Nestled in the shadows of Kerala’s Western Ghats sits Wayanad. Despite its slow pace of life and small population with deep roots (816,000 people, 22% of which is a tribal population), Wayanad is making its mark as the adrenaline capital of India.
If you’re looking for wildlife, Wayanad is home to over 700 families of tigers. And the elephants are on the roam. Some roads close after 9pm to prevent drivers from crashing into these giants as they wander the streets.
And if you’re looking for adventure… look no further. Tourism is less than 20 years old in Wayanad, so there’s still a feeling of being among the first to explore the mountains, forests and rivers of the area. The tourism board is making up for lost time, creating fun activities that highlight Wayanad’s history and secure its future as an in-demand destination for tourists.
MuddyBoots kicked off our adventure with a bamboo raft ride down the Pozhuthana Puzha (puzha means river) with our expert driver (who was appropriately wearing a Superman t-shirt). Bamboo rafting is relaxing, the water fresh and cool, and the breeze a welcome respite to the heat.
Before bamboo rafting was an activity for tourists, it was a tool for farmers who used the rafts to transport rice from one side of the river to the other.
The adrenaline kicked in when Superman let me take over in the front… it’s much more difficult to balance and paddle than it looks!
Zorbs, Ziplines, Rock Climbing, Kayaks…
The Kerala Blog Express was invited for a sneak peek of the soon-to-be-opened Wayanad Adventure Camp at Karlad Lake. On March 5, 2016, the adventure camp will open its gates to receive visitors looking for a thrill.
With an aim to answer the global demand to adventure sports, they will offer zorbing, kayaking, zip lining, archery, rock climbing, paintball, row boats and pedal boats. In addition, they plan to support the indigenous community by providing jobs and educating tourists about the tribal culture.
The Adventure Camp staff was racing toward their completion date when we visited, but they kindly took the time to let us participate in some of the activities. We flew over Karlad Lake on a zipline and took a row boat back to the main area. Anita (AnitaHenrika.com), Claire (CuriousClaire.com), Janet (Journalistontherun.com) and I hopped in some inflatable kayaks to watch the other bloggers zip line.
After a peaceful kayak/ float around the lake, it was time to get our hearts pumping! We jumped into a zorb (basically a giant inflatable hamster ball) and rolled down a hill. Zorbing has been on my bucket list for years, and I was so excited that I got to be one of the first to try it at Wayanad Adventure Camp!
Just as we were boarding the bus back to our resort, I spotted an archery target set up… so I posed for a photo-op and took a shot or two, practicing my Katniss Everdeen skills. I would have hit the bullseye… but I didn’t want to mess up the target for anyone else. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)
If you’d prefer your adrenaline rush to come at someone else’s expense, the traditional dances of Kerala are sure to get your heart pumping.
Vythri Village Resort hosted an evening for the Kerala Blog Express to enjoy some local dance and brought in a troop to perform the art of Kolkali. A group of men danced in a circle, creating rhythms with sticks and dancing to the beat as the music increased in speed and volume. I was so impressed that no one got hit with a stick as they flew faster and faster in the circle.
When we arrived at Vythri Village Resort, we received a welcome unlike any other I’ve ever experienced! The man in the elephant mask did a traditional Theyyam ritual dance, which incorporated swaying, spins and screams. Along with the drumming, it was an exciting way to make our entrance!
I always thought cricket was king throughout India. And in most parts, it is. But in parts of Kerala, soccer is the sport of choice. (Or football if you prefer…) While staying with a local family at the Pranavam homestay, I had the opportunity to visit a Pozhuthana soccer game. The pre-game announcements began hours before the game, and it seemed that all the men in town showed up for the match.
The action on the field was intense, but I was surprised at how quiet the fans were (especially after my Real Madrid experience!) We stood near the goal and cheered for the green team. (We won, by the way.) Although the boys standing in front of us were distracted by the newcomers, we managed to catch a few goals in between selfies!
Wayanad was one of the most unexpected and fun parts of the Kerala Blog Express for me. From luxury resorts to welcoming homestays and activities to keep adventure junkies busy for days, this is one place in Kerala not to be missed!