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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trek to Chembra Peak - FAQ

Recently, I had been on a monsoon trek to Chembra Peak. But, before going on this trek, I could hardly find good quality information in one place on the internet. Thus, I have decided to put together this post that aims to answer most of the questions that a prospective trekker seeks before going on a trek to Chembra Peak.


Below are the questions and their answers. 

Q) Where is Chembra Peak located?
A) Chembra peak is located near Meppady in Wayanad district of Kerala, India

Q) What is the total distance of the Chembra trek?
A) 14 kms (round trip)

Q) What is the difficulty level of this trek?
A) I would say it is moderate. On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is the toughest, I would grade this trek as a 5, may be a 6 in the monsoons.

Q) What is the height of Chembra Peak?
A) 6,900 feet above MSL

Q) What is the total ascent from the trek starting point to the peak?
A) A little over 4,000 feet.

Q) How much time does it take to complete this trek?
A) By comfortable standards, the trek will take about 6 hours to complete. This includes brief stops for catching one’s breath and for photography and a long break of 30 minutes on the top. Though, one can add a 20% variance depending on fitness levels.

Q) What is the best time to trek here?
A) One can trek comfortably all year round, though the descent can get quite slippery during heavy rains and the monsoons.

Q) Does one require prior permission for the Chembra trek?
A) Prior permission is not required, but one needs to take permissions from the forest office situated in the Chembra estate. On the spot permits are given for day treks.

Q) Are the permits given free of cost?
A) No. The permits come for a price. Trekking charges for a group of 10 members cost 500 rupees. Still Camera permits cost 25 rupees per camera.

Q) Can we hire the services of a forest trekking guide?
A) Yes. In fact, the services of a forest trekking guide come included in the 500 rupee trekking permit. Do remember not to pay anything extra to the guide, though you can tip him if you are happy with his service.

Q) Are there any parking fees?
A) Yes, parking fees are levied by a private attendant belonging to the Chembra estate. 20 Rupees are charged for a car towards parking fees.

Q) Do we need to carry food and water?
A) Yes. A high energy snack and at least 4 litres of water per head is highly recommended. Water is available enroute in the form of rainwater lakes, but this water is not fit for drinking.

Q) Are we allowed to camp on the top of Chembra peak?
A) No. The forest department does not allow camping on the peak owing to the sensitive ecology and environment and to prevent any trouble from wildlife.

Q) How far is the start of the Chembra trek from Kalpetta, the district headquarters of Wayanad? A) About 20 kilometres. From Kalpetta, turn towards Meppady, which is situated about 13 kms to the south. Once you reach Meppady, take the estate roads that lead towards Chembra estate. Chembra estate is situated about 7 kms from Meppady. Sign boards are available throughout the route from Kalpetta.

Q) How far is Chembra starting point from Bangalore? What is the route?
A) Chembra starting point is about 330 kms from Bangalore. The route would be Bangalore –> Mysore –> Gundlupet –> Sulthan Bathery –> Kalpetta –> Meppady –> Chembra Estate

Q) Is Chembra peak situated in the Western Ghats?
A) Yes, Chembra is truly a part of the Western Ghats.

Q) Will we see wildlife during the trek? A) Maybe. Some trekkers have seen elephants, gaur and spotted deer. The guide says he has seen tigers too on this trail. Though, I would not believe any of them till I see the wild animals with my own eyes :-)

Q) What kind of accommodation is available nearby to relax after the trek?
A) Expensive (3500 rupees per room), but basic accommodation is available in the Chembra estate itself. Budget accommodation from 250-500 rupees for a double room can be found at Meppady. Up market stay can be found at Kalpetta and luxury resorts and spa (3,000 rupees and above) can be availed at Vythiri, situated about 5 kms west of Kalpetta.

Q) Is alcohol permitted on the trek?
A) No. Since, this is a forest area, alcohol, firearms and other banned substances are not allowed on the trek.

Q) Is Chembra a NO PLASTIC zone?
A) Yes. Hence, please carry back all your litter back to civilization.

Q) Does a weekend offer enough time to explore Chembra?
A) Absolutely, though you will always yearn for more time in such pristine surroundings.

Q) How does the Chembra terrain look like?
A) Chembra terrain is made up of evergreen forests at lower altitudes and grasslands at higher altitudes.

Q) Does Chembra have a well marked trail right to the top of the peak?
A) Yes. Though a guide is recommended.

Q) How does the Chembra trekking trail look like?
A) The Chembra trail is made up of 300 metres of walking through tea estates followed by a steep climb right up to the top only to be broken by a few flats near the lake enroute.

Q) Are there any scenic spots on this trail?
A) Yes. There are 2 lakes enroute to the top. One of them is heart shaped and looks beautiful from the top. On a clear day, one can see the towns of Kalpetta and Vythiri from the top. Both these account for breath taking views. Apart from these, the entire trail is a treat to the eye with soothing colours of green everywhere. The beginning of this trail is surrounded by tea, coffee and spice plantations.

Q) Apart from the Chembra trek, are there any sightseeing opportunities nearby?
A) Definitely.
Chembra Estate – For a holiday amidst coffee and tea plantations.
Soochipara Falls – A waterfall amidst dense greenery about 12 kms from Meppady.
Meenmutty Falls – An amazonian falls and a tricky trek about 18 kms from Meppady on the Meppady-Ooty road.
Banasura Sagar Dam – the second largest earthen dam in Asia offers great photography and boating opportunities. It is situated about 18 kms from Kalpetta.
Pookote Lake – Located 5 kilometres from Kalpetta, this lake of flowers is a famous tourist attraction. It offers boating facilities too.
Edakkal Caves – Caves with prehistoric paintings located about 20 kms from Kalpetta.
Tusharagiri Trek 

Apart from the above, there are many other trails and places that one can explore in the great hills and valleys of Wayanad in God’s Own Country.

If you have more questions regarding this trek, please feel free to ask them through the commenting system below. That way, we can make this a good FAQ page for a Trek to Chembra Peak.

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