Identify rare desert flowers and experience walking across a frozen river on these nature trails
FIND out how leaves can be ladles, how you can taste water stored in a creeper, and other such nuances of fauna and flora on the many nature walks being organised across the country. Taking pains not to disrupt the environment, there are umpteen options—from one-hour walks to three-five day sessions. We take a look at a few such interesting ones.
Arty Plantz, Bangalore
This group helps people connect with plants and trees with their sense of sight, touch and smell. “Hebbal and Cubbon Parks are a must-visit for nature walk lovers. December to February is the peak season where we find a lot of birds and insects,” shares Janani Eswar, a member, adding that their monthly Sunday walks are popular. One of the unique experiences on the Cubbon Park walk is collecting the leaves of the Ficus Krishnae (Krishna’s buttercup). “The leaves are shaped like ladles and walkers love to drink water from them,” she adds.
What to carry: Shoes, jackets and a poncho are a must. You could also bring along a sketch book, a field guide (of the city’s fauna and flora) and binoculars. Eswar also recommends a frog app, Frog Find (Google Play Store), that identifies the sounds of frogs when the walkers are in its vicinity. `300 for a one-and-a-half-hour walk. Details: 08861115565
Get Up and Go, Chennai
This organisation’s nature walks on the Markha Valley trail and Stokangri peak are widely recognised. One of the heads, Neha Khotari, an archaeologist, shares that sighting a snow leopard, marmos and ibex (a type of mountain goat) makes the trek complete. “These walks are a little challenging but wildlife lovers have an amazing time,” shares Khotari, adding that she also oversees walks to the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand and Kalsubai (in Sahyadri, Maharashtra). While they tie up with local guides, she says, “Arjan Kripal Singh, my business partner, has travelled across the country and provides titbits about the locality that people are not aware of.” They also organise winter walks to Chadar, a frozen river in Leh. “The entire river is frozen—it is like standing in a bowl and watching the world,” she concludes.
What to carry: With drinking water, shoes, rain gear and torches on the list, Khotari adds that compass apps and fitness apps like Endura are also popular among walkers. From `25,000 onwards (six days and more). Details: getupandgo.in
This nature walk and trekking organisation keeps it very local by hiring guides from among the indigenous people. “This helps walkers connect with the people in the locality,” says Pradeep Murthy, director, adding, “Our team of three naturalists help walkers identify endemic species of birds—from the Nilgiris flycatcher to the Wayanad laughing thrush.” They also help people in locating rare species of moths (like the Atlas moth), herbs and butterflies. Adding that September to February is the best time for walks, Murthy shares that people who have joined them have enjoyed collecting frankincense (an aromatic resin) from the trees and drinking out of water vines, a creeper that stores water.
Where to stay: He recommends Vythiri Resorts, Windflower, Pranavam Homestays and Misty Hills Wayanad. `1,250 per person for a day of activities. Details: 09544201249
The Wild Walk, Chennai
Tying up with most of South India’s national parks, The Wild Walk organises walks on designated paths with an abundance of wildlife. “Kabini, Bheemeshwari and Tadiyandamol in Karnataka are some of the most interesting spots for walks. You never know when you will spot a laughing thrush or a wild flower,” shares Shrilekha Venkateswar, founder, adding that they instruct walkers not to pick up anything from the ground as it might be part of the natural cycle of decomposition. They also employ local guides to help walkers get information about the forest, the fauna and flora and the local tribes. “If you come here, ask for Kuttappan and Bheemaiah,” she concludes.
What to carry: A personalised first-aid kit is very important. Apart from this, water, lemons (for salt balance), energy bars, comfortable clothes and a map of the area are essential.`12,000 for three nights. Details:thewildwalk.com
Desert Rock Park, Jodhpur
The rocky wastelands at the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, in Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, gives you desert flowers, migratory birds, sand and rock, all in one package—an eight-hour nature walk. Organised by Devinder Yadav, of Desert Rock Park, the walk starts from the foothills of the fort and participants will get to see some rare species of desert flowers like rohida (flower of the desert teak) and missi (a small purple flower). “July to October is the best time to visit the park as the rains will result in ephemeral flowers like kheer kheemp and vajradanti,” shares Yadav.
What to carry: Walkers are expected to bring along a sturdy pair of hiking shoes, hats, sunblock, drinking water, fauna and flora guides and binoculars. “If lucky, you will also spot birds like the grey francolin and demoiselle cranes,” he concludes. From `100 onwards. From 9 am to 5 pm. Details: 9413844937