There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning knowing that you are about to enjoy a beautiful hike through the incredible Periyar Tiger Reserve. Sign up for the Green Walk and experience not only this wonderful feeling but also the sights and sounds that make Periyar so special. A three-hour hike, the Green Walk takes you through some of the most amazing habitat the reserve has to offer. With Great Hornbills flying overhead and langurs calling from the trees, the Green Walk is certainly a hike to remember.
Choosing to go on one of the earlier hike options, we left Cardamom County at 7:25 AM to make the 7:30 AM walk. (The starting point really is a five-minute walk from the resort.) We met our guide, put on our leech socks (a must on any hike in the monsoon season), and set off. Right away we could tell it was going to be a great day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was brilliantly sunny but cool with a slight breeze blowing. In addition to the weather, the birds were simply unbelievable. Being a birder, I am always hoping for abundant birdlife, and to date there has not been an outbound activity that has disappointed me. However, something was special about this hike. As soon as we started, we came across a White-throated Kingfisher and a Malabar Barbet sitting in a bare tree, a great photo opportunity and a great start. In terms of species numbers, the day count was not as high as from the self-guided walk from the gate to the boat launch, but in terms of the actual number of birds, this walk was awesome. From the start, Brown-cheeked Fulvettas. Orange-headed Thrushes, and Malabar Whistling Thrushes filled the jungle with their pleasant songs while dozens and dozens of minivets added to the chorus. Two Black-hooded Orioles put on a beautiful show in a nearby tree as Pompadour Green Pigeons, Racket-tailed Drongos, and Asian Fairy Bluebirds flitted in the canopy. I found an adorable Jungle Owlet perched in a tree less than ten feet from me, and I delighted in the sight of three Great Hornbills in flight, their wings whooshing as they flapped overhead. I believe this is the best outbound activity for birders. It was that good.
In terms of habitat, the hike winds mostly through the jungle; however, you will occasionally enter fields mixed with bushes and trees. This is where you should focus on birding. In terms of mammals, we saw langurs, macaques, and giant squirrels, which are always fun to see. All in all, this trip is fantastic, and in my opinion, it is Cardamom County’s second best activity, behind the Tiger Trail. The hike is supposed to take three hours, but ours lasted much longer as I constantly stopped to bird and take pictures. If you are staying at Cardamom County, I strongly encourage you to take this hike. It is my personal favorite half-day trek.