The Autumn of 2016 I had the greatest time ever going around the Western Ghats in India. Luckily the trip was planned by my university and with the assistance of local experts so I was able to get the most out of my visit.
After a extremely long flight from Manchester Airport to Goa, via a stop in Qatar, and a long coach journey we arrived at the Wildernest Nature Resort in the Chorla Ghats.
I would highly recommend this place. The views, the hospitality and the non-stop wildlife were outstanding. A whole wall under the elevated dining area would be covered in all manner of large moths, cicadas, geckos and all sorts of other insects. Langurs as well as colourful sunbirds were always easy to see and the view of the valley right from your room was nothing to complain about.
The grassy areas by the village Chorla were amazing, birds such as brahminy kites, green bee-eaters and greater hornbill were all seen flying around, as well as many vine snakes which are so hard to spot amongst the bushes and trees they’re in. The walk to the Chorla Falls was also fascinating with various frogs all around the place.
I was clearly fortunate to have visited the area while avoiding the monsoon season as mosquitoes were very limited, instead the biggest parasite being picked up were leeches which are fortunately completely harmless and rather undetectable.
After leaving the Chorla Ghats we spent almost an entire day travelling to a farm not far from Hunsur. The family living here were great and so were the three dogs. The farm was a plantation of jack fruit and coconuts as well as chilli peppers and other produce. Huge piles of leaves had formed which were home to all sorts of agama lizards, huntsman spiders and the occasional rat snake.
During our stay here we were taken to a nearby bird sanctuary, the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. This was a man-made lake home to a lot of different species of birds and roosting bats. Mugger crocodiles patrolled the waters and bonnet macaques were being very opportunistic to passersbys.
The final destination in my visit to the Western Ghats was to the forests of Tamil Nadu and the Jungle Retreat
Even though it was a little bit more done up than the other places, the wildlife was no different especially the larger mammals which were everywhere. Deer were casually walking in between the rooms (which are outside) and during the evenings guides were compulsory when moving to and from rooms, the bar and the dining room due to leopards and elephants being common visitors.
The highlight to this area was a late night safari. Leopard claw marks (although unfortunately no leopard), sloth bears, deer, wild fowl and wild elephants were spotted in the late evening drive, as well as chameleon which was somehow spotted by an expert herpetologist.
The morning of the return flight back to Manchester we were lucky to visit the Mudamalai Elephant Camp. I am very much against elephants that are being used for tourism throughout Asia as they are subjected to severe abuse and psychological torture and I would highly recommend avoiding places that use elephants as entertainment. But without sounding naive, this elephant camp is unlike them. Instead it is a place for retired and rescued elephants to spend their last days free from work and is one of a few like it within the whole of India.
We were fortunate to see elephants bathe and during their feeding time. The only negative side to this, nothing to with the camp, was that local people decided to take photos of us without permission especially the girls in our group, claiming to be journalists.
But nothing I have experienced before or so far (from the time I’m writing this) has come close to my visit of India’s South. I would highly recommend anyone remotely enthusiastic or interested in wildlife to visit this area.
- Wildernest Nature Resort, Chorla
- Chorla Temple, Chorla
- Chorla Falls, Chorla
- Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka
- Jungle Retreat, Tamil Nadu
- Mudamalai Elephant Camp, Tamil Nadu
Also checkout some of the photos I took while I was here: