Sustainable Tourism: Kudos to Periyar Forest Department

Recently, we visited Periyar National Park and we signed up for a day long trek inside the park. The booking was online and I must add expensive (Rs. 2000 per person). But when I saw what kind of arrangements were offered in exchange of this fee, I was impressed.

I was impressed not because it seemed worthy of my money but rather on where they chose to use that money (albeit one might argue its still high).

Image 1: Firstly, 3 forest guards accompanied our group, one of whom was armed (meant only to scare the animal using the loud bang!). Given that we were walking into the forest with possible encounters with wild animals, it was comforting to know we were accompanied by experts who not only knew the land well but were also experienced. Two of the forest guards cum guides hailed from the tribal communities that lived in these areas. Their rich knowledge about the flora and fauna of the region enhanced our trek multi-fold. They shared their experiences from the forests with us which left us wiser and humbler.
Image 2: At the beginning of the trek, each of us were handed a pair of fresh leech socks, and a bag. This small bag had in it: a water bottle, some fruits, and our lunch packed in reusable containers! Tourists are ofcourse free to carry their own snacks or other items too, but nevertheless the forest department having this kind of arrangement definitely sends out a strong message to all tourists.
Image 3: We had walked for 4 hours and finally halted near the lake. Our dabbas carried freshly cooked food made by the FD staff: Rotis, channa and Pulao. The rest-house where we stopped by for lunch was located inside the forest. It was equipped with a washroom too. Once we were done eating, we could wash the dabbas and place it back in our now-lighter bags.

It was indeed a pleasant experience knowing that you have traversed through the forest without having to use plastic or any form of disposables. Neither did we need to eat packaged food or depend on bottled water. So if my 2000 rupees is going towards employing the cook who got up so early in the morning to make our fresh meals or to the cleaner who may wash the leech socks and containers OR to purchase reusable dabbas and bottles: I think that is rather satisfying thought!

Kudos to Periyar Forest Department!

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My name is Adithi Muralidhar. I am a nature enthusiast based in Mumbai, India.

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