Guest post: Kate Waite from Eastbourne in the UK visited South India in November 2011. She shares her experiences of Wayanad.
Waking up in Wayanad at the beautiful Glenora Homestay, light streams through the bamboo blinds while a chorus of tropical birds greets the rising sun.
Wandering onto my private balcony which looks out over the verdant jungle, the fresh hill station air carries the scent of tropical spices into the room. A knock at the door brings freshly brewed coffee, grown on the homestay’s own plantation. The perfect start to the day.
Wayanad, a hill station in Kerala, is jaw droppingly beautiful. As Lonely Planet perfectly coins, “If Kerala is ‘God’s Country’, this must be his garden of Eden”. Coffee and spice plantations, immaculate tea gardens, wild teak forests and green valleys are punctuated with crashing waterfalls, spectacular view points and a wildlife sanctuary where you have a great chance of spotting elephants and even the occasional tiger.
Such a spectacular location deserves equally good accommodation. Travelling along winding narrow roads, climbing up the hills of the Western Ghats we finally reached the huge coffee plantation that is the setting for Glenora Homestay. After a warm welcome from our host Mr Rajagopal we were shown to our home for the next few days: A luxury cottage built on stilts rising above the jungle below.
Our immaculate room was well furnished but we were instantly drawn back outside to the balcony, with green views as far as the eye could see, and not a single sign of human habitation blotting the perfect vista.
Mr Rajagopal was keen to show us around the local area and we were soon bumping along dirt tracks in his 4×4 as he introduced us to the wonders of Wayanad.
Close to Glenora is sunrise valley, a viewpoint over some very dramatic scenery. Low lying clouds hug the valleys, distant waterfalls rumble like thunder and the cries of wildlife echo through the teak forests which stretch as far as the eye could see.
In sharp contrast to the wild valleys, perfect tea gardens line the narrow roads. We stopped to take a walk with Mr Rajagopal who talked us through the tea picking process, showing us the green shoots that would soon be plucked.
Our education continued early the following morning with a plantation walk around Glenora. Mr Rajagopal has been running the plantation here for over 40 years and alongside the crops of coffee, pepper and betal nuts are 20 varieties of fruit trees. His enthusiasm was infectious, crushing leaves and digging up roots for us to smell and taste as we worked up an appetite for breakfast.
Back at the house we indulged in a variety of mouth wateringly fresh fruit, washed down with delicious coffee (all grown on the plantation of course) and made plans to visit Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary that afternoon.
Once again finding ourselves ensconced in a 4×4 traversing rutted dirt paths, our park guide skilfully navigated the rough tracks while keeping an eye out for wildlife. Plenty of deer and peacocks watched as we passed by and a large snake crossing in front of us momentarily halted our progress through the sanctuary. Despite being one of the best places in India to spot wild elephants we weren’t lucky on this occasion, but it didn’t detract from the experience.
If you are visiting Kerala then Wayanad definitely deserves a place on your itinerary and you need look no further than Glenora Homestay for a place to call home during your visit. The beautiful surroundings, friendly knowledgeable host and delicious home cooked cuisine flavoured with fruits and spices grown on the property itself were a highlight of our trip and we can’t wait to return again.
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.