However first, I needed to arrive…safely.
whenever you’re at an arcade enjoying these digital actuality racing video games, and also you push the pedal down as arduous as you’ll be able to, turning the wheel manically to swerve round different autos and attain the end line first?
That’s sort of what I’m doing now, solely as an alternative of digital actuality this is actuality. And as an alternative of being at an arcade I’m touring in India.
Extra particularly I’m at the back of an open-air jeep with a driver who’s presumably on pace, difficult different drivers head on — many who’re bigger than him — who I imagine to even be on pace.
The roads on the foothills of the Western Ghats main as much as the Silent Valley Nationwide Park are something however silent, honking drivers swerving round slender roads with steep drop ledges.
Each time I see a mac truck coming straight for us, I say a fast prayer and shut my eyes.
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Desk of Contents
- Driving In India: An Adrenaline Rush
- Silent Valley Nationwide Park In Kerala
- Excessive Altitude Tea Gardens
- India Climbing & Anamudi Views
- Excessive Altitude Tenting
Driving In India: An Adrenaline Rush
Driving in India just isn’t for the faint of coronary heart, and neither is being a passenger.
Fortunately, I’m a Multi Exercise Tour with Kalypso Adventures, and most of my journey for my week and a half within the nation is finished by biking, trekking and kayaking.
That additionally being mentioned, as nerve-wracking because the steep uphill drive is, I’ve to confess I sort of prefer it.
The locals don’t even flinch when their car comes mere centimeters from the cliff ledge, and the braver I get, the extra Indian I really feel.
Plus, I just like the adrenaline rush.
Driving round Kerala you’ll discover all varieties of autos preventing for street house. Visitors lanes appear to be solely a suggestion.
Once we attain an altitude of about 1,200 meters (3,937 ft), driving up Kunjehanny Highway, the surroundings begins to alter.
What earlier than was hectic villages, bamboo basket retailers and handmade chocolate shops has modified to infinite rows of excessive altitude tea.
It’s the start of January, the time when, yearly, strict Hindus make a pilgrimage to the sacred temple of Sabarimala to worship Lord Ayyappa, some strolling barefoot for a month.
They stroll with objective, carrying solely a small pack or bundle of products atop their heads for the complete journey.
Not solely does their willpower amaze me, but in addition the very fact they aren’t getting hit by automobiles like Frogger.
The start of our hike in Munnar into the Silent Valley Nationwide Park
Silent Valley Nationwide Park In Kerala
Shortly after, we attain the city of Munnar. By the way in which, should you’re touring alone, this is without doubt one of the greatest locations for solo feminine vacationers in India.
From right here, we swap to an open-air jeep — the one which left me fearing for my life — and make our approach as much as the bottom of our trek by means of the Silent Valley Nationwide Park.
What I’ve liked to date about my Kalypso Adventures tour is it’s actually for the journey traveler.
They don’t child you by promising trekking and biking and having you do a leisurely journey across the block; as an alternative, the distances traversed utilizing your individual manpower are as lengthy and difficult as you’d like, filled with magnificence, tradition, and journey.
Our base for the Silent Valley trek begins at an altitude of 1500 meters (4,921 ft), regularly reaching over 2,600 meters (8,530 ft) till we get to our campsite for the night time, Rhodo Valley Camp, named for the myriad rhododendrons that encompass it.
Fortunately, with the change in elevation additionally comes a change in landscapes, not shocking as Kerala will get its nickname, God’s Personal Nation, from the varied ecology and pure magnificence.
I’m advised by my native information the title “Silent Valley” comes from the very fact the realm is surrounded by mountains, retaining out sound and leaving a valley that’s silent apart for the wildlife.
Girls working within the tea gardens within the Silent Valley
Excessive Altitude Tea Gardens
The primary notable panorama we come to alongside the way in which is the 118 hectares (292 acres) of excessive altitude tea gardens.
Whereas they’re planted in neat rows, the rolling hills add complexity to the scene earlier than me.
Tea leaf pickers — all girls, as a result of softness of their fingers — continually have to hand-pick the leaves, so their properties are close by in a particular government-subsidized village.
It’s attention-grabbing to learn the way the leaves of 1 tea tree symbolize all varieties of tea, as they’re all grown from the identical seeds and whether or not their black, inexperienced, white or oolong will depend on how they’re processed.
All of a sudden, my nostrils fill with the nasal-clearing scent of eucalyptus, which is nice for sinus and arthritic points.
The plant is a reminder of the robust Kerala Ayurvedic custom within the space, which focuses on the state’s hundreds of accessible medicinal crops and incorporates them into healing remedies.
Within the Silent Valley, you’ll additionally discover turmeric, which aids digestion; lemongrass, utilized in Ayurvedic therapeutic massage resulting from its energy to alleviate ache and fever; and cardamom, with its antiseptic and antioxidant properties.
Together with flora, the realm is understood for its wildlife, which incorporates elephants, sambar, sloth bear, and the Nilgiri Tahr, the latter of which is endemic and endangered.
From excessive altitude tea gardens to waterfalls to sholas to grasslands in Silent Valley Nationwide Park
India Climbing & Anamudi Views
We take frequent snack breaks alongside the way in which, lounging at a colourful Hindu temple or crystal waterfall.
Because the tea leaves fade away the trail turns into sholas — excessive altitude rainforests much like the Amazon Jungle however much less dense — it’s potential to make out Southern India’s highest mountain, Anamudi at 2,695 meters (8,842 ft).
Its peak stands proudly towering others that encompass it, reaching towards the clouds for a dreamy picture that appears like a Bob Ross portray.
Southern India’s highest mountain, Anamudi at 2,695 meters (8,842 ft)
On the ultimate leg of the journey, we discover ourselves trekking by means of expansive grassland — typically as much as our hips — speckled by vivid crimson hibiscus and white dandelions.
At instances, we enter and emerge into darkish pine forests, the place the solar turns into hidden and smells of fruits, nuts, and flowers turn into extra intense with out the power to flee into the plains.
Rhodo Valley Camp
We trek for about seven hours, taking our time as to not get sick from the change in altitude.
Lastly, I spot a row of 4 crimson tents and an Indian man frying greens in a pot, the steam like a welcoming smoke sign beckoning us to consolation. Set at 2,200 meters (7,218 ft), the Rhodo Valley Camp is just a little piece of heaven.
After a dinner of rooster curry, dahl curry, onion pakoras, and spiced greens, whereas settled into my tent sipping native tea (produced from the very leaves I’d simply hiked by means of) and inhaling scents of the lemongrass and eucalyptus, I take into consideration how a lot I might have missed out on had been I to journey by bus tour.
Positive, my legs is probably not as sore, however I wouldn’t have even been in a position to work together with the surroundings, conquer a difficult path and keep on the camp I’m at now, which is simply accessible to these energetic and curious sufficient to hike eight kilometers (5 miles) uphill.
Tomorrow — vivid and early — will convey one other day of biking, kayaking, and mountain climbing my approach by means of India. It’s time to go lay out my mountain climbing garments and get excited!
*Word: Rhodo Valley Camp doesn’t have a web site, however can a keep could be booked by means of Kalypso Adventures.
Have you ever ever visited Silent Valley Nationwide Park in Kerala, India?
Keep tuned for extra Bus-Free By way of India, with new articles on this 8-part sequence popping out each Tuesday!
This publish relies on a semi-hosted press journey I took with Kalypso Adventures, experiencing their Multi Exercise Vacation tour. It’s a part of a sequence referred to as Bus-Free By way of India, because the tour focuses on showcasing the actual India by means of cultural, sustainable and adventurous choices, in addition to touring from place to position by biking, trekking, and kayaking.
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