Gavi - Eco-tourism destination for the self-drive Travelers
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Located in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, snuggled in the hills of the Western Ghats, Gavi is a tropical forest, serene, unpolluted and covered in lush greenery. The misty mountains and the slight nip in the air and the sheer abundance of flora and fauna make Gavi the perfect destination for eco-tourism.
It is a nature lover's paradise, with an almost mesmeric scenic beauty coupled with an equally rich array of wildlife. Visitors to Gavi are rarely disappointed because animal sightings are quite common here. There are many places to visit in Gavi. It is home to a huge variety of animals and birds, some of which are highly protected species. You can rent a car from Cochin or Kottayam without driver and easily get into this destination
It is estimated that around 250-300 different species of birds dwell in this region, including the great Indian hornbill and the great pied hornbill, kingfishers, dongos and sunbirds, woodpeckers, mynahs, bulbuls, and cuckoos. There are different species of egrets, herons and cormorants, and pelicans, storks, and bitterns, ducks, buzzards, kites, and eagles. Jungle fowls and sandpipers and a variety of ducks and pigeons and owls, nightjars, swifts, Indian rollers and bee-eaters, barbets, swallows, shrikes, and Orioles. The list goes on. Remember to carry a good pair of binoculars to catch a glimpse of birds in the wild. This place is a birder’s fantasy come true.
Gavi falls under the restricted Periyar Tiger Reserve and entry to the forest is restricted and controlled by the forest department. As a consequence, only a limited number of vehicle permits are issued for entry into the forest. To be able to get the entry pass visitors must be at the check post at Angamoozhy as early as 08:00 hours.
It can be accessed via Kumily and Vandiperiyar in Idukki district. The journey involves traveling through a densely forested area. The panoramic views are breathtakingly beautiful. Special viewpoints positioned on the road, allow you to park your self -drive car and view the surroundings. There are five major dams on the way to Gavi, including the KSEB dam and the Moozhiyar hydroelectric project.
Cars, jeeps and other passenger vehicles are permitted entry, however, entry for two-wheelers and motorbikes is restricted. Visitors are charged an entry fee.
Wild animals are plenty as well, from the rare endangered tigers and leopards to elephants, bears and the Indian bison (gaur). Nilgiri Tahr (wild mountain goats) and lion-tailed macaques which are on the brink of extinction to sambar, mouse deer, barking deer and spotted deer, etc. Malabar giant squirrels and the elusive Nilgiri marten and the Nilgiri langur, wild boars and foxes; there are enough animals to keep you enthralled. It is a visual treat to see these rare creatures in their natural habitat.
Thekkady is just a short distance away from Gavi and you can make a visit in your self-drive car. There is more wildlife to be spotted here, especially wild elephants, and the environment, of course, is picture perfect.
Bamboo boat rafting can be enjoyed in the waters of Thekkady; it brings another kind of thrill. These boats are different from regular boat rides – bamboo rafts are rustic vessels made from locally grown bamboos strung together to keep them afloat. Houseboats can also be hired here for a leisurely sail across the river.
Being an eco-tourism destination, Gavi offers a plethora of activities that involve the stunning forest and the treasure it hides within it. Trekking is one of the most popular activities to indulge in. The vast hilly terrain allows you to explore the forest and discover its awe-inspiring landscape.
Wildlife exploration is another exciting adventure to undertake. The dense forests are the natural habitat of a wide range of animals. Be alert, and keep your eyes and ears open for there could be wild animals lurking behind the camouflage of shrubbery. A rustling sound in the canopy of trees could be a langur or a monkey or even a Nilgiri giant squirrel or a flying-fox. Deer, Indian bison, wild boars and elephants are the most common to spot. However, if you are lucky you might just catch a glimpse of some other beautiful creatures, like a tiger or a leopard.
Bird watching is a definite delight. Even for those who are not enthusiasts, the experience is definitely something to remember. From soft chirps to loud, melodious and sometimes shrill calls of birds that vibrate through the forest, Gavi presents a symphony to the ears.
Boating in the natural lakes cocooned between the hills is another activity that sets you right in the midst of nature. The surrounding is what makes this experience memorable. Still waters, the silence, the sudden loud call of a bird, lofty hills rising all around and the mist engulfing you in its beauty. Imagine how enthralling that can be.
Camping outdoors in the wild can raise the excitement to another level. Visitors can avail of this facility between November and March. However, camping is allowed only in scheduled spots, you cannot go and pitch a tent any and everywhere.
The Kerala Forest Development Corporation Ltd. (KFDC) has a range of pretty decent accommodation that it rents out. Visitors to Gavi can book cozy cottages and large mansion type accommodation suitable for large groups. The adventurous have the option of choosing between a treehouse accommodation or a campsite These accommodations are located strategically near the reservoir, offering beautiful views and ambiance. The well-manicured garden is an added plus.
It is advisable to carry your own food, though there is food available, the choices are few. However, there is a prohibition on alcohol – visitors should not carry any liquor into the restricted area.
Gavi is highly recommended, especially if you want to experience the raw beauty of nature.