time to visit - October to March.
- Nearest railway station - Thiruvananthapuram
- Nearest airport - Thiruvananthapuram
- Nearest town - Thiruvananthapuram
- Location: Thiruvananthapuram-Ponmudi Road, Thiruvananthapuram.
Rajamala Wildlife Sanctuary
Built as a natural habitat of the Nilgiri Tahr, the Rajamala Wildlife Sanctuary is located 15 kms from Munnar. The sanctuary is blessed by a great variety of flora and fauna. With a rich vegetation of shrubs, herbs and trees, the place is a must visit for nature lovers. Besides Nilgiri Tahr, one can even look for tigers, panthers, elephants and deers in the region. Read more...
Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary
Settled under the core area of Agasthyamala Biosphere reserve (one of the finest biosphere reserves in India), Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most important and notable tourist spots in Kollam. The sanctuary is well-known for its breathtaking beauty of lush forests and crystal clear streams. Acquiring an area up to 171 square km, the main attraction of the sanctuary is lion-tailed macaque attracting visitors from all parts of the globe.
Flora and Fauna
Shendurney is one of the best places for wildlife enthusiast. The sanctuary is renowned for some rarely seen species including Lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, Nilgiri Marten and Brown palm civet.
You can also spot some colorful birds including Lesser Kestrel, Wood Snipe, Lesser Fish eagle and Nilgiri Wood Pigeon.
Moreover, the sanctuary doesn’t seem to disappoint its nature lovers too, the floral diversity of Shendurney is very high and eye-catching. There are several rare and common plants such as Mesua ferrea, Garcinia spicata, Cinnamomum verum, Gluta travancorica and Gordonia obtuse.
Other vegetation includes- West coast tropical evergreen forest, Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forest, Southern secondary moist mixed deciduous forest, Myristica swamp forest and grasslands.
Although, Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary is open all the year round, the best time to plan your visit is from October to March.
- Best time to visit: October to March
- Nearest railway station: Kollam
- Nearest airport: Trivandrum Airport
- Nearest town: Punalur
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Made up of 2 broken patches- Tholpetty and Muthanga, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 344.44 sq km. While the former part lies northwards of a district that is placed alongside Thirunelli, Muthanga is southwards of Wayanad, around 18 km from Sulthan Bathery. The rugged wild charm attracts a crazy number of travelers from all around. This wildlife reserve is also close to Nagarhole Range of Karnataka and Kurichiat Ranges within Kerala.
Declared a sanctuary in 1973, the thick jungles of this region were the living quarters of Pazhassi Raja when he was rebelling against the British. The sanctuary lies under Project Elephant. Elephants can be spotted roaming around freely all across. Visitors need to get prior permission to visit this place. Entry till only the outer zone is allowed. Around 25 km wide, the inner zone is only accessible for wardens and researchers.
Wildlife sanctuary of Wayanad can be characterized through lush greenery and undulant hills. Amongst the peaks here between altitudes of 2100 to 2600 feet, the highest peak is Karotthimala, with a height of 3800 feet.
The climate remains cool because of an elevated landscape. During the winter season, the temperature dips down to 13 degree Celsius and in summers, it rises up to 32 degree Celsius. Wayanad receives a good rainfall of around 2200 mm, with heavy rainfall between June and August.
Forest types and flora
Rich flora accompanies you white you travel from Muthanga to Tholpetty. The road is dotted with different kinds of plants including ginger bushes, bamboo trees and so on. Even paddy fields fall, en-route.
Most part of the sanctuary is covered with dry and moist deciduous forest but the visitors can also spot semi-evergreen patches. However, a mix of most deciduous forest with bamboo groves can also be seen here.
Plantations of silver oak, rosewood, eucalyptus and teak covers almost one third of the sanctuary along with the presence of marshy lands. Scientific care is required to keep the flora and rare plants rich. Some of the dominant species of trees here are Dalbergia latifolia (Rosewood), Careya arborea (Pezhu), Stereospermum colias (Padiri), Kydia calycina (Vellachadachi), Terminatia chebula (Kadukka), and Anogeissus latifolia (Axle wood).
Creepers, ground flora, shrubs like Randia ulginosa, Helicters isora as well as herbs like Rauvolfia, Ageratum conizioides, and sida cordifolia can be seen here. Abundant woody climbers like Calycopteries floribunda and Entada scandens also grow here.
While herds of deer and elephants are a regular sight, Wayand is also home to a vast variety of other animals too such as panther, tiger and other big cats. Bison, langurs, bonnet macaques, Malabar squirrel, monkeys and bear are also seen here. The vast variety of animals also include the rarely found Slender Loris.
Reptiles’ varietyin Wayanad include Pit vipers, green whip snake, coral snake and golden tree snake, flap shell turtles, crocodiles, chameleon, termite hill gecko, skinks and flying lizard.
The park has as many as 216 avifauna species. Spot colorful birds like Malabar whistling thrush, jungle fowl, three- toed wood pecker, crested honey buzzard, cuckoo, paradise flycatcher, golden oriole, peacock, painted bush quail, etc. One of the most amazing sightings here has been a rare blue bearded bee-eater, world’s largest bee-eater.
Wayanad wildlife sanctuary also has 30 species of amphibians, including Bi-coloured frog, triangle-spotted Ramnella, Ceylon kaliula, Bi-coloured frog, Malabar gliding frog and more.
A huge variety of fish call the rivers and streams of Wayanad their home. These include giantdanio (Danio aequipinnatus), Ariza labeo (Labeo ariza), Wayanad barb (Puntius wynaadensis), korhi barb (P. micropogon), Wayanad mystus (Mystus montanus), snake heads (Chann asp.) and more.
Wildlife Safari in Wayanad
Entry to Muthanga as well as Tholpetty is allowed through a jeep safari that can be arranged at the entry gate of the sanctuary. Both these areas are closed during monsoon months of June, July and August.
For wildlife spotting, two-hour jeep safaris in Wayanad are available at Muthanga as well as Tholpetty. Visitors need to register and secure themselves a jeep for themselves at least one hours before the morning and afternoon safari timings. Entry to limited number of jeeps and guides at one time inside the park.
Indian - INR 115
Foreigner - INR 300
Camera - INR 40
Video - INR 225
07:00 – 10:00 AM and 03:00 – 05:00 PM
Best time to visit - June to October.
Nearest railhead - Kozhikode
Near airport - Kozhikode
Nearest town - Sulthan Bathery
Location: Bathery- Puthupally Road, Sultan Bathery, Kerala 673592