Gavi is quite different from the section of Periyar near the Thekkady gate. All guests should take advantage of Cardamom County’s outbound excursion to Gavi in order to fully appreciate the unique beauty of wild Periyar. The scenery and the animals are incredible, and this full-day trek is an experience you will cherish always.
In order to make it in time for the morning jeep safari, we left Cardamom County around 5:30 AM. The trip to Gavi took about two hours. It was a 30-minute drive to the Periyar gate where the safari began, and then we spent an hour and a half driving slowly through the jungle. The guides told us to look for tigers, lion-tailed macaques, elephants, bison, and many species of bird along the way. The mammal life was great. Right away we found three elephants strolling on the grassy hillsides, and we were able to take great photos of them. A little further down the road we spotted a few bison through the trees. There were also langurs playing in the trees, and the passengers in one jeep even reported seeing a tiger. On the drive up to Gavi the only real notable birds were a few male Grey Junglefowl, which were stunning. We also enjoyed the rolling hills, waterfalls, thick jungle, and amazing overlooks; the scenery was spectacular. We found this particular part of Periyar quite unique. It felt wilder and more like a true jungle, which made the experience even more awesome.
Once we arrived at Gavi, we signed in and headed to breakfast. As we walked down to the dining hall, we passed a strand of bushes and flowers that were perfect for sunbirds and even Little Spiderhunter. We were able to find two species of Sunbird (Purple and Crimson-backed), but I am sure you can find all four sunbirds resident in Periyar there. The dining hall sits right on the river and provided for great photo opportunities. Our breakfast consisted of idli, breads, fruits, and various Indian specialties. (Note: There were other groups eating with us, and we encountered many other travelers throughout the day.)
Following breakfast we met our guide who gave us leech socks and sent us on our way for a hike. We walked along the road for a while looking for various species of birds, but due to the fog, we could only find Red-whiskered Bulbul, Oriental White-eye, and Malabar Whistling Thrush. Gavi does post an impressive bird list though. We soon entered the jungle, and the habitat was fairly similar throughout the hike as we walked through thick jungle. We set out on the hike around 9:00 AM and returned to the dining hall around 2:00 PM. The hike we chose was very rocky, slippery, and overall very difficult, however, the guide did say this was the toughest of their hikes. It was incredibly beautiful though. Due to the rain, wildlife sightings were minimal, but we were able to find a few cool birds, such as Orange and Black Flycatcher and Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher. The scenery was by far the highlight as we passed by waterfalls and incredible overlooks, from which we could see the stunning jungles of Gavi.
We returned from the hike and were treated to chairs and lunch, which was delicious. After lunch all guests can take a quick 10-minute rowboat ride to a stunning waterfall, and I definitely recommend visiting this waterfall. You can play in the water, cool down, and take some very amusing pictures of people standing underneath it. We spent about 20 minutes at this waterfall and then took the boat ride back. Upon returning we looked at the guides’ collection of bones from elephants, bison, and deer, which were extremely cool, and then we headed back to Cardamom County, completing a wonderfully fun excursion. We were exhausted following such an eventful, exciting day. The trip back to Cardamom County took 30-40 minutes, and soon we were showered and gathered around the dinner table discussing our adventures. Gavi is unique and truly amazing. The wildlife is great, the scenery is even better, and I would make this trip a requirement for all visitors staying at Cardamom County. It is that cool!