Wynaad Wildlife Reserve

The section of the Nilgiri Bio Reserve that falls in Kerala is called the Wynaad or Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary. Wynaad is a rainforest sanctuary, situated between Bandipur National Park (in Karnataka) and Mudumalai Sanctuary (in Tamilnadu). The preserve stretches over an area of 345 sq km, a densely wooded district of rosewood, teak, bamboo and other deciduous trees, throbbing with a fascinating melange of creatures, large and small. Tigers, of which the sanctuary has a fair number, are among its most elusive denizens; but elephants, leopards, monkeys, deer, bison, wild dogs and hundreds of birds and reptiles are more common. Elephants, in particular, are Wynaad’s star performers.

The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve harbours India’s second largest pachyderm population, and the chances of seeing elephant herds is pretty high, especially during the dry season.

Unfortunately for the enthusiastic wildlife-watcher, only the periphery of the wildlife preserve is open to visitors and tourist infrastructure is nearly nonexistent. You can arrange guided walks and jeep safaris but attempts to get deeper into the forest require patience and perseverance. Apply to the Forest Office for the requisite permission.

Entry Requirements

Entry permits to visit Wynaad can be obtained from the Wildlife Warden at Sulthan Bathery, about 16 km from the Wildlife Sanctuary. Arrangements for guided walks and jeep safaris can also be made through the Wildlife Warden.

Access

The nearest city is Kozhikode, which is easily reached from various parts of the country by rail, air and road. Wynaad lies 55 kilometres east of Kozhikode and can be reached by road. Take a bus, either a State Transport Corporation one or swift private coaches, hire a cab or rent a car if you don’t have your own transportation.

Wynaad also has convenient road connections to and from Mysore and Udhagamandalam (Ooty), both of which are within a 110-km radius from the park. From either of these cities, you can get to Kalpetta or Sulthan Bathery, the two towns closest to Wynaad. Both towns make good bases for exploring the sanctuary.

Best time to visit

Wynaad is best visited in the summer months, between June and October. This is the time when there’s greater chance of seeing the resident wildlife, even though the weather may not be at its best

Accommodation

Authentic back-to-nature accommodation, in the form of forest lodges and rest houses, is available just outside the park. Truly eco-friendly, it’s not for anyone who cannot do without cola and chips. Carry your own supplies.

For more pampered souls, it might be a better option to stay at either Sulthan Bathery (16 km from Wynaad) or Kalpetta, both close to the sanctuary and with a somewhat higher standard of accommodation available.

Forest lodges and rest houses within the park come for an affordable rate of about Rs 100 per night. Many tourists however prefer to stay at the Vythiri Resort, where tree houses contribute to the `jungle' feel of the area. Accommodation here costs about Rs 900 per night.

Further information on Wynaad can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre, Collectorate, Kalpetta, or from the Wynaad Wildlife Division, Sulthan Bathery.