Wayanad in Kerala, India: Nature, History, Culture and Zorbing – Wait…What?
Wayanad in the northern region of Kerala (called Malabar) sits on the edge of UNESCO heritage site called the Nilgiri biosphere and is rich in wildlife – there are wild elephants and MONKEYS galore. This area actually has the largest wild Bengal tiger population in the state outside the various sanctuaries.
Wait. Let’s stop one moment. We have been travelling like CRAZY! 14 days, 2300 kms!
We actually cheated a bit between #9 and #10 but that can be our secret.
We flew 40 mins while the bus drove all night long. But now…back to Wayanad.
A number of tribes also inhabit this region – in fact, most of the state’s tribal population have made this their home adding that distinct societal influence. Relics of a 5000 year old civilization have been found in this area of the Western Ghat mountains.
And amazing local tradition and food in a very traditional presentation.
The north of Kerala also contains many of the state’s Muslims (Kerala is about 55% Hindi, 26% Muslim and 18% Christian)…
All these factors, along with the 9 CRAZY HAIRPIN ride up the mountain, makes Wayanad very unique. Some call it thrilling but driving…wait…scratch that…being a passenger on a bus going up this hill is not for the faint of heart. I have never seen anything like it.
When the Brits arrived in India and built this road, they REALLY wanted to get up here.
There are cars, motor bikes, scooters, huge trucks, buses, and various religious and politic parades cutting in and out. There are monkeys sitting along the wall looking for handouts. It’s…quite the adventure.
We arrived at the top and pulled into the grandest entrance ceremony that I have ever been a part of…one so spectacular that it might make Queen Elizabeth II’s top 10 list. IF she has been lucky enough to visit this resort.
Vythiri Village Resort pulled out all the stops…here is our entrance as we emerge from the tour bus.
And then drummer and this man dancing a traditional folk dance. (He would re-appear later at dinner…)
He got a few of the ladies dancing.
Sandalwood oil on our foreheads, rose petals, and gorgeous cardamom necklaces that smell like heaven. Such beautiful women.
We were then escorted to our rooms.
A tea room/house boat replica.
And we thought there might be a mistake…two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pool inside, a jacuzzi bathtub…champagne?
Could I possibly belong in CelebrityVille?
Why is this so NOT how I pictured India? Did you know that India makes some good wines and has vineyards? I certainly did not. It is a huge country with many MANY different climates.
We headed to dinner – a huge buffet – and this time, the dancing man in costume with drummers and FIRE.
We had more traditional dance at our next dinner. From a darling group of Muslim girls acting out the wedding day of a shy bride.
And local boys dancing furiously and athletically with sticks.
The next day some of us headed to an adventure park and lake for all sorts of activities. Many were very keen on the “zorb”. A word I had never heard before.
And an item, as soon as it was inflated, that I never wanted to enter. Especially in the 90+ degree heat.
Yes, those are two people harnessed in that thing. I must note that everyone who did it, loved it. So apparently I am the only one who has added ZORBING to my “never-do” list. Along with sky-diving and karaoke.
We zip-lined, arched (proper word? I’m not quite sure) and zorbed (so NOT a word) at Wayanad Adventure Camp. Not EXACTLY open yet…but opening to the public in the next few weeks.
Here is Javier of Spain from MiaVenturaViaJando.com.
Here’s Arnaud from France waiting to properly ZORB. Selfies must be taken. (He travels the world with his young daughter and wife and makes some incredible video. His site.)
A zip across the lake? Sure. Some kayaking? Why not? Stuff me in a plastic airless ball? Heck no.
Brittany’s pic of her tumble.
By 10am the next morning (a luxuriously late start for us and a huge traditional breakfast including mineral water for me)…
…we were off down the mountain in our eye catching tour bus. School kids across the country wave at us furiously.
Down is SO much easier on the way down…we cruised into Calicut and found 100s of policemen in uniform “rehearsing for tomorrow’s arrival of the President of India”. In fact…he is stopping by our hotel.
I can’t blame him. The WelcomHotel Raviz Kavadu has quite a beautiful view.
And some very interesting activities.
I actually could use “bed making” courses.