Done With Backwater Cruises? These Bird Sanctuaries Will Make You Want To Hit Kerala Once Again!

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Credits: Flo Maderebner

Photo of Done With Backwater Cruises? These Bird Sanctuaries Will Make You Want To Hit Kerala Once Again! by Siddharth Sujan

Living in a luxurious cruise, sailing through calm and untouched waters and marvelling at the natural beauty of Kerala in its purest form—if you've been to Kerala and ever taken a backwater cruise, you'll know there's nothing quite like it. On the flip side, if you think that's all God's Own Country is about, you're in for a big surprise. Kerala's exciting ecosphere is home to an exciting range of avian species—consisting of both local as well as migratory birds, making it a paradise for bird enthusiasts.

If you're someone who has a passion for winged creatures, you just cannot miss hitting these birding spots in Kerala:

Credits: MishuHanda

Photo of Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kavanattinkara, Kumarakom, Kerala, India by Siddharth Sujan

Situated on the banks of Vembanad Lake in Kottayam district, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is one of the most popular birding spots in the country. Spread over 14 hectares, one can spot numerous rare avian species in the sanctuary premises. Some of the most commonly spotted species include varieties of local birds like waterfowl, cuckoo, heron, cormorant, moorhen and darter. In addition, one can also spot the migratory Siberian crane, teal, lark and flycatcher amongst others.

Top things to see and do: Take a bird watching cruise; spend an evening by the serene Vembanad Lake and trek all the way up to Aruvikkuzhi waterfalls.

How to get there: Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located at a distance of 80km from Cochin airport, a distance that can be covered in a couple of hours.

Daily budget: ₹950 per head (approx.)

Best time to visit: November to February is the best time to visit the sanctuary owing to moderate temperatures.

Where to stay: Aveda Kumarakom (₹8,000) and Vinca Lake House (₹3,599). For more options, check here.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad, Kerala, India by Siddharth Sujan

First bird sanctuary in the state of Kerala Thattekad Bird Sanctuary boasts of quite an interesting ecosphere. The lowland forest is located between the branches of Periyar River, the longest river in Kerala, thus resulting in an exciting range of both forest birds as well as water birds. Amongst its 300 species of birds, the sanctuary also houses exotic birds such as Sri Lankan frogmouth, racket-tailed drongo, bronzed drongo, white bellied treepie, yellow-browed bulbul, rufous babbler and Malabar grey hornbill.

Top things to see and do: Hike through Thattekad Bird Sanctuary; witness the massive Bhoothathankettu Dam and go on a picnic with your family at Bhoothathankettu Park.

How to get there: The sanctuary is about an hour and a half's drive from Cochin airport (45km).

Daily budget: ₹1,000 per head (approx.)

Best time to visit: A wide variety of migratory birds flock to the park between October to February, making it the best time to visit Thattekad Bird Sanctuary.

Where to stay: Periyar River Lodge (₹10,000) and Cloud 9 Hotel (₹2,500). For more options, check here.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, Ayyappankavu, Ernakulam, Kerala, India by Siddharth Sujan

Located right in the middle of the bustling city of Kochi, Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary is nothing less than an oasis in a desert. Also known as the 'Green Lung of Kochi', the sanctuary is best known for its dense mangrove vegetation and various species of migratory birds. While keeping the city's pollution levels under check, Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary attracts large number of bird enthusiasts who come here to spot more than 30 species of birds that inhabit the park.

Top things to see and do: Take a history walk through Fort Kochi; witness a Kathakali performance and learn about the region's unique fishing techniques by interacting with Cochin's fisherfolk.

How to get there: Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary is merely an hour's drive from Cochin International Airport (35km).

Daily budget: ₹800 per person (approx.)

Best time to visit: Winters (October to January) are the best time to visit Cochin as temperature ranges between 17 degrees Celsius and 33 degrees Celsius, making it an ideal time to spot exotic varieties of birds.

Where to stay: Taj Malabar Resort & Spa (₹9,000) and Homested Homestay (₹1,600). For more options, check here.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Pathiramanal Island, Muhamma, Kerala by Siddharth Sujan

Located in the middle of Kumarakom’s famous Vembanad Lake, Pathiramanal is a small island which is a true haven for passionate bird watchers. Though Pathiramanal is yet to gain the formal status of a bird sanctuary, as many as 90 local species and 50 migratory species inhabit this remote island. Apart from the rare monarch flycatcher, one can spot several species of cormorants, darters, gulls, egrets and kingfishers here. To add to that, the jetty to the island is jaw-droppingly beautiful so make sure you keep your cameras handy!

Top things to see and do: Take a backwater cruise through Alleppey's famed backwaters; pitch in a tent and camp on Pathiramanal Island and put your photography skills to test at the island.

How to get there: It takes about two hours from Cochin airport to get to the last motorable point en route to the island. From Kayippuram Jetty Point, a 15 minute jetty ride will get you to Pathiramanal.

Daily budget: ₹600 per person (approx.)

Best time to visit: November to February is the best time to visit the island as the weather is suitable to go bird watching as well as camp by the lake.

Where to stay: Purity at Lake Vembanad (₹10,000) and Lovedale Lakeside Homestay (₹2,500). For more options, check here.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary, Kadalundi, Kerala, India by Siddharth Sujan

Spread across a group of small picturesque islands, Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary offers hands down, the most exciting birding experience in Kerala. Over a hundred species of native birds have been recorded in the sanctuary, including about 60 species of migratory birds that visit seasonally. Apart from that, one can also spend time fishing in the waters of Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary that houses rare species of fish, turtles, crabs and mussels. Hire a boat and set out on a breathtaking ride through lush green vegetation while you spot colourful birds. Is there anything more a nature lover can ask for?

Top things to see and do: Spend a day with your family at Lion's Park; unwind by Beypore Beach and visit the gorgeous waterfalls of Thusharagiri and Kozhippara.

How to get there: The bird sanctuary is located at a distance of 145km from Cochin airport. The distance can be covered in about four hours in a local cab.

Daily budget: ₹700 per person (approx.)

Best time to visit: The overall climate of this region is extremely hot and humid. The best time to visit this region is from October to April because migratory birds flock to this place during this period here.

Where to stay: The Raviz Resort and Spa (₹5,000) and Calicut Backpackers Vintage Hostel (₹1,000). For more options, check here.

Pakshipathalam Bird Sanctuary

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Done With Backwater Cruises? These Bird Sanctuaries Will Make You Want To Hit Kerala Once Again! by Siddharth Sujan

Located in the Wayanad district of Kerala, Pakshipathalam Bird Sanctuary is as much a trekker's paradise as it is a bird watcher's delight. A challenging three-hour trek will get you to the sanctuary which is simply a hidden gem, to say the least. The park is best known for being inhabited by the rare edible-nest swiftlet found in quite a good number here. Apart from that, one can also witness several medicinal plants which form an important part of the sanctuary's rich flora.

Top things to see and do: Take a jungle safari in Bandipur National Park; trek to the ancient caves of Edakkal for a brush with history and go boating in Banasura Sagar Dam.

How to get there: The bird sanctuary is at a distance of 245km from Cochin International Airport which can be covered in about six hours.

Daily budget: ₹750 per person (approx.)

Best time to visit: Wayanad experiences cool and pleasant weather between November and February, making it an ideal time to explore the wildlife at Pakshipathalam Bird Sanctuary.

Where to stay: Vythiri Village (₹8,500) and The Greenwoods Homestay (₹1,800). For more options, check here.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary, Pariyaram, Kerala, India by Siddharth Sujan

Established in 1984, Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary) lies on the western slopes of Nelliyampathi Hills in Thrissur district of Kerala. The sanctuary is one of the world’s 25 bio-diversity hot-spots and houses innumerable species of endangered plants and animals apart from about 160 bird species as well. The forest department also organises trekking and bamboo rafting in and around the sanctuary as well as the Moonlight Sonata, which involves rafting on full moon lights.

Top things to see and do: Take a guided trek through the sanctuary; offer your prayers at a 1000-year-old temple of Vadakkunnathan; spend some time by Athirapally falls and soak in some sun at Chavakkad Beach.

How to get there: Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary is only at a distance of 60km from Cochin airport. It takes around an hour and a half to cover this distance in a cab.

Daily budget: ₹850 per person (approx.)

Best time to visit: November to April is the best time to visit the sanctuary.

Where to stay: Athirapally Green Trees (₹8,000) and Ambady Resort (₹1,800). For more options, check here.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of New Amarambalam Wildlife Sanctuary, Kavalamukkatta, Kerala, India by Siddharth Sujan

A reserved forest area that has recently been granted the status of a wildlife sanctuary, New Amarambalam is the largest wildlife sanctuary in the state covering an area of 265.72 square kilometres. With as many as 212 species of birds being recorded in its premises, Amarambalam offers the most diverse bird watching experience in Kerala. To top that, limited tourism in this region only adds to making a Amarambalam a one of a kind experience.

Top things to see and do: Marvel at Pazhayangadi Mosque's Mughal architectural style; visit the unique Teak Museum dedicated to teak wood and spend some time by Keralamkundu Waterfalls.

How to get there: The sanctuary is located at a distance of 175km from Cochin airport which can be covered in five hours.

Daily budget: ₹550 per person (approx.)

Best time to visit: The months between November to March make for the best time to visit New Amarambalam Wildlife Sanctuary.

Where to stay: Wild Planet Jungle Resort (₹10,000) and Velu's Resort (₹2,750). For more options, check here.

What about flight costs?

New Delhi is connected to Cochin with several daily flights starting at ₹4,000.

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