Lodge based trekking is a an upcoming trend in India and Himalayan eco lodges have embodied this style of mixing comfort with adventure throughout their campsites and lodges.
During my recent trip with GIO Adventures, I had the opportunity to spend two nights in their brand new fixed nature camps at Chalkot in Uttrakhand. This was also the base for our epic snow trek from Chopta to Tungnath and Chandrashila.
Having these cozy, comfortable rooms waiting for us after a long tiring day of trekking in the Himalayas was a real treat. This made me an instant fan of lodge based adventures.
Why opt for a lodge based camp option?
- Comfort – Instead of camping at high altitudes in an Alpine tent, you have a comfortable warm bed waiting for you after a hard day of trekking and adventure. I would suggest to mix it up with camping to enjoy all sorts of sleeps while on the road.
- No hassles of packing/unpacking – This is one of the worst parts about travelling for me. I hate to have to unpack and pack too often so having a base camp to come back to is a luxury in itself.
- Easier for family holidays – It can be an ordeal to manage treks and camping with kids. As a family, you need space and proper beds. You can unpack all your essentials and lay them out properly, without having to worry about room.
Chalkot was my absolute favorite camp site since it is located right in the middle of the jungle. We could hear the chirping of birds, flow of the spring running nearby and other sounds that make the jungle come alive, all around us. Since I am a big time wildlife enthusiast, this was the perfect setting for me.
Village Life in Chalkot
During my jungle walks and birding sprees, I was often invited for a cup of tea by the kind local villagers in the area. A tête-à-tête and a peek into their humble abodes was inevitable and rather interesting experience.
Birding in and around Chalkot Nature Camp
The forest surrounding the camp is a undiscovered mecca for birders. I was the only one spending hours every morning trying to spot lifers and other feathery friends.
I was lucky enough to have spotted few lifers like Himalayan Black Bulbul and several common birds like Verditer Flycatcher, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Plain-backed Thrush and more.
Apart from birds, this forest is also known for leopards that haunt the campsite at night. I was told a lone leopard comes every evening to pay homeage to the temple on Chalkot campground – which was barely a few feet from our dining area.
Out of curiosity, I picked up a torch and headed off in the direction of the temple one night. As soon as I flipped the torch on, I saw glimmering eyes right in front of me. Nervous and excited, I called other travellers and guides to where I stood, asking them to verify what I just saw.
“It’s a leopard, 100%”, said one of the guides as soon as he saw the eyes.
Till date, I wouldn’t know if it was a Leopard or a stray fox, deer or dog but the guide swears it was a wild cat and that was enough to keep us awake all night.
If you want to know for sure.. head to this adobe amidst dense woods yourself and look for eyes at night around camp. If you do spot a pair, don’t forget to share your story with me.