A couple of days ago, I had my first trekking experience in the Periyar Tiger Reserve and because of its name, I had a flawed perception of what was to come. I expected to see many animals, perhaps even a tiger. However, I did not. In fact, during the few hours I was there, I only saw a couple sambar (a species of Indian deer), an Indian Gaur (the largest living bovine), and a handful of birds. My experience in the Periyar Tiger Reserve was the antithesis of going to a zoo, and this actually made it much more enjoyable.
Instead of a systematized tour where you plan your path from point A to point B, PTR was refreshingly unstructured. The helpful forest guide (mine was a man named Kaviraj) did a great job of going with the ebb and flow of the reserve on that particular day. Additionally, the experience of the Periyar Tiger Reserve is greater than merely animal sightings; much of its beauty comes from stunningly beautiful trees, like the one pictured above, or simply its environment in general–an environment that provides a healthy ecosystem for the animals all along the food chain, from prey up to tiger. While potential visitors might not always see a copious number of animals, especially during monsoon season when they have so many sources of water deep within the core territories, the beauty of the reserve supports that biodiversity and is enough to justify a visit. I definitely enjoyed mine!