India

Hiking to the Thoovanam Waterfalls in Munnar’s Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

By Vacation India
Waterfalls in Chinnar wildlife sanctuary,
Thoovanam Waterfalls in Chinnar wildlife sanctuary, Marayoor, Kerala, India © Manu M Nair / Shutterstock

 
Thoovanam Waterfalls in Munnar’s Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

Chinnar Forest Description
Highlights of the Experience
Enjoy the Adventure
Itinerary


 

“Experience a treasured trek toward the stunning Thoovanam Waterfalls to see the Pambar River cascade down and to the east between the tree-line the banks of the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary”

Hike Duration: 3 hours | Total Distance: 8 kilometers | Fitness level: Medium

Enjoy the waterfall, wading or swimming, birdwatching, spotting rare animals, and exploring the native flora and fauna of the region.

a guide in chinner wildlife

Hikers enjoy the forest path and the view of the stream from the Thoovanam Waterfalls. The Chinnar Wildlife Trek lets visitors enjoy the beautiful trees and waterways in nature. © Santhosh Varghese / Shutterstock


 

Chinnar Forest Description

The forest you will walk through is a dry deciduous or riparian type. It includes many trees plus grasslands and plains. It has a varied elevation with hilly terrain, small cliffs, and rocks of various sizes. This diverse ecosystem is the home of many different types of birds, insects, and animals.

As you walk beside the Pambar River, you will go under many sandalwood trees. They rise majestically from the sorting shrubs below. You will get a true sense of adventure when you walk in to these places where few people go outside of these organized treks.

a guide in the Chinnar Wildlife

A guide in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary walks across the natural stone ground in Munnar, Kerala, India. © Tan Zi Han / Shutterstock


 

Highlights of the Experience

➜ The drive to the wildlife sanctuary takes you through tea plantations, sandalwood forests, and other interesting locations.
➜ An experienced and knowledgeable tribal guide will lead you through the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, tell you about the varied plant and animal life, and answer questions.
➜ Explorer history at the prehistoric Muniyara stones, dolmens, and tombs.

road the Chinnar Wildlife

On the way to the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary © Noel Prashanth / Shutterstock


 

Enjoy the Adventure

Experience the beauty of nature up close when you head to the forests for an adventure in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. The property is not only home to numerous bird and animal species, but over 965 types of flowering plants. Also, Chinnar has been named a World Heritage Site due to the 11 tribal villages found there. This patch of wilderness and native land lies just 45 kilometers from Munnar in the Idukki district.

The pristine stretches of nature invites you to take part in a 4-hour hike down its numerous lovely trails. Open your eyes to the exotic foliage and flowers, scenic vistas, and unique birds and other wildlife going about their lives in the forest. The adventure even begins before you reach the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. The ride there leads through the Marayoor Sandalwood Forest.

Choose either a 5:00 AM early morning trek or a 2:00 PM afternoon one.

a colorful minive Chinnar wildlife sancturay

A colorful Minivet spotted during the walk in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary


Walk under the high branches of the Wildlife Sanctuary’s many trees to spy plants and animals you have never seen before. They include jacaranda, spathodea, and wild poinsettias. Scattered amid the wilderness are picturesque tea plantations. You may have a hard time deciding what to take a photograph of first, but do not worry. You have enough time to capture it all.

Every tour group is led by an experienced and knowledgeable tribal guide. These people live in the area and have a special communion with the land and all that lives on it. They know which exotic plants to point out and how to spot the birds and beasts hidden among the foliage.

Open your eyes and ready your ears to experience all there is to see and hear in the Chinnar forests and fields. If you are lucky, you might even spot spotted dear, grizzled giant squirrels, gaur bison, or a tufted grey langur. Do you love colorful birds? Feast your eyes on stately egrets and herons, parakeets, pipits, and orioles, among other species. You might even see a vulnerable mugger crocodile or an Indian Star tortoise

Rock Shelter chinner wildlife sancturay

Madathala Painted Rock Shelter from Neolithic age, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary


When at last the excitement of the day is through, the comfortable vehicles will return you to your hotel. One last stop is sure to thrill your sense of adventure. On the way to Munnar, the tour group pauses for an exploration of Muniyara, a prehistoric area with impressive stone dolems and rock painting from the Neolithic Age. Archeology and anthropology experts have long studied this area for clues about its former inhabitants. If you choose the 5:00 AM trek, this spot is visited on the way to the preserve.

What a perfect day! Not only do you get to view the sandalwood forests, tea plantations, and glimpses of everyday life in the area but you also have hours in the gorgeous Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary amid exotic plants and animals, and a visit to a prehistoric site of interest.

All together, it adds up to a day that will not be forgotten easily!

butterfly Chinnar wildlife

A delicate Red Pierrot Butterfly seen in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary


 

Itinerary

1 – For the 2:00 PM hike in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, we will leave the hotel at 11:00 AM promptly. We will pick you up and drive approximately 50 kilometers to the Sanctuary. Everyone must check in as a group at the first check post.

a guide in chinner wildlife

In nature guide leads the way down a trail in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Munnar, Kerala, India © Tan Zi Han/ Shutterstock


2 – After checking in, we will drive in another 10 kilometers. The road goes through the rain shadow region of the Western Ghat Mountains. On either side of the vehicle, you can see a wide range of plants, birds, and animals. The species that live here are unique to the area and thrive amid the thorny vegetation.
baboonChinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

Grey Langur looking thoughtful in a tree at the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Marayoor, Kerala, India © Manu M Nair / Shutterstock


3 – When we reach the Alampatty Forest checkpoint, we leave the vehicle and continue on foot. Your guide will be a member of the Alampatty tribes who handle all the ecotourism in the area. They are well-known for taking expeditions to the beautiful Thoovanam Falls and the dolmens sites.

This trek through the forest is suitable for people of moderate physical ability as it climbs and descends over several deep paths and crosses two streams. On either side of the path lies dense undergrowth with thick foliage. If you keep your eyes open, you are sure to see some pretty minivet and bulbul birds and a view different species of butterflies.

Other possible inhabitants of the Chinnar and Pambar areas include the endangered Grizzled Giant Squirrel (Ratufa Macroura) and the legendary “White Bison of Manjampatti,” which is an albino bison spotted in this area. The wildlife sanctuary holds many interesting species. It also supports the cultural heritage of nearby tribal societies like the Muthuvans and the Hill Pulayas.

deer Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

Cheetal, an Indian spotted deer (Axis axis) nibbling on leaves during the dry season at the


4 – The path then that makes its way down towards the waterfall. Again, parts of the path are quite steep and may be challenging for people who are not very fit. The lovely view at the end is worth the struggle, however. As you stand before the beautiful waterfalls, which is 100 meters wide, you will feel invigorated and refreshed by the mist in the air and the cool waters at your feet. You may even decide to take a dip in the pool at the bottom to refresh yourself.
female Gaur in chinner wildlife sancturay

An adult female Gaur or Indian bison (Bos gaurus) and her calf in their natural habitat at Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. © AjayTvm / Shutterstock


5 – The excursion group will stay at the waterfall for some time to enjoy the views and delightful water. It is a good opportunity to rest before tackling the return journey. When it is time to go, your experienced guide will lead you to the ancient Madathala Rock Shelter. People who lived in this area eons ago painted the rocks with unique artwork here. You can also spot dolmens along the way. Chinnar and nearby Marayoor have multiple sites with dolmens and rock paintings that you can explore on another trip.

The return hike to the Alampatty check post takes approximately one and a half hours. This is longer than the hike to the falls because your group will stop more frequently to rest in the shade, have a drink or snack, and relax your tired muscles.

Waterfalls in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

A few upstream of the beautiful Thuvanam Waterfalls in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary near Munnar Kerala. © Santhosh Varghese / Shutterstock


6 – Regain your energy at the check post with a delicious bowl of Maggi noodles cooked by highly skilled tribal chefs. After this repast, the group can split up and follow their own interests in the wildlife sanctuary or simply relax at the checkpoint. The entire round trip to the Thoovanam waterfall and back is approximately six kilometers. You may be tired, but the rewarding sights and sounds of nature are sure to be a happy memory for a long time to come
bushbrown Buttefly in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

Gladeye Bushbrown Buttefly in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary


7 – All trekking group members must return to the vehicles for the return trip to the hotel. This, again, is approximately a 2 hour drive

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