Climb up the Chembra Peak and pitch a tent, zipline through the tea plantations of Pozhuthana, go island hopping to Kuruva Dweep, or embark on a trek through the dense forests to Pakshipathalam for a whiff of raw adventure.

Bamboo rafting in WayanadBamboo rafting in Wayanad | Credit: Susheela Nair
Features Travel Tuesday, May 31, 2022 - 17:10

If you have a yen for thrill, some physical stamina and a really cool head, get ready for an action-packed vacation in Wayanad. Come weekends, and techies and corporate executives from the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu now head to the great outdoors of Wayanad to recharge their batteries. Adding to the excitement is the annual Splash festival during the monsoon, when Wayanad beckoned tourists to experience the thrills and spills of mud football, off-road rallying, bamboo rafting, archery, mountain biking, commando walking, crab catching and more, all in the rain.

Currently Wayanad promises experiences of rare delight for the young, adventure-seeking traveller. “Wayanad prides itself as a multi-faceted adventure destination that goes beyond the usual. Our programmes are a mix of nature and soft adventure, and provide insights into local customs and culture. We have a complete line-up of adventure activities that range from trekking and caving to multi-day cycling trails, kayaking, rafting, surfing, zip lining and outbound training programmes for corporates. Exciting sports are now on offer for everyone all-round the year,” says Pradeep Murthy, Director of Muddy Boots, an organisation promoting adventure sports. 

For a whiff of raw adventure, climb up the Chembra Peak, the tallest summit in this region, and be treated to the sight of a perennial heart-shaped lake. When you reach the highest point, pitch a tent and camp under a starry sky in the wilderness, rough it out, and discover the adventurer in you. At 2,100 metres, the summit offers stunning views of the surrounding hills, rocks, valleys and shimmering streams.

Ziplining through the tea plantations in Pozhuthana is another exciting adventure.  You can also float down the river on a bamboo raft amid the calm of the wilderness, or go island hopping to Kuruva Dweep, a 950-acre maze of islets. If in the mood for more, embark on the 9-km trek through the dense forests to Pakshipathalam — a grotto of caves crafted by nature millions of years ago in Brahmagiri Hills. If you are an avid birdwatcher, this is the place to be. The edible nest swiftlet, a rare species of bird that creates its peculiar nest from solidified saliva, can be sighted here.

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Tucked away in the deep woods is the 900 Kandi (known as Thollayiram Kandi in local parlance), named after the 900-acre sprawling estate that existed previously in this area. “For the adventurous ilk, we offer A-Frame cabins, tents, off-road treks and rides, perennial waterfall expeditions, campfire, stream hiking, birdwatching and biking in this green wonderland. The backdrop of the distant misty blue mountains, the gurgling of streams and rivers and twittering of birds make the place a memorable experience. One can savour the wilderness from the comfort of our A-frame cabins, be one with nature, listen to the sounds of the jungle and wake up to the musical chirping of birds. Our company’s credo is to celebrate nature as it is the biggest luxury in the world,” says Thaha Paloli, Co-Founder and CEO of Tentgram.

A bird's eye view of 900 Kandi, Wayanad's best kept secret
A bird's eye view of 900 Kandi, Wayanad's best kept secret | Credit: Tentgram

An A-Frame cabin tucked amid the lush landscape of 900 Kandi
An A-Frame cabin tucked amid the lush landscape of 900 Kandi | Credit: Tentgram

A women ziplines through the tea plantations in Pozhuthana
Ziplining through the tea plantations in Pozhuthana | Credit: Susheela Nair

If you want to enjoy the thrill of walking on glass, head to the Glass Bridge to get a bird’s eye view of the luxuriant forest. This verdant green hideaway, which was Wayanad’s best kept secret, has now become a hotspot for action-packed activities. To protect and preserve the sensitive ecosystem of 900 Kandi and its environs, planned and responsible tourism should be implemented.

For those who love to explore the unbeaten tracks, Wayanad abounds in several biking and cycling escapades. The terrain is full of geographical surprises and riding here can be quite an adventurous experience. For the laid back, there’s the option of kayaking, pedal and row boating in the freshwater Pookode Lake laden with lotus blooms near Lakkidi, surrounded by a lush evergreen forest, and speed boating in the picturesque Banasura Lake.

People cycle through the unbeaten tracks of Wayanad
Pedalling through the unbeaten tracks of Wayanad | Credit: Susheela Nair

A view of the Banasura Lake
A view of the Banasura Lake | Credit: Susheela Nair

For a walk on the wild side, head to the Wildlife Sanctuaries of Tholpetty and Muthanga. These sanctuaries are playgrounds for a number of wild animals, with elephants taking the lead role. The jungle pulsates with an incredible range of flora and fauna including several endangered species, and a variety of insects, butterflies and dragonflies. Be prepared for an unforgettable experience — you will be treated to wild boars grazing peacefully, gaurs making sudden appearances, and if your luck still holds you might even see a tiger prowling amidst the dense vegetation. Put it down to bad luck, during a jungle jeep safari, we saw only a few spotted deer, peacocks and a lone elephant in the distance. If you are lucky enough, you can also spot the rare Banasura laughingthrush.

Two spotted deers grazing in Muthanga forest
Spotted deer in the Muthanga forest | Credit: Susheela Nair

When we think of Wayanad, beautiful images of varying shades of green are evoked. A century-old temple perched on a hillock, and vast vistas of evergreen forests, dales, rushing rivulets and sprightly waterfalls like Soochipara and Meenmutti come rushing to mind. Also, the verdant hillsides swathed in tea, coffee, cardamom and pepper, and the delightful flora and fauna, swaying palms and areca groves make Wayanad a location director’s dream come true. Those who have a flair for history can explore the prehistoric Edakkal Caves, formed out of a strange disposition of three massive boulders on the crest of Ambukuthi Mala, a hill near Sultan Battery.

A woman treks past the waterfalls in the dense jungles of 900 Kandi
Trekking past the waterfalls in the dense jungles of 900 Kandi | Credit: Tentgram

Besides these, Wayanad abounds in sacred shrines. “We are working on a package that would focus on the development of a ‘Ramayana Trail’ based on historical accounts of Lord Rama’s journeys in this region. This will help renovate the old dilapidated temples and also provide some revenue to the local communities through cultural tourism. There are 30 landmarks in the district that owe their origins to the epic. Wayanad is firmly entrenched in the Ramayana – a result of the tribal population’s affinity for the ancient epic,” says Vancheeswaran, President of Wayanad Tourism Organisation (WTO).

Bonfire and music at the Tentgram camp in 900 Kandi
Bonfire and music at the Tentgram camp in 900 Kandi | Credit: Tentgram

For adventure sports in Wayanad, contact:

Muddy Boots: @ 91 95442 00208

Tentgram: 91 73061 53764 or

Susheela Nair is an independent food, travel and lifestyle writer, and photographer based in Bengaluru. She has contributed content, articles and images on food, travel, lifestyle, photography, environment and ecotourism to several reputed national publications. Her writings constitute a wide spectrum, including guide books, brochures and coffee table books.

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