No birds… No tigers

“No birds,” said the man working the entrance to the Kumarakom Bird  
Sanctuary.  Ok, we just traveled an hour by bus to get here, then  
walked around for a half hour or so looking for the place (the sign  
pointing to the entrance had been uprooted and pointed us in the wrong direction).

Seeing we had invested a bit of time and effort into this venture, we  
decided to pay the $1 each and go in anyway.  And the man was right –  
there were no birds. I think there were more birds outside and around  
the park but for some reason they weren’t going in.

It was a nice walk and worth the dollar I suppose.  The best part was we met two nice young women on the bus ride who taught us how to say a 
couple things in Malayam, the language of Kerala.


Keralan backwaters
Kottayam was our base for the visit to the sanctuary. We stayed there  
a couple nights.  We arrived via public ferry from Alleppey, which only  two hours cost just 50 cents each.  The ferry is the cheap way to get a  
feel for the Keralan backwaters, without spending a lot of money on a  
houseboat tour.  I highly recommend it if you’re being really budget  
conscious. We only spent a night in Alleppey but we loved our meals there (50 cent masala dosas)!  It was Halloween and appropriately, we saw another giant spider!

Giant Halloween spider
We left Kottayam and headed to Kumily for another sanctuary – the  
Periyar Wildlife santuary, home to 40+ tigers and loads of other  
animals.  The 4 hr bus ride there was breathtaking.  Kumily is up in  
the mountains, the western ghats, and as we climbed we passed tea  
estates, rubber plantations, and just outright gorgeous views of the  
green landscape of Kerala.

We went on a 2.5 hr early morning “nature walk” at Periyar.  They  
warned us that there would be leeches so I rented a pair of leech  
socks. Brandon decided to stick with his woolies tucked into his pants.


Explorer Val at Periyar
I’ve never had to deal with leeches before but watching the little  
suckers dive into the mesh of my sneakers was rather horrifying.  I  
swatted them off my socks as best as I could and tried to enjoy the  

The hike was beautiful. We walked through the forest for about an  
hour.  We saw a tree that had been scratched by a tiger.  Then we entered a gorgeous clearing where bison and wild boar were grazing in the distance. They were the only big wildlife we saw – in the wet season the animals don’t have to come out as often for water.

When we got back I took off my leech socks and was surprised to see no 
bites. Brandon wasn’t so lucky – he got 11 bites on his feet.


Periyar hike
We got back to the hotel to clean up Brandon’s injuries. Leech bites 
bleed for a while since the leeches inject an anti-coagulant Into the 
blood.  I decided to change my pants before heading out for breakfast 
and there was a leech on my upper right calf!!  Argh!  Brandon quickly 
grabbed a lighter, lit it under the leech, and it dropped off, fat and 
full of my blood.  Brandon figured that since it was so successful it 
wouldn’t be nice to kill it (plus it would have very messy) so he 
airlifted it to the bushes outside.

We spent half the day laid up, waiting for our bites to stop bleeding.  Fun times.

On a less bloody note, we went to a Kathakali performance one 
evening.  Kathakali is traditional Keralan dance.  The performers get 
all made up and use a lot of intricate hand and eye movements to tell 
their story.

Here’s a short video I took: 

On a final note – on the main strip in Kumily there were two  
restaurants across the street from each other – Sree Krishna and the  
Lord’s Family Restaurant.  Which god makes the best food?

The Lord’s Family Restaurant.  Mary makes a damn good gobi masala.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *