Papathy Shola – The Butterfly Forest

Papathy Shola, locally meaning the ‘Forest of Butterflies’ derives its name from being one of the areas for the annual migration of large numbers of butterflies – the word shola denoting the local name for high altitude cloud forest. This patch of high altitude rain forest  is located on the  slopes of the Western Ghats mountains near the British-era tea town of Munnar.  Nestled  at an altitude 5200 feet above sea level, these forests lie  South of the famed Mathikettan Shola National Park – another high altitude rain forest, recently notified as a National Park due to its significantly high endemism in both flora & fauna.  

By October, rain-filled clouds bring copious rainfall to many areas on the other side of the Western ghats along the Tamilnadu border. This is ideal time for breeding of large numbers of butterflies and they fly up to migrate in their tens of thousands to the moist areas of Kerala’s mountains & plains. Most notable are include Dark Blue Tiger, Striped Tiger, Common Indian Crow and Double-Branded Crow . The migratory Butterflies leave the Ghats before the South-West monsoons starting in June. This is the annual migration that passes through this Papathy Shola aptly named ‘Butterfly Forest’ to the people of the  Kerala side of the border.

There are also a good number of mammals that can be observed within the canopy of the forests – small mammals like the Malabar Giant Squirrel, Bonnet Macaques and  Muntjacks to large species like Indian Bison (gaur bosus) and the Asiatic Elephants. In addition, there are large numbers of birds, many of them endemic like the Kerala Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri flycatcher, Black & Orange Flycatcher, the White-bellied Treepie  and the Malabar Grey Hornbill. A walk through this living forest is indeed a naturalist’s delight.

Best time to Visit:

The best time to visit this area is from August  to May

Related Information:

Kalypso Adventures offers Butterfly Forest trek with naturalists to this forested region, which is a great way to explore this area. You can see more details about the program using the following link: https://www.kalypsoadventures.com/itinerary/rainforest-trek-at-munnar

Kalypso Adventures Nominated as Indias Leading Tour Operator

in World Travel Awards 2020

Kalypso Adventures – Indias Leading Tour Operator

Kalypso has been nominated for the prestigious World Travel Awards as Indias Leading Tour Operator 2020. We are privileged to have received this nomination on the basis of our innovative and unique carbon-efficient travel in India.  This is great recognition for the 2 decades of innovation and dedicated efforts in promoting South India as an experiential travel destination. We are sure to win this award if YOU VOTE for us wholeheartedly. 

Vote For Kalypso Adventures

To Vote for us, please follow the simple steps below:

1, Go to World Travel Awards direct Web page: https://bit.ly/32ZrNZq 

2, Select Kalypso Adventures and click VOTE

3, Login( if you are already a Member) or Register to WTA,

4, Your votes will be recorded only once you verify your email address. Please check your inbox and spam folder for an email from noreply@worldtravelawards.com and click the VERIFY YOUR EMAIL button. Request a new verification email.

5, You will get the confirmation from WTA regarding your submission.

Thanks in advance!!!

– Team Kalypso

Vote for Kalypso Adventures as Indias Leading Tour Operator
YOUR VOTE MATTERS!

Do check out our New Initiatives Post COVID-19:

Carbon Efficient Short Duration tours in South India : Carbon Efficient Travel in India

Read More of our Related Blogs:

7 Things to know about Post Covid Travel in India: Post COVID-19 Travel in India

Our Responsible Travel Initiative: Responsible Travel in India

Responsible Travel in India

A need, a commitment and The Promise

For centuries development has meant depletion of natural resources. Abraham Lincoln pointed out almost 2 centuries ago that one “cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” And so it has come to pass that the development sans responsibility in which man has indulged, over the last two hundred years, has brought us all to a situation where we can no longer evade it.  For as Sir David Attenborough remarked, “Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy and habitable by all species.” Kalypso agrees. Responsible travel in India has been our deepest credo from the first days of our existence.

When Responsible Travel began for Kalypso

Kalypso has since inception recognised and been mindful of Kerala’s image as a tourist destination that encourages Responsible Tourism. Kerala is a treasure house of opportunity for the nature lover and those mindful of sustainable practices. Nineteen years ago when we set out on this journey, we were clear about one thing which was that we wouldn’t harm the land and its people in anyway.                                                             

Today we still stand firm on that initial belief, but we have added some layers to it by affirming that Kalypso will also help in any and all ways. And so helping to preserve the environment which is our karmabhoomi (operational area), engaging local population and businesses –  all of who form our extended support team, and identifying potential to be trained into our fine, sharp guides, drivers and cooks has been the core of our belief system. 

The need

Across the world we see the destruction that the unrestricted race for development and wealth creation has wreaked on the earth’s resources. In Kerala, a thin sliver of land crisscrossed by 44 rivers, interspersed by backwaters, bordered by ancient mountains on one side and the sea on the other and blessed with two seasons of luxuriant rain, nature and the preservation of its precarious balance is of utmost importance. We see the effects of rising sea-levels, global warming and depredation of forests almost at our doorsteps. Kalypso has always recognised the need for continuous and sustained action to ward off the wolf at our door.

The commitment – Responsible Travel in India

At Kalypso we acknowledge that the best way for us who are in this industry, to contribute is by affirming principles of responsible travel in our everyday actions. Hiring local, using local businesses, encouraging zero-carbon-footprint generating activities like cycling, kayaking and trekking, following LNT practices, reducing single-use plastic, creating awareness in the local population about conservation…the list is endless!!

We have from the outset chosen our guides and drivers from the extremely under-privileged backgrounds of the local milieu. With two years of preparation – etiquettes, language, cultural awareness and sensitivities, and training in professional areas, we see a different individual with a can-do outlook on life who is ready to take himself and Kalypso forward. To underline this we have a few stories to tell – of Francis who used to be an auto-rickshaw driver. And whose gambling debts led to him selling his auto-rickshaw and having hit rock-bottom when he came to us. Today, thirteen years later, Francis is our senior-most guide and popular tour leader and has travelled across India and Sri Lanka. Then there is Anoop, another case in point who started out as a farmhand after high school. When he drifted into Kalypso, his keenness in birding was soon spotted and encouraged. Anoop has developed into a highly-rated naturalist who now leads birding and wildlife tours across India. Each one of our staff is a similar story with just minor variations. This is the transformation we aim at. We intend it to continue.

The Promise

Across these 19 years of existence we have set goals and targets towards responsible travel and achieving them along the way has always given us moments of quiet satisfaction. Now in recognition of the urgency of the hour we aim to aspire higher. Kalypso in our attempt to make a difference in our world promises to henceforth focus on cutting out single-use plastic and discovering and promoting hitherto unknown destinations. Promises have been our forte. We are good at keeping them.

Kalypso believes that travel transforms lives. Responsible Travel enhances lives. Our faith in Responsible Travel in India is therefore reaffirmed every day.

SAFETY ASPECTS – KALYPSO ADVENTURES

Management Profile

Kalypso Adventures is run by three ex-Naval officers who have diverse qualifications and experience. Commander Sam T Samuel, the Managing Director, is a Naval pilot with over 4000 hours of flying experience and a qualified Interviewing Officer of the Defence Services Selection Board. Commander Thomas Zacharias, Executive Director, is an Electrical Engineer, a wild life enthusiast and a nature lover who has enormous experience in the wilderness. Commander Madhusoodanan, Director-Training, is a Deep sea diver (qualified from US Navy) and has undergone a ‘Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation’ training capsule conducted by the American Heart Association and the ‘Master Medicare’ course (essential first aid for ships without doctors) approved by Director General Shipping. The experience and knowledge of all the three officers are leveraged to the maximum in establishing and maintaining safety guidelines and practices.

 

Safety Framework

Our safety procedures are based on three major aspects:

  • The safety procedures laid down by reputed international organizations
  • Knowledge and Experience of the ‘Kalypso Team’
  • Knowledge of local population

 

Certification

Since there is no agency in India who is authorized to certify companies involved in such activities, we follow the internationally laid down procedures modified to local requirements. The risk assessment and various other procedures are carried out in accordance with established international practices such as BS 8848, the British Standard for adventurous activities.  We conduct activities for internationally reputed organizations like ‘Raleigh International’ (www.raleighinternational.org) and ‘World Challenge’ (https://weareworldchallenge.com/uk ).

 

Risk Assessment

All activities undergo thorough risk assessment at the conceptual, planning and implementation stages. Periodic reviews of processes are carried out based on experiences and feedbacks.

 

Our team systematically identify and review risks at various stages to ensure those things, activities, situations, processes, etc. that cause harm to people or property are controlled. This procedure is carried out by a member who is experienced and familiar with the activity.

 

 

We have different ways to assess risks, depending on the type of activity undertaken. Even though there are many risk assessments tools and techniques that can be used, we follow the method that best matches our situation. In all cases, the risk assessment is completed for an activity before it begins.

 

Steps involved are:

 

  1. Identify hazards and their potential for causing harm.
  2. Rank hazards by priority.
  3. Determine hazard elimination or risk control measures.
  4. Eliminate the hazard or implement risk controls.
  5. Measure the effectiveness of controls.
  6. Make changes to improve continuously.

 

Casualty Evacuation

Casualty Evacuation is an aspect integrated into every activity we conduct. Suitable vehicles are kept stand by, and location of nearest hospitals are identified.

 

First Aid

First Aid Bag is a part and parcel of the equipment and is available at the camp as well as at the location of the activity.

 

Hospital

For our camp at Suryanelli, the Harrisons Malayalam Clinic, and a private clinic at Suryanelli town are at 15 minutes drive. For other locations, we ascertain the information of nearest hospitals.

 

Equipment

Most of the equipment we utilize (including our kayaks, cycles and life jackets) has been procured from reputed international and Indian suppliers.

 

Water activity

Water activities are conducted under the supervision of qualified personnel with quality safety equipment. Personnel can participate only with life jackets. A Kayak is kept standby as an additional precaution.

 

Elephant Protocol – Shanthanpara To Chaturangapara Trek

1 All groups to trek to lunch point ( Near Check post)

2 Before reaching the lunch point at Kazuthakulammedu Tea shop, enquire about presence of wild elephants in the region

If elephants present, follow 3.

If not present, follow 4 onwards.

3 Trek till lunch point, transfer to check point and trek to camp.

4 Brief elephant protocol and maintain Staff Position

5 After lunch near check-post, trek as usual to Chaturangapara Mettu

6 Cas-evac team to remain at check post till group reaches foothills of Chaturangapara mettu.

Staff Position & Communication: 

Local guide – 60 meters ahead of the group

Support guide – 30 meters ahead of the group

Kalypso Trek Leader – With the group

WC Leader – Back of the group

Constant communication from local guide to Kalypso trek leader

 

Common Briefing before entering Elephant Prone Area

  • Elephants can hear and smell us from a far distance, more than 3 kilometers.
  • However, eyesight is not more than 60 meters.
  • Don’t use flash, if you get a chance to take photograph from a safe distance.
  • Reduce the noise and be silent.
  • Stay as a group.
  • We will avoid getting close to the elephants.
  • Be ready to run by loosening the buckles of the backpack.
  • In case if you see an elephant very close, leave your bags on the ground and run downwards (downhill) and hide behind any bushes or objects.
  • Leaving the bags on the ground will divert elephant’s attention and it will come to the bags first and you will get some time to react.
  • Take the group to a safe area and inform the driver for evacuation.

Kerala floods – Kalypso report 2018

As the flood waters recede in Kerala, its people look on – horrified and resigned, and with the embers of an undying determination simmering in their hearts. They see before them the long uphill road and realise that only a strong back, a stoic mind and a compassionate soul will help them take each and every single step along the way.

We at Kalypso salute the thousands of volunteers from across all spectrums of society and from all parts of India and the world who risked their own lives to rescue the affected population, to provide relief materials to the dispossessed and to clean homes and make them habitable and are even today continuing to do the same. The armed forces, the paramilitary forces, the fishermen, the local people, the health professionals and professionals from every field, all sterling volunteers prove beyond doubt that humanity still abides in the human being. Our own young boys from Kalypso involved neck deep in relief and rescue activities have heartrending stories of courage, humility, grit and kindness to share. The ordinary Malayali faced with a calamity not experienced in a hundred years is digging deep within to understand the responsibility of living in Gods own country.

May this tribe that puts others before self, flourish!

For it is only together that we can and shall overcome.

Where is the fort in Fort Cochin? – Throw back to an existing buried past

Fort Cochin – known for its old world charm, graceful architecture, cozy cafes and historical monuments drives in tourists throughout the year. Being a travel hungry woman, who has travelled across the country, Fort Cochin is still among my favourite destinations. In all my tours based in Fort Cochin, I kept receiving a question, which is genuine from a tourist point of view. “Where is the Fort in Fort Cochin?” History has always excited me and so there was I on my new blog!

An year back, on my maiden visit to this charming city, as I was walking along the beachside, (Since Fort Cochin is best explored by foot and i’m a great fan of walking) I came across a partially restored gun battery. Wondering and staring at the same, my inquisitiveness grew which led me to a chat with few localites nearby. I learned from them that this was one of the few remnants of Fort Emmanuel which existed in the precolonial times. And that’s how Fort Cochin got its first name. It is said that Fort Emmanuel was built by the Portuguese at the area granted to them by the Rajah of Cochin in favour of helping him to fight against the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. Apparently, this Portuguese styled fort was built in 1503 near the waterfront of Arabian sea to protect their commercial interests. Behind the fort, was built the St. Francis church, as a part of the Portuguese settlement which still stands proud, adding to the old charm of this coastal city. (This is also the largest European Church in the country and is a known tourist spot.) I was told that it was in the late 1600’s that the fort was demolished by the Dutch who had captured the territory.
To all those who are and were seeking an answer to the title question – there is no fort in Fort Cochin now. In fact, there was one and now you know!

How fascinating it is that the past holds a lot more about the present than the present!