Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bhadra - Muthodi & Sigekhan IB

Read the Part V here... 9th Oct 2009 - We compromised on the early morning boat ride at River Tern JLR so that we could reach the forest office at Chikmagalur early. Somehow we managed to get our booking shifted for the day to Muthodi and also reserve for the next day there. We also requested the person to formally complain to the DCF about the lack of services / facilities at Lakkavalli IB. We got the dormitory booked for 2 days at Muthodi Nature camp, Bhadra as the cottages were not available. Muthodi was high on our wishlist but somehow all plans had failed and this surprise addition was something to cheer about. We had to wait till afternoon for about 3 hours to get confirmation of the bookings (you know how government offices work!) and then after 2 sessions of lunch and brunch (because not sure of the food availability at Muthodi) at Chikmagalur, we proceeded towards Muthodi, Bhadra.The breezy ride of about 40 kms to Muthodi camp was nice through the ghat roads and multiple curves and a bit risky too as the roads are all quite narrow and the estate jeeps that ply travel at high speeds giving you no chance. At the checkpost, a mud road trail leads inside the Western ghats that needs to be taken to reach Muthodi. From here there are no roads but only mud rocky road and you have no option but to traverse very slow in your small car. Checked into our dormitory and we were bowled over by the campsite and the surroundings. Lush green cover everywhere, hint of rains, the fragnance eminating from the wet earth, call of the winged beauties all across, numerous insects and spiders, malabar squirrels wherever you see and hopes of encountering the big beasts... all made us think the effort taken in reaching here worthwile, in short we were in love with this wilderness! The Malabar Squirrel right next to our dormitory and the Garden Lizard (yet to confirm on this...) kept us busy for the next hour or so. Enquired about the facilities and were more than happy to hear about the resident cook availability and also about the safari rides in the Mahindra Pikup jeep conducted from there. Took the jeep ride at 4:30; it was an Mahindra Pickup open jeep with closed cabins for 5 people only. We four chose to stand behind in the open as that would offer good options for photography and that was a decisive decision taken. Just entering into the gate, a slow drizzle started and within the next couple of minutes the drizzle became a downpour and the downpour lasted the entire safari duration. We had packed off the cameras into the closed cabins for safety and we were here encountering heavy downpour even unable to open the eyes, lashing branches from both sides, shivering bodies, wet to the core and the last piece of cloth and no wonder the whole safari ride was just an formality and the experience is sure to last in our memories for a lifetime! As we started approaching the exit gate, the rains stopped and thats how our luck is!?! Back to the dormitory, dried up and with some good hot tea, the light started to fizzle out quite fast is was dark soon. To pick up few groceries we alongwith a local person had to drive to the nearest village some 5kms away. On the way a Barn Owl greeted us sitting right in the middle of the road and flew away as soon as the car headlight flashed on it. Back again and after a nice dinner and nothing else to do, it was time to retire for the night.

The accommodation options at Muthodi Nature camp are good and cozy with individual cottages, tented cottages and the dormitories being available.

10th Oct 2009 - Being in a jungle and the safari ride is the first thing we do in the morning. Again took the 7.30am safari again standing in the open and were greeted by a Brown Fish Owl roosting on a tree nearby. Indian gaur herd, Barking deer were all that we got to see.

...after the safari, breakfast, freshned up and then were wondering what to do? Jungle trek was another option but somehow we decided against it and instead thought of walking all the way up to the Sighekhan IB, a good 3kms uphill walk. The winding elevated roads was a good path to walk along listening to the chirping birds and nothing else (not a soul around) and the road just goes into one corner, and then another, and then one more, and on and on and on...

Taking breaks, shooting the biggy spiders along the way and chatting, guru and raja drifted ahead and me and nag were trailing behind. At an uphill turn when I was busy shooting an spidey web, the boys Raja and Guru who were ahead came running downhill, stopped near us, took a breath and blurted out "Wild Dogs" ahead...!?! At the next corner they had spotted at first 1 or 2 dogs chasing a wild jungle fowl but later saw one by one, a pack of them coming downhill right straight on to the path where we were walkin up. After they were confirmed it was wild dogs, they started running and from there literally we ran downhill for about 2kms that we had covered walking up so far, and till we felt we would probably be safe from their mighty jaws. Wild dogs are not known to attack humans and they drift away but in such a situation, our minds went blank and the first thought in our minds was "Run" (its a human tendency to Run whenever in danger...) But we wanted to see the Sighekhan IB and with no stamina nor guts to walk up again, we took the car this time all the way up till the Sighekhan Inspection Bungalow.

Wow! the forest view from here is just amazing and all that you see is the green all around and nothing else in sight. The sunrise and sunset are sure a show stopper from here. Birdlife is in abundance and occassionally few sightings of the wild canines here and there. If you are on a visit to Muthodi, one should definitely not miss visiting the Sighekhan IB and enjoy the serendipity nature offers here. The bungalow is and old structure and the garden here is very well maintained by the gardeners some 2-3 people in succession.

As we drove down, the Malabar Giant Squirrel was reluctant to leave us and we got some good sightings of this shy creature. The evening safari too was dry except for the Indian Gaurs and Barking deer. Another day, some body shivering experience and we live to tell a tale :)

11th Oct 2009 - The last day of our Karnataka Anveshane II and we were quite slow in getting up and readying to get back home. After nearly 10 nights and 10 days we would be going back home traversing another 1900 kms in my Alto but loaded with lots of adventure tales, experiences, learnings, discoveries, viewing the natural wonders and lots more...
Well, Basur Kaval and the final thoughs in the last part!
Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!
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