A Weekend Getaway to A Rocha Nature Camp

Tired of being at home I booked a nature stay far away from the city in the outskirts, in midst of the Bannerghatta forest. We headed to A Rocha.

A Rocha is an international network of environmental organisations. It has a branch in Bangalore. It is a field station/ research institute with scholars studying wild life.

Safety precautions taken

After seeing my fb stories many pinged me asking if it was safe to travel during this time. I made sure the precautions were taken.

  • We told the host to sanitise the venue prior to our arrival
  • We enquired about the number of people in the venue, which was 3 (The host Avinash, a scholar and a caretaker) and a lot of animals.
  • We went in our own car with a driver whom we knew. He dropped us and picked us up 2 days later.
  • We had our pack of sanitisers, sanitising sprays, clean bedsheets, soap etc. We carried our own 5 L water can as well.

We were greeted by a few turkeys and chickens. The host was friendly and also Sana, the research scholar who was there. We had dinner together and they told us about their research on Asian elephants. We had cup noodles to add to the camping experience (honestly an excuse to eat it).

They introduced us to the farm animals there- A boxer puppy, two great dane dogs, one dashund dog, two toads and their tadpoles, a tortoise, a kitten who was following the caretaker around, and the birds.

We slept in a room with a thatched roof with plastic underneath. It was cold and cosy. It was surreal- to sleep without the noise of horns and noisy vehicles passing by. The air was filled with the sound of chirping crickets.

We were woken up by the rooster and the turkeys. The two male turkeys were quite jobless and they passed their time by showing off their feathers and fighting with each other.

We had some hot tea and native breakfast. We went to explore the farm which was a part of the stay. There was a pond which was in the middle of the forest and animals such as wild boars, elephants come to drink water sometimes. There were camera traps to capture the sightings. They seldom come in the morning so safety wasn’t an issue.

We reached a treehouse. It was built to observe the elephants. The treehouse was well camouflaged and cushioned for sitting. We climbed it and spent some time there before heading down.

There were two nature trails to follow. Each marked by a different coloured arrow. We followed the trail until the path was unwalkable. The trail led to the electrified fence which surrounded the camp to protect from wild animals. The camp was adjacent to Bannerghata national park and the researchers go into the national park for research. We found it interesting.

We came back to the stay an were exhausted by the little hike. We took bath and had sumptuous lunch- South Indian meals. I didn’t know if it was the food or the hunger but we had a great lunch. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon looking at how the dogs were fed and left for a run. We walked around for a while.

We went gooseberry picking and were ambushed by wild dogs, orange in colour. I almost let out a shriek. The caretakers kids who were barely 10 were very brave and shooed them away. We later found they were domesticated dogs of the neighbor.

We met the tortoise who was left here by a city dweller who couldn’t take care of him. We also saw magpies and parrots.

The day ends early for people staying there for night time attracts snakes and insects. When the sun sets, the turkeys climb up a tree to sleep, the chickens get inside their hen, the people there retire for the day. We had an early dinner- dosa and chutney. We struck some conversation with the caretaker who told us she had moved from Kodaikanal a year ago, she hardly eats city food (packaged food she meant), the day involves taking care of the dogs, feeding the animals and catering to guests who come , cooking for the scholars who stay there.

She used pure cows milk and made ghee, curd and butter on her own. I had a taste of it and it was heavenly. We were huge fans of her curd.

It was like stepping into an episode of Heidi.

We spent the next day strolling around and bidding goodbye to the animals there. We left around afternoon and arrived home with fond memories.

Here is a short video of our trip.

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