Monday, December 31, 2012

Chembra Trek, Wayanad

The key to conquering any peak is not to look up for what is left, but to look back to see how much you have already covered.
The prospect of conquering any peak is always enticing enough to make me and my like-minded friends to put on our travel gear and head out to some place exciting. The Chembra Trek required no additional effort in appeasing the group to undertake this trek. A simple with a single picture did the trick and pulled-in the quorum for a trip. The single picture and the USP of the Chembra Trek was that of a natural heart-shaped lake half-way through the climb. This natural and perfectly heart-shaped lake with water throughout the year stimulated and intrigued many in the group. Although there were the last-minute drop-outs, we still managed to total six. This proved a good number to take our own car rather than depend on a rented one vis-a-vis cut costs for the trip.
If the heart-shaped lake is an asset of the Chembra Trek, then the guide who MUST accompany you along the trek is the liability. For every group that wants to climb Chembra, the forest department provides a Guide (whose fee is covered in the entry tickets). It is not like you need a guide to find your way around, but the forest officials insist that you must carry one with you. The ill-effects of carrying a guide in such a trek is that, the moment you tell him you want to climb all the way to the final peak and not go back after reaching the heart lake (as many do), he starts trying to de-motivate you about how arduous the trek is and blah blah blah. But then we are not the ones to be cowed down so easily. And despite a very slow mover in our group we succeeded in conquering Chembra Peak with reasonable ease. And this was the crowning glory of our last trip of 2012.
The trek begins with a stroll through a private tea garden until you reach a watch tower. From here starts the real deal. In the first 500mts my breathing got heavy. At the end of the 1stkilometer, my hands were on my hips. By the 2nd km I was dragging my feet. By the third I feel numb to all the pain, exhaustion and the heavy breathing. And in comes the heart-shaped lake like a breath of fresh air. Though I’ve seen the picture of this lake a hundred times, it was still unbelievably heart-shaped in real life. It takes me about half an hour to take the perfect picture of the lake without the tourists occupying the frame. And that’s good time to recover my strength and my breath. With that I set forth to conquer the peak. The distant elusive peak is an arduous climb, but not impossible.
After the disappointment in KP this time round my determination was strong. I had to finish this trek and would like to do it with considerable ease. My strategy was to not stop and rest but keep walking - no matter how tired my body was. When I couldn’t take it anymore I took short breaks of 3 minutes each. In those 3 minutes I practiced my Yoga techniques of taking deep breaths. Three short breaks of 3 minutes each and a half hour break at Chembra lake got me to the peak of Chembra. At 6900 feet I was standing at the highest point in Wayanad (or so the forest officials claim). It is obvious to any trekker or tourist that the peak that they claim to be the tallest here is definitely not true as there are more taller peaks adjacent to the one you are standing on. But why the forest officials claim that this is the tallest is beyond our imagination. Maybe it’s because there’s a threat of wild animals there, maybe they don’t want to entertain trekkers and tourists in these areas. But that doesn’t take away anything from the feeling of standing on a peak and breathing the fresh air of mother nature. Its not just air but pride that fills my chest when I take deep breaths at the peak.
On an average it takes 4 hours to reach the peak and 2 hrs to descend. A wonderful one-day trek with the everlasting image of the heart-shaped lake as a souvenir that will be etched in your mind.
Getting-there: Kalpetta->Meppady->Chembra Estate
Must-Do: Trek to the heart-shaped lake and beyond till you reach the peak.
Must-Don’t: Littering and camping overnight(not allowed)
My Rating: 8/10


  1. I lived the moments of trekking the peak after reading your write up. A neat and perfect narration for breathtaking trek i had peaked in recent times (KP always stands the pinned up peak can claim that position).. Super..A perfect tribute by your blog for the year 2012 to the mother nature!

    1. Thanks Sri. That's one more peak in the Western Ghats summited eh?

  2. Wow!! Good job. Hat's off to you for that determination to get to the very top. Even I thought there were peaks taller than Chembra, if it really was Chembra that I'd been shown. (never bothered to trek up tho': at least, not yet.)
    What a way to end the year!

    1. Thanks D. You should do this sometime too. Its a one day trek that will leave you battered for only 3 days or so :)
      Not a bad bargain for what you get in return :)

  3. Awesome trek. I so badly want to do this. After my KP exploits last month I have been quite enthusiastic about treks. That heart lake is spectacular.

  4. If you have conquered KP, then Chembra is a cake-walk...

    Worth going there after the monsoons though. Then the grass is much greener and the air misty...