Activities and things to do in Thekkady/Periyar

Indus Holidays

Explorer Team

Photo by: Kerala Tourism

Hi There. We guess Periyar’s immersive forest experience has captivated you to plan a trip to Kerala. Great! This article is to help you plan better. We frequently have travellers asking us what activities to do in Thekkady and what will it cost. We realised that while a lot of information on activities is available, it is not presented in a traveller’s perspective. What pains us even more is that travellers are not given an idea of the range of options because people want to sell you specific activities. We are not going to sell you anything here. We just want you to be better informed and prepared.

So here is our approach: We go day wise.

If you have one day at Thekkady, we suggest and detail on 5-6 practical activity options both inside and outside the reserve that you can consider. Likewise, if you have more days we detail on more options and also feature some off-beat options. This way you can plan and budget better. Here are direct links below:

Periyar Tiger Reserve Entry

Rs.33/450 

Per Person

Park Entry Charges

All visitors to PTR must purchase entry tickets at the check post at the entrance of the reserve. This is valid for a day only.

Good For: Adventure seekers, Nature Lovers

Timings: All days of the week 6:00 AM - 5:30 PM

Visit
Duration:min 2-3 hours (depending on activity)

Periyar is among the best managed reserves in India with a range of well organised wildlife activities for all kinds of travellers.

The park opens at 6 AM and entry tickets are sold only up to 5 PM. All visitors except those staying in the reserve or camping are expected to leave by latest 5:30 PM. The various day programmes and activities in the reserve start by 7:30 AM. If you are going on a private vehicle, there is a separate entry charge of Rs.50 (LMV) and Rs.200 (Heavy Vehicle).  Below we have furnished the details of the entry ticket charges for your perusal.

Indian National Rs.33
Indian Children (5-11years) –rs.5
Students (Bonafide Indian) – Rs.5
Foreign Nationals – Rs.450
Foreign Children (5-11years) – Rs.105

One Night at Thekkady/Periyar

We are if you are planning just one night in Periyar then these are the activities you could consider. If you are part of tour, you will probably reach by 1:00 pm so here are some options for you to spend the day. The first two options are inside the reserve and the rest are outside.

Periyar Lake Cruise: The most popular periyar experience 

Rs.225

Per Person

Periyar Lake Boating

1.5 hour cruise through Periyar Lake on boats operated by the forest department and KTDC.

Good For: Nature Lovers, Vacation with Family

Timings: 7:30 AM, 9:30 AM, 11:15 AM, 1:45 PM & 3:30 PM

Visit
Duration:2 hours 

The most popular way to tour the sanctuary, this experience is more of a tranquil forest lake cruise than a wildlife-spotting experience. 

This 1½-hour boat trip around the lake is the main way to tour the sanctuary especially if you are not inclined to take a guided walk. You are likely to spot boars, deer, birdlife and I personally have spotted elephant groups every time. However, you will appreciate that it is more of a cruise and that wildlife-spotting is a matter of chance. While September to February is a good time to see animals, March-May give the best spotting chances as the wild approach the waters more frequently in summers. 

Booking Boating Tickets & Charges:

The typical boat ride charge is INR 225/Adult, INR 50/child (below 11) and INR 38 to carry a camera on board the boat.

There are 3 ways to book the boating. The trips are best booked in advance online through www.periyarfoundation.org (Rs. 248/adult, Rs.75/child) however only limited tickets are available online. The second option for advance booking is through KTDC ((Rs. 500/adult). Email to lakepalacethekkady@ktdc.com or call at 04869 222014. Otherwise, visitors can purchase tickets 1.5 hours in advance from the boat jetty at the reserve. This would require you to wait in long queues and it is an option of last resort. 

The current boating timings are as follows: 7-30AM – 9-00AM, 9:30 – 11 am, 11.15 – 12.45, 1.45-3.15 and 3-30-5-00pm. The 7:30 AM and 3:30 PM departures offer the best prospects for wildlife spotting.

Nature Walk/Green Walk: The guided day trek 

Rs.220

Per Person

Nature Walk

A guided day time trek through the forest offering a great opportunity for watching birds, butterflies and other wildlife

Good For: Light Adventure seekers

Timings: 7 am, 7.30 am,10 am, 10.30 am, 2 pm and 2.30 pm.

Visit
Duration:2.5 hours 

A great alternative to boating for those who like more active experiences and get a chance to see flora and fauna at closer quarters 

This 2.5 hour trek is led by trained tribal guides through different nature trails taking visitors on a ringside view of the forest. On this experience, trekkers will definitely get to see many birds, butterflies and some animals but don’t expect much. The trails are certainly delightful as they take you 4-5 kms through marshy grasslands, evergreen and moist, deciduous forests. 

Booking Nature Walk:

The programme is offered in six time slots as detailed above. It is ideally done in groups with a trained interpreter accompanying a group size of min 4 and max 6 @ Rs.200/person (min Rs.800/trek). Bookings for this programme can be done at the Eco-tourism Information centre at Thekkady. This experience does not necessary require pre-booking but you can contact them at 04869 224571. We advise you to buy leech proof socks especially if you are trekking in the monsoon season. 


Elephant Ride/Shower: Up-close with the gentle giant

Rs. 350

Per Person

Elephant Safari

This activity offers one a rare opportunity to experience a ride on an elephant through forests and spice gardens

Good For: Adventure seekers, Vacation with Family

Timings: 9am till 5pm 

Visit
Duration:0.5 hour to 2 hours

The elephant ride is a guaranteed fun experience which will offer some thrilling moments to remember of your South India trip

Elephant rides in Thekkady are organised by both private players and the Forest Department. The base experience is a 30 minute safari on top of a tusker and photo session as you make your way through a spice plantation. The spice scented air will refresh you. There are also options for the strong hearted which take you through forest interiors to get a thrilling close view of other animals. Longer programmes (1 -1.5 hours) will also include bathing/shower with the elephant, feeding baby elephants, timber dragging and more.

Elephant ride charges:

There are multiple locations outside the reserve like Elephant Junction, Elephant Park and Tusker Trail offering this experience in Thekkady. There are Govt. Approved Rates for these activities as detailed below: Elephant Safari + Photo session (30 mins) – Rs.350/person, Elephant Safari + Elephant Shower (1 hour) – Rs.1000/person, Elephant Safari + Elephant Shower (1.5 hours) – Rs.1500/person. There is no need to pre-book but if you are traveling during peak season there might be a queue for this experience.

Spice Plantation Tour and Spice Shopping: A must experience

Rs. 300

Per Person

Spice Plantation Tour

A guided tour in a spice farm is an interactive and educative experience. It is also good place to shop for spices

Good For: Nature lovers, Vacation with Family

Timings: 9am till 5pm 

Visit
Duration:2 hours

Spice tours are highly recommended experiences which will connect you with the joys farm life and transform your idea of what spices really taste like

For what it is worth, spice planation tours will transform your idea of spices.  Experienced guides escort you around gardens keeping you excited along the way with bits of information and even demonstration of the healing power of spices. By the time you are done, you would have discovered some Keralan culinary secrets, spice farming practises and got introduced to the world of ayurvedic medical preparations.

These are also the best places to shop for authentic and good quality spices, spice powders and oils at reasonable prices. With multiple spice gardens around Thekkady, it is important that you avoid the shallow touristy gardens and chose genuine plantations with passionate guides. 



 

Kalaripayattu Show: Be amazed at the talent in self defence

Rs. 200

Per Person

Kalaripayattu Performance

The Kalaripayattu martial art system is one of the oldest fighting systems in existence

Good For: Adventure seekers, Cultural Heritage Seekers

Timings: 6:00 pm – 7 pm

Visit
Duration:1 hour

Among the most popular activities in Thekkady, this martial arts show will be nothing short of gripping

In this one hour experience, you will witness in front of your eyes an astonishing and unique martial art. You will amazed by the agility, flexibility and forms of self defense on display here. Travellers get to watch this art form in a specially designed gallery called Kuzhikalari. It has been built such that views get a clear vision from a safe seat.

The evening performance at Kadathanadan Kalari Centre is very popular and you purchase tickets from their box office any time during the day. You can also book online at https://www.thekkadytourism.in/



 

Tea Factory Visit: Stop for a cuppa

Rs.100

Per Person

Tea Factory Visit

Get an inspired presentation on tea making and processing from one of the oldest tea factories

Good For: Experience Seekers

Timings: 9 Am to 4 pm (Sundays/Holidays Closed)

Visit
Duration:1 hour tour

This recommended experience for tea lovers will give insights into the tea making process in a very engaging fashion

informative tea factory guided tour. The tour covers tea estates, tea-making process and tea-tastings in the end. You can also buy some good quality tea from the outlet outside the factory. This tour is definitely recommended and will give you something to think about next time you have a cuppa.

If you are on a Kerala tour, plan this tea factory visit on the way from Thekkady to Alleppey as it is located in Vandiperiyar (17 km from Thekkady). They can be contacted @04869 252233 for further information.



Two Nights or more at Thekkady/Periyar

With two nights or three nights stay in Thekkady, you have a lot more options. If you want a real wildlife experience in Periyar you need at least two nights here. Firstly, all the options discussed above are consider worthy but you also have deeper and immersive experiences. Find something that you really want to do to make your experience here betterhree nights stay in Thekkady, you have a lot more options. If you want a real wildlife experience in Periyar you need at least two nights here. Firstly, all the options discussed above are consider worthy but you also have deeper and immersive experiences. Find something that you really want to do to make your experience here better

Gavi Tour/Open Jeep safari: Wilderness Beacons

Rs.2500

Per person

Gavi Stay/Jungle safari

Gavi is popular with European travellers, especially after ‘Alistair International’ listed it among the world’s leading eco-tourism centres

Good For: Adventure seekers, Nature Lovers

Timings: 5:30 am to 4 pm or stay over

Visit
Duration:Day tour or stay over

Gavi is a more exclusive wildlife experience with brighter chances of a wildlife encounter and a lot of options for travellers.

Gavi is a major off-the-track destination (40 km from Thekkady town) which is under Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC). It is an eco-tourism project and involves local people as guides, gardeners and cooks. The activity options include a Jungle Jeep Safari, treks and or stay in a forest mansion. Check out the details of options below

Jungle Jeep safari (Day Trip)

Timing: 5:30 am – 4 pm (round trip from Thekkady)

Activities: Open jeep safari, trekking, boating/canoeing in Gavi Lake, breakfast/lunch in Jungle mansion

Price: INR 2500/person from Thekkady

This trip without jeep safari start at 12 pm from Gavi for Rs 1250/person

Green Mansion Jungle Lodge (Stay over)

This experience involves stay in a the unique Green Mansion at Gavi.

Timing: Check-in at @ 2pm (24 hours)

Activities: Row boat ride, cardamom plantation visit, viewpoint and stay at Mansion. Early morning enjoy a 2.5 hour jeep safari for wildlife spotting

Price: INR 2500/person (full board)

Jungle Camping (Stay over)

Another unique feature of Gavi is camping in the forests. One can pitch a tent in the camping site, which is a rarity in many Indian forests. As the dusk stretches into the silence of the night, one can feel the presence of wildlife in the middle of nowhere

Activities: Same as Jungle Lodge

Price: Rs. 12000 for 4 persons (min 4)

Swiss Cottage Tents (Stay over)

This offers the experience of staying in permanently pitched cottage tents in the forest.

Activities & Timing: Same as Jungle Lodge

Price: Rs. 3000/person (full board)

Booking Gavi Experiences:

You can use your own vehicle to reach Gavi, but advance bookings have to be done to get vehicle permit. As Gavi is restricts the entry of tourists to 100 persons a day, it is essential that you plan for Gavi experiences and book them well in advance. All the aforementioned activities can be booked directly through the website as per details furnished below:

Website: http://gavi.kfdcecotourism.com/

Email: gavi@kfdcecotourism.com

Contact: +91 99474 92399

Kindly note that the experience in general is great but don’t expect the creature comforts of a hotel for your stay here.

Bamboo Rafting: Popular dawn to dusk hiking & rafting

Rs.1500

Per person

Bamboo Rafting

The combination of Trekking in the forests and rafting along the Periyar River would be a memorable experience for travellers 

Good For: Mild Adventure seekers, Nature lovers

Timings: 7:30 AM to 5 PM

Visit
Duration:5 hours/9 hours

The programme is perfect for mild adventure/nature lovers as bamboo rafting will give opportunities to spot wild life by the water edge.

If you have more than a day in Thekkady, we certainly recommend this experience. The concept of bamboo rafts was devised by the tribals in the reserve for their use. This is a combined trekking and rafting tour which takes you through some of the most scenic catchment areas of the Periyar Tiger reserve. The package comes with 4 km forest trek followed by rafting. Both give opportunities to encounter the wildlife up-close (in the forest and at the river bank). An armed guard and 4 guides will accompany a maximum of 10 tourists. Tea, snacks and packed lunch will be served en route.

Booking and options for Bamboo rafting

Only children of 12 years and above are allowed to participate in this activity. There are basically two options: Full day and Half day Bamboo rafting. 

Full day bamboo rafting (9 hours)

Full day bamboo rafting is from 8AM – 5PM and will cost Rs. 1500/person (min 2 pax). The trek will be for 6 hours and rafting for 3 hours will all meals during the trip. 

Half day bamboo rafting (5 hours)

Half day bamboo rafting has two slots 7:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM. The activity will cost Rs.1200/person (min 2 pax). The trek will be for 3.5 hours and rafting for 1.5 hours will all meals during the trip.

Bookings for this programme can be done at the Eco-tourism Information centre at Thekkady on your arrival here. However, Bamboo rafting has limited slots every day, so we recommend that you pre-book for which you can contact them at 04869 224571 and make payment in advance to hold the bookings. You also get the help of private players who will make the booking/payment process hassle-free for a minor fee.


Are you looking for a exclusive Wild life tour in Kerala? We can customise one for you.


Periyar Tiger Trail: Adventure Trekking & Camping

Rs.4000

Per person

Periyar Tiger Trail

This flagship trekking and camping programme of PTR conducted by rehabilitated poachers

Good For: Hardcore Adventure seekers

Timings: 9 am to noon (2nd/3rd day)

Visit
Duration:One/Two night camp

A tailor made program with ex-poachers which takes you deep into the forest for the most authentic wildlife experience

The Periyar Tiger Trail is a protection-oriented trekking programme in which you will be trekking 20-35km depending on the route taken. You will be guided by locals who were once poachers and have now turned protectors of the forests. In this programme you stand a good chance of encountering a variety of wildlife like the Nilgiri Langur, the Giant Squirrel, herds of elephants and if you are lucky, you may even spot a tiger. You will stay in camps set up next to water sources and will get to learn a lot about the wild and adventure stories from your guides. The team consists of a maximum of 5 visitors, 5 guides and 2 forest officials.

Booking the Periyar tiger trail:

You can choose the one night camp or two night camp of the tiger trail. The one night camp starts at 9 am and end by noon the next day and the price Rs. 4000/- per person (Min Rs. 6000/- per camp). The two night camp comes at @Rs. 6000/- per person (Minimum Rs. 9000/- per camp). This activity will suit only medically fit nature lovers and don’t expect much of the creature comforts to be available.

Bookings for this programme can be done at the Eco-tourism Information centre at Thekkady on your arrival here. However, as only 20 travellers are allowed to participate in the tiger trail every week, we recommend that you pre-book. The centre can be contacted at 04869 224571 and make payment in advance to hold the bookings. Seek the help of private players if necessary. 

Jungle Scout: Guided night trekking in the Reserve

Rs.750

Per person

Night Scouting

The jungle patrol is a programme for travellers to join the night patrolling in the sanctuary.

Good For:Adventure seekers

Timings:7pm to 4 am (3 slots)

Visit
Duration:7pm to 4 am (3 slots)

A unique programme which suits physically fit and mentally alert young travellers who would like to experience wilderness in the night

Become jungle guard for a night, when you join for this 3 hour trek through the forest. Your group will join an armed forest guard and two protection watchers as part of a team protecting the jungle during the night. It is a slightly adventurous but highly rewarding wildlife experience. A rare opportunity to see night active animals like mouse deer, nocturnal bird species, civets and flying squirrel makes this activity exciting. Explore the limits of your senses-sight, hearing and smell and take in the totally different world of nocturnal jungle life.

Booking Jungle Scout:

The programme is offered in three time slots (7pm -10 pm, 10pm – 1 pm and 1 pm to 4 pm). It is ideally done in small group size of min 2 and max 5 @ Rs.750/person (min Rs.1500/trek). Bookings for this programme can be done at the Eco-tourism Information centre at Thekkady. This experience does not necessary require pre-booking but you can contact them at 04869 224571. We advise you to buy leech proof socks especially if you are trekking in the monsoon season.

Border Hiking and other trekking options in Thekkady

Rs.1000 

Per person

Trekking in Thekkady

This is a guided trek through lofty escarpments bordering the park watershed and plain areas below

Good For: Adventure seekers Nature Lovers

Timings: 8 AM to 5 PM

Visit
Duration:Full day programme

This range hiking will suit real hikers/nature enthusiasts and will cover various terrains with spectacular views

Border Hiking is designed as a conservation-oriented trek which covers circuitous terrains and altitudes ranging from 900m to 1300m. The trek starts at 8 AM in the morning and ends in the evening. The trekking route is through the habitats of elephant, sloth bear, gaur, birds and butterflies. Guides and armed forest guards will accompany the group. A maximum of 10 participants in two different groups are given permission for border hiking on any given day.

Other trekking options

Many resorts outside the reserve have their own trek paths which they organise daily. There are numerous privately organised treks which can range from 2 days to 10 days based on your requirement. Trekking tours/Active vacations are organised connecting hill destinations like Thekkady, Vagamon, Munnar etc. So if you are looking for a more elaborate trekking programme, our team will be happy to help.

Booking Border hiking

Prior permission from the wildlife authorities are required to trek in Periyar wildlife sanctuary. For Border hiking it is advisable to book in advance with the eco-tourism office at 04869 224571. It cost Rs.1000/person (min Rs. 4000/trip). Daily treks are also organised by the Kerala forest authorities though popular routes.Travellers signing up for this must be ready for a physically straining full-day trek and it will only suit hike enthusiasts.

Kathakali Performance: Kerala’s Classical Dance Drama

Rs.200

Per person

Kathakali Show

The face of Kerala Tourism, Kathakali is a classical dance drama which is sure to delight the culture lover in you

Good For: Culture lovers

Timings: 5 PM & 7 PM

Visit
Duration:1 -1.5 hours

Outside the reserve, Kathakali is a good option for culture lovers especially if you have had a lot of jungle time and would like a change

With Kathakali being the face of Kerala Tourism, it is surely something you should treat yourself to when you come here. There are evening shows organised throughout the state and at Thekkady as well. This performance is a guided experience where the story is narrated in a way you understand the performance. Also the make-up and dressing for the art can be seen if you arrive a bit in advance. 

The evening performance at Mudra Cultural Centre is very popular and you purchase tickets from their box office any time during the day. You can visit their website at http://mudraculturalcentre.com/. If you are not much of a cultural connoisseur give this activity a miss as you are likely to get bored. For culture lovers, it is a delight. 



Off-Beat Activities at Thekkady/Periyar

Here we present some of less known activities at Thekkady. Some of these are very unique experiences which are native to the area and will take you on deeper journeys.

Village life experience Thekkady: A day of small Joys

Rs.1350

Per person

VLE Thekkady

A responsible tourism initiative, which gives you an opportunity to interact and learn about the lifestyle of people living in the hills

Good For:Experience Seekers

Timings: 9 AM 

Visit
Duration:Full day/ Half day programmes

Get a feel of the quintessential Kerala village life and learn some secrets of life in the hills

This village tour package begins at Vincent’s house a traditional medical practitioner. You will then see the process of pappad making, an indispensible part of the Kerala meal at Rajeev’s place. As the day progress you will see beekeeping, be served a traditional meal, Home-made chocolate making followed by a spice farm visit. You will also meet traditional cane craftsmen. This will surely be a unique and informative experience.

This experience is available in 5 different versions which can be customised to your liking by adding in options like elephant rides and tribal dance. Bookings for VLE Thekkady can be done through the responsible tourism office of Kerala Tourism. Contact them for booking office at number +91 4869 222025. You will have to book in advance so that arrangements can be done. We can also help customise this experience for you.



 

Mountain Biking Tours: Day tours exploring the cardamom hills

Rs.3500

Per person

Cycling /biking tours

Biking tours starting from day tours to full-fledged cycle tour option are available for your consideration

Good For: Adventure seekers

Timings: Start at 8 AM

Visit
Duration:6 - 7 Hours

If you love biking and wouldn’t mind the honks and a few stares, then this day tour is for you.

The day starts with a small brief on the routes and your quality geared cycles. On this experience, professionals lead you through spice gardens, thick evergreen forests and cardamom estates. The ride takes you to a spice plantation where you will learn about different spices, their medicinal value and cultivation techniques. After that we stop a suitable spot for picnic lunch and proceed further to cardamom estates.

Other than day biking trips, for a cycling enthusiasts there are 3 day mountain biking trips connecting Munnar and Thekkady or even 10 day tours covering major destinations in Kerala. Day trips are advisable for travellers who prefer moderate difficulty.


Can we interest you in a short break that will plunge you neck deep into the magical wild of the Periyar? Click for details.


Tribal dance and Tribal Heritage programme in Thekkady

Rs.300 

Per person

Tribal Culture experience

This experience provides a peep into the past and ways of life of the Tribal community who live around the reserve

Good For: Culture lovers

Timings: 8 am to 4pm, 6pm for dance

Visit
Duration: 2 hours

This is a unique cultural experience for those who would like a peep into the lifestyle and traditions of the Tribals in Kerala

Tribal heritage is a two hour programme that takes you to tribal hamlets and the tribal heritage museum. You will get a chance to visit the households of Mannan tribe which are grey-thatched houses in the dense forests. This is a fantastic opportunity for close interaction with the tribal community. The tribal heritage museum is well worth a visit. It features fishing gear, tribal agricultural practises, hunting gear and more. This programmes under accompanied by tribal guides will be memorable.

The tribal dance organised in the evening gives an exclusive opportunity to witness the rich cultural heritage of Paliyan and Mannan dancers. Costumes, musical instruments are introduced and the event concludes with photo sessions. It is organised 6 pm – 7pm (Rs.300/person) every day at Vanashree Auditorium, Anavachal.

Bullock Cart Discoveries: The joys of village life

Rs.500

Per person

Bullock Cart Ride

Visit the farmland of the border villages of Periyar on a bullock cart and discover the joys of village life

Good For: Adventure seekers

Timings: 7.30 am, 9.30 am, 2.30 pm 

Visit
Duration:3 hours

Ride up on a bullock cart, traverse through village lanes and experience life in its simplest forms.

The package called ‘Bullock Cart Discoveries’ includes a visit to the farmlands of a village in the valleys beyond the Periyar Tiger Reserve in a bullock cart. An optional coracle ride on the lake is also provided in the package. A guide will accompany you in this visit to the farmlands.  

Such a visit provides insight into traditional ways of farming and the culture and lifestyle of the people there. At the village, there are vineyards, fields with diverse agricultural crops such as mangoes, tamarind, onions etc as well as flowers like the sunflower, the jasmine and so on. You can book this experience with the eco-tourism office on reaching Thekkady. It costs Rs.500/person (min Rs. 1000/trip).

We hope is compilation has been useful for your travel planning. What did you choose, how were these experiences? Are there some experiences that we have missed? Feel free to chime in with your opinion in the comments section below. Happy travelling!
 

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