This week we visit the rainy hills of Coorg, as we explore the coffee plantations and forests in search of frogs
The rain falls pitter-patter on my poncho, adding to cacophony of the cicadas chirping in the night. I’m walking on a trail through a coffee plantation, in the middle of the night. Up ahead, my teammates have stopped by a bush. Right there on the leaf there is a giant longhorn beetle, with drops of water glistening like little diamonds on it’s hard shell. I’m high up in the Western Ghats this weekend, exploring the biodiversity that the region has to offer.
The Western Ghats are an ancient mountain chain with features that lead to the development of unique ecosystems and ecological processes. The range has an exceptionally high level of biodiversity, playing home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.
I traveled to a spot in hills of Coorg in Karnataka with a bunch of like minded folks, hoping to see and photograph some of the unique wildlife and amphibians found in the region. We journeyed to a plantation in the hills of Coorg that was so remote, that we needed a 4×4 jeep to drive us for the treacherous last leg of the journey. The next few days were spent in long photo-shoots from almost dawn to dawn. We spent time in the field braving incessant rains and the attack of numerous leeches, for a rewarding experience. Here are some of the beautiful forest creatures and scenes from the jungle that we saw.
Coorg is well connected by road to Mangalore and Bangalore. Coorg is somewhat equidistant from both cities, though Mangalore is about 30-40 km closer. Mangalore is connected by rail and air to most major cities. I traveled by Netravati Express from Mumbai to Mangalore (About 16-18 hours, tickets between ₹ 510 to ₹ 2,500 depending on the ticket class). From Mangalore we traveled to Coorg via cab (₹ 3,500-4,000 per vehicle).
Where to Stay
Arranging to stay in one of the many coffee plantations in Coorg is the best way to enjoy nature there. I stayed at Honey Valley, which was arranged by DCP Expeditions. Honey Valley offered simple rooms and delicious, simple, local food.
Best time to Visit
Coorg is brilliant to visit all year round. Though if you wish to observe amphibians and other wildlife of the western ghats, the months of August or September are ideal to visit. If you wish to avoid leeches though, you are better off visiting in winter or summer.
What to do
I was mainly there for photography, though the region offers a lot of other activities. You can go on trekking and hiking trips on the many hiking trails in the region. Other options include finding your way to one of the many seasonal waterfalls in the region (Hint: Honey Valley has a big private waterfall !!!). And you can also spend your days doing nothing, sipping on some lovely coffee grown in the region.