Saturday 27 June 2020

Passing or trespassing?

[Contd. from A jeep ride into the jungle]

The expedition took us to a lake in the forest, which was more like the confluence of three rivers, appropriately called Mukkampuzha (which roughly translates to ‘three rivers’). Intense jungle lies just across the water and one could spot, if one was just lucky enough and the timing just correct, wild animals walking down to the edge of the water for their
sundowners. To reach this place one had to pass (or trespass?) colonies of tribal people who were friendly enough to take you for a gentle spin on the water on perhaps the narrowest raft that was ever made - just three or four bamboos in width so that cool water splashed on your feet as you rowed across the still waters. Captivating was the play of evening colours on the quiet waves made by the raft on the water surface.

Towards early evening, as the jungle slowly disappeared under a blanket of darkness and we were just a few kilometres away from Anakkayam, Baiju – by now our friend and confidant regaling to us many, many experiences of the forests – made an astounding observation that he could smell an elephant nearby! He was right of course. A pachyderm was sauntering majestically on his way back from the river, past the bamboo clusters, after a refreshing splash in the river at the end of a warm, tiring day.

Incidentally, Anakkayam means ‘elephant pit’ referring to the fathomless depths of a lake which can drown even elephants. Trained eyes and ears, like those of Baiju, could pick out herds of deer that might be crossing the roads just a few feet ahead of you and strolling casually into the jungle. They can also foresee a wild cat on the prowl for an unsuspecting sambhar!

As the evening wore on and our vision got accustomed to the surrounding darkness, we discovered green, emerald-like sparkles among the leaves, across the road, and even far ahead amidst the thick woods. They were the eyes of leopard cats surveying us, perhaps cautiously questioning the intentions of our visit!

After a five-hour safari through the forest, we returned to the Rainforest Resort for a refreshing bath. The room was spacious and the d├ęcor reflected nature in its colours as well as in the materials used. The dinner was candlelit and of course there was the music of the waterfall in the background. It was a long happening day and we reluctantly fell asleep.

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