It was an unplanned decision to trek up the Chembra peak in Wayanad. Chembra Peak is the tallest peak in Wayanad – 2100m above sea level which is a trekker’s paradise The scenic beauty of Wayanad, which is visible from the top of Chembra Peak, is mesmerizing.
My daughter Meenakshi (Minnu) a trekking enthusiast had been pressing upon to do this trek. Our plan to do the trek was cancelled twice; once due to heavy rains and second time because of my daughter’s illness. Hence this time we were determined to do this.
Our first obstacle was the hostile locals who refused to let our car through the approach road to Chembra. The reason for this was a maintenance work on this road was supposed to start in a couple of hours. An unfriendly mob assembled there early in the morning obstructing tourists heading to Chembra. Some of the tourists returned disappointed. We parked our car in a safe place and decided to walk down the stretch up to the forest office where permission for the trek is issued.
We were lucky when a tuk-tuk owned by a friendly local youth offered to take us to the base of the hill. On the way we collected our trek permit and a guide joined us. A bit disappointed when we came to know that last stretch of trek was restricted for the day due to threat of forest fire and wild elephants spotted the day before.
The initial walk to the base of the hill down a dirt track bisecting tea estates was exciting. . This is pretty easy trek trail as you can enjoy lush green scenery and tea estate. In about 20 minutes we reached the watch tower where our permit was verified.
Now the path started turning narrow, a bit steep and dusty. We entered a bamboo-brown forest full of aged trees with creaking branches. (In fact it is not a thick forest). There were boulders along the path and my daughter was struggling to keep up with the pace of our guide.
We walked in and out of shady openings. This part of the trek was moderately difficult and the climb started turning steeper. The further we went, the more mystical and fascinating it became. The foliage became thick and lush, forming a canopy above our heads.
We arrived at a wide glade, where the trees fell away, revealing the blue sky. Now our trek was through open space. The sun was blazing and it was scorching our back. A galaxy of dragonflies fizzed through the beams of light. We inched our way through the path with grass on one side and deep valley on the other.
In between we had to balance between boulders in the trekking path and this was really tiring. Inspite of our continuous encouragement my daughter was wobbling and appeared zonked.
Wild grass was sloping down the trekking path. We moved in a silent, elegant, symmetry up the trekking path. Our guide kept on encouraging my daughter saying we were in the final stretch of the steep slope. Since she was breathing convulsively our guide stopped her from drinking water until she finished this hard stretch.
We climbed slowly and steadily finally reached the meadows , adjoining the heart-shaped lake.
The lake is in the shape of a heart and is also called as ‘Love Lake’. The water in the crystal lake 1500 meters above sea level, hardly touched by human hands never seems to dry up even in peak summer. The lake was glittering with the golden rays of the Sun.
The last stretch to the peak was visible from here. It was tempting but we couldn’t make it because of the restrictions imposed by the authorities
The view from top is awesome and breathtaking. Lofty Peaks of surrounding hills could be seen. Most of the other peaks around were covered with thick forests.
The towns of Vythiri and Kalpetta could also be seen at a distance though not clearly due to the noon mist.
We walked to nearby grove full of medicinal herbs and trees. It was cool inside. A strong breeze was blowing and suddenly we felt fresh and exhilarated.
We put our back against a tree leaning our head against the bark and rested there for a couple of minutes.
The descend was easier compared to the trek up. In between the way down we spent some time to click the mesmerizing peaks, meadows and valleys.
We had run out of drinking water but there was a thin stream in the forest. Babbling and burbling, it sprung over the rocks in its way. We quenched our thirst drinking the water from this stream.
By the time we made it to the base of the hill it was noon. We were really tired out of the trek in the warm summer.
Our guide was generous to arrange a tuk-tuk for us. Thanking him we hurried back in the tuk-tuk to the place where our car was parked.
Tips for Chembra Trek
- Chembra peak is located near Meppady in Wayanad district of Kerala, India
- Total distance (round trip) of the Chembra trek is 14 kilometres
- Difficulty level is moderate in normal conditions but during monsoon it is a tough trek
- It takes about 6 hours to complete this trek including stops for relaxing and for photography. The time can vary depending on your fitness level
- One can trek comfortably all year round, though the descent can get quite slippery during heavy rains and the monsoons.
- One needs to take permissions from the forest office situated in the Chembra estate. On the spot permits are given for day treks.
- Trekking charges for a group of 10 members cost 500 rupees. For international travellers the cost is 1000 rupees for a group. Still Camera permits cost 25 rupees per camera.
- The service of a forest trekking guide is included in the charge for trekking permit.
- Snack and drinking water are highly recommended. Water is available enroute in the form of streams and rainwater lakes.