• CHECK OUR REVIEWS ON
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
page

Secret Kerala Eco-tourism Spots REVEALED! [2024 UPDATE]

Posted on By Blog Admin

Situated along the West Coast of India, Kerala is a state that attracts visitors throughout the year. Kerala is world-renowned for being the ultimate destination for wellness activities, such as ayurvedic treatments, yoga, and meditation. Sustainable travel in Kerala is a rising trend among visitors, who come to see the lush forests and diverse wildlife.

Ecological Attractions in Kerala

The State is home to the Western Ghats, a mega-biodiversity hotspot and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many unique species are found only in this state, such as the critically endangered Indian Giant Squirrel and Purple Frog. 

Aside from this, wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala are home to India’s most famous big cats – Royal Bengal Tigers and Leopards. Protecting this wealth of biodiversity has led to close cooperation between the State Government and indigenous communities to develop nature-friendly activities in Kerala.

Green Initiatives in Kerala

Many green initiatives by the Kerala Tourism Board have been implemented. These include establishing eco-tourism resorts and community-based initiatives to promote low-impact tourism activities. These initiatives have found a dedicated following among travellers looking for eco-conscious travel destinations.

Apart from important eco-friendly travel tips for Kerala, this blog will provide you with an overview of the various measures being taken to make sustainable travel in Kerala a popular choice among travellers worldwide.

Natural Wonders of Kerala

There are many ecological attractions in Kerala, ranging from unique ecosystems to rare species of birds and animals. Green initiatives in Kerala tourism help sustain these magical places, critical for the well-being of the State and its people. 

Wildlife Sanctuaries in Kerala

Wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala are the epicenter of developing low-impact tourism activities. These places protect many species of plants, animals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fish that are considered vital to the ecosystems they live in. 

Kerala Backwaters

The backwaters of Kerala are renowned for their hypnotic beauty. People from all over the world come here to experience the solitude of these picturesque streams and get in touch with nature. Places such as Alappuzha (popularly known as Alleppey) and Kumarakom are renowned for their houseboat tours down tranquil streams.

Beaches in Kerala

The beachside resorts of Kerala are famous for their hospitality and scenic beauty. Places such as Kollam and Kovalam are surrounded by picturesque forests and plantations. Trekking along these stunning coastlines is an exhilarating experience.

 

Popular Eco-Tourism Destinations in Kerala

Periyar Tiger Reserve

Periyar Tiger Reserve
According to the official website of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, the tiger population is estimated to be between 35 and 40.

At the heart of the Cardamom Hills, there is a magical place for lovers of nature. Periyar Tiger Reserve is one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala. Covering an area of 350 square kilometres, the park is a wonderland for those who love the outdoors.

The Royal History of Periyar Tiger Reserve

The story of this ecological attraction in Kerala begins in 1895 with the construction of the Mullaperiyar Dam. As the reservoir turned into a lake over the years, it became a permanent source of water for the local flora and fauna. 

The last Maharaja of Travancore, Sree Chithira Thirunal, declared the area around the lake as the Nellikkampatty Game Sanctuary in 1934. This sanctuary became Periyar National Park in 1950 after India adopted her own Constitution. In 1978, the park was inducted into the Project Tiger program and was renamed Periyar Tiger Reserve.

Flora of Periyar Tiger Reserve

This unique biodiversity hotspot in Kerala is home to nearly 2000 different varieties of plants. These include everything from unique grasses, rare flowering plants and critically endangered tree species. The variety of plants paints the entire reserve in a variety of green hues, accented by the colours of a multitude of flowers.

Fauna of Periyar Tiger Reserve

Periyar National Park is also home to a wide variety of animals. There are over 40 tigers that call the reserve home, along with a plethora of other mammals such as elephants, Nilgiri martens, Nilgiri tahrs and lion tailed macaques. The park is a haven for birdwatching, with more than 250 species of birds. It is also renowned among entomologists for the variety of unique insects, with over 160 species of butterfly alone. 

Activities at Periyar Tiger Reserve

Periyar National Park offers visitors some of the most unique nature-friendly activities in Kerala. It is one of the few National Parks that offer night treks, allowing guests to observe the behaviours of nocturnal animals. Trekking, boating and camping excursions are organised by camp officials. The camp also has multiple accommodation options.

At A Glance: Periyar Tiger Reserve 

Best time to visit: September to April
Famous for: Tigers, elephants, waterfalls
Nearest Town: Kottayam (102 kilometers away)
Accessible by: Road, bus
Recommended for: Families, couples, birdwatching

Athirapilly Waterfalls 

Athirapilly Waterfalls 
Athirapilly Falls has a vertical drop that’s about half that of Niagara Falls.

One of Kerala’s most iconic destinations, Athirapilly Waterfalls are a popular destination for wildlife lovers from around the country. Located in Thrissur district, this is an excellent spot for birdwatching and photography.

Why is Athirapilly Falls famous?

At a height of 25 metres, Athirapilly is Kerala’s tallest waterfall. This stunning natural monument is on the Chalakudy River, which also feeds the Vazhachal Falls upstream. This waterfall has been featured in many films, most famously in Dil Se, Baahubali, and Pushpa: The Rise. 

What is special about Athirapilly Falls?

The falls are at a unique point of the river. Located just beyond a bend in the river, the rate of flow of the water increases before reaching the 25 metre drop to the riverbed below. This results in a sound that can be heard from over a kilometre away. The volume of water flowing through the Chalakudy River greatly increases during the monsoons, making it a magical viewing experience. 

What is unique about the forest around Athirapilly?

The forest area around Athirapilly and Vazhachal is considered one of the most unique ecological attractions in Kerala. It is the only forest that is home to all four varieties of South Indian hornbills. Other endangered animals such as the Royal Bengal Tiger and Indian Giant Squirrel have been sighted within this one-of-a-kind forest. This unique ecosystem has been the focus of many conservation efforts in Kerala.

At A Glance: Athirapilly Waterfalls 

Best time to visit: September to January
Famous for: Largest waterfall in Kerala, Athirapilly-Vazhachal forest
Nearest Town: Chalakudy (31 kilometres away)
Accessible by: Road, bus
Recommended for: Birdwatching, friends groups, families, couples

Silent Valley National Park 

Silent Valley National Park
n the 1970s, plans for a hydroelectric project led to the “Save Silent Valley” conservation movement. The project was eventually dropped and the forest was declared a national park in 1984, officially inaugurated in 1985.

One of the few remaining undisturbed tracts of the Southern Western Ghats rainforest, Silent Valley National Park is home to some of India’s rarest species. This unique ecological attraction in Kerala is one of the most famous national parks in India.

Why is Silent Valley National Park famous?

Silent Valley National Park is famous because it was the centre of the first major nationwide public conservation movement in India. The Save Silent Valley movement created public consciousness regarding India’s biodiversity and gave rise to many following conservation efforts in Kerala and around the country.

What is important about Silent Valley National Park?

This unique ecosystem is the main habitat of the lion tailed macaque, one of the rarest primate species in the world. Besides this, other critically endangered species are known to reside here, including the Nilgiri langur, sambar deer and sloth bear. This concentration of endangered species has led to the implementation of many green initiatives in Kerala, such as recruiting tribal youth from the neighbouring areas to become forest guards.

How many species are there in Silent Valley National Park?

Comprehensive studies and monitoring in the area have revealed a wealth of biodiversity. There are over 1000 recorded species of flowering plants in the Park. More than 200 species of butterflies and 400 species of moths call Silent Valley National Park home. 

What can I do at Silent Valley National Park?

Visitors to Silent Valley National Park can participate in low-impact tourism activities such as trekking and camping with the supervision of Forest Department guides. These activities allow visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the area and get acquainted with the diverse range of life all around.

At A Glance: Silent Valley National Park 

Best time to visit: December to April
Famous for: Lion-tailed macaque, butterflies, tigers, gaur
Nearest Town: Mannarkkad (47 kilometres away)
Accessible by: Road, bus
Recommended for: Friends groups, families, couples

Vembanad Lake

Vembanad Lake
Vembanad Lake is home to more than 20,000 waterfowls, shrimps, clams, subfossils, and many migratory birds.

Spanning a length of 96.5 kilometres, Vembanad Lake is India’s longest lake. Vembanad is the epicentre of Kerala backwaters tourism, and it is famous for the stunning landscapes on either side of its banks. 

What places are near Vembanad Lake?

The lake covers a significant distance in southern Kerala. The northernmost point of the lake is at the village of Panavally, and the southernmost point is at Alappuzha (Alleppey). On the eastern banks of Vembanad Lake is Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. The length of the lake allows visitors to experience the lake from many places in Kerala. 

What is special about Vembanad Lake?

Vembanad Lake is recognised as a Ramsar site, and is home to over 20,000 waterfowls. Preserving the unique features of this ecological attraction has been the focus of many conservation efforts in Kerala. 

Boat racing at Vembanad Lake

Boat racing at Vembanad Lake is closely tied to local culture. The annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held at Alappuzha (Alleppey). Aside from this, more localised boat races take place throughout August and September. 

What activities are at Vembanad Lake?

The most popular activity for tourists is to take a cruise along the tranquil stretches of the lake in a houseboat. Birdwatching along the banks of the lake is also a popular activity.

At A Glance: Vembanad Lake

Best time to visit: December to April
Famous for: Houseboat cruises, waterfowl, scenic beauty
Nearest Towns: Many, the most popular ones are Alappuzha and Kumarakom.
Accessible by: Boat
Recommended for: Friends groups, families, couples

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is known for having the world’s largest recorded population of Asian elephants.

Synonymous with wildlife in Kerala, Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It is part of a contiguous area of protected forests, stretching from the Nagarhole and Bandipur National Parks of Karnataka to the Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu. The entire area is under consideration for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

What wildlife conservation happens at Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary?

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary has been a forerunner for many wildlife conservation efforts in Kerala. The sanctuary was named as one of the original sites for the launch of Project Elephant in 1992. Currently, major efforts are being made for the protection of rare vulture species and other avian life. The sanctuary is also home to Kerala’s largest tiger population, despite never being inducted into Project Tiger.

Is Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary a good place to visit during monsoon? 

Wayanad is known for its high rainfall, with many parts of the sanctuary being prone to flooding. The sanctuary is best avoided during the months of August and September due to the unpredictable nature of the rains.

What activities can I do at Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary?

There are a variety of activities available for visitors to the sanctuary. Although camping in the Sanctuary is discouraged, there are forest department lodges available for those who wish to explore the unique biodiversity of this area. Guided jeep safaris and trekking tours of the park allow visitors to discover the unique diversity of this ecological attraction in Kerala.

At A Glance: Vembanad Lake

Best time to visit: November to February
Famous for: Tigers, elephants, Malabar squirrel
Nearest Town: Sultan Bathery (15 kilometres)
Accessible by: Road, bus
Recommended for: Friends groups, families, couples

ECO-RESORTS IN KERALA

For any holiday, where you stay at has a major impact on your enjoyment. Here are a few eco-resorts to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Kerala.

Le Meridien Kochi

Located just 20 minutes away from Kochi South Railway Station, Le Meridien Kochi offers guests a seamless blend of luxurious amenities and natural beauty. The resort is on the banks of a stream, and offers stunning views of the greenery around. 

Cost per head: INR 4000-6000 Per person on twin sharing basis (approx)
Nearby attractions: Kerala Folklore Museum, Fort Kochi Beach, Vypin Island
Recommended for: Couples, friends groups

Fragrant Nature Backwater Resort & Ayurveda Spa

The Fragrant Nature Backwater Resort & Ayurveda Spa is a splendid resort on the banks of Paravur Lake near the city of Kollam. The resort is best known for its tranquil location, range of ayurvedic beauty treatments and yoga classes.

Cost per head: INR 2500-4000 Per person on twin sharing basis
Nearby attractions: Edava Beach, Thangassery Light House, Chaitanya Park
Recommended for: Families, couples

Greenwoods Resort

Among the wild beauty of Thekkady, Greenwoods Resort is a stunning property that blends traditional Kerala architecture and green building concepts. Surrounded by a magnificent pepper plantation, this resort is the perfect place to unwind while visiting the spectacular Periyar Tiger Reserve.

Cost per head: INR 3500-6000 Per person on twin sharing basis
Nearby attractions: Periyar National Park, Green Valley Ayurvedic & Spice Garden
Recommended for: Friends groups, couples

Taj Green Cove Resort & Spa Kovalam

Staying at the beautiful beachside town of Kovalam is an experience that can only be enhanced by staying at the Taj Green Cove Resort & Spa. This resort is designed to complement the spectacular surroundings, blending the beauty of nature with modern luxuries.

Cost per head: INR 9000-50000 Per person on twin sharing basis
Nearby attractions: Samudra Beach, Padmanabhapuram Palace, Vizhinjam Lighthouse
Recommended for: Families, couples

Taj Kumarakom Resort and Spa

An iconic destination for nature lovers, Kumarakom’s beauty is best experienced when you’re staying at the stunning Taj Kumarakom Resort and Spa. The beautiful heritage  merge together surroundings to bring you a truly magical experience.

Cost per head: INR 6000-28000 Per person on twin sharing basis
Nearby attractions: Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Alleppey Lighthouse, Vypin Island
Recommended for: Families, couples

Prioritizing Responsible Tourism: Building a Better Travel Future

Kerala has a diverse range of landscapes, encompassing hills, beaches, meadows, and lush forests. These are a treasure not just for India, but for the whole world. Adopting responsible tourism practices must be adopted to ensure the preservation of these incredible destinations for future generations.

The Responsible Tourism Mission undertaken by Kerala has been recognized by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as a success story for the development of eco-tourism. Their innovative approach to community engagement has helped to spread a high level of environmental awareness among the general population.

Empowering Kerala Through Ethical Tourism: A Sustainable Success Story

Community-based tourism in Kerala has helped the state to prioritize the preservation of unique practices and places. This novel approach to tourism has allowed local villages to further capitalize on traditional practices, including pottery, art, textiles, and agriculture.

Indigenous Experiences in Kerala 

Indigenous cultural immersion in Kerala is also a growing trend among visitors to the state’s charming villages. Homestays established by local communities have enabled them to earn an additional income along with their agricultural produce. 

Ethical Tourism in Kerala 

Ethical tourism in Kerala has enabled local communities to empower themselves both socially and financially. Collaborating with local stakeholders has resulted in the creation of a diverse range of Kerala eco-tourism experiences.

Community Involvement and Cultural Experiences

The Government of Kerala has been proactive in transforming the state into a globally recognized eco-conscious travel destination. Local participation in creating eco-tourism experiences has been a large part of this change. 

Involving local communities in the development of tourism has had benefits on many levels. Tourists get the benefit of authentic local experiences only possible through indigenous cultural immersion in Kerala. Local communities are sustained through sharing their local practices with visitors from all over the world. This mutual benefit is the basis of ethical tourism in Kerala. 

Kumbalangi – India’s First Eco-tourism Village

Kumbalangi - India’s First Eco-tourism Village
Kumbalangi – India’s First Eco-tourism Village

Many unique experiences for visitors have been created with the participation of various local communities. Kumbalangi is India’s first eco-tourism village, where the local community and tourism authorities collaborated to develop entertaining and educational activities for visitors. Local villagers are tour guides, showing guests indigenous crafts and explaining the relationship of the villagers with the ocean and the forest. Visitors can learn how to craft ropes from coconut fibers, enjoy a pottery lesson and take a ride on a traditional fishing boat. 

Kumbalangi is just one of many such stories of community-based tourism in Kerala. These low-impact tourism activities transform the experience of tourists while positively impacting the local community.

Challenges and Solutions

Sustainable travel in Kerala has many success stories but continues to face many challenges. Balancing the needs of a healthy ecosystem with the desires of tourists is not a simple task. Green initiatives by the Kerala Tourism Board face challenges in implementation and monitoring. 

Key Issues Facing Sustainability in Kerala

Illegal activities such as deforestation and poaching continue to pose a threat to Kerala’s biodiversity hotspots. Though strict punishments are already in place for individuals involved in these activities, other solutions are required to curb them. This is where promoting responsible tourism practices can assist both law enforcement agencies and local communities.

Role of Responsible Tourism

Travel can play a major role by supporting green initiatives in Kerala tourism. Participating in low-impact tourism activities at Kerala’s biodiversity hotspots support wildlife initiatives in the State. Wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala are surrounded by indigenous communities with strong ties to the jungles around their homes.

Indigenous cultural immersion in Kerala through eco-tourism experiences has the potential to reach remote communities in the State’s biodiversity hotspots. Villages like Kumarakom and Vagamon have benefitted immensely from tourism, enabling the local community to thrive. 

Kerala – An Eco-tourism Hotspot

Kerala’s commitment to eco-tourism is encouraging for the future of sustainable travel in India. Preserving Kerala’s biodiversity hotspots is important, not just for Kerala, but for the world at large. 

Kerala’s Responsible Tourism Mission has made a great impact by encouraging locals to lead efforts for community-based tourism in Kerala. Local eco-tourism experiences in Kerala provide visitors with direct experiences with locals, enabling a deeper connection with their destination. It has also helped to preserve the traditional practices of local communities by creating activities around them.

Conclusion

The development of sustainable travel in Kerala will have a major impact on Kerala’s future and global conservation efforts. Preserving the biodiversity hotspots of the Western Ghats is of utmost importance. Low-impact tourism activities can go a long way in turning God’s Own Country into an eco-conscious travel destination.