2010 ended well with a road trip to Waynad. Some last minute intense planning and swinging into action saw us in Fringe Ford in the hills. What’s really cool about this place is that it’s in the middle of the jungle and there are only 4 rooms for guests. Also, other than the establishment, no human civilization is available as far as the eye can see. The last 10 km climb in the hills is a steep and narrow ascent with one side of the road falling off into the valley below. Quite breath taking actually!
Food was a bonanza as it was completely home cooked (unlike resort/hotel cooking) and the two ladies did a remarkable job with the simple, yet delicious fare catering to the taste buds of the grass eaters and meat eaters alike.
Our jungle guide Shaji was one helluva of a guy. Despite being well off and with decent education, he prefers to stay at Fringe Ford and has even given up eating meat due to his love for the flora and fauna. He regaled us with tales of the wild and supernatural though insisting that he doesn’t believe in ghosts at the end of each terrifying narration. We learnt of specific way to scare off tigers, bears, wild dogs, snakes, elephants though I can’t recollect what needs to be done for which animal. I do vaguely remember that we are supposed to shout and advance a few steps if we are destined to come face to face with a tiger. Hmm…quite an interesting proposition that. Anyway, he did have the uncanny knack of figuring out when animals showed up near our rooms, even waking us up at 5 a.m. one morning to see elephants which were grazing right next to us.
The first morning was a 4 km hike in the jungle to a waterfall. The three little girls in our group ensured that no animal over 100 gms ever came within viewing or hearing distance from us. However, we did see the fast disappearing hind side of a couple of elephants. Being early morning, Shaji showed us various outputs of elephants and leopards, which disconcertingly looked fairly fresh and healthy.
The waterfall itself was quite amazing. At least 60 feet in height, the water was crystal clear and tasted wonderful. The highlight of our journey was the leech fest that occurred at our feet. Luckily, Shajy had provided us leech-resistant socks but the speed at which these suckers latched on to us was quite amazing. The maid who was with us actually killed a majority of them with her screeching and screaming and the rest were handled by a generous dose of salt on our socks and shoes.
The second day was a shorter hike of about a kilometer to a stream and a smaller waterfall where yours truly actually succumbed to the temptation of bathing in the wild.
A great and relaxed trip overall with a bonfire every night and a warm glass of milk for the two male adults (the kids refused to drink any) before bed time. Would love to go back very soon.