Valparai - Parambikulam

20th Dec 2013
Photo of Valparai - Parambikulam by Vineith Malabaricus

Valparai is a beautiful town nestled amidst tea garden owned by 56 estates. In winters and late summers, Valparai offers scenic view of its hills. The landscape is a part of Anaimalais Tiger Reserve and comprise Parambikulam, Top slip, Aliyar, Valparai up to Athirapally and Anaimudi; the highest peak in south India.

Indian Naturalists Society(INS) is a network of experienced naturalists across India. Valparai has attracted us for its high altitude slopes of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve creating a habitat for unique mammals like Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Langur, Lion Tailed Macaques and Elephants. Also, the birdlife in this reserve has great diversity from a rare Black Baza, Waynad Laughing Thrush, Ceylon Frogmouth to Great Hornbills, Malabar Trogons and Long eared Nightjar.

We also make it a point to cover some of the macro world particularly the damselflies, butterflies, frogs and Pit-vipers. All this is quite easy when one stays in a private estate that needs to be booked in advance. A naturalist shall host you during the trip to deliver the best experience and sighting.  

Coimbatore is the nearest Airport and Trains are yet to be resumed as the gauge conversion is ongoing. Buses are available from Bangalore and Cochin via Chalakudy. Several private operators ply between Bangalore and Pollachi. Pick up from Pollachi (Coimbatore District, Tamil Nadu) From here we head to a nearby lodge to freshen up and hit the road to Parambikulam.
Photo of Pollachi Junction Railway Station, Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, India by Vineith Malabaricus
On arrival at Parambikulam at about 9 am, breakfast can be ordered at a café that makes good dosas and variety of curries. Next, we head down a naturalist guided trail of 6 kilometers, worth taking to get a glimpse of several rare birds like Malabar Trogon, Blue-tailed Bee eater, Ruby-throated bulbul, Black Baza, White-bellied treepie, Nuthatches, Rosefinch, Black-throated Munia, Warblers, Flycatchers and Owls. In the evening, we drive up to Parambikulam dam. Stay at Top slip.
After a morning walk at Top slip, we head towards Valparai, en route stop for Nilgiri Tahr, which are best seen in other ridges like Grass hills which is not permitted. We will reach Valparai by lunch, after which one can spend time photographing Lion Tailed Macaques. The evening walk around the tea gardens is a great time to photograph some macro life.
Early the following morning, we drive through the tea gardens for birding, particularly to spot the Great Hornbills, followed by a small trip to a breathtaking view point and a short walk up to the point called Nalla-mudi punjholai. The Great hornbills call beneath in the valley amidst the tribal settlements. Elephants snort, debark, crush, the sounds are the only thing to enjoy while overlooking the canopy. On our way back we get plenty of opportunities to glipmse the Malabar whistling thrush and quails. In the evening we drive back to Pollachi with a stop for Tahrs again.
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