The toughest trek yet. Agasthyakoodam trek is probably the most difficult one in kerala. About 40 kilometers in the span of two to three days out of which 7 kilometers are steep slopes with 70 degree sides.
The trek starts from Bonacaud forest office and stretches till Athirumalai camp 12 kilometers away. This part will be covered on the first day and then the next day morning you can start the journey to the peak that lies 6.5 kilometers from the camp. Note that you have to head out in the morning, after 11 am no one would be allowed to trek to the top. After reaching the top if you reach back to Athirumalai camp before 1.30, you can head back to the Bonacaud forest office the same day or else stay at Athirumalai for the day and start the journey back the next day. We did the former and to be frank, it was extremely difficult, 25 kilometers in one day with many steep slopes was too much.
At the start of the hike all your belongings will be checked and plastic items will not be allowed to carry inside the forest. You can unpack the snacks from plstic wraps and use paper or tins to carry them and that is fine. It is recommended to take warm jackets and pants, hiking shoes, a blanket, a lot of snacks, water bottle when you hike. Plastic items like water bottle, toothbrush etc will be allowed to carry inside but you will have to pay a small deposit which you will get refunded once you produce them on the way back. There are streams every kilometer or so untill the base of agasthyakoodam so do not worry about water untill you reach the bottom of the peak. Once there, make sure to have about two litres of water per person because the climb will be very hard and there won't be any streams. Food will be packed and provided at the camps but you will have to pay about 100 rupees per meal.
Now coming to the good part, the scenery thoughout is so mesmerizing and beautiful. This hike is one of the few that allows visitors to reach to the core of forest and that makes all the difference. There are no cell connection, which means no disturbance from the outside world, the sound of the forest comes pure and raw and you feel so connected to the nature. There are about five or six waterfall where you can take refreshing dips as well. We bathed at a stream near to the Athirumalai camp and the water was so cold and refreshing, the tiredness if the trek was immediately wiped off. I highly recommend everyone who visit to do that.
In some parts of the forest it gets so dark by afternoon as sunlight is blocked by the trees. It's an equally amazing and terrifyimg experience to look through the dark forest and realising that it is only 2pm!
The forest is supposed to be filled with wild animals like elephant, bear, deer, and many tiger but we fortunately or unfortunately did not see any. But we saw so much of bear and elephant droppings. The only animals we saw was on the way back- two deers of an endangered species where standing on the road shoulder.
This forest also holds a large variety of plants, some of them were covering the mountain tops with it's beautifully coloured flowers. While we were three kilometers away from the peak, the place started to get covered in mist and visibility was very low. The last stretch was the most difficult, with steep climbs helped by ropes on the sides and a lot of climbing through slippery slopes. The patches of shola forest was the only area were one is protected to an extend from the sun. We reached the top by 9.30 am and the later it gets, the harder is the sunlight.
Once at the top, the view for us was a valley filled with clouds through which mountains peaks cuts through. It was an incredible sight with the wind slowly moving the clouds but the tall mountains blocking it from spilling over to the other side. There is a small temples for the sage Agasthya at the top. We spend around an hour there, looking at the incredible view all around, had our packed breakfast and then off again. We reached back at Bonacaud forest office by 5.15 pm and treked for 25 kilometers that day.
Visited on Jan 2019