Drive to the Sahyadris
26 Jan 2017: Day 26 (Anshi – Kulgi, 56 km, 3 Hrs)
We left Anshi early morning and drove towards Kulgi hoping to spot a few more birds on the way. While birding was not very exciting initially, it gradually picked up and after crossing a bridge over the river Kaneri, we stopped at a small temple where we spotted a few more birds including Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Malabar Barbet, Orange Minivet, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and Black-hooded Oriole.
A rough map leading to the temple can be found here.
As we drove further, the forest gradually transformed from a dense evergreen forest to a more deciduous kind of a forest.
We reached Kulgi Nature Camp by 1100 Hrs, checked-in and had lunch before taking some rest.
In the evening, we explored the nearby areas and the many bird calls attracted us to a water reservoir close to the campsite. While the birds were there, they remained well hidden behind bushes. We did not give up and after mapping the bird movement, carefully carved a way through the undergrowth and positioned ourselves close to the reservoir’s edge while maintaining our cover. Our gamble paid off and after remaining motionless for a while, a breathtaking riot of colors followed with bird of every size, shape and color emerging out of the bushes. We spotted birds like the Emerald Dove, White-cheeked Barbet, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Blyth’s Starling and Little Spiderhunter from close quarters.
Nearby trees also proved productive as we spotted birds like Rufous and Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Common Woodshrike, Black-naped Monarch, Flame-throated and Yellow-browed Bulbul, Oriental White-eye, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Orange-headed Thrush, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher and Crimson-backed and Purple Sunbird.
27 Jan 2017: Day 27 (Dandeli Timber Depot)
We drove to the Dandeli Timber Depot and were amazed to see bus loads of tourists frantically taking pictures standing next to a fruiting tree. Most of them were carrying monster lenses loaded on to high end tripods and dressed in military inspired clothes. On inquiring, the guides did not divulge much about the attraction; and we could only spot Hornbills and Pigeons on the berry tree. Disheartened by not been able to spot the attraction bird, we moved on and diverted our attention to a large troop of South-Western Langurs foraging close-by.
In the evening, we ventured back to the reservoir area hoping to see a few more bird species. However, the birds were the same as observed yesterday with the only addition of a Brown Shrike and a Dark-fronted Babbler.
28 Jan 2017: Day 28 (Kulgi – Kalasa, 349 km, 8 Hrs)
We took it a little easy today and after a relaxed breakfast, commenced our drive at 0935 Hrs reaching Kalasa by 1700 Hrs. On reaching Kalasa, we searched for a stay option and luckily found a homestay by the name of “King of Kalasa”. No one at the homestay understood our language, but Anjana managed to communicate, thanks to her learning a bit of regional languages as part of our trip planning. They offered us a spacious and a clean room that we gladly took. Dinner was delicious and the best one we had during this leg of our journey while Obbattu turned out to be the star dessert of our entire journey.
Our communication was mostly in smiles while the kids kept on looking at us from the kitchen window laughing and giggling. Maybe it was the spoon that we were using for having rice sambhar.
Thankfully, a Bangalorean couple stopped by for dinner and we requested them to help us communicate with the family. On inquiring about the Kudremukh trek, we came to know that trekking was recently banned due to reports of forest fires. It was not a good news for us as we had traveled long for for the trek. Anyway, there was nothing much we could do.
29 Jan 2017: Day 29 (Kalasa – Thirunelly, 278 km, 8 Hrs)
After a delicious breakfast consisting of Set Dosa, Neer Dosa and akki roti, we carried on with our journey and drove further south to Thirunelly. At Kalasa and enroute, we spotted a few birds like Black-winged Kite, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Ashy Woodswallow, Orange Minivet, Red-rumped Swallow, White-browed Bulbul, Booted Warbler, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Rufous Babbler, Indian Robin, Crimson-backed and Purple-rumped Sunbirds. We reached Thirunelly by 1720 Hrs; checked in at the KTDC Tamarind and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and planning the next leg of the trip.
Kulgi Nature Camp: This is an excellent place to stay with a good amount of birding in the surrounding areas. The staff is helpful and quick to help. While the camp offers both tents and cottages, we opted for a cottage and found it to be decent for the price. The cottages are wooden with an attached concrete bathroom. To book:
1. Contact the office of the Chief Conservator of Forests at directordatr(at)gmail(dot).com and/or +91 (0) 8284 231 585. Confirm room availability and block the dates.
2. Prepare a DD in favor of “CCF & Director, Dandeli Anshi Tiger Reserve, Dandeli”. Only nationalized bank DD is acceptable (SBI, SBM, Corporation, Canara, Syndicate & Karnataka Bank)
3. Courier the DD at:
Conservator of Forests & Director,
KALI Tiger Reserve,
(We always use Speed Post as it is cheap and delivery to government establishments is pretty fast)
4. Call back and confirm receipt of DD and booking.
Please feel free to ask us any question that you may have about our time at Kugi. Also, stay tuned for details on the next leg of our road trip.