I wait for September every year. This is the birthday gift my kids get – REVELATION. Last year it was Sridhar who took us to Parambikulam. We had our taste of virgin mountains and quiet islands filled with ‘eco’ conversations and an exhaustive introduction to how nature works. He showed us some exotic birds of the blue mountains along with wild bisons, elephants and deer. He also gave me my first and most effective lesson on dslr photography.
This year I wanted more. And who better than Ecologin http://basecampsrf.org to go back to?
It is 4 am. I am huddled inside a warm quilt with my kids and husband snoring away after the long bumpy ride on the pick up truck last night. The room is dark with two windows and a balcony draped with bamboo curtains hesitantly letting in light from the night lamps outside. My ears are busy hearing silence – the silence is intense.
The room is nestled inside the thick blue mountains with no other habitation in the vicinity. My ears perk up to the whispering stream flowing down the slopes of the valley augmenting the rhythmic buzzing of cicadas – my ears welcome this music filled silence.
I wonder – Will we get to meet the wild elephants this time? Hearing about a few elephants movement in the property last night, my fingers remain crossed.
Sunlight slowly creeps into the room and night lights go off. I can finally see what Ecoscape (http://www.ecoscape.co.in ) is all about. I open my balcony to freeze my spine, breathe the cold fresh forest air and prepare for the adventure.
Come here only if you want to rough it out! This isn’t a quintessential tourist spot where we can walk around to find another hotel or lodge, expecting creature comforts that a city would offer.
Ecoscape is a coffee estate tucked away in the quiet environs of Devala, a small town an hour away from Gudallur. An NGO called Accord took this up, retained a few Adivasi workers and created a sustainable tourism opportunity for them.This is now completely managed and run by an Adivasi cooperative.
The room is large and clean. White walls. Red/yellow oxide floors with simple tribal art work. Bathroom is convenient with towels and soap. A clean queen-sized bed lay in one corner with a desk and a chair, all made of bamboo. Little caterpillars and ants do visit, but are absolutely harmless. The dining area is a natural gazebo with simple lip-smacking food served with love. The environs are embellished with fat skinks, plump, lethargic snails and black butterflies with shiny metallic hues of blues, greens and reds.
The rest of the story follows. The promise of waterfalls secretly tucked away, wild treks to the incredible hills, experiencing love of care of local tribal people, the loud insects and fluttering butterflies, the giant that walked nearby with a swag chewing a twig or two, and Krishnan – who filled our hearts with love for mother earth and gave us reassurance that we were on the right path of conscientiousness.