Quiet Alternatives to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is the most popular destination in Kerala for wildlife viewing, but often the crowds can make it difficult to spot any animals. As part of our Quiet Alternatives series here are a few off the beaten track wildlife sanctuaries you could visit instead of Periyar. Your chances of spotting animals will be increased and you’ll have a much more interesting experience in these locations, but don’t expect the luxury accommodation or comforts that you find in Periyar.


We featured the beautiful region of Wayanad as a quiet alternative to Munnar for a peaceful retreat in the hills. It also contains two wildlife sanctuaries- Muthanga and Tholpetty. Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Northern section of Wayanad and is one of the best parks in South India to spot elephants in the wild. You’ll also have a good chance of seeing bison, deer, boar and monkeys. Tigers are present but rarely spotted, as in all of India’s parks.

How to get here:From Kannur it’s a 2.5 hour bus journey to Mananthavady, the nearest town to Tholpetty, from where you can pick up a bus or taxi for the 45 minute journey to the park entrance. You can also connect to Mananthavady from Kalpetta (and onward to Calicut) or Sultanbatheri, where you can take the bus to Ooty (4 hours) or Mysore (3 hours).

Where to stay: Pachyderm Palace is a basic guesthouse in a great location just outside of the sanctuary. The best room is the treehouse surrounded by forest. The food is delicious and the welcome is friendly, but don’t expect luxury. Two safaris a day are included in the price.

How to explore: You have the option of two hour jeep safaris in the morning or evening, or 5 hour guided hikes in the morning. It’s a good idea to try both options. These can be arranged at the park entrance, or through your hotel.

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is on the border with Tamil Nadu, 60km from Munnar along a winding mountain road. It’s much less visited than Munnar but still offers the chance to see a range of wildlife. It’s one of the best spots in Kerala for bird watching with 225 species. You are also likely to see the famous grizzled giant squirrels, as well as elephants, deer, and monkeys. You can enjoy wonderful views from the watch tower or trek through the park.

How to get here: Take the 1.5 hour bus from Munnar heading to Coimbatore. The sanctuary is 10km past Marayoor.

Where to stay: You can stay inside the forest in a treehouse or tribal huts. Contact the Forest Information Centre in Munnar to book ( Tel: 04865-231587, Email: roywlw@eravikulam.org).

How to explore: Treks are arranged by the Forest Centre with local guides.

Silent Valley National Park

Silent Valley National Park is not very well known but the pristine rainforest features over 100 different varieties of orchids, 211 bird species and 128 types of butterfly. The moist evergreen woodland is located 75km from Palakkad, so could be combined with a trip to Nelliampathy , our quiet alternative to Munnar. As well as beautiful flora you could see the rare lion-tailed macaque, gaur, sloth bears and even tigers.

How to get here: Take the bus from Palakkad.

Where to stay: In Mukkali there is a basic national park guesthouse near the ticket office. Tel: 04924 253225.

How to explore: You need to pick up a permit from the National Park office in Mannarkkad, 32km from the entrance or in Mukkali. You can hire a jeep or go on guided walks.

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4 Responses to “Quiet Alternatives to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary”

  1. Joe Mazzetti says:

    Are any of the locations listed above close to Thomas’s guest house? If not how difficult would it be to get there & then to either of the 2 airports for a flight to Chennai. Did you ever go out of India & back again witin a couple of weks as we want to include Sri Lanka in the middle of our trip & wonder about visa issues.

  2. Erin says:

    Hi Joe, no they are not very close by. Thomas’s homestay is pretty easy to get to from Cochin- a few hours by bus, train or taxi via Alleppey. The wildlife parks above would probably take the best part of the day from Cochin, although by taxi would be quicker.

    I’m not sure about the visa issues as things have changed fairly recently and still seem unclear. This blog has more up to date info: http://theplanetd.com/new-india-visa-rules-our-re-entry

  3. Though Periyar wildlife sanctuary at Thekkady is a tiger reserve, it’s really hard to see them. But some animals can surely be seen. Eventually, nature is the only reason to go there.

  4. […] Periyar and has two wildlife sanctuaries with good chances of spotting elephants. Read my post on Quiet Alternatives to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary for full […]