The Top Station Trek, so named for the erstwhile ropeway Station that once stood here to transport tea to the plains, is a challenging trek through the highest trekking trail in South India. For centuries this area was known the world over as the Cardamom Hills, where the most sought after spices were dispatched to all corners of the world. Here is your chance to walk the trail through the wilderness, with every chance of sighting wildlife and meeting up with the indigenous people who live in these parts.
Day 1: Pushpakandam
We start our trek from Kumbummedu. We will follow the jeep trail to Ramakelmedu, where we have spectacular views of the vast plains of neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Massive statues of Kuruvan & Kurathy – two legendary tribal figures - make up the backdrop to the magnificent views below. The route is interspersed with tiny spice growing hamlets where the majority of spices of Kerala are grown. We will continue our walk through these small villages and farmlands until we reach our camp.
Day 2: Chaturangapara
After breakfast we start our trek through cardamom and pepper plantations. This would make an excellent opportunity as you can see firsthand to learn about how these spices are grown from the local trackers who will be accompanying you.
Day 3: Shantanpara
We will start today’s challenging trek through sholas and cardamom forests that abound here. This is the capital of the world’s spice trade, known for centuries as the Cardamom Hills. We will walk from Chaturangapara through thick cardamom forests and isolated spice growing villages. En route we will also be walking though great swathes of grasslands through the ridge of the mountains with spectacular views of the plains of Tamil Nadu thousands of feet below.
Day 4: Suryanelli
The day's trek is mainly around the Mathikettan Shola National Park, home to a wide variety of flora and fauna including the Malabar Giant Squirrel, gaur, sambar and elephants. We will start our descend through tea plantations until we reach the picturesque Anaerangal lake, meaning “The lake Where the Elephants Come Down” - a vast expanse of water is amidst a forest where elephants have come down for millennium for grazing and water. Snaking across a large area, this lake is placid and beautiful and a source of water for farmers downstream. Many tribal colonies have sprung up around it to farm for spices and cardamom which grow abundantly in the salubrious climate here. We will arrive at the lakeside camp by late afternoon.
Day 5: Kurangini
We will transfer to arrive at the world’s highest tea estate – Kolukumalai – and visit the tea factory. After the visit, we will start the trek to Kornagini camp for a well earned rest and to prepare for the great challenges in the coming days.
Day 6: Top Station
An early start to tackle this very challenging day as we ascend from 1000m to over 2200m at Top Station. Top Station, so named after the erstwhile ropeway station for transporting tea to the factories in the plains of Tamil Nadu, has a spectacular view of the plains below and of Kodaikanal, the hill station atop the Palani ranges across the hills.
Day 7: Top Station - Pampadumshola
We will head to the Pampadum Shola National park, walking through canopied dense shola forests in the park. The National park is known for its rich biodiversity of flora & fauna. Look out for Malabar Giant Squirrels, Nilgiri Martens and gaurs besides endemic birds like Nilgiri Wood Pigeon and Whitebellied Shortwing.
Day 8: Rhodo Valley
We start early and walk through some of the more pristine areas of the Western Ghats. This is also one of the highest regions of these mountains. The rugged mountain trails form the backdrop to an exciting trek till we reach our camp at 2200m.
Day 9: Meesapulimala Trek
The final day of the trek takes us to Meesapulimala, at 2635m - the second highest peak in the Western Ghats. The trek passes through sholas and mountain streams which criss-cross the area. The area is also known for its wildlife – notably elephants, sambar, sloth bear and the Nilgiri tahr. When we reach the top, we stop for a rest and enjoy the panoramic views. At the end of the day’s trekking we trek back to Rodo Valley to take a well reserved rest at the camp and also celebrate the long trek through the Cardamom Hills.
Day 10: Depart.
After an early breakfast, we will walk down to Silent valley to end our Top Station trek.
Trekking, camping, guide, accommodation in dome tents, refreshments, bottled water while trekking, all meals
Visitors to India must obtain a Visa before departure. All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related issues with the nearest Indian Embassy/ High Commission/ Consular Office for the same.
Airport or departure taxes are not applicable if you depart from Kochi.
It’s advisable to take personal travel insurance policy to cover against sickness, accident, loss of baggage, unexpected alterations to travel arrangements and travel disruption, cancellations, etc.
Internet Access: There is no possibility of accessing internet on this itinerary.
Telephone: There is mobile telephony coverage from the second day of the trek.
The South Indian subcontinent is tropical - warm, humid and often wet. During the main monsoon, (July to September) there is heavy rain. Best time to visit Kerala is from October-March. At the Rodo valley camp, temperatures can go down below freezing during winters.
Food is a very important part of these journeys and we have ensured that the Kerala Cuisine is a part of this adventure besides both North Indian & South Indian food - vegetarian and non vegetarian. All meals and bottled mineral water are provided on all days. Any special food requirements could be met if sufficient notice is given.
Our guides have been adequately trained & qualified in first aid and always carry a comprehensive first-aid kit. In case of any medical emergency we have facilities to transfer you to the nearest hospital immediately, followed by evacuation to the tertiary-care hospital at Kochi (if required).
What to bring
• Warm sets of clothes (Fleece, Jacket, hat and gloves) are required for trips going through Munnar and other high altitude areas.
• Hiking shorts
• Hiking pants/track pants
• Waterproof jacket.
• Casual Shirts/T-shirts
• Binocs & Camera (optional)
• Water proof bags for docs & Electronics
• Personal First Aid Kit
• Insect repellent
• Sunglasses, cap
• Sun screen
• Day pack