You should totally consider the Meesapulimala Trek when backpacking Kerala.
Meesapulimala is located in the Western Ghats, a mountain range that is older than the Himalayas and has UNESCO world heritage status.
At a height of around 8,660ft, the Meesapulimala Peak is said to be the second highest peak in Kerala.
The highest peak in Kerala is the Anamudi Peak at around 8,840ft.
It’s possible to go trekking from Munnar to the Meesapulimala peak as a guided trek with the Kerala forest department.
You will spend overnight at “base camp” in a tent for a forest stay in the Western Ghats, and then the next day you’ll hike to the peak and back.
You’ll also need a permit for this trek, but it is pretty easy to obtain.
This is actually at the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and once you make it to the peak, it’s possible to stand in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu at the same time.
If you’re doing a backpacking trip through Kerala, you can go to Munnar conveniently from Cochin or Alleppey. From Alleppey, consider taking the ferry in part from Alleppey to Munnar on the Kerala backwaters!
You can also get to Munnar from Bangalore.
And when in Munnar, you can do a tea plantation trek as a warm-up to the Meesapulimala trek!
I did the trek in March 2018 and this was my experience!
Things that will make the Meesapulimala Trek a Munnar trekking experience to remember!
1. Getting to base camp from Munnar
You’ll drive through scenic roads to get to the Meesapulimala base camp from Munnar town.
This above is the smooth road from Munnar to base camp. But…
Once you get close to base camp, the roads get pretty rough.
So if you’re taking your own vehicle there, make sure it can handle it.
There are people who ride their motorbikes to get to base camp.
It’s not really recommended to drive your own car, as it’ll be questionable whether a normal car can handle the roads once you get to the road close to base camp.
These people above have gotten out of their self-drive rental car at the start of the bad roads to determine how to proceed – the roads are that bad!
You can take a taxi to get close to the base camp and get dropped off at the point that the road gets bad. That will be about a 30 minute walk. You can consider it a warm-up for your trek the next day. 😉
Otherwise, you can hire a jeep to take you all the way from Munnar town to base camp.
2. Kerala dinner food
To give you energy for the following day’s trek to the Meesapulimala peak, you’ll have a Kerala dinner!
So be sure to eat up.
You can sit around a campfire too.
You’re in the Munnar hills so it can get chilly at night.
You might want to bring extra layers of clothes to wear when you’re hanging out in the evening.
They do allow you to leave a bag in a storage area at base camp in case you don’t want to carry all your belongings with you on the trek.
You’ll be returning to base camp after your trek, so this could be a convenient option.
3. Sleep in a tent
Overnight camping in the Western Ghats!
With the tent comes a sleeping bag.
You’ll be sleeping at an altitude of around 6,000m (19,600 feet).
And this is the outdoor bathroom.
Nothing special. Nothing horrible.
4. Kerala breakfast food
Wake up in the morning and then get ready to embark upon the journey you came for!
There will be some Kerala breakfast food, as well as other types of breakfast food too.
Be sure to eat a good breakfast to start you off on the trek!
5. Start the trek in the morning
And finally – you get to start on the trail to the Meesapulimala peak!
6. Short stop for small waterfalls
There might not be very much water to call these real waterfalls, but it still makes for a scenic overlook!
7. Keep hiking the trail!
8. Stop at another scenic overlook
9. Keep hiking the trail!
You might start getting tired. 😉
10. Walk across the mountain ridge
11. Arrive at the Meesapulimala peak!
So, how long does it take to reach the Meesapulimala peak?!
It totally depends on your group!
There’s only one guide, so you kind of need to stick together.
I would say my group was going at quite the leisurely pace, and it took around 4 hours to hike from base camp to the peak.
We left base camp shortly before 9am, and then arrived at the peak shortly before 1pm.
12. Eat lunch at the peak
Before you leave base camp, you’ll be given a packed lunch to take with you on the hike.
You can eat this at any time when you’re on the trail, but eating lunch at the peak can be perfect too!
13. Rest at the peak
How long do you spend at the peak?
Once again, this depends on your group.
I think my group spent 1 – 1.5 hours here before heading back down.
14. Make your way back to base camp
You’ll take a different route back to base camp than the trail you came from.
Naturally, you can expect it to take a shorter amount of time going down the mountain than going up.
If you’re feeling tired, you can ask your guide about getting a jeep.
You’ll still have to walk to get to one of the Kerala forest department’s accommodation units, and maybe that’s 1 to 1.5 hours of walking.
From there they can arrange a jeep to get you back to base camp. This is an added cost.
It seemed like everyone in my group wanted to take a jeep back, so I went with them.
How much does the Meesapulimala Trek cost?
To sign up for this trek, you’ll book a tent at base camp.
The price per tent is 4,000 rupees (US$55). This price went up by around 500 rupees (US$7) in April 2018, so it might go up again in April 2019.
The tent can sleep 2 people so it’s best to sign up for this trek in pairs. If you’re alone, you’d pay the same amount for the tent.
This price also includes dinner on the first night, and then breakfast and lunch on the second day.
But it’s still best to bring some snacks along for the trek! Also bring water. They did provide one bottle of water, but this really isn’t enough for a full day of trekking.
Now, if you’re ready to do this Meesapulimala Trek from Munnar yourself, you can see a little bit more info through the Kerala forest department.
How to get the Meesapulimala Trek permit
You need official permission to do the Meesapulimala Trek.
But this is pretty easy.
Once you arrive in Munnar, you’ll have to go to the Kerala forest department office so you can collect your permit to give you permission to be in this part of the Western Ghats.
You can do this right before you head to base camp.
When I did this trek, there wasn’t an added cost for the permit. They’ll just check that you have a booking at base camp.
You’ll need to show this permit at the checkpoint on your way to the Meesapulimala Trek base camp, as well as on the way back to Munnar, so you kind of need to have the permit in hand.
Where to stay in Munnar
There are affiliate links below. You should totally check out the reviews and photos of these places.
If you’ll be arriving a day early before the trek, or you’ll be staying an extra day after you’ve finished the trek… or you just want to make the most of your stay in Munnar… here are some places to take a look at!
Budget hotels near Munnar bus station
Budget hotels around Munnar
Simple hotels around Munnar
Best hotels around Munnar
And go for a Munnar tea plantation trek as a warm-up or recovery to Meesapulimala! 😉
HAPPY MEESAPULIMALA TREKKING!
How to get to Munnar
The need-to-know India travel tips!If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! You might wait until India to buy this mosquito repellent that works for many foreigners! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train! Also see the easy way to get an e-visa. And this is the easy way to book train tickets online as a foreigner. I've used it, and it's simple! You can just show the e-ticket on your phone.
There are affiliate links on this page that lead to partner websites.
Hostels in KeralaFor a hostel with international standards in Kerala, try Zostel!
More Zostels in Kerala:
Zostel is a top backpacker chain across India, and I've stayed at many Zostels in India! And outside of Kerala, if you'll be passing through Gokarna as you go from Goa to Kerala (here are options of how to get from Goa to Kerala!), then Zostel Gokarna is in an amazing location too! Here are pictures from the on-site cafe that overlooks the ocean.
Where to stay on the tourist trail in KeralaThese places basically go down the coast from north to south!
- Cochin: Try a homestay in the cute heritage area of Fort Kochi.
- Marari Beach: This is an "off-beat" location as Marari is mostly unknown to backpackers, but it can be a convenient stop to make between Cochin and Alleppey with chill laid back vibes. For an idea of what type of beach can be nearby, see my beach walk from Alleppey to Marari.
- Alleppey Beach:
- Funky Art Beach House again for chill vibes with a location among locals in a residential neighborhood
- And there's Zostel Alleppey too for another beach location to stay several days
- OR if Alleppey is a quick visit, try Dream Nest to be closer to town
- And see how to spend one day in Alleppey (short version: go for the backwaters village canoe tour instead of a houseboat!)
- Alleppey backwaters:
- Munroe Island: This is another generally kind of more off-beat location, and you can see a different part of the Kerala backwaters on a quiet island
- Varkala cliff:
Retreats in KeralaFor relaxation and rejuvenation for health and wellness, also see:
- Yoga retreats in Kerala
- Ayurveda retreats in Kerala - ayurveda is basically healthy living through natural herbs and remedies, and Kerala is the birthplace of ayurveda!
How to book India train tickets online as a foreignerIf you don't want to go through the complicated process of setting up an IRCTC Indian railways account as a foreigner...
Then the most convenient way to buy train tickets online is through this booking website. I've used it, and it's super simple! You buy the ticket, and then show the electronic version on your phone once you're on the train. Compared to buying directly through an Indian ticket booking website (IRCTC account required) or directly at the train station in India, there is a small convenience fee, as well as a less flexible cancellation policy, though!