Total trekking time: Approx 5 hours
Total distance: 4.5 km
Major Attraction: Heart shaped lake at the top
Best time to visit: October-April
Chembra peak located at 2100 m above the sea level is the highest peak of Wayanad. I went there with a group of 9 people in July 2015. We were a bit late to start from our homestay which was about 20 mins from the base. We started around 9:30 AM. On our way, we were stopped by local dressed up in a guide uniform at Meppady who asked us to take tickets from a counter. The prices are 700 for a group of 10 people which includes your driver(in case you are going on a rented vehicle). The ticket is originally for guide charges ( however you won’t find many guides up there and mostly you will have to do the trekking on your own). At the counter, you will also be given a permission letter which is mandatory for the trekking. On reaching the Chembra foothill we parked the vehicle ( 12 seater Traveller) at a parking space who charged Rs.50. After that near to the parking space, a guide will be there who will count the number of disposable bottles you have and give you a coupon. 100 rupees will be charged as caution money which will later be refunded on producing the coupon at the end of the trek after counting the bottles. This is basically to make sure that people don’t litter plastic bottles in the hills. I personally liked this method of ensuring cleanliness.
Then we started our trek. The trek path can be broadly divided into four sections. The first part is the trek from the parking to the watchtower. It’s mostly a straight path which will take around 10-15 mins. Here there are washrooms and places to fill your water bottle(don’t forget this). You can climb the tower and from the second floor, you get a panoramic view of the vast tea gardens along with shining silver oak plants and orchid groves.
From here starts the second stage of the trek. This path is through a small forest and few places are steep. You may find a few monkeys in this section. It took us around 30 mins to pass this section. From here the real trek starts. In the third phase, there are some steep sections and places which are difficult to climb. However, the locals have created easier trails for the difficult sections which you can take in case you find the original path arduous. Look out for these small trails. We had to stop at many places for 1-2 min and take rest as it was really hot on that day. We clicked lots of pictures of the pristine hills and took selfies along the way. After climbing around 1 hr we found a stream of fresh water. The guides told us that the water is clean and safe to drink. We refilled our bottles with water. In fact, we had to as we had quaffed all the water we were carrying in the first 30 mins or so. Here we took rest for around 15 mins before resuming our journey.
The higher we climbed the scenery became better and so was our urge to click more pictures and selfies. Then we climbed for another 1 hour after which we crossed the first hill. The path to Chembra peak actually passes through 4-5 hills which we cross one after the other. After crossing the first hill the landscape changed drastically. The vegetation changed from typical mountain shrubs to lush green grass fields. The temperature had fallen and a cool breeze was flowing which refreshed us. The view from the top was enchanting.
Then on moving forward, a small lake will come on the right side. People who don’t know often confuse this lake with the famed heart-shaped lake and return from here. However, this is not the original lake which will be clear as you see the pictures below.
Trek from this from this place to the heart-shaped lake was easier as compared to some places which we had already overcome. The grass in this section is 2-3 feet high. However, it won’t be a problem unless you are trying to create a trail of your own. As we crossed this section we were discussing the great King Cobras which inhibit in the grasslands of Kerala. This actually helped as we did not digress the proper path and venture on our own. :P. After that on crossing this hill, we get to see a glimpse of the heart-shaped lake.
Personally, the lake seemed artificial and its beauty over-hyped. Phrases attached to this lake like “The love lake” are erroneous exaggerations. None the less it marked the end of the arduous trek which took around 3.5 hrs. Although the lake wasn’t as alluring as expected but the surrounding views combined with the weather at the top was exquisite which made it worth. Make sure to go around the lake to get an enthralling view of the Western Ghats and the Nilgiris. We sat near the lake for around 1 hour after we washed our feet in the lake water and took lots of group pictures before we started our down trip.
Originally the Chembra trek consists of another phase through steep slopes which takes us to the peak. Its another 2 hr trek from the lake and is approximately 1.5 km. However as we went there in the latter part of July, the monsoon had already set in Kerala due which we were not permitted to climb further as the slopes become slippery and dangerous after the rain. Anyway most of us came to see the lake and not conquer the peak so we were satisfied.
Thanks for reading. Hope it helps you. You can also tell me about your experiences and reviews about the Chembra trek in the comments section. Keep Travelling & Spread Love.