Drive to the Sahyadris
12 Feb 2017: Day 43 (Kumily – Marayoor, 150 km, 4 Hrs)
After a delicious breakfast of Idiyappam, we finally commenced our long journey back home and stopped at Marayoor for the night.
We reached Marayoor by 1330 Hrs and settled in at the Marayoor Holidays Guest House. There we met the very friendly owner of the property, Mr. Sreejesh Bhaskar who also turned out to be an avid bird watcher. In the evening, he and one of his friend took us around the Sandalwood reserve and we also sighted a few birds along the way.
13 Feb 2017: Day 44 (Chinnar – Valparai – Coimbatore, 215 km, 8 Hrs)
We left for the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary early morning and reached by 0700 Hrs. There we met Vijayan, a local tribal who works with the forest department as a guide. He is the key to the Spot-bellied Eagle Owl and we ensured that he guides us during the trek.
Our trek started through a patch of thorny scrub forest and as we moved deeper, it changed into a dry deciduous kind of a forest. Vijayan then led us into a patch of forest with a stream flowing through it and told us to check each and every tree for any sign of the owl. After an exhaustive hour of searching, we finally spotted the Spot-bellied Eagle Owl perched on a branch in the top of the canopy. This was the same tree that we had searched atleast twice and only in the third attempt from a different angle were we able to spot the owl.
Some of the other birds that we spotted during the course of the morning were Green Imperial Pigeon, Common Kingfisher, Ashy Drongo, Indian Golden Oriole, Asian Paradise-flycatcher, White-browed Bulbul, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta and Brown-breasted Flycatcher.
We were also lucky to spot a South-eastern Langur while on our way back to the forest check post.
We returned to the Guest House, quickly packed up our stuff, bid goodbye to Sreejesh and decided to drive down to Valparai. The drive was fantastic and the Valparai ghats turned out to be a treasure trove of wildlife.
Between the 5th and 6th hairpin bend we spotted a beautiful Nilgiri Tahr standing over the rocky slope. We had missed to see this magnificent animal at Munnar and took this opportunity to take a few pictures before proceeding further.
On the way, a Nilgiri Langur was also sighted feeding on tree leaves.
Vinod from Thattekad had told us to look for the Lion-tailed Macaques at the Puthuthottam or the Korangumudi estates. Luckily for us, as we approached Puthuthottam, a group of Lion-tailed Macaque was sighted right on the roadside. The group consisted of approximately 20 odd individuals and we were fortunate to spot a minimum of 3 newborns.
It was already 5 PM, but we decided to drive back as we had already seen the Macaques and there was nothing else left for us to see at Valparai. On our way back, two Nilgiri Tahrs were seen feeding along the roadside bushes and we stopped our car at a safe distance giving them enough space. However, the Tahrs kept coming towards us and eventually feasted on the roadside grass just next to our car.
While we could have driven to Top Slip to search for the Wynaad Laughingthrush, we gave up that option and continued driving till we reached Coimbatore.
Marayoor Holidays Guest House is conveniently located in the city and offers value for money rooms. The room we took was recently constructed and had a modern and clean bathroom attached to it.
Phone: +91 9495 911 101
Please feel free to ask us any question that you may have about our time at Marayoor. Also, stay tuned for details on the next leg of our road trip.