Encompassing 644 sq km of glorious Western Ghats terrain and wildlife, nestled behind three dams in a valley at altitudes of 300m to 1440m, Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is possibly the most protected space in South India – and one of its least-touristed reserves. It's encircled by Kerala and Tamil Nadu sanctuaries, and home to elephants, leopards, sloths and about 26 tigers, as well as more easily spotted sambar, crocodiles, chital and some of Asia's largest and most ancient teak trees.
During monsoon season (June to August) the reserve is best avoided, and it may close due to fire risk in March and April.
Activities and accommodation within Parambikulam's buffer zones are booked online up to six months ahead or, if that fails, through the reserve office. Choose from tented niches (Indian ₹6100 to ₹7300, foreigner ₹9700 to ₹12,100), treetop huts (Indian ₹3000 to ₹6100, foreigner ₹3600 to ₹9700) and an air-conditioned colonial-era bungalow (Indian ₹5000 to ₹6100, foreigner ₹7300 to ₹8500); rates per room include three meals a day plus trekking, bamboo rafting and minibus wildlife-spotting safaris. Treks (Indian ₹1200 to ₹3600, foreigner ₹2400 to ₹6100), minibus safaris (₹200) and combined-activities packages (₹9700 for 10 people with meals) can be booked for day visits, too.