The long due visit to Bhadra Tiger Reserve happened finally. Prakash, Sunil and I left on our bikes (Thunderbird, Bullet)early on 5th morning to volunteer for a post-doctoral research project being conducted by Dr. Krithi Karanth, Columbia University on impact of Eco-tourism around Tiger Reserves.
Reached Chikmagalur towards noon (around 260 kms) where we were joined by other volunteers. From thereon, the route became interesting since had to go up the hills along a windy path and eventually after about 40 kms, we reached our camp for the next 5 days - Hulikanu Estate. This is the field station of the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore. The rest of the evening was spent in settling down and interacting with the other volunteers. One group left in the evening for the Lakkavalli Range.
On 6th morning, we took off to do the questionnaire surveys. My route was towards Chikmagalur town and Vishnupriya and I left in that direction. Conducted interviews at the Lodges and Homestays in Chikmagalur town and near Mullaihnagiri and returned to Hulikanu by evening.
On 7th morning, Vikas and I biked towards Kemmangundi. This was the best route..lovely western ghats drizzle, mist, clouds, wind etc. made the ride unforgettable.
On crossing KM, Vikas and I split and visited some of the Homestays near Kalahatti falls and Ballavara. Had lunch with the amiable owner of one of the homestays and his wife and dad. Vikas also joined in and after lunch, visited Kalahatti falls. Returned to Hulikanu by around 7.30 pm. Around 90 kms covered.
On 8th morning, we were taken for a drive in the Muthodi range by DV Girish from Wildcat. Went along the Kesave beat and for the first time in my life I saw a Tiger pugmark.
Some other sightings we had were of Muntjacs, Gaurs, Chitals, Malabar Giant Squirrels and plenty of birds.
Later, Krithi, Santosh, Vishnupriya and I went on a ground-truthing exercise. Covered around 300 kms and travelled through CM-Kadur-Igati-Srirampura-Huliyar-Banavara and back.
On 9th morning, my bike conked out! It simply refused to start despite efforts by myself, Santosh, DV Girish and all. Finally took Sunil's bike and went to Chikmagalur town where I was supposed to interview couple of homestay owners whom I could not meet earlier. Finishing those, I joined Amit, Vishnupriya and Sunil who were lunching at Chikmagalur. Later Sunil and I went to a garage referred by DVG and asked them to pick up the bike and then we returned to Hulikanu.
10th was very relaxed. Most of the resorts/homestays had been covered and all the ground-truthing had been done. Took Prakash's bullet and biked to Mallandur where VP and Sunil were interviewing the last of the homestays. Headed to CM to pick up Chicken for the 'badaa khana' that was planned for the evening. I paid a visit to the garage to hear the sorry news that the valves had to be replaced and the entire engine oil had drained out. After giving him the money to buy the spare parts, I returned to Hulikanu. The evening was special since we were joined by Dr. Ullas Karanth and his wife, Ms. Pratibha Karanth. Over cocktails and snacks, we exchanged conservation stories and his exepriences with the late Mr. Kenneth Anderson. Had sumptous dinner prepared by Santosh and retired for the night.
Left for Bangalore on 11th morning. Sunil dropped me at the garage. The bike was ready by 2.30 pm and I headed back home to Bangalore and reached by 9.30 pm!
A good experience, many new friends made, first tiger pugmark sighting..hope to go there soon! The road beckons...
Labels: My Personal Travels