Kumily: As the boat glided on the Periyar Lake in Thekkady, it was a different experience altogether for the 60-odd persons and their families on board it as they saw up close the wildlife. The elephant, sambar deer, bison and river otter spotted far off on the river banks lifted the spirits of the special tourists and their kin.
Earlier, Shilpa V Kumar, deputy director of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (East division), greeted the team and interacted with each one of them. The guests were brought to the embankment pier in a vehicle from where the forest officials lifted them onto the cruise boat. Those who were totally immobile were transported in the ambulance of the Forest Department.
The boating was arranged as part of a special programme called 'Knowing the Periyar Better'. It was the 50th team that is visiting Thekkady as part of the Forest Department programme.
All-Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation organised the tour for the physically-challenged group and their families. The programme, which is free of cost, is meant to give an opportunity to various under-privileged sections of society that are unable to explore nature due to various reasons.
Institutions that house orphans, destitutes, and differently-abled may contact the forest officials of Thekkady Forest Department to avail themselves of the facility.