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Hills to the plains

We've run out of hills except for a wild and winding descent back in to Kerala. A bit more of a climb out of Ooty in a southerly direction takes us into a tribal region, where many of the original indigenous people still live. They seem to be mainly employed in market gardening and tea picking.

Cultivated valleys high up in the hills where the soil is good and the temperatures cooler. Lots of carrots being grown here!
(Clicking on the images should open them in full screen).

Out of the back of this small region we come to the long descent through forests and valleys and rugged peaks and ridges. There are wild elephants reported to be living here, and we see quite a lot of old dung on the road, but no other signs. Probably just as well as coming round a bend and being confronted with a small herd of elephants could have unpredictable outcomes. We curl down rapidly through 43 consecutive hairpin bends, dropping some 700m in a few minutes, apart from stopping frequently to marvel at the view.


43 hairpin bends drop us to the valley where it gets hotter and the vegetation changes.




Looking back up.

The next day we make one more attempt to see some animals in the wild by taking a jeep safari into a high nature reserve called 'Silent Valley'. It is an hour and half drive up on a rough stone track in an uncomfortable Indian jeep. The forest gets denser and more diverse as we get higher, but apart from a couple of deer, we still don't see any elephants or tigers.



But the view from the top of the hill across the countryside over peaks covered in what may be the last natural forest in southern India is stunning. There is a one hundred foot viewing tower on top of the peak which provides uninterrupted views.


View across the hills of Silent Valley.

And that is it, the long jeep ride back down and on our bikes, dropping another 600 metres to almost sea level and rise in temperature of nearly 10 degrees. The plain is busy with traffic, and people and we are still 100kms from the sea. But it is green, plantations of coconuts, and other trees, which cast some shade on the road. We stop frequently to drink but find ourselves still quite dehydrated at the end of the day from the heat and humidity.

The following day as we near the coast, we get glimpses of the waterways and canals that criss cross this state, though probably more further south. We are still about 100 kms north of Cochin.


Paddy fields and coconut groves.


Canals and waterways that link out to the coast.

When we finally reach the coast, we have trouble finding accommodation on this stretch and decide to hammock by the sea, hanging out in the trees ate the back of the beach.
Hammock rest place by the beach

Hammocks provide a very comfortable alternative to tents with less risk from snakes.

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