The way from Munnar to Kumily was a twisty curvy one lane, two-way road, with cars, buses and trucks using their honks as a substitute for right of way signs. Munnar is higher than Kumily, so we went down, most of the way, looking at tea and spice plantations. Needless to say, it was a beautiful trip, but pretty scarey at times.
I found a really nice home-stay near the bus station. The family live downstairs and rent four really beautiful rooms upstairs. From the roof, I have a view of their beautiful garden filled with cardamon trees, vanilla beans, pepper, jack fruit, passion fruit, clover, mangoes, papaya, etc. It is such a lush bountiful place! The cardamon, vanilla bean milk tea they welcomed me with was delicious!
Kumily town is not as quaint as Munnar, and the shops are less sophisticated, but the weather is better this time of year, as it is about 3,000 feet lower. It was a bit too cold for me in Munnar and I am happy to enjoy some days of sunshine on the roof here.
The area is pretty much like Munnar at a lower altitude. Spice and tea farms all over the place, in at least a 20 miles radius. I had a tour at the Connemara Tea Factory and although I could not take pictures inside, the guide spoke English very well and the visit was very informative. I learned that there is only one organic tea farm in Northern Kerala. My knowledge of tea plantations and processing also improved a little (see separate post on Connmara Tea Factory visit.)
Kumily is also a good base to explore the famous Periyar Wild Tiger Reserve, which is only 2.5 miles from here, in Thekkady. I went on a two-hour boat tour on the 20 miles long man-made lake, and was able to see some wild animals grazing on shore- a family of elephants and lots of bison. The tigers were busy doing something else inland. The reserve is over 200 miles with several hikes and nature walks.
Tomorrow I head out to Alleppy where I will take a boat on Kerala's backwater to Amritapuri, Amma's ashram. I did this trip for the first time in 1990, before I met Amma and I am excited to do it again, 21 years later. Kerala's backwaters are twisty and curvy, but this time I will be gliding down water instead of asphalt. If I remember the trip well, I will be mesmerized watching locals going about their daily lives along the river. The lush greenery along the way is jaw dropping.