A middle aged man with a generous middle is not the ideal profile for a trekker but the temptation was too great. So, with a prayer on my lips I have set forth on what appears to be a long journey of discovery.
I have never trekked before. Most wildlife parks do not allow people to saunter around and disturb the jungle folk but there are exceptions. On the Udumalpet - Munnar road, straddling the Tamil Nadu - Kerala border lies a patch of wilderness that is just being discovered. The Chinnar (literally translated - 'little river') wildlife sanctuary on the Kerala side of the border is contiguous with the Indira Gandhi WLS in Tamil Nadu. The check post used to be closed after 6 PM earlier but now it's kept open all through due to the heavy tourist traffic. The road used to be famous for encounters with elephants and gaur grazing beside it.
My interest was the result of what was a wasted trip. We had driven to Munnar on a weekend to try to get a glimpse of the elusive Kurinji. We did not know that disappointment was in store as the heavy traffic caused a jam on the road and an endless que at the entrance to the Eravikulam NP. We had time to kill but nowhere to go and as we drove downhill we looked more closely at the signboards put up by the Kerala Forest Department.
We had, earlier, stopped for breakfast while going uphill. Then we had seen a herd of gaur on the ridge across road also having their breakfast. So when we halted at the check post we made enquiries about forest entry. Vehicle weren't permitted but you were free to foot it, we were told, and the guard directed us eco-tourism center next door.
The trekking is organised by the Forest Department with the active involment of the local tribal community. The center issues the entry passes and allots a tribal guide who accomapines you into the forest with only a stick for protection! It didn't seem a good idea at that time but therin lies the tale of how I discovered my feet.