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   Chembra Peak
Tri-Trek Solo Expedition - Kerala

Region : Kalpetta Region, Wayanad Dist. Kerala
Height : 2100 mtrs / 6870 ft
Trek Date : 12th & 13th Dec'07


After completing a tiring yet sucessful Pakshipathalam trek yesterday ie. 12th Dec, it was time for another ardous trek..this time to Chembra Peak situated near Kalpetta.

About Chembra : Chembra Peak is the highest peak in Wayanad, at 2100m aboveChembra Peak from Meppady sea level. Chembra is located near the town of Meppady and is 14kms west of Kalpetta. It is part of the Wayanad hill ranges in Western Ghats, adjoining the Nilgiri Hills in Tamilnadu and Vellarimala in Kozhikode district in Kerala. Chembra peak is accessible by foot from Meppady. A heart shaped lake en route to the top of the peak is a major attraction. The lake is believed to have never dried up.

I had been trekking continuously for the past 2 days (Dhoni Hills & Pakshipathalam) + travelling about 200 kms between Palghat & Kalpetta towns...exhaustive & tired feeling....but now this was the trek that I was waiting to do since 2006....Trek & Night camping at Chembra. I had carried my 3-man tent for this trek.

12th pickup time was at 10am, Pavithram my guide got the jeep and picked me up at 9am, brought all provisions (incl. chicken) enroute...and we reached the local forest office at Meppady. The route from Kalpetta to Meppady is quite picturesque, tea estates lined up on both sides of the road, far on the left we were circling Manikunnu hill and on the far right one could see the twin peaks of Chembra basking in the morning light.

After taking permissions, we headed towards Chembra Tea Estate which is situatedCloser View of Chembra at the base of Chembra...This is the only route to Chembra and our jeep climbed the narrow route precariously winding up thru the tea estate. We reached a point where there was no vehicle entry further and this was our trek start point. From this point one could see the forest watchtower (a white structure) on the edge of the tea estate. It was about 11am...After informing our driver to comeback at 8am next day to collect us, we started our trek....

Just after the no entry point, we took a left into the bushes and started climbing upwards...Pavithram was leading as he was aware of the area and the route...Apparently he climbs Chembra twice a week as he is a trekking guide...He says mostly its foriegners, and just a few Indians (mostly from Bangalore) who come to Chembra....He was quite surprised that me being from Mumbai had much info about the places around....Not surprising for me atleast as I belonged to Kerala but nevertheless you don't find much people from other parts of India coming to Wayanad just to trek.

Anyways, we climbed slowly, steadily reaching the lake in an hour's time... The lake is in Heart Shaped Lakethe shape of a heart and is also called as 'Love Lake'. The water in the lake never seems to dry up....This is the place where we will be setting up camp after our descent back...Not wasting too much time around the lake we hit the path to the peak....


There are five levels or rather humps one needs to cross before reaching the peak.....We maintained good speed & reached the third hump where we decided to keep our sacks safely in the thick vegetation on the slopes of the mountain. We were awry of the fact that as there was raw chicken in my sack and there seems a possiblity of a wolf or a leopard getting a whiff of the meat & tearing my brandnew Northface sack apart for the same...However, taking all chances, we came back to our path and continued the climb, reaching the peak at 1:45pm.

The view from top is awesome and breathtaking. Lofty Peaks of Ambamala, Kurchilmala, Vavulmala, Manikunnu can be seen. The twin peak of Chembra though lower in heightPeaks in Kozhikode Region looks impreganable due to several vertical patches near the peak and also the thick forest patches surrounding the mountain. Most of the other peaks were also covered with thick forests....We could also see the core area of the forest which covers 3/4th portion of Chembra Peaks around Chembrabase.....The towns of Vythiri and Kapetta could also be seen at a distance though not clearly due to the noon mist.... It was very chilly on top of the peak inspite of the afternoon heat. After a quick photo session followed by lunch (dosas and vegetable curry) we started our descent at 2.30pm. Enroute we returned back to the slope where we had kept our sacks much to our delight no harm done...We reached the lake around 4pm.

After clearing the camp area, we decided to get water for all our chores....Though the lake holds enough water we thought that it might not be potable. Pavithram knew of a place where we could source good water, hence we proceed to fetch the same....AboutTent in Camp Site 200mtrs from the camp area we went past thru thick vegetation and reached a slope where there is a tiny stream. We filled our bottles, washed the chicken and brought back enough water required for cooking. We collected firewood and set up the tent (Sierra Designs 'Orion AST' 3 Seasons 3 Man Tent). This was the first time I set the tent with the rainfly. Rice, chicken & papad was on the dinner menu...Pavithram turned out to be an excellent cook and we had a sumptuous dinner at around 9pm. The weather turned out to be very cold and by 10pm we were fast asleep tucked away in our sleeping bags....

Woke up at 5.30am, Pavithram cleaned up the vessels while I dismantled the tent. The Early Morning Viewearly morning view of the peak and surrounding areas was absolutely mesmerising. Strays of sunlight breaking thru the clouds and hitting Early Morning View of the Peakthe peak thus creating a collage of colours on the landscape. We cleaned the camp area and by 7am left the place....Enroute during descent we took several pics of the surrounding areas that were covered with mist. We descended and in about 1/2 hr reached the no-entry point. Our jeep was already there and we travelled back to my hotel in Kalpetta reaching in about 45mins.

I bid adieu to Pavithram, thanking him for the high team spirit and the wonderful trek support he had organised. As I had a flight to catch from Calicut, I packed my stuff in a jiffy and hurried towards Kalpetta bus stand, to take a express bus to Calicut, reaching there in 2hrs. The route from Kalpetta to Calicut is again, awesome. This time as I was travelling in the day, I could see several tricky hairpin bends enroute. But the bus driver drove with much ease and we did not feel the slightest discomfort. Alas, my flight was overbooked and I could not get a confirmed seat, so had to stay back there for an entire day....However, it was not so boring as I roamed the entire day around in the city watching the latest Malayalam movies and savoring the local fish curry & rice though expensive compared to mumbai standards.

In my amateur quest to trek in an around Kerala, I take this sucessful as a personal milestone. Many more treks are in the offing and I am sure will go back next year to do more.....

For pictures of the trek follow click this link : Chembra Trek pics
Alternatively you may visit the photos section to reach Chembra trek photos

Dinesh Nair
'Lone Dravidian' Keeps Trekking...

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