Chembra Peak is situated 290 km from Bangalore. This makes it a good spot for a one-day trek from the city. At 2,100 m it is the tallest summit in the Wayanad ranges of Kerala.
The trek takes around 4 hours to complete. It begins from the edge of a tea estate. The drive to the starting point is a treat for your eyes as you go through rolling tea gardens. From the peak, you can see the whole of Wayanad with its mix of tea and coffee estates and forests. On a overcast day, visibility is barely 100 metres. Getting engulfed by clouds on top of a hill is an experience in itself. The bright green of the tea estates stands out even more when you peer at them through a sudden opening in the clouds.
After the trek, you can visit the three-tiered Soochipara waterfall which is surrounded by forests. This is also known as Sentinel Rock waterfall.
Click here for the detailed trek description.
The Chembra Peak trek takes around 4 hours to complete. You can start from Bangalore the previous night, reach Kalpetta in the morning, finish the trek and return to Bangalore on the same day. Here is the detailed trek description –
- Starting point: Watch tower, 5 km ahead of the Forest office where you buy your entry ticket. See “getting there” for details
- Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Constantly ascending trail with a few undulating sections
- Time taken: 4 hours to ascend; 3-4 hours to descend
- Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water before starting from Meppadi
The trek to Chembra peak takes you over five other peaks before you finally reach the final one. It begins at the watch tower. Here, take the path going up and cross the tower. Veer towards your left and take the trail going into the forest overgrowth. The next half an hour is a moderate climb through the forest.
The trail moves out of the forest and enters an overgrown grassland area. Continue ascending. The trail is fairly clear here and you will not miss it. In half an hour, you’ll enter a relatively flat area. There will be a small puddle on your right. Do not mistake it for the well-known heart-shaped lake of this trek.
The trail ascends again from here. You will reach the heart-shaped lake in 15 minutes. The peak right in front of the lake is the first of the six peaks. The trail from here is quite straightforward. All you have to do is climb towards a higher peak ahead of you. If you lose count, you’ll know you’re on the right track if you see another peak looming ahead. Chembra is the highest of the 6 peaks so you will know when you have reached there.
The heart shaped lake is the mid point of the trek. It’ll take you around 2 hours to reach Chembra peak from here. Once you reach the peak, spend some time looking around. You will get views of the entire Wayanad region. For miles together on each side, you see tea and coffee estates and forests. If you’re with a guide, ask him to point out prominent landmarks.
The descent is back on the same trail that you took to go up. If you’re trekking during or right after monsoon, the trail could be slippery. You will watch your step to ensure you don’t slip or fall. It’ll take 3 to 4 hours to reach the watchtower.
Since this is a popular trekking route, it’s easy to get an auto to take you back to Meppadi. The return fare is cheaper – Rs.15 per head.
The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too. Strength This is another area you should work on. You will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek. Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
No, stuffing it all in isn’t the right way to do it Packing a backpack correctly saves precious time that you might waste trying to find your things later. It is wise to spend some time on learning what really goes into packing a backpack.
What should I pack? On a trek, you only get what you take. Something as simple as a forgotten matchbox can cripple your cooking plans throughout the trek. So, it’s essential to prepare early and prepare well. To begin with, make a checklist. While shopping, remember this thumb rule – keep it light. “Every item needs to be light. This ensures that your backpack, on the whole, stays light,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes. Balancing out heavy items with light ones isn’t going to have the same effect as having all light items. “Always opt for good quality, light items,” says Sandhya.
How much should my bag weigh?
“Your backpack for a weekend trek should weigh between 8 and 10 kg,” explains Arjun Majumdar, co-founder of Indiahikes, “To break it down, your tent should weigh around 2.5 kg, your sleeping bag, around 1.5 kg, and the ration, stove and clothes should constitute the other 5 kg.” The best way to plan is by concentrating on the basic necessities – food, shelter and clothes. Gather only those things that you’ll need to survive. Do not pack for ‘if’ situations. “That’s one of the common mistakes that people make – packing for ‘if situations’. It only adds to the baggage that you can do without on a trek,” says Sandhya.
One good way to go about it is to prepare a list of absolute essentials. Start with the most essential and end with the least essential. That way, when you feel you are overshooting the limit, you can start eliminating from the bottom. Another tip is to be smart while packing clothes. Invest in light. wash and wear fabrics. “Replace a sweater with two t-shirts,” adds Sandhya. Layering is the mantra when it comes to trekking. Refer to Sandhya’s clothes list to pack smart.
How to pack The thumb rule for this one is to eliminate air spaces. Make sure that everything is packed tightly, especially clothes and jackets, as they tend to take up maximum air space. Put in all the large items first. Then squeeze in the smaller ones in the gaps. This ensures minimum air space. A good way to pack clothes is by using the Ranger Roll method.
Where to pack Bottom Sleeping bag: Make this your base layer. Sleeping bags tend to be voluminous, but do not weigh much. They’re perfect for the bottom of the bag. Tent: Just like the sleeping bag, even tents are voluminous and light. Keep the tent poles separately and place the fabric at the bottom of the backpack. Middle Heavy jacket: Roll up the jacket in a tight ball and place it in the middle of the backpack, close to your back. The middle region of the backpack should always have the heaviest items. You can store other things like ration or mini stoves in the middle. Other clothes: Roll other clothes and place them in the remaining space, to fill air gaps.
Top Water: Water, although heavy, needs to be easily accessible. So put it in the top most region of your backpack. Medicine box: This is another component that you wouldn’t want to be scavenging for when in need. Poncho: It could rain at any time in the mountains. So, ponchos should be accessible easily. Also, having a waterproof poncho at the top of the backpack provides additional waterproofing to items in the bag.
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There are no safety concerns on the Chembra Peak Trek.
If you are starting from Bangalore, take a night bus headed to Calicut. Be alert for the Kalpetta stop, where you will need to get off. This is usually around 7.30 am.
From Kalpetta bus stand, take a local bus to Meppadi. There are frequent buses on this route. Get off at Meppadi mosque. The base or starting point of the trek is 7 km from here.
Autos are easily available from here. A ride to the base will cost you Rs.100. A narrow road takes you through Fathima Estates to the forest office. This is around 2 km from the main road.
Get off at the forest office. You will need to buy an entry ticket here. This costs Rs.500 for a group of 10 people. If you need a guide, insist on getting one at the office itself. The trek starts at the watch tower, which is 5 km ahead.
The forest office is open all days of the week. You can get trek information, tickets and guide here.
Camping is not allowed at the top due to the presence of wild animals in the nearby forests. So make sure you return before it becomes dark.
Autos are easily available from the watch tower once you descend. You might have to wait for sometime for one to come by and drop off another group of trekkers. The return fare to Meppadi is cheaper – Rs.15 per head. You can either stay on in Wayanad to see Soochipara falls or proceed back from Kalpetta to Bangalore.