Bamboo rafting is one of the preferred program in periyar tiger reserve and one must not miss it too. Bamboo rafting is a full day program from morning 8AM to 5PM, only one batch with 15 participants, 6 watchers and one armed guard. We need to book this rafting atleast one day before in person or by send Demand Draft from remote places. Cost for the program is INR 1500 per person which includes rafting, trekking, breakfast and lunch. We have reached thekkady on sep 29th morning and booked the rafting for 30th.
30th Morning we have reached the boat house inside park. We got instructions and leech socks, around 8AM everyone registered for the rafting gathered, only we three are the indians in that batch, one of the watcher said this program is mostly pre booked by foreigners. If they open the registration online we could see more indians register for this program, the only draw back is it does not have online registration.
From boat house we crossed a small water body to enter the forest side, from their we need to walk two kilometers to reach the base camp for rafting, camp site for tiger trail in also there. We started chit chat with the watcher and started to base camp, we got lot of information about the place and mullaiperiyar dam on the way under the drizzle.
We had breakfast at the tiger trail camp and started our rafting session in three rafts, 5 participants and two watchers in each raft, mostly watcher rows the raft if we are interested we can also row. Rafting is on periyar lake farmed my mullaiperiyar dam, lake is with full of sub merged trees, these sub merged trees increases the beauty of the lake and also makes it dangerous for swimming and boating as they may cause injuries. Once these were plain lands before construction of mullaiperiyar dam, now most of the place is sub merged in water and the trees are sub merged in water for more than 116 years and still surviving in the water.
Until 12PM we roamed many places but could not spot any wild animals, so watchers decided to takes to the forest walk once again, we walked deep into the forest still no luck except elephant trails. We came back to lake, had lunch and rested for sometime. Mean while watchers gave lot of stories happened in the rafting before, one week before a batch was chased by few elephants. Most of the animals comes to lake for water, since it is raining and water might be available near by their habitation so they are not showing up in lake. With fur-station of not seen any animals we started back to tiger trail camp.
3PM we came back to tiger trail camp, tied our rafts to the trees in the water and started back to starting point. After a short walk, we saw some elephants and bison standing some 200mts away, we all became so happy, in sometime they went into the forest.
There are two different season to visit the wildlife, one during the monsoon to experience full green forest and other during early summer, during this time water sources inside the forest run out of water so many wild animals comes to lake, so this time will be best for animal spotting. We will plan a trip during late feb or march once again.