Thursday, January 21, 2010

Trek: Chembra Peak, Meppadi in Wayanad, Kerala

Location: The Chembra Peak is the highest peak in Wayanad, at 2100m above sea level. It is one of the most beautiful destinations in Wayanad district, Kerala, India.Chembra has three prominent peaks and trekking is currently allowed for one. It is suggested and must see destination for trekkers and nature lovers alike.

What is special?:At 2100 m above mean sea level, Chembra is the highest peak in Wayanad and is an ideal area for trekking.The whole of Wayanad district can be seen from the peak when it is not foggy. On the way to the top there is a heart shaped lake which has water through out the year. A large part of the mountain is forest and a lot of animals including elephants, deers, leopards etc.Chembra has a beautiful heart shaped lake at the top of the peak, named "hrudaya sarass" (means "heart lake") and never dries up.
If you feel tired or want to rest with the family or people who called it a day from trek, this is an ideal place to stop and unwind. In this case, from here, you could watch the top of the peak and others who pursue the trek till completion! Never mind, still you could enjoy the cool breeze and relax!

Where:Chembra Peak is located near Meppadi town, 14 km west of Kalpetta town in Wayanad District.Wayanad is nestled in the Western Ghats and is located in the northeast tip of Kerala, bordering both Tamilnadu (Nilgiris district) and Karnataka (Chamarajnagar district).For people who prefer public transport, KSRTC (both Kerala & Karnataka) and a lot of private companies operate overnight deluxe and fast passenger buses between Kozhikode (Calicut) and Bengaluru. At Chundale (about 6kms past Kalpetta, 5 kms before Vythiri and 62kms before Kozhikode), one has to take a deviation to the left. People taking buses can get down at Kalpetta and catch another bus to Meppadi.

Drive From Bangalore: Chembra Peak is 290km from Bangalore. For instance, a possible route would be:Bangalore - Mysore - Nanjangudu - Gundelpet - Sulthan Bathery - Ambalavayal - Meppadi - Chembra Peak.

Public Transport from Bangalore: Kerala- KSRTC and Karnataka KSRTC runs direct buses from Bangalore to Kalpetta. From Kalpetta both Kerala- KSRTC and private buses are available to Meppadi. From Meppadi the Chembra estate is 7km away which can be reached by autos or jeeps available in Meppadi town.

Flight/Nearby Airports: Calicut/Kozhikode or Mysore/Bangalore.

Weather and Ideal Time of visit:November to May is the best time to visit. In Rainy season, way will be slippery and make it a very difficult and risky trek. Moreover, foggy climate and leeches may steal the glory of lush green surroundings.

Difficulty Level:Moderate for the initiated and Difficult for others.

Visit Timings and Restrictions:
Ideally they recommend you to reach Chembra Estates by 7a.m, if you plan to have full trek till top, before the sun gets hot. I would recommend 9a.m, as you can get good lighting for pictures. We reached late by 11a.m and still had a beautiful time, thanks to the good weather. 

A guide who will be there at mountain top, would ask you to windup and comedown by 3p.m.So, you should plan your trek timings according to your situation. After 2p.m, it is restricted permission for trekkers.

Food and Accomodation: No heavy breakfast or heavy lunch before teh climb, but have a solid foundation to get you going. Also stock up enough dry and fresh fruits(eg. orange, apple) to munch. With atleast 1 litre of water bottle per person. I would also recommend you to pack your lunch too for the trek, which you could have at the top or near the heart shaped lake.

Good hotels suiting any budgets and resrots are available in Wayanad district, especially at Kalpetta and Sulthan Bathery. You could also get hold of small and popular fast food outlets in Meppadi town.

Camping:If your are lucky enough, on the way you may come across a passing leopard or elephant. I didnot stay overnight, but experienced people say, with proper permissions and equipments, camping in the night with camp fire and sleeping bags at the top of the peak is a thrilling and everlasting experience!

Family and children:It is possible for family and children to enjoy the trek till the watch tower or maximum till the heart shaped lake. Please check and do the needful preparations in advance.

Guide:Having a guide is suggested when you go to office and it costs Indian Rupees 500 for 1 to 10 persons on the trek for admission. In case there are not enough guides, and if you have decided to proceed, there would be atleast one guide available on the way or one who watches everything from the mountain top, who monitors and guides the whole lot of trekkers and surroundings. If you get a good english speaking guide, then you can get lot of wisdom on the area - the tea plantations around, the trees, flora and fauna.

Gear and Equipment to carry:

  • Loose and comfortable pants to allow steep climbs and stretches.
  • A walking stick/support, suitable hat and lotions to escape from sun
  • A good backpack to carry 1/2 litres of water, fruits, biscuits and food.
  • Good, if you have a camera and binocular.
  • Also, know how to take panorama photos, as it will be handy once you reach top.
Contact Information: The District Tourism Promotion Council of Wayanad district arranges camping utilities and guides for trekkers.Their contact phone is 04936202134/712. You need to get trekking permission from Vana Samrakshana Samiti Office.It is located 2km from Meppadi on the way to Chembra peak and inside Chembra estate.Their contact phone is +919495757681. Here, you will be asked to fill a form(a sample form is given by teh guard on duty) with basic details of trekking team and you will get a sealed permission which you have to show to an officer near a watch tower on the trek route.

Other interesting places nearby, with 'approximate' distance in km:
CHAIN TREE - 25km.

Also, the wildlife sanctuaries in THOLPETTI,NAGARHOLE, BANDIPUR, MUTHUMALAI, SILENTVALLEY(200km) etc could be considered, for the interested.

  • Check for any traffic restriction at state checkposts in roads passing through forests.
  • Check whether you need any specific permissions to visit the place
  • Check for any holidays or specific daily/weekly/yearly timing restrictions to visit the place and trek
Happy and safe trekking! Do comment and share your experiences.

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