To say the bus journey from Mysore to Wayanad was bumpy, would be the biggest understatement in the world. We were sat at the back of this rickety old bus, and every time we went over a speed bump, our backs would almost break as we flew out of our seat, and back down with a thud! The road was uphill, windy, bumpy as mentioned, and busy. Several times our lives were risked as our driver overtook on the blind corners at the edge of the cliff. Really relaxing… but it only cost us 110Rs each.
When we disembarked in Kalpetta, we decided to walk with our bags looking for PPS Tourist Home. In the heat, we walked with our bags, all the way through the town, and finally, when we got directions from a police officer, we realised we had walked in the total wrong direction… a rickshaw took us back to where we started, on a busy, smelly, fishy street. The staff at PPS were really welcoming, and the rooms were basic but massive, though the décor pretty (1960s-brown-wood-with-rough-red-carpet style) – it felt like being back in Halls of Residence! However, the bathrooms were big and clean, and with hot water (600Rs per night)
After a lunchtime dosa, we walked around the town gathering our bearings, and saw that everything was shut! We figured this was because it was Hindu new year the previous day. Because we wanted to go to the wildlife sanctuary, we tried to find a travel agent so we could book for the next day. However, nowhere was open and noone was answering their phones. Later, we spoke to the receptionist at the hotel, who told us that most things, including the wildlife sanctuary were infact closed for low season (Lonely Planet had failed to mention that this might happen). We felt a little despondent having come all this way for nothing, though our hotel offered us a trip where we could see some caves, some wildlife, and some mountains. We agreed to pay the 750Rs each for the jeep which was supposed to pick us up at 9 the following morning, but ended up being 20past.
The first thing we did was take a drive up to a pretty spectacular view point. After taking it all in, we saw the rubber plantation within the forest, and then we were driven to the bottom of a mountain up which we walked for 45mins up the steep road and the steep steps to where the Edakkal caves lie. After gaining my breath, I was blown away with what I could see – we were so high up. Brendan was in a hurry to see the caves, but I couldn’t stop looking and taking photos!
Finally we went into the caves, in which stone age carvings dating back thousands of years (the oldest, potentially up to 8000 year old) are presented in pretty decent condition, considering the age. In some of these petroglyphs, I could make out the image of 3 men, 2 of which are wearing feather (probably) headdresses.
When we were finished, our knees took the toll of the steep downhill slopes, and we were whisked off by our driver, to a restaurant for lunch. Upon arriving, we were a little suspicious as this restaurant looked a little too nice – a little too pricey. Their menu said they specialised in biryanis, so that is what the boys had. The food was phenomenal! Everything was perfect, and the waiters were so friendly, and we were delighted when the bill came to 400 Rupees TOTAL, for a huge meal and drinks.
Finally, we were excited that we were about to go on our “Wildlife Safari” as promised by our hotel. (we couldn’t visit the waterfall as it was dry). Our excitement didn’t last, as we spent 2 hours driving up and down the same road, seeing only deer, squirrels and monkeys. At 3pm our driver told us we were to wait half an hour for the sun to go down so we waited on the side road looking like we had broken down (and feeling a little confused as to why this was even necessary). Even when we told him we weren’t too bothered about seeing more squirrels and monkeys and maybe we could go to Chambra Peak or the lake instead, he refused and carried on napping with his head on the wheel. Even explaining that we were spending money on this time, and that our trip finishes at 5pm, he still didn’t care and continued to nap, then woke on cue and carried on driving up and down the same road.
Finally, after 2 hours of unproductiveness, we headed back to our hotel though stopped at a 13th Century old Jain temple on the way. Overall, the morning of the trip was nice, but rest of daytrip was pretty average and we ended up feeling a little ripped off, but at least we were looking forward to Ooty the following day!