At Miao, Himanshu, a friend of Vaibhav, joins us. So we are four now. We start from the Govt. Circuit House at Miao. We shop for groceries, vegetables and utensils as we will be staying for 3 days and 2 nights at Namdapha. After breakfast we proceed on the famous MV (Miao-Vijayanagar) road. (Note: Search the internet for more details about this road).
After a while we reach the Namdapha Check Post. I must tell you few things about this park. Generally we know that we can go on a Safari in a National Park. But have you ever heard about trekking and camping in a National Park. That too in Namdapha, which is also a forest reserve and more than that, it is a Tiger Reserve. Unfortunately we cannot go on a safari here as there are no roads, and also it is too wild and dense to do such things.
After completing the formalities at the Check Post we enter the forest. The road is probably wilder than the forest. On the left side we have Namdapha river and on the right – the forest. At many places we can see lot of human settlements on both banks of the river. Vaibhav tells me that they are illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, who came during the war, and because of vote bank politics, Indira Gandhi allowed them to stay here.
We move further and reach Deban, a forest guest house. Here we unload our luggage from the Bolero and the driver departs. We ask him to come back and pick us up on day-after-tomorrow morning.
Vaibhav had informed the porters at Deban in advance about our arrival and we pick them up. We take three of them to carry our tents etc., and they are our porter cum guide cum cook. All seven of us, with minimal luggage start our trek. Deban is at an altitude of 1100 feet above mean sea level.
We head to left wards crossing the river. We cross it three times by boat and foot and we are right inside the jungle. The time is 12.30 noon.
Now I must tell you something more about this forest. This is the wildest forest that I have ever seen. I have trekked/toured in many forests of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Andamans, and many Himalayan states. And this is the wildest. There was a Jeep-able road deep inside the forest till around 1996 or so. The locals used to cycle here and the officers used to come by 4WD jeeps. But the road was abandoned and there is only a defined path now. I can’t even put my foot a little bit outside the path. It is so wild. At 95% of the places, the sun can never push thru his rays into the ground. And the trees! Each one is competing with the other to grow bigger and higher.
Normally one comes across plenty of leeches in this path. But to our luck and because of the season, there were no leeches at all. Leech proof socks are available at Miao tailoring shops, but only against order. As we didn’t had enough time and knowing the fact that the leeches are absent, I had not bought them. And after all we had plenty of salt, so there was nothing to worry about.
On the way we saw lots and lots of birds of many varieties. After a short while, we reach Haldibari, a camp site. It is so named because people used to grow turmeric here. We continue our trek and reach Hornbill Camp site at 3.30 pm. This is our destination for the day, and the guide tells me that we trekked quite fast. I wanted to enjoy more of the wild and the forest, but you know, it becomes pitch dark by 4 pm here. So we were forced to hurry up.
The Hornbill Camp is so named because we can see lot of them here. This camp is at 2250 feet above mean sea level.
And to our astonishment, we find three gentlemen here, namely Rohit, Raman, and Ashwin. They are doing research on wood pecker and hornbills. And they are doing this for more than 5 – 6 years. Huh! Once a while they come back home and then they return to the jungle. May their tribe increases.
We had our lunch cum dinner early. Then we also had a camp fire and went-to-bed or rather went-to-tent.