Eco Tourism is more than a catch phrase for nature loving travel and tourism. There are numerous Ecotourism destinations in Kerala that attract visitors for its tranquility, stunning landscapes, natural beauty and amazing view of the hills and forests. It is tourism of fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas. Kerala, one of the most popular travel destinations in India is named as one of the ten paradises of the world.
Step in to nature’s lap by visiting these top 15 Ecotourism destinations in Kerala:
Eravikulam National Park
Eravikulam National Park located at 7000 feet above sea level is blessed with biodiversity of high elevation shola-grassland ecosystem. Spread over 97 sq km in the Kannan Devan hills, the National Park is a sanctuary for the endangered mountain goat of South India, the Nilgiri Tahr. Eco tourism is its appeal. The natural beauty of the Western Ghats, adventures in the environs are accessible to visitors with least damage to the environment and the inhabitant.
Anamudi, the highest peak south of Himalayas, stands majestically at height of 2695 m in the core area of the national park. The area abounds in many kinds of rare flora which include rare orchids and beautiful wild balsams. Species inhabiting the sanctuary are Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Langur, leopard, tiger, Indian bison, etc. Trekking and other activities are allowed in the designated tourism zone. Accessible by vehicles, the views are breathtaking. Numerous trekking trails in the sanctuary make for pleasant adventures.
A one day trek from the Lakshom Falls is worth a try. Scale the heights of the highest peak of Western Ghats, The Anamudi Peak. Fishing is a thrilling pastime in the park area. Rainbow trouts and abundant in the streams. For the best experiences of the blessed environs stay at the log house or the government guest house or the many resorts in Munnar. It is advisable to not visit the national park during the early months of the year. The park may be closed for visitors because it is calving time of the Tahr.
Thenmala known as “honey hills” is one of the most famous ecotourism destinations in Kerala and India’s first planned site. Thenmala lies at an altitude of 1650 feet extending over acres of dense forests. The lands are blessed with abundance of medicinal honey. Thenamala Eco Tourism Promotional Society offers exciting opportunities for fun, adventure, leisure and learning the significance and necessity of eco-friendly measures.
There are there designated zones according to the interest of visitors. At the Culture Zone, the highlight is the Musical Dancing Fountain. Visitors can relish the traditional Kerala dishes at the restaurant or enjoy a bit of shopping for memento sake. Get a peep on Kerala’s art and culture at the amphitheater. Check out the Tourism Facilitation Center in the Culture Zone to provide information on a wide range of tourism products available at Thenmala. Step into the Leisure Zone for breathtaking sights that soothe your body, mind and soul.
Walk down to the boardwalk leading to the dam. A sway bridge here excites the visitors especially for children. Check out the beautiful Sculpture Garden, which has Man & Nature as its theme. The Adventure Zone offers trekking the exciting terrain mountain biking, rock climbing and river crossing.
Also enjoy invigorating boat ride in the Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary; a visit to the Deer Rehabilitation Centre, stay in the nature blessed lodgings with eco tours. Palaruvi Waterfall en-route to the eco-tourism site in Kollam District is also a prime attraction.
Neyyar is one of Kerala’s popular ecotourism site owing to its picturesque location. The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the oldest national parks of the state. The sanctuary of wilderness has unique species of flora and fauna. It is the habitat of over a hundred of fauna including species of fauna including Asian Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, and other unique variants. The Neyyar Dam is a part of the wildlife sanctuary. It is a popular picnic spot. The lake formed by the dam across the Neyyar River is shaded in the bluest of blue.
The picturesque beauty makes boating irresistible for tourists. There is also a crocodile breeding centre and a lion safari park. A repository of some of the rarest medicinal herbs is here. Ayurvedic variants are also found which are used in the procedures of the holistic science of health and wellness. The Agasthya peak at 1890 m above sea level lies within the premises of the sanctuary. It is home to a wide variety of plant species including rare medicinal plants and brilliantly colored orchids. Agasthyamalai Biosphere is now listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Trekking is allowed with express permission from the Forest Department in the summer months.
Make your eco-tourism experience a memorable one with stay in the natural lodging available in the sanctuary. Wake up to the calls of birds with wildlife sound for company. Spend few days surviving on natural blessings. Thiruvananthapuram is the closest city making tours to the paradise easily possible.
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
Ecological significance of Peppara wildlife sanctuary got it listed in the eco-tourism sites in Kerala. Peppara is blessed with mixed forests of tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist mixed deciduous spread over an area of 53 acres. The Peppara dam across the Karmana River is a pleasant picnic spot. Thick forests, rocky terrain with rich fauna and sparkling streams highlight the landscape. There are almost 13 tribal settlements in the sanctuary. These communities enjoy a peaceful existence in natural surroundings as they are quite protected by the sanctuary authorities. The wild species inhabiting the area are abundant in numbers making safari and other adventures thrilling.
Peppara is home to 43 species of mammals, 233 species of birds, 46 species of reptiles, 13 species of amphibians and 27 species of fishes. It is especially attractive for birdwatchers and butterfly lovers. Birds and butterflies are easy to spot in some season. Watchtowers and guides help you spot the rare beauties.
The exciting landscape is exciting to explore. Treks requires prior permission form the Forest Department. Recently, a joint effort has been made by Kerala Tourism with the State Forest Department and the Kerala Water Authority to beautify the dam site and provide more entertainment and leisure facilities here. Eco tours to the area also cover the Ponmudi hill station, Lion Safari Park, Kallar, Anappara and Meenmutty waterfalls. Experience the natural beauty without damage to environment and the inhabiting communities.
[ Also read: Top 10 Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks in Kerala ]
Periyar is what nature’s bounty looks like. The great scenic charm of the mountainous beauty has blessed biodiversity. The notable Elephant Reserve and Tiger Reserve, Periyar National Park is located in the heights of Cardamom hills and Pandalam hills bordering with Tamil Nadu. The environs of Periyar are made scenic with man-made created lake built by stopping the flow of the Periyar River few centuries back.
Periyar is noted for its geomorphology, diverse wildlife and beautiful landscape. The lake serves as a watering hole and is a unique aquatic ecosystem in itself. A cruise along it is perhaps the best way to watch the wildlife in the reserve. Exciting trekking trails and other adventure activities wait at the enchanting nature blessed sanctuary for wildlife. Tribal trackers and armed guides takes you through scenic trails where you can come up-close with the animals inhabiting the sanctuary.
Do not miss bamboo rafting. It is a dawn to dusk travel plan of trekking and rafting. Unforgettable experience indeed. Savor the true feeling of life in the wild, stay at the eco-lodge in tents, tree houses or thatched cottages. Stay in such lodgings creates wonderful memories. You are one with nature and away from hassles of cities. Periyar is the first choice of the city dwellers to enjoy the nature blessed beauty. Eco-tourism is the best way to visit. No damage is done to the environment and yet you get to enjoy the slice of paradise.
Find some top packages to explore Ecotourism destinations in Kerala:
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary
The Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over acres of undulating forested highlands on the slopes of the Western Ghats. The highest peak here Katti Betta rises to a majestic 1145 m above sea level. Covered with tropical and semi evergreen forests, the Aralam is home to vast variety of flora and fauna endemic to Kerala’s hilly regions.
Aralam is home to a variety of birds and animals unique to the landscape of Kerala, Elephants, sambar, bison, leopard, boar, deer, jungle cats and different species of squirrels are the most popular inhabitants. An overnight stay in the forest watchtower is an ideal experience of the sanctuary.
The beautiful Meentmutty waterfalls is near the watchtower. Trekking is also permissible. There is a popular 14 km trek from Valayanchat to reach Meenmutty falls. The placid Aralam River not far from the sanctuary is an ideal picnic spot. Relish the verdant environs and the blessed experience of nature. Eco tours offers incredible memories of the scenic backdrops of Kerala. Spend time in the pristine natural landscapes.
Konni, is a forested village and ecotourism destination in Kerala. It is famous for its elephant cages, lush green forests and natural rubber plantations. The lush verdant lands are a haven of wild elephants. Here there is an Elephant museum, sanctuary and a very loving home for the gentle beasts. Nestled on the bank of the mighty Achencoil River has a long and rich history of man-forest interface.
Konni village lies on the banks of Achankoil River. The forests around Konni is one of the first reserve forests in Kerala. There is an abundance of rivers and streams in the area and diverse flora. Some rare medicinal herbs which are fast disappearing from the face of the earth are still found here. Aboriginals lived here once; their simple lives had never upset Man-Nature equilibrium. Konni is mainly associated with “Aanakoodu” a camp for elephants where they are trained.
Tourists can view the taming; even participate in feeding them and bathing them. Rides are provided. An elephant museum has also been set up. The hub for ecotourism activities, such as trekking accompanied by trained guides to interior camp sites. Treks of half day, whole day and two days are possible. The last mentioned takes you to Manalar-Kumbhavarutty, a refreshing waterfall deep inside the forest. Savor the freshness of natural beauty and the serenity of the neirins with eco tours here.
Exemplary scenic beauty is the only thing that actually describes Gavi. A two hour jeep ride from Kumily, the journey passes through tea and cardamom plantation, forests, waterfalls, etc which you can make stops at or pass them. Gavi is rich in flora and fauna. There are hills and valleys, tropical forests, sprawling grasslands, sholas, cascading waterfalls and cardamom plantations. Endangered species including the Nilgiri Tahr and Lion-tailed macaque are often sighted at the outskirts of Gavi. With more than 260 species of birds including the great pied hornbill, woodpecker, and kingfishers, Gavi is a heaven for birdwatchers.
Besides bird watching, visitors can go boating or canoeing in the Reservoir Lake. The trekking trail to Pullumedu Peak ends with a panoramic view including the famous shrine of Sabarimala. The adventurers can hike to Meenar or Valley view and gaze in awe at the deep ravine below. You need to have a local guide and “elephant chaser “accompany you. The most exciting thing to do is night-camping in the forest, which is possible in Gavi. You can stay in the eco-lodge overlooking the Gavi Lake and forests. You may also stay in a tree-top house or to say honestly that you lived right in the forest; pitch a tent in the wilderness. The ecology of the forests and the experience to survive right in the middle of it are wonderful memories of Kerala.
Nelliyampathy hills are exclusively famous for their exquisite fauna and green dense forests. The cloud-caressed peaks of the majestic Nelliyampathy hill ranges are a sight to behold. The height of the hills ranges from 467 m to 1572 m. The Pothundy Dam here is a picturesque locale with facilities for boating and is a nice option as a picnic place. The journey to Nelliyampathy hills are breathtaking as there are viewpoints from where the vast stretches of extensive paddy fields forming a verdant carpet are visible.
On your journey enjoy splendid views of the Palakkad Gap. The breathtaking geographical phenomenon in the Western Ghats formation in this region brings into sight parts of the adjoining State of Tamil Nadu. En-route those interested in bio farming can take a close look at the farms and vast expanses of tea estates. The hills of Nelliyampathy are also well known for its orange cultivation.
Privately owned hotels and resorts are located at various points, as one goes up the hills of Nelliyampathy. The bio-farms located here are a major landmark as one proceeds up before reaching the topmost point at Palagapandi estate. The estate has a quaint bungalow, built during the period of the British rule in India, and has now been converted into a private owned resort. At Kaikatty, a community hall is available, which is usually used as a base by those interested in trekking. Enjoy natural bliss and the unique ecology of the place with eco tours that grant a wonderful holiday.
Pathiramanal is a beautiful inhabited island in the middle of the backwaters in Muhumma-Kumarakom backwater route. It is surrounded by Vembanad Lake. The island is home to thousands of migratory birds from different parts of the world. Accessible only by boat the island, home to 88 species of birds, 58 species of fish, 23 varieties of spiders and 34 species of butterflies, is said to have more than 160 plant species as well.
The island is home to about 90 species of birds and 30 species of butterflies. There are about 160 species of plants, 55 species of fish and 20 species of spiders on the island. As human disturbances are minimal in the island, it has become a roosting place for water birds, mainly of the cormorant family. Other birds seen include the darter, Indian Shag, Purple Heron, Indian Pound Heron, Large Cormorant, Night Heron, Black Bittern, Chestnut Bittern and Yellow Bittern, Little Egret, Median Egret, Large Egret, Cattle Egret and Grey Heron.
Common teals, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Watercock, Whistling Duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Whiskered Tern and Smooth Indian Otters also inhabit the island. The backwaters between the island and the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary are a favorite haunt of migratory birds from Siberia and Europe. The Kerala Government has recently introduced eco-tourism project. The island, the lake, the conservation of mangroves and other flour and enhancing the biodiversity has been and possible with the new measures of responsible tourism.
Kumbalangi, a tiny beautiful island village of Kochi in Kerala, is an example of how an underdeveloped fishing village has become a thriving eco tourist destination over the past few years, benefiting the local fisher folk who run homestays. This island is under the Integrated Tourism Village project and is a unique initiative to transform the tiny island as a model fishing village and eco-tourism hotspot.
Savor a variety of natural splendors, and paramount to a model tourist village, the outstanding ecological balance of the location. Dotted with homestays famous for coastal delicacies, the island gives tourists a peak into the local way of life and living. Kumbalangi was developed as the State’s first model tourism village as part of Kerala government’s rural development efforts. The self-sustaining eco-tourism destination of Kumbalangi ensures employment opportunities to locals. As it stands, Kerala scores high as a tourist destination in the country.
Enjoy the interesting vistas and activities in the near future. This coastal hamlet without doubt provides a fascinating glimpse of the simple and prosperous livelihood of the villagers, and also unravels the age-old, magnificent cultural heritage of the place. Kalagramam, an artist’s village, displays handicrafts and fishing equipment. Mangroves are nurtured here as well as fish farming. Bait fishing is extremely popular among tourists here. Many houses in the village are homestays and visitors can book their stay directly with homestay operators or seek the assistance of the village council.
The Kuruva Island in Wayanad, Kerala is a 950 acre evergreen forest on the tributaries of Kabini River. The river delta is the ideal picnic spot is a potential eco-tourism destination. Away from the disturbance of city life, the island is uninhabited. Kuruva contains two small fresh water lakes. Several migratory birds are seen here. These islands present a unique eco system which may be of great interest of nature lovers.
Dwelling deep into this island, you can sight many attractive things like bridges made up of bamboo trees and other rare species of trees. The uninhabited island is home to rare species of birds, orchids, herbal plants etc. Kuruva Island is a nature’s gift to Wayanad. The island is surrounded by streams and you can enjoy boat rides or rafting through streams. The boats and rafts are provided by the Kerala Tourism Department and it will take few hours to cover each and every island. The rafts are made up of bamboos providing you a thrilling and exciting journey through the streams.
The other thing you can do in this fabulous island is to have a calm and lazy nature walk. Partying and picnic are restricted here as the authorities are maintaining eco-tourism in Kuruva Island. Just enjoy the beauty without spoiling the pristine nature. Entry to this island is restricted during rainy seasons (from June to September). The island is opened during the months from October to May and there is a nominal entry fee to the island.
Poovar is an unexplored and unspoilt ecotourism destination in Kerala that has a lot of potential. The beautiful Poovar beach is enveloped by the backwaters and opens a world of golden sand and beach. The blue lagoons and the verdant natural beauty of this place together make it a perfect tourist destination.
The beautiful Poovar offers a number of recreational facilities to the visitors. Swimming, boating, backwater trips, water sports and cruises are the major attractions of the beach. The natives also use it for fishing purposes. Away from the hustle bustle of city life, Poovar beach offers a contended stay in the beautiful Kerala backwaters. There are a lot of interesting activities to be indulged in on Poovar Island. Under the initiative of the tourism department, eco-friendly floating cottages have been launched in some of the resorts at Poovar.
Built using natural material such as coconut timber and treated soft wood, these two-room cottages have a thatched roof and are intended for Ayurveda treatment. The fittings in this cottage, which has a wind-based ventilation system, are made of medicinal wood. The guests are offered a choice of both ayurvedic and non-ayurvedic therapy and spa options under the supervision of qualified experts. Any tourism-related business in harmony with a particular locality’s ethos comes under the category of eco-tourism. The long way in preserving the environment and promoting eco-tourism at Poovar. The local people are also expected to be involved in preserving the eco system of the area.
Thommankuthu lies in the deep forests of the Idukki district. The wild beauty of green jungles and gats flowing mountain rivers combine to create the magical appeal of the place. The topography of the place is as strange as its name. It consists of a seven-step waterfall from 1500 m to 500 m spread over a distance of 5 km. At each step there is a cascade and a pool beneath. There are dark mysterious caves in between. Naturally tourists rush to this spot for a rarely experienced treat. It is only 20 km from Thodupuzha.
If you are game, you can trek 12 km to the top of the mountain where the waterfall starts. But you can enjoy as much in the shallow pools lower down. Go boating, bird watching and camp for the night. For those who prefer comfort stay, there are a number of hotels in Thodupuzha. Even a farm stay is available nearby. The eco tours to the blessed forested waterfall is slowly on the rise. It is a soothing getaway for visitors seeking a break from chaos of cities.
As the name implies, Rhoda Valley is where rhododendrons flower profusely in this high altitude locale in Munnar. This “Silent Valley” plateau, covered with grass, is home to many endangered species of animals. To enjoy the scenic beauty one has to trek along some of the many trails that start from Silent Valley Tea Estate.
The treks touch Land’s End Camp, Lake View camp and Rhodo valley Camp. A two-day trek halts for the night at a forest hut and returns through Rhodo valley and back home. Next to the KFDC office on Mattupetty Road is an orchidarium and garden. A trek from Rajamalai through thick shola forests will land you at the orchid farm at Kadalar. Part of the way is navigated by jeep. There are some beautiful lakes nearby. There is dormitory accommodation available. There are few comfortable resorts nearby. Eco tours to Rhodo Valley are for every visitor in Kerala seeking respite from constricting lifestyles in the blissful lap of nature.