The main reason why ecotourism is becoming more and more popular is because it represents a way of enjoying nature’s bounty in a way that it is preserved and sustained for the generations to come. This is achieved by focused and deliberate action that ensures minimal intrusion and destruction of the natural environment while supporting and sustaining the local cultures. Green tourism assumes a lot of involvement by both the tourists and the various service providers. It includes measures like recycling, water conservation and reuse, energy efficiency, and creation of livelihood opportunities for the local communities so that they can lessen their impact on the environment. Among the many states in India that are aggressively promoting ecotourism, Kerala is at the forefront with a number of wonderful destinations waiting to be explored. Here’s a glimpse of some of the best spots.
Quite unlike any other tourist attraction in the country, the backwaters of Kerala are famous for their unique charm and biodiversity. The best way of getting to know the attractions is to climb aboard a riverboat and take in the serene ambiance of the tranquil waters, the verdant greenery of the swaying coconut palms and lush paddy fields that abound on both sides of the river. Luxuriate in the gentle rhythm of a pastoral life of the natives that has virtually remained unchanged through centuries. As you glide on the waters, you can just imagine how life would have been when the waterways were the hub of trade and commerce with cargo boats transporting spices, coconuts, rice and a variety of other necessities to the settlements on the banks.
The favorite destination of eco-travelers, Munnar that is situated at an elevation of 1700 m, is so different from the backwaters that you would hardly believe that you were in the same state. It is a picturesque hill station covered with lush forests, orchards, tea gardens and grasslands that are the ideal habitat of a huge assortment of flora and fauna. If you have the patience, you can spot animals like the Grizzled Giant Squirrel, Nilgiri Tahr, gaur, elephant and birds such as Nilgiri Wood-pigeon, Orange-Crowned Warblers, Whistling Thrush, Scarlet Minivet, Nilgiri Pipit,Orange-Crowned Warbler and Broad-tailed Grassbird to mention a few. The drive is extremely scenic with numerous streams gushing through the dark and mysterious woods. Once you get down, take a stroll through the winding lakes to soak in the amazing atmosphere.
Thenmala, set majestically in the middle of lush evergreen forests in Kollam district is the country’s very first planned destination for ecotourism. Munnar offers amazingly scenic natural vistas and a unique bio-diversity that has proved to be extremely popular with both domestic and foreign tourists. There are numerous forest trails that are ideal for serious expeditions on foot and you can also set up camp in the middle of the forest if you feel like getting into a closer relationship with nature. For the more exploratory,an experience in a tree house can be very memorable while the rest can work up a lather biking, rock climbing or rappelling in the Adventure Zone. Work up an appetite walking up to the dam in the Leisure Zone and then visit the Culture Zone to have a taste of the wonderful Kerala cuisine.
Thodupuzha is most famous for being the gateway for a visit to the renowned Thommankuthu Waterfalls. It is situated in the Idukki district in the Western Ghats. The destination has become extremely popular with tourists ever since the seven-step waterfall was publicized by the legendary hunter, Thommachen Kuruvinakunnel after he discovered it in 1920. Ever since ecotourism has gained importance, the destination has been rated very high for its unspoiled rolling hills blanketed by evergreen forests.
Eravikulam National Park
Even though it is a relatively small National Park, it has proved to be among the more popular ecotourism destinations because of its immense natural beauty and the diverse flora and fauna. Situated at altitudes ranging from 1,200 meters to 2,700 meters, the park’s grasslands are crisscrossed by a number of perennial streams that ultimately merge to become the tributaries of Cauvery River, Periyar River, and Chalakudiyar River. One of the major attractions is the Lakkom Waterfalls on the Pampar River. Nature lovers adore the diversity of flora and fauna that can be observed here. Those who favor an adventurous and active lifestyle will love the opportunities for wildlife photography, walking on the mountain trails, and trekking.
Periyar National Park
Among the most-visited national parks in Southern India, the Periyar National Park stretches over a magnificent 350 sq. km. in the Pandalam Hills and Cardamom Hills in the southern portion of the Western Ghats. Apart from being home to tigers and elephants, the park is a dream come true for wildlife enthusiasts due to the presence of a great assortment of mammals, amphibians, insects, reptiles, and birds. The Periyar Lake attracts tourists because of the amazing sight of trees submerged in its waters.
Author Bio: Sujain Thomas is an architect by profession and a bio-conservationist by passion. She travels frequently across the world and has visited almost all the tiger resorts India.