My first camping experience was at the edge of the misty Harangi Dam in Coorg, in a leaky tent for two, snugly packed with three, one of whom was an indomitable snorer. But I loved every minute of it. So when it was time to plan another break, I headed to the Galibore Nature Camp close to Bengaluru, for a camping holiday with many more creature comforts.
Galibore is just far enough from Mekedatu, an overrun picnic spot. Shielded by a large patch of forest, with few people in sight, it is set on the bank of the Kaveri River. Besides the hum of cicadas and the gentle rustle of dry leaves, hardly a sound disturbs the peace of the dense surrounding jungle. The camp is anything but sleepy, however, offering outdoor experiences such as jungle treks and coracle rides. The tents are basic but amply comfortable. It is run by Jungle Lodges & Resorts, a joint initiative between the Karnataka government and Tiger Tops, a high-end tourism eco-tourism company.
I visited just before the monsoons, when Karnataka gets a few showers and looks as if a green wand has been waved across the land. As Galibore is a popular weekend getaway, I chose to go during the week to ensure some exclusivity—ideal for a contemplative and relaxed two days. The rich deciduous forest around teems with birdlife and has a few safari trails. A guide leads guests on nature walks. More determined walkers can explore two hiking trails: a one-hour hike to a watchtower on a low hill, and a more intensive, six-hour trek through shrubby forest to a spot called Chelure Hill.
My friends and I were in a less active mood. The Kaveri was not yet swollen to full strength, so it was perfect for wading in knee-deep, picking a rock to sit on and watch birds fly by. That was followed by a gentle, bobbing coracle ride during which we lay back, looking up at the clouds imploring them to douse us in rain.
Gol Ghar, the common dining pavilion is where everyone meets for regulated mealtimes. In the evening, the lights are switched off after a simple, hearty dinner and only the warm glow of the bonfire lights the campsite. Only then, with no mobile network, and no electricity, did I truly appreciate switching off from the city. The sweet, satisfying tiredness of being amidst nature lulled everyone into quiet conversations. The thrum of cicadas and the crackling of the bonfire was interrupted only sporadically, by a booming snore from a friend who had nodded off in a hammock close by.
Appeared in the July 2015 issue as “Riverside Escape”.
Accommodation Tents are propped on concrete platforms and come with an attached bathroom, twin beds, a dressing table and luggage racks. Tents 1 and 12 offer the maximum privacy. Veg and non-veg meals are served. (8040554055; www.junglelodges.com; tents ₹5,051/₹6,668 per head, including meals, coracle ride, guided trek; day visit ₹1,913/₹2,293 per person, including coracle ride, lunch, guided trek; half price for children 5-12 years.)
Getting There Galibore Nature Camp is 100 km/2.5 hr south of Bengaluru, via Kanakpura highway. The last 9 km is a dirt track.
keeps her travel spirit alive by sipping hot tea with strangers, swapping anecdotes from locals and peeping down from hot-air balloons.
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