Kerala is miles ahead in tourism and hospitality as compared to any other state in India. A fascinating point to note here is the effort that has gone into marketing Kerala as a top-notch destination of Southern India. No other southern State has been able to accomplish this. With pristine beaches, emerald backwaters, verdant valleys of the western ghats and a distinguished way of life trekking in Kerala is now better than ever! From celebrating remote local festivals to chilling on a houseboat and making the most of the tranquil backwaters. Kerala stands as the quintessence of all things green and beautiful.
These are a selection of soul-satisfying options to go trekking in Kerala, for the adventure lover in you!
Top 10 places for trekking in Kerala
- Top Station (Near Munnar)
- Kolukkumalai Peak Trek
- Meesapulimala Trek
- Silent Valley National Park
- Chembra Peak Trek
- Agasthyarkoodam Peak
- Dhoni Hills
- Anamudi Peak
- Lion Tailed Macaque Trail
- Illikkal Kallu Trek
1. Top Station (Near Munnar)
Munnar, in all its glory, is home to so much more than its tea estates. Looking to go trekking in Kerala? Head down to Munnar for myriad options of forest trekking in Kerala. Top station is a viewpoint located at the height of 1880 m. Around 32 km from Munnar, travellers begin their treks following trails that are historic tribal paths developed to connect small villages located in the mountains. Each trekker is greeted into deep jungles, tea and coffee estates, waterfalls, picturesque valleys and then finally onto Top Station.
Top Station was more notable back in the days than many know about. It was a transhipment point for delivery of tea in the early 1900s. Top Station was one end of the 5 km long Kottagudi Aerial Ropeway. Even today, there are some remains of the ropeway for travellers to see.
Travel Tip: As this trek is relatively difficult, trekkers are allowed to camp here overnight if preferred. Don’t forget to wake up early and watch the sun come up!
- Duration of the trek: 4 hours to half a day (with breaks)
- Length of the trek: 9km from Kurangani Village
- Who is it for: Beginners
2. Kolukkumalai Peak Trek
Looking to extend your jungle trekking in Kerala instead of jumping from place to place? Well, you are in luck! Kolukkumalai peak trek can be the next thing to undertake after you have immersed yourself in Top Station and its beauty.
This trek begins at Kurangani Village and goes all the way up to 2280m high. Some parts of the trail are moderately challenging, yet it is achievable. This is one of the most frequented hikes famous for its divine sunrise view.
It is advised to start earlier in the day as the sun will be sure to strike you down during parts of the trail. Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, the highest organic tea plantation in the world is the highlight of this trek. Enjoy a cup of healthy tea as you attempt to capture the sweeping views of nature on your camera.
Travel Tip: Kolukkumalai tea estate was established by the British in the 1930s. Did you know they continue to process tea in the old fashioned way here? Rather than the current mechanised process, here it is handpicked to undergo a controlled drying process.
- Duration of the trek: 7 hours to full day
- Length of the trek: 11km from Kurangani Village
- Who is it for: Frequent hikers and the relatively experienced
3. Meesapulimala Trek
Sitting at 2640m above sea level at the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu is Meesapulimala. This is a beautiful three-day trek you can do after spending time at Kolukkumalai tea estate. On the way to the peak, trekkers usually spend the night at Rhodo Valley (decent guest houses are available here) or Silent valley (here you can rent tents.).
Meesapulimala is the second most prominent peak in southern India, making it the most trying trek to accomplish, especially the last 2 km. Ergo, this is essential for the experienced trekkers. Trekkers require permission for this trek as well, from the Kerala forest department. Meesapulimala certainly cuts as one of the best trekking places in Kerala.
- Duration of the trek: 7 hours to full day
- Length of the trek: 8km (starting from Kolukkumalai Tea Estate)
- Who is it for: Experienced trekkers in great shape
4. Silent Valley National Park
This is a park located in the Nilgiri Hills popularly known for being a tropical rainforest home to diverse butterflies, moths and beetles. It was discovered and named by the British as Silent Valley because of the absence of cicadas.
If you are looking for options for forest trekking in Kerala, there are several trails for you to pick from here like the waterfall trail, forest trail and a river trail. All of these differ in terms of difficulty and what you can see along the way. All these treks require permission from the forest authorities and begin from Mukkali, which is the base camp.
It is also called Sairandhrivanam aka Sairandhri’s Valley stemming from the Hindu mythology. Sairandhri is essentially Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas who spent the time of exile as Sairandhri – Queen Sudeshna’s assistant. The story is the Pandavas began moving down south and chanced upon this region what we know as Kerala.
- Duration of the trek: Trek options available for 1 or 2 days with an option of an overnight stay
- Length of the trek: Differs with each trail
- Who is it for: Beginners
5. Chembra Peak Trek
The crème de la crème of Wayanad in Kerala is the Chembra Peak located 17 km away and as high as 2100m. For the Chembra Peak Trek, you require permission from the authorities at the base. Ordinarily, a guide must accompany you on this path. The guides are traditionally people from the tribal community. Chembra Peak trek is one of the most serene places to go trekking in Kerala!
Throughout the slightly arduous 14 km long trek, you will find yourself in quickly changing the landscape. It bears it all, from exotic and fragrant tea plantations to rugged jungles. Along the way, travellers routinely stop by the Chembra Lake famed for its abundance of water believed to have never dried up. Because of the wild animals in the mountains, trekkers are not allowed to camp overnight. The worst time for this trek is during the monsoon as it gets immensely slippery and difficult to ascend.
- Duration of the trek: 6 hours to full day
- Length of the trek: 10km
- Who is it for: Suitable for Beginners accompanied by a guide and for the experienced hikers!
6. Agasthyarkoodam Peak
Agasthyarkoodam Peak is a paradise for bird watchers. It falls in the zone of Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary which is nearly 32 km away from Thiruvananthapuram. This area offers a rare chance to the travellers to observe unique flora and fauna making it one of the best trekking spots in Kerala. Agasthyarkoodam is a mountain peak that is around 1868m high and certainly one of the loftiest peaks in Kerala. In the land of Ayurveda, this region is also home to medicinal herbs and plants.
January to April would be the best time to trek up here. Please note that the trekking privileges are controlled by the forest department to preserve the place. It is better to do some research on the best ways to secure passes before you book your tickets!
As it is named after the saint Agastya, it is additionally a notable site of pilgrimage. It is believed that he used to meditate in this region. Saint Agastya holds great importance in the Hindu mythology for being one of the Saptarishis – regarded as the patriarch of the Vedas. He is also revered for being the father of Ayurvedic medicine popularly practised in India. You can also pay a visit to the shrine built to honour Saint Agastya’s legacy.
Travel Tip: Wish to make trekking in Kerala memorable? The Neelakurinji flowers bloom in these mountains only once every 12 years. Block your dates for 11 years from now as the next bloom is in 2030!
- Duration of the trek: 2 days with an overnight stay at the peak
- Length of the trek: First phase – 20km; Second phase – 10km
- Who is it for: Experienced trekkers
Also See: Best Places to visit in July in India
7. Dhoni Hills and Waterfall
Near a small town named Palakkad in Kerala, the Dhoni Hills trek is suitable for beginners and first-timers. Dhoni Hills is so popular for being that it is now one of the best trekking places in Kerala. Just after a 4 km long hike, you can reach the highlight of this region, the Azhakampara Waterfall. You can camp and picnic here with family and friends for a wholesome experience!
With an exquisite view and the enchanting sound of water gushing along, this will relieve you of all worldly troubles! Once you move along the trail and up to the peak, it is a whole other world altogether. You have the option of staying at cottages and farmhouses while you enjoy the view of European cattle, lush greens and misty mountains all around you.
- Duration of the trek: 3 to 4 hours
- Length of the trek: 5km
- Who is it for: Beginners
8. Anamudi Peak
15 km away from Munnar is the starting point of Anamudi Peak Trek and can be a two to three days long trip. Anamudi being a part of Eravikulam Park is home to the largest population of Nilgiri Tahrs, Asian elephants and Gaurs. Neelakurinji flowers can also be found blossoming here every 12 years. At the top, the enchanting sight of rivers Thamirabarani and Vaigai makes this trek a paramount experience. Wading through bamboo, black wood and teak trees this trail hauls you through the heart of nature.
The best way to make the most of this fantastic jungle trekking in Kerala is to go with a guide as it is a moderately arduous hike. This pride of Kerala with a whimsical name which means “Elephant’s forehead” is at an elevation of 2695m.
Also See: Best time to visit Munnar
9. Lion Tailed Macaque Trail
Have you ever heard of the Lion-tailed Macaques? An animal lover’s delight is this path through the evergreen forests of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary is an unrivalled trail for the ones seeking unconventional experiences. This trail is carefully designed and curated for the eco-tourists to explore and learn about the wilderness of this sanctuary. The sanctuary offers two trek routes for beginners (4 km) and the experienced (18 km), to cater to all kinds of trekkers. Apart from the famous macaques, elephants and gaurs, you can also spot unusual birds, butterflies and insects.
This trail is hands down one of the best trekking places in Kerala for eco-tourists seeking nature in its prime form.
- Duration of the trek: Full day (to and fro)
- Length of the trek: 18km
- Who is it for: Most suitable for Experienced trekkers but beginners who trek frequently can attempt this hike with an accompanying guide.
10. Illikkal Kallu Trek
Illikkal Kallu is a quaint attraction in Kottayam District of Kerala. Far away from all the hustle and bustle, it is one of the most sought after trekking spots in Kerala for many travellers given its eccentric history and narrative. This peak is three hills of distinct shapes protruding at the peak.
Each hill is believed to resemble something. One is dubbed Kuda Kallu, meaning umbrella-shaped rock which seems to look like a mushroom. The second one is called Koonu Kallu, meaning hunch-back rock as it appears to have a hunch on the sides. Between the rocks is also a narrow bridge referred to as Narakapalam, in other words, the Devil’s bridge.
The spine-chilling stories do not end here! The first hilltop is believed to be the home of a blue coloured medicinal flower called Neela Koduveli that the locals say possess powers to ensure a bountiful harvest. This peak is also struck the most by lightning which led to people referring to it as Sathan Kallu, as in Devil’s stone. This is a must visit especially for those who love hunting down chilling supernatural stories!
- Duration of the trek: 4-5 hours
- Length of the trek: 7km
- Who is it for: Easy to do for Beginners and the Experienced alike
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All these options of trekking in Kerala are seasonal and require travellers to be well prepared with the necessities like water, food and personal belongings. Even the most difficult treks are doable, with just a bit of practice. The key is to start with the basic and easy treks and work your way up to the top!
Have you planned your weekend yet? Partake in each of these treks to blow off steam, experience a small fragment of this prosperous land and make sure you bring back your share of memories! Kerala is certainly more preserved and untouched by the local travellers. If you live in the South, the Himalayan range is not the only resort. There is a treasure trove of extraordinary treks a few hours away from home in God’s Own Country.