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♦ 'Best Inbound Tour Operator Award' from Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India

♦ Approved by Ministry of Tourism & Accredited by Kerala Tourism

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Adventuring in God's Own Country - The Best Adrenaline-Filled Activities To Do In Kerala
13 Jan 2020

Have you ever wanted to go out on an adventure holiday? Have you ever dreamed of paragliding over the hills? Is kayaking across the raging rivers your idea of a perfect holiday? Does scuba diving into the mesmerising marine world seem like the perfect adventurous getaway? Have you always wished to trek into dense forests?

If all of the above answers are a yes, then you’re surely an adventure junkie who’s just waiting to set off on their next adventure holiday. And guess what? We have the perfect holiday planned for you.

India is an amazing place for ticking off your adventure wish list. However, if you think that to avail of the adventuring activities, you’ll have to travel all the way to the north of India, then you’re mistaken

Travel a bit down south and Kerala has equally exciting opportunities for the ardent adventure lover. Adventure tourism in Kerala is a relatively less explored but flourishing component of Kerala tourism. It has immense scope and can offer unique and exciting experiences to make your holiday truly adventurous. So, for example, if you’re in Vagamon, paragliding can be a good option. Similarly, if you’re in Varkala, surfing can be an ideal choice. Again, if you’re planning to travel to Thekkady, trekking can be a great option. There are several other adventure activities in Kerala to choose from such as kayaking in Kerala, scuba diving in Kovalam, and bamboo rafting in Thekkady.

Sounds exciting? Well, we discuss all of this in a later part of the blog. First, let’s understand what adventure tourism means.

In simple words, adventure tourism is basically a type of tourism where tourists indulge in adventure activities such as skydiving, trekking, paragliding, etc. It’s quite popular among young tourists and is a great way for them to step out of their comfort zone. Experiencing various levels of excitement and risk and overcoming physical challenges is what drives them to take up these activities.

History of Adventure Tourism

 

Adventure travel has always been a part of human civilisation. Previously, it was driven by a sense of necessity and curiosity, while presently, it’s guided by a need for relaxation and entertainment. Throughout history, people have travelled across lands in search of food, discovering new destinations, or a new country.

However, a recent phenomenon has been commercial adventure travel where the various activities are carried out under the supervision and with the support of guides and experts.

In the mid-1800s, there was a surge in adventure travel with several expeditions being carried out such as the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 and the descent of the Colorado River in 1869. The formation of The National Geographic Society and Explorers Club, two prestigious institutions, furthered the cause of exploration and led to even more adventures.

In the mid-1950s, inspired by the first attempts, several explorers attempted their own expeditions such as Maurice Herzog’s ascent of the Annapurna in 1950, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s ascent of the Mount Everest garnered a lot of global attention and thus, began the era of modern adventure tourism.

Today, the adventure tourism sector is a flourishing field with lots of new possibilities and experiences reshaping it on a daily basis.

Types of Adventure Tourism

 

Adventure tourism has been growing over the years with tourists travelling to undiscovered destinations more and more. In this way, several new destinations and unique experiences are coming to the forefront.

Adventure tourism can be classified into two categories:

Hard Adventure - As the name says, these are basically activities involving a lot of risks and one requiring a lot of skill and dedication. Often, carrying out these activities requires the presence of a guide and knowledge of advanced-level skills. Some of the examples of hard adventure activities are:

  • Caving
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Trekking
  • Rock Climbing
  • SkyDiving
  • Ice Climbing

Soft Adventure - These, on the other hand, are activities involving low levels of risk with beginner’s skills and lesser dedication. These activities are carried out under the supervision of professional guides and are extremely popular. Research says that around 25% of trips from North America and Europe are soft adventure trips. Some of the examples of soft adventure activities are:

  • Backpacking
  • Camping
  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Scuba Diving
  • Surfing
  • Skiing
  • Snorkelling

Adventure Tourism in India

 

India is a great haven for adventure activities, in case you’re an aficionado. In fact, there are plenty of prospects for adventure tourism in several destinations in India. This has made India one of the most coveted adventure travel destinations in the world. Blessed with the mountainous region in the north, the plateaus in the south, and the beaches in the east and west, India offers a plethora of adventure tourism options for discerning adventure lovers.

If you’re looking for authentic adventure experiences in India, here are a few things you shouldn’t miss:

  • Manali, a scenic hill station in Himachal Pradesh, is an ideal place for adventure sports such as paragliding, white water rafting, fishing, mountaineering, hiking, and skiing.
  • If you’re a hiker or a paraglider, then you will find lots of options in Leh. There are several trekking trails in Leh such as the Spituk to Markha Valley trek. During July and August, you can also try out white water rafting in the three rivers of Leh - Indus, Shayok, and Zanskar
  • The beaches of Goa are the hub of water activities such as parasailing, jet-skiing, windsurfing, and catamaran sailing.
  • If you love trekking, then you can travel to the regions of Garhwal and Kumaon or Kinnaur and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. If you want to head South, try Coonoor in Kerala.
  • If you want some soft adventure activities, you can try a boat ride in Srinagar, Udaipur, or Varanasi, and Periyar National Park.
  • In case you’re looking for some peaceful tourist activities, you can try out fishing or angling in Jim Corbett National Park, Kerala, or even Goa.
  • If it’s river rafting that excites you, then you can explore Sikkim’s Teesta River, Beas and Satluj in Himachal Pradesh, Ganga in the Garhwal Himalayas, and Ravi and Bhalukpung in Assam.
  • If you’re into adventure sports, you can try your hand at golfing at some of the finest golf clubs in Delhi, Mumbai, Shimla, Ooty, and Bangalore.

Adventure Tourism in Kerala

 

Most people visit Kerala for natural beauty and enjoying a peaceful holiday. However, Kerala also offers several adventure activities, a side which many tourists may be unaware of. The adventurous side of Kerala is truly a delight to discover. There are several adventurous places in Kerala that offer a number of options such as climbing, paragliding, water sports, and a lot more.

Here are the various adventure activities in Kerala that you can try out:

Paragliding in Vagamon

 

Spice Tree - Private Pool Villa

 

If you’ve ever imagined yourself flying like a bird over the earth and beholding the beauty of nature from above, your wish may come true. Paragliding is an adventure sport that can give you the same thrill as you would get from flying. It’s a recent sport that’s getting a lot of attention from tourists. You have plenty of options to try out this competitive sport in India, especially Kerala.

More and more youngsters are trying out paragliding during their adventure holidays. Not only does this activity make you feel alive but it also helps you to test your limits. There are a number of paragliding destinations in India such as Bir Billing in Himachal Pradesh and Nandi Hills in Bangalore. In Kerala, Vagamon is the perfect hotspot to try out paragliding. The hill station, situated 6000 ft above sea level, draws tourists and travellers from all over the world.

The paragliding season in Vagamon is from February to March. This period has a pleasant climate and is perfect for paragliding across the lush green landscape. The monsoons make it difficult to carry out paragliding activities.

Reaching Vagamon for paragliding is not that difficult. If you’re taking a flight, then Cochin International Airport is the nearest international airport. If you’re depending on the railways, then Kottayam is the nearest railway station. Vagamon is located 3 hrs away from the airport and 2 hrs from the station.

Before you embark on a trip to Vagamon, here are a few tips:

  • There are not many ATMs in Vagamon, so it’s better to carry some cash with you.
  • Make sure you’re wearing full-sleeved clothes and sports shoes.
  • It’s better to wear some shades while paragliding.
  • Don’t forget to keep sunscreen handy.

Kayaking in Kerala

 

Houseboat

 

Kayaking in Kerala is one of the most iconic experiences you can have in Kerala. The Kerala backwaters, also known as the Venice of the East, is a peaceful haven of lagoons, canals, and vegetation which can be traversed with the help of a kayak.

Kayaking is a type of water sport where you have to navigate a slender boat known as a kayak. Kayak is technically different from a canoe as the sitting posture of the paddler and the number of blades on the paddle (a canoe has one blade while a kayak has two) is different. If you’re interested in kayaking in Kerala, then there are several options available:

  • Recreational kayaking - Recreational kayaking involves navigating beginner-level kayaks on a lake or a flat-water stream. These are the largest segment of kayaking activity and can be done in the backwaters of Alleppey.
  • Whitewater kayaking - This is a type of adventure sport that involves paddling a kayak on flowing water such as a whitewater river. This activity gives you stellar views of the surrounding nature as you kayak across the beautiful Chaliyar or Chalipuzha River, one of Kerala’s longest rivers.
  • Sea Kayaking - If paddling on open waters, lakes, bays, or oceans is your thing, you can go for a sea kayak or touring kayak. Sea kayaks are small boats with a covered deck and are easily navigable. The Arabain Sea, lying to the west of Kannur district, is ideal for sea kayaking.

Kayaking requires specific skills and gears if you’re planning to try it out. Recreational kayaking doesn’t require prior skills to experience it. It also doesn’t need any gear as everything is provided by the travel company. However, for whitewater kayaking, you will need to go to a kayaking school for formal training and professional gear.

The best time to go kayaking in the backwaters of Kerala is during the winter months from November to February. The weather is mild and pleasant and ideal for kayaking. Recreational tours are offered throughout the year, however, June to September is the ideal time for whitewater kayaking on the Chalipuzha River.

Scuba Diving in Kovalam

 

Tree House

 

Kerala’s tropical climate and diverse vegetation attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year. However, the beauty of nature is not just above but below as well. If you want to explore the beauty of nature underwater, you have to try out scuba diving in Kerala.

The best scuba diving spots in Kerala for you to explore are:

  • Kovalam - Scuba diving in Kovalam is one of the most popular activities in Kerala. Kovalam is renowned as one of the best beaches in Kerala. You can carry out plenty of water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and scooter rides. The scuba diving centres in Kovalam have safety gear and expert guides ready for you to have the best underwater experience. The best time to have a scuba diving experience is from September to February. If you want to reach Kovalam, the nearest airport and railway station is at Trivandrum.
  • Kochi - Scuba diving in Kochi will give you some of the most amazing views of the seabed. The scuba diving centres in Kochi will offer you splendid views of the corals and marine life. Some of the scuba diving centres have in-house pools where you can train and also offer certificates after training which are internationally recognised. If you want to reach Kochi, the nearest airport is Cochin and the nearest railway station is Ernakulam.

Bamboo Rafting in Thekkady

 

The Ayur Villa, Kovalam

 

One of the famous places in Kerala is Thekkady which houses the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The Periyar Sanctuary is spread over the districts of Idukki, Kottayam, and Pathanamthitta. It’s located about 4 km from Kumily in the Idukki district. The closest railway station is Kottayam (115 km) and the airport is Cochin (190 km).

Bamboo rafting in Thekkady will give you an opportunity to explore the serene lakes along with the lush forests and wildlife. It’s an excellent opportunity for photography and spotting wildlife. Being the hub of ecotourism, Periyar is a great place for exploring the beauty of nature. The sanctuary is rich in flora and fauna which can be witnessed while taking a ride in a bamboo raft.

You can choose from a full day or a half day programme. The rafting can be for 3-4 hours. Meals are served along with the activity. The rafting will happen inside the sanctuary where you can spot several animals such as elephants, sambar, and gaur. Tigers may be rare to sight though.

Surfing in Varkala

 

Halcyon Castle

 

If you love water, then surfing in Varkala is going to be a grand experience for you. Varkala Beach or Varkala Cliff, also known as Papanasham Beach, is an ideal place for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. The name of this beach comes from the Sanskrit word Papanasham which means washing away all your sins. This is because it’s believed that a dip in this beach can wash away all your sins.

Varkala is a small town located in Thiruvananthapuram. It’s situated 50 km north-west of Thiruvananthapuram and 37 km south-west of Kollam. The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram and the nearest railway station is Varkala. While the northern cliff is a tourist destination, the southern cliff is a paradise for surfers.

If you’re a professional surfer, the best season for enjoying the swells and waves is from March to May and from October to November. The winter season from December to February is the season of smaller swells and ideal for beginners. There are surf schools that contain internationally recognised instructors, professional gears, and convenient accommodations for individuals and groups.

Some of the other adventurous activities in Kerala are:

  • Cycling and Biking - When in Kerala, cycle is something you should get as it will help you explore the lush countryside. You can cycle or bike through the plantations, paddy fields, forests, and dairy farms. The best places for road trips are from Kottayam to Vagamon, Alappuzha to Changanassery and Devikulam to Munnar.
  • Treehouse - When in Kerala, you can stay in a treehouse, right in the middle of nature. Spending a night in the magical treehouse will create a memorable experience for you. You can plan a luxury holiday or a honeymoon at any of the treehouse locations of Kerala such as Wayanad, Thekkady, and Munnar.
  • Mountain Climbing - If you love climbing, then Kerala has a lot of hiking, trekking, and climbing routes. Mountain climbing is one of the best things to do in Kerala. If you’re in Thekkady, trekking is something you can try out. You can climb one of the peaks such as Chembra Peak and Anamudi Peak.

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