India // Kerala //

North Wayanad: Tholpetty

The teak forest takes over completely as you climb towards the northern limits of Wayanad, tracked by the savanna grass summits of the Brahmagiri massif. Some travellers use the pot-holed trunk road cutting north towards Mysore to reach the Nagarhole National Park or the Kodagu (Coorg) district in neighbouring Karnataka. But the majority of people who venture up here do so for a glimpse of wild elephants at the Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary, close to the state boundary. You’ll see plenty of pachyderms at temple festivals down at sea level, but viewing them in the wild, foraging amid buttressed tree roots and stands of giant bamboo, is quite another thing.

Hourly buses run to Tholpetty from the town of Mananthavady, 25km southwest, itself reachable by frequent KSRTC services from Kalpetta. From the park gate itself, the Forest Department runs 24-kilometre Jeep safaris (daily 7–9am & 3–5pm; 90min) along a network of tracks. The cost varies according to numbers – reckon on Rs250–300 per head. You can also join guided treks (daily 8am–1pm; Rs800 for up to four people), though be warned that the pace can be brisk, and stops few and far between.