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February 2nd 2020
Published: February 4th 2020
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Have to get to the restaurant at 6:15 this morning for coffee and snack before heading to Periyar Tiger Reserve in Periyar National Park.

South India’s most popular wildlife sanctuary encompasses 777 square km and a 26 square km artificial lake created by British in 1895. The vast region is home to bison, sambar deer, wild boar, langor monkeys, giant squirrels, Asian elephants and 44 very elusive tigers.

We are ready, dressed in long pants, socks, shoes, long sleeve shirts, hats, etc. to trek into the jungle. We’re going on a tiger hunt. Our route is approximately 2 1/2 hours and 5 km. We have two park naturalists with us to sniff out all the animals. We walk quietly in single file while our guide in front is constantly watching and listening for any wildlife and points out birds for us in answer to our many questions. Our first interesting sighting is a small group of wild boar running towards us but quite a distance away. Our guide yells a warning to a man who is walking in the field which startles the boar and they turn around to run back the way they came. Then the guide spots a pair of bison. These do not resemble our bison at all other than being very large. They are black, short haired and have very large horns. We manage to get a couple of pictures before they they’re gone. It’s weird how when you blink and look again they have disappeared into the bush.

There are no more animals until we come upon a small herd of bison. Our guides go off into the forest to search for elephants but there are none to be found. After walking a long ways and searching diligently we didn’t come up with anything much. No elephants or tigers. On the trek back we did spot one langur monkey way up in the trees and a trio of white macaque monkeys. There were some black Malabar Giant Squirrels. And they really are quite big with huge fluffy tails - never thought I would be excited to see squirrels! Had to take pictures of the birds from a poster in our room because I couldn’t get them in the jungle.

There was a herd of water buffalo crossing the road in front of us. By the side of the road was the cutest baby buffalo, I paused to take a picture but the mother highly disapproved and started running towards me. Good time for me to get out of there so I ran! The guide intervened, she was persistent but eventually was diverted. Another whew - my wildlife adventure.

Back to the hotel for a big late breakfast - we are all starving. This way we won’t need lunch either. There’s some free time for me to get caught up on some of my blogging. As I was sitting on the veranda catching up on my blogs, something ran up my leg - I thought it was a big centipede and I freaked! Then I discovered it was a cute little gecko - I probably scared it more than it scared me. It’s so nice sitting here listening to the birds call out to each other, a nice breeze wafting through but we are meeting the bus at 2:30 for a boat ride on the lake in Periyar National Park at 3:00.

Large double decked boats with rows of seats. We’re on the top level. Beautiful day for boating, bright sunshine and lovely breeze. Leaving the dock we spot a small herd of elephants on the far shore. There are many inlets and islands on the lake and around a corner are a few bison. These animals are wild and will tolerate some presence from the boats but if we linger too long they melt back into the forest. The bison are not the same as N. American bison; these are smooth black with bulging muscles and large horns. Next is a small family of 3 elephants, one a small baby. The baby stays close to mama and she urges him into the brush. The captain of the boat always makes a circle with the boat so everyone has a chance to see and take pictures on each side.

At the water’s edge, is a herd of sambar deer and the cautious stag urges his girls to retreat but they don’t want to. He ends up chasing them to show them he means business. Provides us with a bit of entertainment. Too soon the ride is over. As we’re waiting for the transfer bus, small langur monkeys are scampering around playing on the trees and jumping onto the roof of the bus shelter.

Hotel again until we leave for the Kathakali cultural dance show. An early arrival at the theatre allows us a chance to talk to the actors and see their makeup process. The show is only two actors with a drummer and a narrator, no words, only facial expressions and arm movements with some movement around the stage. It takes several years of training to be able to master the extreme movements of the facial muscles. Before the story starts there is a demonstration of all the facial expressions and hand movements we will see along with an interactive exchange with members of the audience. See the pictures of the elaborate costumes and makeup. One part is a woman played by a man. Exceptionally good experience.

Late supper in the hotel before retiring to our cottages. We’re all tired - it’s been a busy day.

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