HUBBALLI (KARNATAKA): Wake up to the calls of the Malabar Whistling Thrush or walk on the trail of black panthers. Come November, the state forest department will open one of the best preserved forest tracks of Western Ghats to the world.
A section of the Great Canara Trail, acclaimed as the longest trekking route in India, will be open to the public by November. The stretch of about 100km between Ulavi and Castle Rock, the last leg of the trail, will be open for trekking enthusiasts. This leg of the trail entirely falls in the forests of Kali Tiger Reserve. The Great Canara Trail is a trekking path of 288km stretching between Jog waterfalls and Castle Rock waterfall near Karnataka-Goa border and will take 20 days to complete. The entire stretch will have 27 halting sites and is expected to be opened in 2017-18.
“Already 60 trekking groups and individuals across the country have applied for walking on the trail.
We are hopeful that the stretch will be opened by November. The trekkers can walk the entire stretch of 100km or choose a particular stretch depending on their endurance level. We also have openings for weekend treks in the Great Canara Trail,” says Vijay Mohan Raj, a senior forest officer.
The department is working on the cost segment and is trying to keep it affordable. The cost depends on accommodation facilities. On an average, it will work out to `1,500 to `1,800 per person per day. The work on preparing the 100km trekking route inside the Kali Tiger Reserve is under way. “We have already begun conducting 8-20 trekking routes inside the reserve. The work on preparing halting camps has begun and soon the trail will be marked. We have trained guides attached to the department and we are also involving more staff to train for the Great Canara trail,” adds K Srinivasulu, director of Kali Tiger Reserve.
Online bookings will be launched prior to the formal inauguration of the trail in Ulavi. District-in-charge minister of Uttara Kannada RV Deshpande is expected to flag off the first batch of trekkers.
Trekkers can also hire trained guides to lead the trail.
Come November and a 100-km stretch of the 288km Great Canara Trail will be opened to trekking enthusiasts. Passing through the lush Kali reserve forest in Karnataka, India’s longest trail will offer an enviable window to wildlife sightings even as the government assures zero ecological risk in the tiger habitat
The stretch of the Ulavi-Castle Rock trail lists 24 places, which includes Ulavi temple, Anshi Green Camp, Samanth Mathkarni anti-poaching camp, Madhumale village, Munne Cross, Karwar-Joida road, Siddeshwara temple, Shridi village, Panasgali anti-poaching camp, Kali river bank, Kindala anti-poaching camp, Tadki anti-poaching camp, Vajra falls and Kungini anti-poaching camp.
Greens Raise Red Flag
Environmentalists have voiced concerns on the trail. They have accused the forest department of dodging their concerns over the increased human footprint inside the tiger reserve in the name of tourism activities. The department has, however, clarified that international standards for waste management along the trail are being followed. “There have been concerns over walking in Kathekan area, but we have assured that the trekking is done on the road wherever sensitive ecological sites are located,” forest officer Vijay Mohan Raj said.
Spot the Hornbills
“Kali is a unique forest type where one can see trees of different sizes. The biodiversity is richer when compared to many other forests in Karnataka. Hornbills are the great attraction here and can be sighted along the trekking route.”K Srinivasulu, Director, Kali Tiger Reserve
“The forests of Dandeli offer one unique chance to explore the thick ghats. Several streams flow through this forest and trekking here is a great experience. A large number of trekkers prefer Dandeli due to the challenging terrain.”Rahul Kothari, a trekker from Hubballi
“One has to go through lengthy processes to get a permit to walk in the forest areas. But in case of Canara trail, government has legalised walking in the deep jungle. The forest department must ensure that the entire trail is completed without delay.”Dev Balaji, adventure sports adviser