Set 1140m up in the Nilgiri Hills, the MUDUMALAI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY covers 322 square kilometres of deciduous forest, split by the main road from Ooty (64km to the southeast) to Mysore (97km to the northwest). Occupying the thickly wooded lower northern reaches of the hills, it boasts one of the largest populations of elephants in India, along with wild dogs, gaur (Indian bison), common and Nilgiri langurs and bonnet macaques (monkeys), jackals, hyenas, sloth bears and even a few tigers and leopards. The abundant local flora includes the dazzling red flowers of the flame of the forest.

The main focus of interest by the park entrance at Theppakkadu is the Elephant Camp show, where you can watch the sanctuary’s tame pachyderms being fed and bathed. This is also the starting point for the government safari tour, which is the only way of accessing the official park limits. However, you may well see more creatures if you take a private jeep tour or guided trek into some of the parts of Mudumalai that are outside the state-controlled area. These can be arranged through your guesthouse or direct at Nature Safari in Masinagudi.

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