|Dom- It was a trip into the mountains to get to Kumily. The rain came down so hard, as we peaked and troughed through the mountains, that I couldn't see out the front window. It was difficult to have confidence in the guy's driving when he could hardly see the road. He didn't seem to like to use his headlights until it was completely black outside either. So we were relieved to pull into Kumily. Kumily was our base for access to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
5.30am the next day we were bouncing along the road/track on our way to the park. Our guide warned us there was no guarantee we would spot animals as the park is 800sq kms. For the first 4 hr we drove through the park in a jeep with our guide. We spotted some black monkeys, some birds (woohoo!), and a short deer. There was also a herd of bison about 2 kms away on a hillside but I didn't count that as a sighting. So our morning wasn't too fruitful but the fun was in the looking - trying to catch a rustle or a movement in the jungle around us.
After breakfast we set off on a little trek in the jungle. It was exciting walking around unprotected in this wild territory. Occasionally we'd come across a watering hole and see footprints of elephants from the morning, or a fresh poo suggesting they'd been around here recently. But ultimately we saw nothing on our walk except for the million or so leeches crawling up our shoes and trousers. Despite the protection one managed to get in my trousers and feasted on my rump. I didn't notice until Crystal noticed all the blood. It just wouldn't stop bleeding.
In the afternoon we had a little boat ride around a lake. I was qite tired by then and ready to go home. I was also resigned to the fact that we wouldn't be seeing any elephants, or bears, or tigers. But I kept my eyes peeled as we drove back through the park. And then there they were. Barely 30 metres away there were 3 elephants. We stood on the jeep and watched them for a bit and then, when they headed off we tracked them through the jungle on foot for a bit. Then we saw about 8 black elephants climbing a mountain in the distance. These sightings made our day. To see them in their natural habitat was such a thrill compared to seeing them in a zoo.
Crystal - It was quite surreal for me to be in the middle of Wildlife Sanctuary. I couldn't quite get my head around the fact - particularly when we went on our trek - that many a tiger doth live here. And we are going for walk??
Our trek was a little dissapointing. We got put in a group with this older Swiss lady who was nice - but lame - and she didn't really want to walk in the jungle, just the grass hills and she wanted to go back as soon as the option was given. It was a bit annoying, we were considerate to her but she didn't seem to be bothered about what we wanted to do! It was even more annoying when we got back (way before the other groups) and one group had seen a massive Cobra and the other found an Elephant and some Bison. But all of this was soon forgotten in the afternoon when we had our own sightings. I was a bit glum on the way back but Dom spotted the Elephants and it really made our day!! We got quite close to the black monkeys too!
The morning after we decided to do an elephant ride. Unfortunately they had stopped doing this in the park now and we were led along the road and then around a field. Hmm. We instantly felt a bit crap as the elephant, although he looked well and happy, was chained and a slave to tourism. Learning from past animal ride - we just went for 30 minutes!