You need official permission to trek till Chembra. Although the District Forest Office in Meppadi doesn't disallow people from visiting the peak, you still have to take official permit from them before you start. The permit costs Rs. 750 for a group of a maximum of 10 Indians and Rs. 1,500 for a group of maximum 10 international tourists. A still camera ticket costs Rs. 50.
At the very same office, you can also rent some trekking equipment and hire guides at nominal charges. The office is open from 7am to 2pm everyday.
Best time to visit
Although Chembra Peak is accessible throughout the year, it's better to stay away during the monsoons. The rain in Kerala is cruel, making the downhill trek slippery. The best time to visit is between December and February.
How to reach
If you're in the mood to plan your entire weekend around the Chembra peak trek, it's better to drive all the way till Meppadi since the route is breathtaking. It's a pleasant 6-hour drive from Bengaluru, and hardly a couple of hours away from Kozhikode.
If you're the public transport kind, government and private buses from all major stations in Kerala and Karnataka ply overnight till Kalpetta. Meppadi is just 13km from here, so taking a bus is quite doable.
Where to stay
There are only a handful of hotels in Meppadi since it is not a popular tourist spot yet. You can book them here.
Other important information
• For the last couple of years, the summit has been closed intermittently due to Naxalite activities in the forests above. The heart-shaped lake is the furthest one can go during those days. Hence it's a good idea to call the district forest office beforehand. Contact number: +91 4936 282001.
• It is better to carry your own water bottle and food for the trek since the shops at the base (Meppadi) sell everything at exorbitant rates. Also, there are no other shops beyond this point to maintain the trail's natural charm.