Spotting wild animals in Wayanad

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuaries

By Niji N. G.

Wayanad in Kerala is one of the best places to go looking for the wild animals aka wildlife safaris. And with winter round the corner, this would be the best time to head South. Check Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary on Google and you are shown an array of great animal images. However, it is not as if you will walk into a jungle with wild animals peeping all around. You need to be armed with some info on the best spot for sightings and also the probable time when animals come out from their hidings. The article below tells you about the places in Wayanad where you stand a better chance of seeing the wild cat. Also, mornings are the best time to sight animals, so try to get in for a morning safaris and reach the forest before 8 AM. Animals like a stroll in the early morning and you need to make full use of this opportunity.

Best Spots for sighting



Tholpetti wildlife sanctuary is known as upper Wayanad forest. It is home to many animal species such as elephants, tigers, leopards, bears, wild dogs, bison, monkeys, wild squirrels and deer. The main attractions of Tholpetti are elephants, bison and tiger. Sighting a herd of bison is almost guaranteed in Tholpetti. If you visit before 8 AM, you can see elephants too. If you are lucky enough, you will get the wild-life tourists’ most sought-after treasure- a tiger sighting. Guided tours are arranged by the forest department which is quite informative. At any given time, only 10 vehicles (jeeps, chauffeured by registered drivers) are allowed inside the forest.

  • Safari Timings: 6 – 8 AM (Morning), 3-5:30 PM (Evening)
  • Definite Sightings: Bison
  • NOTE: Personal vehicles are not allowed inside the sanctuary for security reasons.

Nearest Railhead: Thalassery (60 km away)




Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary is on the other side of Tholpetti. It is called lower Waynad forest. Most of the elephant pictures from Wayanad you see are taken at Muthanga. There is a big pond close to the Kerala-Karnataka check post where you can see herds of elephants drinking water and making merry during the mornings as well as in the evenings. Monkeys, spotted deer and peacocks can also be seen at Muthanga.

  • Safari Timings: 6 – 9 AM (Morning), 3 – 6 PM (Evening)
  • Definite Sightings: Elephants (near the Pond)

Nearest Railhead: Kozhikode (31 km away)




Thirunelli is known for one of the quaintest temples in Kerala. If you love trekking, walk past the Thirunelli temple to the forests of Pakshi Pathalam, lot of birds and animals can be seen here.

  • Safari Timings: 7 – 9 AM (Morning), 3 – 5 PM (Evening)
  • NOTE: Permission from the forest department is needed before embarking on tour through this forest; also seek help of a tribal guide. Watch out for lone elephants along the Wayanad-Thirunelli route as estranged elephants tend to seek asylum in the forest surrounding the Thirunelli temple.

Nearest Railhead: Kozhikode (332 km away)


Other Wildlife Destinations

  • Nagarhole
  • Muthumala
  • Bandipur


ALSO READ: Wildlife Sanctuaries of Odisha, North East India


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