It was a different experience given that friends accompanied me and we met new people since it was an organized trip. Our stay at the Yellow Bells home stay, Kalpetta, was yet again just about satisfactory(I preferred the view from the Bamboo Hut at Ente Veedu amidst a plantation). I fail to understand how the authorities/committee for home stays approve places when all is not provided(no towels, soap, or even a bucket until asked for. They apparently forgot). However, given that it was God’s Own Country and since the people are known to be hygiene conscious, the stay was clean(give it to them for that) and yes there were no mosquitoes, thankfully.
Exotic Expeditions – will I go with them again? Definitely not! The organizer Santhosh did not stick to the agenda and his time management was rather sad. Too many stops en route Bangalore to Wayanad and we were not intimated at any point as and when there was a change in plan with regard to time and place of Dinner, Visits, etc. On asking why this was the case, Santhosh was rather arrogant, like it was a free trip he was providing us. Right from the start we all seemed to be jinxed, nothing went as per plan(the long wait at the RTO and a bribe for the yellow board vehicle, one of the other SUV’s axle gave way, etc), despite that the drive through Bandipur was totally worth it. I can do it time and again, the drive back was faster and more fun but for the traffic jam given that everyone was returning to Bangalore after the Christmas weekend.
We did the Soochipara waterfalls(my second visit and hence I decided not to walk down. Was a tiring road trip), Sunrise Valley(a panoramic view of the valley beneath with the river Chaliyar meandering gracefully), Meenmutty waterfalls (a trek through some inhospitable terrain, but the end result was worth it. One has to trek inside the jungle for approx 4kms to get a view of the waterfall. It passes through coffee and tea plantations. Did I just manage to survive the trek, given that I am so not made for trekking?!) and the Kuruva Islands(950 acres of ever green forest on the tributaries of the east flowing river Kabini, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Felt so different from the other islands I had visited in the recent past – Thimble Islands in the United States). That was it, we did not manage to make it on time to the Eddakal Caves.
The drive back was fun, playing cards, munching knick knacks, and the greenery all through, especially the breath taking view of the Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary.