K GUDI WILDERNESS CAMP

B.R. HILLS

USP: Greenery interspersed with colours of the wild

The trees at Biligiri Rangana Hills are perpetually in a state of bliss. In pairs and frozen, they look like they were caught in the middle of a dance by the sparse traffic that passes through the rough, virgin forests they call home. Situated in the middle of this thick canopy, 18 km from the village, is K Gudi Wilderness Camp (run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts and the Karnataka Government).

“The safari begins at 4 p.m. Try to make it,” the manager tells us over phone and we rush through the hills, glimpsing deer, tame elephants and their handlers, and a cocky jungle fowl that stubbornly blocks the road. We reach the camp just as we hear a jeep roaring to life and quickly move to our own. It takes 15 minutes to reach the jungle trail where the tar road bids us farewell. At the toll gate, we pick up a local Sholiga tribesman, in camouflage pants holding a double-barrel gun.

The two-hour long safari showed us scampering fawn, wild boar, almost charging elephants (we escaped), langurs, wild gaur, flycatchers, the Malabar flying squirrel and a lone eagle perched on a faraway tree. Satisfied, we walk back by torchlight to our tented cottage. It has more creature comforts than you could ask for in the wild — comfortable twin beds, cloth hangers and a large, spacious bathroom with modern amenities.

Electricity supply is erratic but enough to keep your batteries and phones charged. There are battery-operated hurricane lamps. The camp isn't fenced, allowing you to sight the occasional wild boar and grazing deer. We wake up at 5 the next morning to the cacophony of birds and find a large male elephant barely four feet from our cottage gazing at us. Scared, we move inside only to be reassured that the tusker is a camp elephant. There are two safaris every day — at 6.30 a.m. and 4 p.m. You could switch the safari for a trek too. We see wild fowl, a sun-bathing turtle, and the fleeting tail of a barking deer.

The mornings are chilly even in summer, but the piping hot food is scrumptious and comforting. The staff is polite and friendly.

You can relax through the morning or take a trip to the Biligiri Ranganatha Temple. You can also nap on the many hammocks around the cottages although splotches of dew from the trees keep you awake. There are also log huts and tree houses. In the evening, we hear jungle alarms and are told a leopard is roaming nearby. It is said that the area has 39 tigers and over 70 leopards.

There are no entertainment options, apart from table tennis and the wildlife film screening in the evening. But the experience will keep you entertained.

ANUSHA PARTHASARATHY

More In: METRO PLUS | FEATURES