Wayanad is one of South India’s best-kept secrets for sure. This beautiful hill station is located at the Southern tip of the Deccan Plateau in the state of Kerala. Kerala is filled with natural gems, but Wayanad attractions definitely bag one of the top spots. This green paradise is nestled among the Western Ghats of India, filled with rich flora and fauna. It is absolute heaven for nature lovers. From Tea plantations to nature trails and from adventure sports to calm lofty ridges, this place has it all.
I visited Wayanad just a few months ago in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. I live only a few kilometers from Kerala, the Southernmost state of India. Going to Kerala from Mangalore, my hometown is only a 3-hour drive. However, I had only visited the northern part of Kerala until recently. One of the good things to come out of this pandemic is the time I’ve found to travel locally. For me, driving to Wayanad is a 7-hour affair and since I always try to fit my travel plans within the span of a weekend, I thought it was a futile effort to drive that far only to spend a couple of hours there and then drive all the way back. But I have to say, the 7-hour drive was totally worth it!
These are the top 5 things you need to add to your Wayanad bucket list.
1. Chembra Peak
If you are an admirer of soothing natural beauty and if you love to have an adventure trip, then Chembra Peak in Wayanad will be a perfect stop for you. The highest peak in Wayanad is the Chembra Peak, standing at a height of 2,100 meters above sea level. You are likely to spot wildlife on your way up. We spotted an Indian Sambar Deer, a variety of birds, and even smelled a Tiger! Apparently, the Tiger’s pee smells like basmati rice and if you smell it, it means that a tiger just passed through that path. Well, it was either the tiger or someone who decided to cook basmati rice close to the peak. I choose to believe the former!
This peak is in pristine condition and maintained well by the forest department. There’s a heart-shaped lake situated close to the peak. However, due to the behavior of some tourists in the recent past, the trek to the peak has been restricted, including the passage through the lake. But I’ll attach a picture below so you can see it, virtually at least. Regardless of that, a trek through this region is truly breathtaking.
2. Stingray Camp
Have you seen pictures of camping tents suspended from trees, situated between the land and the sky? This would be your opportunity to experience it. The stingray camps can be found in three locations around Kerala, that is; Kolukkumalai (Munnar), Vaikom(Kottayam), and Chembra Peak (Wayanad). If you want to indulge in the true wildlife experience then you might as well go the whole nine yards. These tents are totally safe as the Stingray has installed award-winning Tentsile tree tents from the UK and follows the highest quality and safety standards.
The thought behind this style of camping is not only to reconnect you to nature but also to camp in an eco-friendly manner, leaving no trace behind. This is a great way to spot nocturnal animals. If you are worried about the toilets, don’t bite your nails! They have that part covered too. There’s a separate toilet that’s like a treehouse built within the vicinity of the campsite. If you’re worried about the wildlife around, you can also ask your camp guide to come along with you and show you the way!
3. Tea Estate Tours
The growth of tea bushes is not indigenous to India. These tea seeds were brought to India from China in 1832 for the first time. After some trial and error with this crop across different geographical regions of India, tea was commercially planted in Kerala in 1875. Wayanad has large tea estates that spread across the district. These estates provide visitors with various activities that will keep you occupied throughout the day.
These activities involve Ziplining, visits to the century-old tea factories turned into tea museums, tea plantation visits, night safaris, and tea tasting. If you are a tea buff like me, this is your absolute heaven.
4. 1980’s Restaurant
Travel back to Kerala in the ’80s through a culinary and visual experience. Indeed, this restaurant serves super authentic and scrumptious Malabari food, (Malabar is the name of the region in which Kerala is located) and the stunning interiors of this place take you back in time. It is also known to host a lot of local celebrities. So if you want to spot one, you know where to go!
I had the traditional banana leaf meal when I visited this place. With a dozen dishes on your banana leaf, you’re sure to leave this place with a wide grin on your face. There are a variety of other dishes available on the menu that can be ordered separately. Especially, some of my absolute favorites are the fish curry, the sun-dried curd chilies, papad, fish fry, beef chili, and kokum buttermilk. All these dishes are authentic to the region.
Fun Fact: Eating on banana leaves is healthy in every way. It is packed with polyphenols, which are natural antioxidants that are also found in green tea. Food served on the banana leaves absorbs the polyphenols which are said to prevent many lifestyle diseases. They are also said to have antibacterial properties that can possibly kill the germs in food.
5. Banasura Sagar Dam
The Banasura Sagar Dam is the largest earthen dam in India and the second largest in Asia. It impounds the waters of the Kabini river. The reservoir formed by the dam is surrounded by tiny islands enveloped in thick foliage. With the Banasura hills in the background, the view is truly exhilarating. Legends say that the Asura king of Banasura, (the son of King Mahabali, who is believed to visit Kerala during every Onam festival) undertook a severe penance on the top of these hills and thus it was named after him.
This Wayanad dam is a popular tourist spot and therefore is always crowded, especially on the weekends. So do yourself a favor and drive on the roads around the dam. You get the same view from a different viewpoint but without the intrusion of a large crowd. But if you want the touristy experience and stop by tiny food and fancy stalls, then stick to the main entrance of the dam.
Things You May Want to Know Before the Wayanad Kerala Trip
Where to Stay in the Trip
- I stayed at Zostel during my trip. Zostel is India’s first and the largest chain of backpackers’ hostels. It has top-rated hostels at 37 locations across India & Nepal – surrounded by a completely new and fast-evolving ecosystem of more than 200 backpacker hostels. It is a great place to stay if you want to meet like-minded travelers, connect with travelers from around the country and swap some really cool travel stories.
- Besides that, Wayanad resort and hotels are also attractive points of the place. Imagine, after spending time exploring places, there is a place with nature surrounded and all the services are ready just for your relax. Also, you will be able to spend the greatest time and save the moments with beloved family and friends. Depending on your budget, this could be a great choice for your vacation in Wayanad.
The Best Time to Visit Wayanad
Wayanad weather is quite enjoyable throughout the year for travelers to visit. Particularly, October to May is the best time to visit Wayanad. In which, you can travel to the place in between Dec to Feb if you want to enjoy a bit colder atmosphere.
I have yet to explore the rest of Kerala. But what I can say without a second thought, is that this destination truly deserves to be on your Kerala bucket list. Every nook of this place is blessed with picturesque landscapes and the bliss of nature.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t seen all of Wayanad attractions yet. This article is purely based on my personal experience. I usually don’t enjoy spending much time in tourist spots. They tend to be too crowded for my liking. Therefore I have excluded the super touristy destinations that I visited from this list of to-dos. But if tourist destinations are your thing, Google is your best bud, my friend!
PIN THIS POST NOW TO SAVE YOUR LIST OF WAYANAD ATTRACTIONS!