High in the hills of inland Kerala, the famous Periyar National Park hugs the border with Tamil Nadu. Its focal point is a convoluted reservoir on whose muddy shores herds of elephant, wild buffalo, gaur (Indian bison) and boar make frequent appearances. Visitors tour the lake morning and evening in crowded double-decker launches, but they’re noisy and you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting close to the wildlife by joining one of the quieter bamboo raft safaris run by the park.

Better still, spend a night or two at the wonderful Lake Palace, a 19th century maharaja’s hunting lodge situated deep inside the sanctuary. Only reachable by boat, the waterside location is second to none and perfectly placed for wildlife viewing. It’s not unusual for guests to spot herds of elephant literally from the comfort of their own verandah, and some guests have even sighted the odd tiger or leopard padding along the muddy shoreline from the hotel grounds.

Early morning walking safari's in the company of local neutralists are a one of the most rewarding ways t enjoy the park. 

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