Consider this. The slopes remains virgin throughout the land making it eyeful. The fragrance of tea, coffee and spices dwells everywhere making the misty morning pleasurable. The eyes feast on the spectacular view of tea plantations that are spread until the horizon in all directions. And the dawn's breeze at the base of the hill adds the joy to life that weekend getaways promise.
Not a bad scene right?. And that's not even 0.17% of the entire thing.
Chembra trek, unquestionably one of the most picturesque and most exquisite treks in all of Kerala, if not the entire south, is definitely among the perfect destinations for trekking in the western ghats. With majestic mountains standing tall amidst varying hues of lush green, upon which foamy white clouds breathe, Chembra definitely is a visual treat fit for any traveler's dream.
Enticing enough?. Here's everything you need to know about the Chembra trek.
And yeah, a heart shaped lake dwells on the way to the top. The mystifying lake is believed to have never been dried. Epic right?
- Chembra peak is the highest peak in Wayanad, Kerala. Clocking in at 2,100 m (6,900 feet) above sea level. The trek to Chembra is one of the most beautiful down south.
How to get here/how to get to Chembra trek's start point?
- The nearest town is Meppadi. Many buses ply from Kalapetta to Meppadi. Meppadi to Chembra trek's start point is 10 kilometers.
- Public transport do not ply to Chembra from Meppadi. The only options are private vehicles and hired jeeps.
How are the roads?
- Typical hilly terrain with undulating roads. Filled with potholes and loose gravel. The roads are very narrow and uphill, sometimes making it difficult for some vehicles to make the ride.
- Avoid large vehicles (Turning back can be a pain in the ass). Motorcycles work wonders.
Trekking permits and trek cost?
- Permits has to be obtained from the forest office in Meppadi. Fret not, the forest office happens to be en route Chembra from Meppadi town. You just can't miss it.
- The cost for the trek permit is 750 rupees (includes guide fee). 750 for 10 members and 75 rupees extra for each extra member.
- ** 750 rupees has to be paid to obtain permits irrespective of the number of people (doesn't matter if it's 1 or 10). If you are below 10, make some friends who are potential trekkers and share your permits with them.
- A still camera ticket costs 50 rupees.
Trek timings and time required to complete the trek?
- The trekking time starts from 7 am and continues until 2 pm. After 2 pm, the trekking permits are not issued.
- Starting the trek early is most preferable as one can avoid other trekkers and hassles. Not to mention enjoying the morning glory of the nature without being exposed to the intense sun.
- It takes around 6 hours to complete the trek (6 hours is an average considering us Indians with pot bellies and love handles). 1 hour to get to the watch tower and 2 hours to get to the "heart shaped lake".
- If you are sharing your permits with other trekkers, make sure everyone reaches the watch tower at once. The permits are checked here.
Can I summit Chembra?
- No. Summiting Chembra is prohibited from past couple of years due to wild life and Naxal activities post the heart shaped lake.
- The permits provided is to trek only until the heart shaped lake.
- The peak is 1.5 kilometers away from the lake.
Trek difficulty and total trek distance?
- Considering many other treks in all of western ghats, the trek to Chembra is moderately difficult for an average trekker. When I say an average trekker, I mean someone who has done a couple of treks earlier.
- The trek distance is 7 kilometers to and fro. Taking you along flat muddy roads, forest trail and grasslands.
- Flat roads along tea estates can be easily completed, while the forest trail has steep gradient (This is the hardest part of the trek). The grasslands are comparatively easier than the forest trail.
Can I camp here?
- Camping in Chembra is prohibited.
- You just can't pitch tents here. The trek guides and the forest officials make sure each and every person makes it to the base at late evening. (Naxal activities?, Preserving nature?, the reason unknown).
Best time of the year to trek Chembra?
- The best time to trek Chembra is post monsoon. That is December to February. This is the time of the year when the grass is green and the air is pure. Feel good season.
- Pre monsoons (February to June) are a bit dry and the grass turns yellow. The sun is harsh too.
- During monsoons (July to October), it pours in this part of the world. The track is slippery and it may take some serious Bear Gryll's skills to trek during heavy rains.
- Trekking can be done all year round though.
Food and water?
- Carry your own food and water. The guards check for number of bottles carried and collect a deposit of 100 rupees for each bottle carried. The empty bottles has to be showed to collect the deposit when you're back. (They make sure to preserve the trail).
- Snacks and water bottles are available at the base and cost a lot more than mrp.
- And please do not litter. Bring your garbage back so that more people like us can appreciate the nature (no one wants to see trash, do we?).
Where do I stay the previous day before the trek?.
- Lots of hotels are available in Kalapetta (20 kilometers from Chembra) and Vythiri (22 kilometers from Chembra).
- The cost for the stay ranges from 300 rupees to 7000 rupees depending upon the type of accommodation.
Places to see nearby
- The whole of Wayanad has a hell lot of surreal places that one can revel in. Places like Kuruvadweep (a river island), Banasura dam, Pookode lake, Soochipara waterfalls, Meenmutty waterfalls and a few other view points are all in close proximity.
What does Chembra offer?
- Chembra offers a cherishing panoramic view of Wayanad hill ranges (part of the western ghats).
- It hosts the immortal heart shaped lake. Need I say more?
- It offers a different perspective of light of the dark green forest.
- Splendid photo ops of which can be turned into creations with the right aperture opening and correct shutter speed.
- It offers that perfect weekend getaway we always long for.
- And most of all, it offers a surreal trekking experience.
So pack your bags and boots already. Happy trekking!!!