The rolling hills around Munnar, South India's largest tea-growing region, are carpeted in emerald-green tea plantations, contoured, clipped and sculpted like ornamental hedges. The low mountain scenery is magnificent – you’re often up above the clouds watching veils of mist clinging to the mountaintops.
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary
Possibly the most protected environment in South India – nestled behind three dams in a valley surrounded by Keralan and Tamil Nadu sanctuaries – Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary constitutes 285 sq km of Kipling-storybook scenery and wildlife-spotting goodness.
Eravikulam National Park
Sixteen kilometres from Munnar, Eravikulam National Park is home to the endangered, but almost tame, Nilgiri tahr (a type of mountain goat). From Munnar, an autorickshaw/taxi costs around ₹300/500 return; a government bus takes you the final 4km from the checkpoint (₹40).
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
About 10km past Marayoor and 60km northeast of Munnar, this wildlife sanctuary hosts deer, leopards, elephants and the endangered grizzled giant squirrel. Trekking and tree house or hut accommodation within the sanctuary are available, as well as ecotour programs like river-trekking, cultural visits and waterfall treks (around ₹150).