There are a lot of trekking and photography enthusiasts in our team and I often used to listen to their exciting stories and salivate over their stunning photos. But, I never got the chance to go with them some place. Finally, they had a plan to go with their regular group to a new trekking destination(usually, they go to the sharavati valley) and I joined in with them.
I was a little apprehensive as I was in an unfamiliar group and I knew only 1 guy in the group of about 20 people. Plus, I don’t understand Kannada. But, my colleague Raghu very soon put me at ease and I was soon feeling like I was part of the team. We set off by about 10 from Bangalore and reached Nagarhole Park by 5 in the morning.
After freshening up and having coffee we set off on our way to the Abailu Anti Poaching Camp. On the way we stopped at a place for breakfast and to pick up supplies and stuff.
After a bumpy ride we came to the start of a trail and from we got off the tempo to make it lighter and easier to drive on the broken terrain and walked to the camp. It was a wide open space in the midst of the forest and there was a small building there with a few rooms, a kitchen and a toilet. There was also a small hut and a campfire spot. We settled down there and after a while set off for the Karekkadu waterfalls. A couple of forest guards were accompanying us. We walked along a wide path for a while and after that we turned off the trail to the right and into the jungle. The climate was perfect. There was a little stream that we had to cross along the way we washed our faces in it.
After walking for about an hour we came to the edge of a bigger stream. We hopped along its edge and after making a turn, we came upon one of the most awesome sights that I have ever seen. There were a couple of pools made by the steeply falling water and then there was the precipitous mouth of the falls.
I was suddenly feeling very jittery and just sat down on a steep rock inside a cave and watched as all the others got into the water. Then Sampath, the guy who organized the tour came along and said that I should take a dip in the water and relax.
Thankfully, I followed the advice and very soon I was again calm and cool. I sat for a while under the pounding weight of the cascading falls and imagined all my jitteriness being washed away by the water. I then got out and lay down for a while in the sun.
By then, the guides had bought along our lunch of rice and sambhar and we ate it. After that we walked back to the camp. I felt that the trek was a little too short compared to the awesomeness of the fall. Anyway, I spent the rest of the evening trying to learn something about photography from the others.
This was the first time I was with an experienced group and looking at their expensive equipment and stunning photos of birds and wildlife, I could see that they knew a lot. In many ways this was the trip that I learned the most on. That afternoon I experimented with my point-and-shoot. Night approached and we had a fantastic meal of chapathis, sabji, rice, sambhar and payasam. When the time came to sleep, I and Raghu decided to sleep outside. Sampath warned us that it would get pretty cold in the night. But, we insisted. I had only a thin sheet to cover myself with and initially that was enough. After a while I suddenly woke up and realized that a chilling wind had blown my namesake blanket off. After that things started getting pretty brutal. In the dead of the night we were discussing about the most scientific way to reduce the surface area and stuff. All of it was useless since the sheet that I had did not cover me head to toe. I waited for the dark hours to pass in a fetal position hiding from the wind behind my backpack. Eventually some guy went out and restarted the campfire. I had that idea before. But, I was not confident about executing the plan and living to enjoy it’s fruits.
I dumped all my carefully prepared defenses and ran to the fire. As I felt the warmth flowing into me I realized just how vulnerable man is against one of the most elementary and arguably benign of nature’s forces. After breakfast Sampath came along and we narrated our tale to him. He asked me whether I thought that it would have been better if I had listened to him. I thought for a while and suddenly I realized that I did not. It was a difficult experience. But, it was a new one and in hindsight one that I consider to have learned something from.
The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
The next day we trekked about 10 kms to Abailu, through thick forests…
and wide open grasslands..
On the way we spotted some deers and birds. The landscape was very inspiring.
I tried out some stock tricks that I knew with my camera…
There was a bunch of the most pristine pools that I have ever seen in my life. Edged by steep rocks and neck-deep. The water was too cold for me to stay in it for more than 20 mins. We got out dried ourselves and trekked back to the camp.
We spotted a lot of deer, birds, wild dogs etc. on the way. After reaching the camp we set off for Bangalore. On the way we dropped in on the Bandipore National Park which was a bit of a bore after Nagarhole.
On the whole, it was an amazing trip and I was able to witness first-hand for the fast time the passion and zeal of these people and the amount of time, effort and money they devote to it. I picked up a lot of lessons and valuable experiences from this trip and I will always cherish them.
Here is the link to the photos shared on Google Plus.