We had been planning a trip to Munnar for couple of years now and finally managed to squeeze one! Would have loved a week long trip covering 2-3 destinations in Kerala however with time limitations, we settled for a 3 day trip restricting ourselves only to Munnar.
For ease of reading, we have split the blog in two parts – this one narrates our experience at Munnar while the blog post – Birding in & around Munnar talks about the birds we came across over the four days we spend in Munnar.
It was a 3N/4D trip and we landed at Kochi Airport as early as 7:30 hrs (midnight flight) and soon were off on our maiden trip to Munnar. After drive of around 3 hours with a breakfast halt, we came across Cheeyappara waterfall & Valara waterfall within a span of few KMs. Even at around noon, the climate was very pleasant with a cool breeze, a much need break from the scorching Pune heat!
Another half an hour drive and we arrived at our destination for the next 4 days – Mistletoe Homestay, a quaint place nestled into nature… around 20 KMs from Munnar town. Here is the 1st shot I snapped with my cellphone from the balcony of the room as soon as we got it!
Ok here is a small quiz for all you guys! All the images in this blog are clicked with cellphone (Pixel 2 XL), except one. Guess which one 😀 Lets see gets this one right!
With midnight connecting flights, we had our lunch and just crashed on the bed for next couple of hours. After some good rest we were off to check out sunset from a nearby location our driver cum guide (Mr. Rajesh from J & J Taxi Service) was aware of. And for sure the location was amazing! What a beautiful sunset we came across with the famous Tata tea gardens. We also planned to check out few viewpoints along the way but were typically crowded hence gave them a pass.
Day two started with an amazing sunrise from the room balcony at 6:30 AM followed by some lovely bird-watching and delicious healthy breakfast.
By 09:00 AM, we were off to Top Station – a famous viewpoint in the Kannan Devan hills of Munnar at an elevation of over 6000 ft. Here is panaromic view from the famous Top Station viewpoint:
The drive to this place was beautiful with the tea estates on either sides, couple of dam backwaters and some forest area. We also got to see a Wild Elephant along the way. We arrived at Top Station by 10:30 AM, it was sunny but there was a chill in the air. We did a short climb of around 1 KM and the views were really good, although nothing like what it would be to view sunrise / sunset from this point. It would surely be mesmerising, hopefully next time!
After spending a good two hours, we started our return journey. A huge traffic jam on the way ensured we took a good 2 hours to reach back to Munnar. Next we visited the famous Pothamedu viewpoint, which is much closer to the Munnar town. Its a nice point giving you an amazing view of the multiple valleys and yes, its a great place for birding as well.
And last one for the day, we planned to visit Punarjani Traditional Village to see Kathakali show – the famous traditional dance. It was an hour long program but worth it for the amazing expressions and dance performances. For folks who are interested can also go for a Martial arts show after this one. That was Day two for us, in which we covered most of what we had planned for Munnar and still had one full day left!
For Day three, we had initially planned to visit Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary but as it is over 2 hours of drive along with trekking of 2-3 hours we decided to skip it as the skies seems clear today which meant it would be pretty sunny. Instead, we made way to Eravikulam National Park in hope of getting view of the endemic Nilgiri Tahr. It wasn’t long before we spotted few and they are all over the trail and quite used to humans as well, so you will get to see them pretty close. Anamudi – the highest peak in Southern India at 2695 meters is inside this park. This park has high altitude grasslands along with sholas which makes it excellent for birding and we were surely not disappointed. We managed to see a total of 4 lifers here – Nilgiri Pipit, Black & Orange Flycatcher, White-bellied Blue Robin and Palani Laughingthush, special thanks to Rajiv (Kuttenan Munnar) – the finest bird guide for Munnar who we fortunately met on the trail. You can read more about birding at Munnar here. He also helped us in sighting a Large-scaled Pit Viper, another species endemic to Southern Western Ghats. You can read more about our birding experience in this link – Birding in Munnar.
After spending a good 3 hours at this amazing park we headed back to the homestay with a break for lunch in Munnar town. We could have gone out in evening again but thanks to some light rain we decided to chill out in the homestay as the climate had turned very pleasant. One shower of rain and this place was looking more beautiful than the past two days! We spent the rest of the time relaxing and having some snacks watching these beautiful sunset hues from room, we surely couldn’t have asked for a better end to the trip.
Coming to Mistletoe Homestay, Jo is a one of the best host we have every come across! There is reason this place is highly rated on Trip Advisor and its totally justified. Everything is top notch – the service, super delicious & healthy food and the amazing views. Keep up the great work Jo & team.
We would also like to call out the excellent service offered by J & J Taxi Service. We initially thought of self drive, but what J & J Taxi Service offered with a driver cum guide was much cheaper than the self drive option. Moreover, Mr Rajesh (our driver cum guide) was an excellent guide, top notch driver and a very down to earth guy. We highly recommend them.
Guide / Tips:
– Kochi to Munnar takes atleast 3 hours. The roads are small and a bottleneck can pile up traffic easily, so keep enough buffer especially if travelling back to Kochi Airport.
– At Eravikulam National Park, we saw a lot of people touching the Nilgiri Tahr. Please refrain from doing so. If at all you see people doing it, inform it to one of the forest guards there. The forest department works very hard to maintain the forest with limited resources, make their work easier by abiding to all the rules & regulations
– The are a good number of taxi services available which can be cheaper than self drive option. Do check the same.
– Lastly, wherever you go, keep the place clean and do not litter. 🙂
Signing off until next time, ciao 🙂
Read our birding experiences at Munnar in the link below:
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– Rudraksha & Shraddha