26th November 2017
Munnar was the destination I was most looking forward to on the Kerala Blog Express.
Munnar was towards the middle of the trip. After 5 days I’d seen more than enough dancing and drumming to last me 16.4 years.
As long as there would be no traditional dancers following us up the mountain, I’d be happy with any level of hiking in Munnar.
After a few hours on the bus, we arrived at Team Kalypso HQ, our campsite for the night.
The word camping was bandied about, but secretly we knew this was going to be glamping having stayed in some pretty ridiculous places like Vythiri Resort (that’s a pool under the floor below). When we got into the tent, it was the fanciest tent I’ve been in. We each had nice beds, lots of room and power outlets. Too easy!
After a chilled dinner, the plan was to set off about 9 am as a group. This was cool with me, but Jackson had other ideas. He was keen to get up and watch the sunrise from the top of Phantom’s Head, our hiking destination.
Only issue, it was pitch black and we’d have no idea where to go. With a bit of networking, he soon recruited a guide to take a few of us the top for the sunrise.
Always a little unsure of my fitness level, the hike was easy as we scaled up 400m for a total of somewhere around 2000m above sea level.
While there were no drummers following us up the hill, we couldn’t help but laugh as we heard the music from a temple festival echoing across the valley. They hadn’t stopped all night.
After 40 minutes, we reached the summit. The only things to note weer a large cross, a couple cows and a tarpaulin hut. As we approached the edge of the mountain we could see the sunrise in the early stages of putting on quite the show for us.
Our guide had timed our walk well and we started running around getting all the different snaps. The lighting was perfect for video and photography and the backdrop was postcard perfect.
This was when I learned of a hilarious incident from the night before (I was asleep). Francisco, preparing to brush his teeth got his tubes mixed (not tied) up and thought it’d be a sensational idea to brush his teeth with mosquito repellent. Nasty. I enjoyed that (sorry mate!).
The sun was now up and all we had to do was wait for the full crew to join us. They weren’t due for a few hours yet. Bugger.
Knowing that’s a long time to be hanging out at the top of the mountain (awesome views or not), myself, Jordan and Jackson proceeded to scramble back down the mountain for breakfast with the rest of the crew. Just to hike back up again.
The next trip back up Phantom’s Head with the larger group took a while on the switchback route. That was okay, everyone in the group is good for a chat but by crikey I was glad we went on the sunrise mission.
I can’t recall exactly who it was, but I was listening to a podcast a couple days back and when the guest was asked what’s one thing everyone should do. He replied: “Travel somewhere and climb a mountain.”
Amen. That really resonated with me.
Meanwhile, Jordan was off courting a local. Moo.
We wouldn’t be returning the way we came this time. Instead, we meandered through the tea plantations Munnar is famous for. I’m a big green tea fan (not dedicated enough to travel with a kettle yet) so that kept me happy. Plus, they do make a good looking piece of scenery.
Random mind blowing fact: both green and black tea are made from the same plant.
Eventually we moved beyond the tea plantations, past a village with large quantities of pepper drying out before returning to base.
After a quick bite to eat, we were back on the bus as our whirlwind tour continued.
How cool it would have been to spend a week hiking around Munnar!
Our schedule was tight, but the way Team Kalypso handled everything was spot on (food included). And of course, massive brownie points go the boss who took us up for sunrise.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Kerala by Kerala Tourism to be part of the Kerala Blog Express! Keep an eye out for season 5 applications if you’d like to be a part of this incredible adventure in India.