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Old 13th June 2009, 18:32   #16
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Lightbulb A night in the jungle...

We reached the end of the trek by around 7.00pm. Accommodation for the night was in some abandoned old buildings... many of them without any doors, with leaking roofs... and some on the verge of collapse! No electricity, no piped water, no toilets!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-59.jpg


Closed / blocked the windows to prevent any creepy-crawlies from joining us. Killed a few leeches that had were inching around the room and spread out our stuff to dry.

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-60.jpg


Discoveries of the day; our rain-coats are not water proof. Our bags are not water proof. Our sleeping bags are not water proof. Our cameras are not water proof. Our cell-phones are not water proof...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-61.jpg


With the water we had carried from Bangalore getting over, we had to switch over to the river water for drinking. See the difference between the two bottles?

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-61a.jpg


Saw this snake coiled up on a tree, sheltering from the rain...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-62.jpg


Waiting for dinner!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-63.jpg


The forest department folks hurriedly prepared some chapattis, curry and curd-rice...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-64.jpg


Everyone killed time by killing some leeches that were crawling around. This one was full of blood from someone in the team. They quickly die once some table salt is put on them...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-65.jpg


We went back to building we called 'home' for the night and zipped ourselves into our still damp sleeping bags to wind up for the night. I had a very disturbed sleep, waking up several times to investigate some noises and also to see of anything from the jungle had decided to spend the night with us! So the routine was: torch on... 360 degree check... torch off... sleep for an hour or so.

Woke up in the morning and freshened up. With no indoor plumbing, it was jungle ahoy!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-66.jpg


With not many plates available there, Arjun thought up of using teak leaves as plates! And most of us followed suit...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-67.jpg


Upma for breakfast!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-68.jpg


Wildlife photography!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-69.jpg


Wild mangoes for breakfast!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-70.jpg


All set for the return journey.

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-71.jpg


A picturesque bridge...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-72.jpg


A road block!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-73.jpg


Picking up pace...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-74.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-75.jpg


Some first aid! Sohini was the youngest member of the group. This small kid walked the entire 30 kms of the trek braving a sprained ankle, leech and ant bites... happily taking pics and recording the trek on her handy-cam!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-76.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-77.jpg


I would fall behind every now and then while taking pics and then run up to catch up with Sangeetha...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-78.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-79.jpg


Another bridge... and more leeches to be taken off!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-80.jpg


The river...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-81.jpg


Another snake!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-82.jpg


And walking and walking...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-83.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-84.jpg


Continued...

Last edited by hotstuff : 13th June 2009 at 18:35.
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Old 13th June 2009, 19:09   #17
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Lightbulb Parambikulam Trek...

At Rs.750/- per pair, these 'Power' shoes from Bata are very comfortable and quite cheap compared to the Nikes and the Reeboks. While they are good for a long walks, they do not have adequate grip while negotiating up slippery rocks or muddy slopes...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-85.jpg


Mini waterfalls...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-86.jpg


A pug mark of a big cat!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-87.jpg


A snail...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-88.jpg


We saw a few moments of sunlight which quickly disappeared and it started raining again...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-89.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-90.jpg


Another 'Machan'...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-91.jpg


The Salim Ali center that is under development near the tribal village...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-92.jpg


A well deserved break after a long day's walk...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-93.jpg


As always, it started raining again!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-94.jpg


Our van arrived shortly across the bridge near the village and we headed back to Parambikulam for a late afternoon lunch. Checked out this quaint 'Tree Top Hut' in Pkulam.

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-95.jpg


Stopped near the valley view point and a photo session followed...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-96.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-97.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-98.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-99.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-100.jpg


We next headed towards a place which has the largest known teak tree in the world, Called 'Kanni Mara’...

Caught this Black buck watching us through the bushes...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-100a.jpg


Kannimara teak tree...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-101.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-102.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-103.jpg


A couple...

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-104.jpg


A Malabar Thrush?

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-105.jpg


We headed back towards Bangalore, stopping for dinner in Coimbatore. Somewhere along the way, there was a little bit of a scare when the driver, Kumar, realized that the vehicle was losing brake fluid. He parked the vehicle by the roadside and went to a nearby village / town to get some spares. We were busy watching some movie in the van.

At around 2.00am, somewhere near Krishnagiri, Kumar saw a row of shops selling mangoes at wholesale prices and stopped there for a few minutes. There were so many varieties of mangoes, some of which we had never come across in Bangalore. Almost everyone bought mangoes, we ourselves ended up purchasing a Kg or two of the varieties, adding up to 15kgs of Mangoes!

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-106.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-106a.jpg


We reached Bangalore by around 4.30am and were home by 5.00am. Got a few hours of rest before getting ready for office and starting off the week.

My souvenir from the trip... a T-shirt from the Parambikulam visitor center shop.

'Xing'ing around ! - A Long walk, Monsoon, Leeches, Wildlife & Railway History...-107.jpg


It was a great trip and a wonderful trekking experience!

By the way, another interesting thing I found out about Parambikulam village is that plastic bottles and thin polythene covers are banned! So you can get softdrinks in cans or glass bottles, but no beverages / bottled water in plastic bottles. A very good initiative indeed! And also, there are plenty of waste bins around the Parambikulam village, with two bins in every place, one for bio degradable and one for non-biodegradable waste.



Where to next?
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Old 13th June 2009, 20:33   #18
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Awesome pics man. Can you please post the details on how to book the trek and how much it cost?
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Old 13th June 2009, 21:22   #19
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Originally Posted by addyhemmige View Post
Awesome pics man. Can you please post the details on how to book the trek and how much it cost?
@addyhemmige; Thanks for your comments.

With regards to the details of the trekking packages available + the Tariff etc. You can visit the website below. It is the official website of Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary and has all the information required + contact details:

Packages & Tariff:
Official website of Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, India
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Old 14th June 2009, 17:40   #20
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What a place!! Awesome man!!!

And great photography!!!
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Old 14th June 2009, 23:32   #21
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One of the best pictorial travelogues in this forum - rated it 5 star! We are walking with you, and it is creepy out here.

Did you stay in the Parambikulam tree houses? Do you still have to get the Kerala Forest Dept permission to stay there?
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Old 15th June 2009, 01:43   #22
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Lovely log as ever. Another less traveled route. BTW, is this path is almost a walk most of the time or there was any hiking involved too? How much were the costs?
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Old 15th June 2009, 10:30   #23
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@hotstuff : Lovely pictures and narration. PAP is possibly the one which is still pending among the WLS's which I want to visit atleast once in South.

But am surprised to see you guys have been poorly prepared for a pretty long trek through a route which gets very heavy rains and bang on during the monsoon, people trekking with floaters etc. The group snap would highlight the difference between the group and the forest guards in terms of being ready for the terrain, the guards are completely armed with gum boots and the pant rolled into the boots to reduce leach attack.

Also its quite striking that you guys opted to scatter into smaller groups and keeping distance while trekking which is a strict No No while trekking in the forests where a single file is a safer way of trekking for all in the group with a dedicated sweeper in the back to ensure every one is coaxed & cajoled to keep up with the group.

The deer which you have captured is a Sambhar deer and not the black buck. Did you not encounter any herds of gaurs or elephants, PAP has some of the biggest gaurs in India.

You have re-kindled my thrist to visit this set of forests though I have to wait till about December to visit.
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Old 15th June 2009, 11:31   #24
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lovely travelogue ! you almost took us through the entire trek .

and that's not a Black buck , its a sambhar deer a female one at that ! and that's an unusually large number of snakes that you have come across and the close brush with the sloth bear , it also shows that you were a well behaved group of trekkers.

Way to go man !
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Old 15th June 2009, 14:27   #25
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You have given us a great, wet, rainforest walkthrough, hotstuff! Fantastic pictures as usual.
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Old 15th June 2009, 15:04   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
One of the best pictorial travelogues in this forum - rated it 5 star! We are walking with you, and it is creepy out here.

Did you stay in the Parambikulam tree houses? Do you still have to get the Kerala Forest Dept permission to stay there?
@hvkumar; Thanks for your comments and ratings!

With regards to the tree house, nope, we did not stay in them, but that is definitely an option that visitors can consider. In fact, apart from the tree houses, the forest department provides dormitory and tented accommodation also.

There is also a package called 'Machan world', which should be quite an interesting experience. There are plenty of packages available for various activities... and the income generated is used for the empowerment of local & tribal people of Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary.

You can check out the link below for the various accommodation options, eco-tourism options etc. to cater to various tastes, schedules and budgets.

Official website of Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, India

The fares are also displayed here:
Official website of Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, India

Another pleasant experience was that unlike a typical Govt dept, the PWS folks were quite enthusiastic and were willing to go the extra mile to ensure that visitors have a good experience. For example, when we landed at the place, the 'souvenir shop' was not yet open and was to open only a couple of hours later. But someone from the department got the keys and opened up the place and unpacked a lot of stuff for our group to select from.

When some of us asked for info / brochures on the packages and facilities available, the folks at the visitors center gave us a lot of brochures and patiently explained various options available etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by viv1984 View Post
What a place!! Awesome man!!!

And great photography!!!
Thanks @viv1984 !

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushik_s View Post
Lovely log as ever. Another less traveled route. BTW, is this path is almost a walk most of the time or there was any hiking involved too? How much were the costs?
@kaushik_s; since the path follows the old tramway route, there is no climbing involved in the tramway trek.

There are other options available there such as the 'High Range' Hiking, Vengoli Peak trek, Karimala Gopuram trek etc. which involve various degrees of climbing. [Details + fares as per link above]

Quote:
Originally Posted by pypkmsrikanth View Post
@hotstuff : Lovely pictures and narration. PAP is possibly the one which is still pending among the WLS's which I want to visit atleast once in South.
@pypkmsrikanth; Thanks for your comments!

Quote:
But am surprised to see you guys have been poorly prepared for a pretty long trek through a route which gets very heavy rains and bang on during the monsoon, people trekking with floaters etc. The group snap would highlight the difference between the group and the forest guards in terms of being ready for the terrain, the guards are completely armed with gum boots and the pant rolled into the boots to reduce leach attack.
Well, nobody trekked in floaters... some of us carried a pair for use during the camping and after the trek, everyone wore shoes for the actual trek.

As far as 'anti-leech' preparation is concerned; there were people in the group who carried special 'anti-leech' socks, stitched using tightly woven cotton fabric, the socks go almost till knee length. People carried salt packets for use in shoes and even the dettol + snuff mixture that is recommended by some.

The pant tucked into boots/socks is a good option, but does not guarantee protection. (as evidenced by the fact that even the forest guards got bitten). The leeches which manage to get on you simply climb up and up till they reach skin. For example, a guy who was wearing the knee length 'anti-leech socks' and had his pants firmly tucked into them got a leech bite on his chest! Also, if the socks are the regular ones, the smaller leeches simply crawl into the socks though the gaps in the weave.

Meanwhile, if you notice I was wearing short ankle length sports socks.. and though I carried a pair of jeans, I changed to knee-length shorts for the trek. My rationale was that if leeches do get on, I would prefer them to find skin and stay on my legs where I can see them, than climb up! and surprisingly, I was probably the only one who did not get even a single leech bite during the trek...

As for 'gum boots', during my initial trekking days, I did buy a pair of 'Hunters'; But they were quite heavy and uncomfortable in the long run. Also, leeches managed to crawl in through the lace holes. So after a couple of treks I just started using comfortable sports shoes, preferably with a deep tread pattern.

I agree with you that the recommended footwear for areas which have a sizeable population of snakes is either gum-boots or anklers (e.g. Hunters). I guess some of the international brands like CAT have some light yet tough hiking shoes, will have to look around.

Quote:
Also its quite striking that you guys opted to scatter into smaller groups and keeping distance while trekking which is a strict No No while trekking in the forests where a single file is a safer way of trekking for all in the group with a dedicated sweeper in the back to ensure every one is coaxed & cajoled to keep up with the group.
There were actually three forest department guys accompanying the group. Two leading the group while one followed at the rear, so they would not allow the group to get split up too wide. Every few mins the team would stop to regroup.

Quote:
The deer which you have captured is a Sambhar deer and not the black buck. Did you not encounter any herds of gaurs or elephants, PAP has some of the biggest gaurs in India.
Thanks for catching the error, it is indeed a Sambar. My bad... Yes, we did see a Gaur too, which ran away before I could take out my camera and aim. A couple of others from the team got a few pics.

Since the water level in the river was quite low, it actually ran across the river to the other side and dissapeared into the bushes. As it was raining, I had my camera securely tucked in and I was too late in taking it out...

About elephants, I kept my record intact - lots of dung, no elephants

Quote:
You have re-kindled my thrist to visit this set of forests though I have to wait till about December to visit.
That would probably be around the best time to visit the place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellstar View Post
lovely travelogue ! you almost took us through the entire trek .

and that's not a Black buck , its a sambhar deer a female one at that ! and that's an unusually large number of snakes that you have come across and the close brush with the sloth bear , it also shows that you were a well behaved group of trekkers.

Way to go man !
@hellstar; Thanks for the comments and the correction... my bad. Yes, the group was very well behaved. Since most of them were seasoned trekkers, there was very little noise and almost no talking.

@pjay_in; Thanks Sir!
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Old 15th June 2009, 15:19   #27
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Thanks for clarifying on Shoes & Floaters Hotstuff, possibly I was wrong in assuming from the photos posted by you. As you rightly say there is no fool proof protection for leaches, the only fool proof protection if it could be called is going during the winter season where the possiblity of rains are very less.

Incidentally what you could think exploring is the raincoats made by the "Duck Back" company which is possibly closest to 100% water proof comes in those dull earthly colour which would allow you to merge with the surroundings. Only downside to it is that it would get you sweating like mad especially if you are trekking in a slightly hot and humid place.
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Old 15th June 2009, 15:23   #28
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I remember that they do not permit mobiles after the Sethumadai check post - I was turned away one sunny day in 1988, and that is how I discovered the Valparai-Chalakudy road. Are bikes allowed or is it still a ban for them?
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Old 15th June 2009, 15:47   #29
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Check out the earlier thread on trekking in the Parambikulam region:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-trekkers.html (Nilliyampathy- forest ride boon for trekkers)

Did you find any linkages with the trekking trail from Sholayar/Nelliampathy side? There are dirt tracks from Nelliampathy and Sholayar from the Kerala side?
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Old 16th June 2009, 08:50   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pypkmsrikanth View Post
... Incidentally what you could think exploring is the raincoats made by the "Duck Back" company which is possibly closest to 100% water proof comes in those dull earthly colour which would allow you to merge with the surroundings. Only downside to it is that it would get you sweating like mad especially if you are trekking in a slightly hot and humid place.
The coincidence is that when we went shopping for raincoats, I specifically looked for 'Duckback' raincoats. I remember them from the 80's / early 90's when we could buy them in a Bata showroom (or was it Corona showroom?). Duckback for adults and BubbleGummers for kids.... they used to have a range of satchels and bags as well.

However looks like with the onslaught of cheap chinese stuff, not many shops stock the Duckback brand these days. I picked up some brand from Total mall... which turned out to be 'water resistant' and not 'water proof'. After a few hours of rain, it started letting water in. Need to pick up something better for the next trek.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
I remember that they do not permit mobiles after the Sethumadai check post - I was turned away one sunny day in 1988, and that is how I discovered the Valparai-Chalakudy road. Are bikes allowed or is it still a ban for them?
About mobiles, I did not come across any restrictions, I don't think mobiles are banned now. There is some signal in the areas close to P'kulam (Must be BSNL). The Forest Guard's mobile did ring a couple of times in Parambikulam.

About vehicles; the main page of the www.parambikulam.org site has a link which says:

"It was noticed that considerable disturbances were caused to the sanctuary because of the day visitors and their vehicles. So for the better management of the sanctuary private vehicles will be stopped plying in to the sanctuary from 2nd September, 2008 onwards.

For the purpose of carrying tourists in to the sanctuary and have a memeorable visit; four safari vehicles will be launched from 2nd September, 2008 onwards. This is to cater the visitors and fullfill the following objectives.

- Minimising vehicular disturbances to the wildlife.
- Ensuring minimum speed for vehicles and other regulations with in the sanctuary.
- Empowering the local and tribal communities through EDCs and FDA.
- Sensitising the visitors and disseminating information regarding the conservation of Nature and Wildlife."

Another page ( www.parambikulam.org/entry.htm ) says :

"Entry regulations for private vehicles: In order to control the vehicular traffic and disturbances inside Parambikulam, following regulations are made by the park authorities

For the day visitors who just want to drive through the sanctuary in their private vehicle, without availing any eco-tourism packages, only 30 vehicles will be permitted to enter the sanctuary per day, at an interval of three vehicles per hour, staring from 7 AM to 4 PM.

Visitors can book the entry slot for their vehicle in advance over telephone at Eco-care centre, Tel. 04253 245025. Confirmed visitors have to report 30 minutes earlier before their reserved slot time, failing which their slot will be automatically cancelled."

Since visitors are not allowed to get down from their vehicles and there are restrictions on open vehicles, I don't think bikes are allowed into the interiors of the sanctuary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Check out the earlier thread on trekking in the Parambikulam region:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-trekkers.html (Nilliyampathy- forest ride boon for trekkers)

Did you find any linkages with the trekking trail from Sholayar/Nelliampathy side? There are dirt tracks from Nelliampathy and Sholayar from the Kerala side?
There were some jeep trails and other pedestrian tracks that cross the trekking-trail in some places. However in the absence of any sign-posts / maps, the Forest dept folks will be the best source of info.
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