Jungle Safari on a moonlit night
On the third day of our stay at Chhotkei Nature Camp, we decided to go for a Jungle Safari, exploring more of the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary. Personally, I, being the laziest of the entire group, was not quite interested in the night safari in the Satkosia jungle as I wanted to soak in more of the Chhotkei ambience. By then, I had begun enjoying the customary night strolling around the Chhotkei Nature Camp premises.
Anyways, after dinner, at around 9 PM, we prepared ourselves and our kids for the night safari. We were apprehensive about spotting animals in this accessible sanctuary, but we could not miss the chance of experiencing the jungle’s beauty in the Poornima (Full Moon) night.
That moonlit night in the jet-black jungle would be one of our treasured travel memories. The jeep moved really slow, barely making any sound that might scare the animals away. But it was our misfortune not to spot a lot of animals – they didn’t come out from their safe havens because of the full moon. We spotted a deer family which had come to drink water and waited to spot a few bisons or elephants. The bisons or elephants did not turn up although.
The trees that lined the jungle road displayed red circles in their mid-trunks. The circles acted as markers for the jungle boundary. The red circles shone brilliantly as we moved through. It felt as if hundreds of red eyes were scolding us for daring to disturb their night sleep.
There was a place where a waterfall gushed down the fault scarps to reach the nearby river through the jungle road. It might be Bhimdhara Falls. On that night name of the waterfalls did not matter to us much. We stopped there for some time for stretching our backs. The kids were fast asleep inside the jeep. The sky looked silver. The gushing water was a white ribbon from where silver droplets trickled down. The ambience looked ethereal. I wanted to remember the poem ‘Silver’ then, but memory went for a holiday too!
On our way back to the Chhotkei Nature Camp, my other group mates except me stopped at a local fair that was an annual event organised a day before Holi. They said that they loved the colourful rural culture displayed in the fair. An open theatre show was also underway then, but they couldn’t enjoy much of it as we had to hurry back to our cottages because of the advancing night and the probability of disturbing the animals.
As they enjoyed themselves at the fair, I held my sleeping kid close to me and smelt the air around. All the jeep windows were open. The still silvery night waited outside the windows. The moment of solitude that I experienced then is beyond words.
A few hours in Purunakote on the way back to Kolkata
Sunil Da was extremely sad that he couldn’t make us spot a few animals in the safari. He wished us to enjoy our stay and soak in the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary’s ambience as much as we could.
A short halt in Purunakote was suggested by him as well. He said that there’s nothing to see, just a mud house, a couple of charpais, a mango grove and some chulha cooked simple homemade food.
The extremely humble mud establishment was being run by an elderly couple. The wife was energetic and industrious. She made us some tea and chatted about her place in Oriya. Since the language had some familiarity with Bengali, we could understand her words. She said that her place used to serve as Machaan for hunters in earlier years when the jungle was denser. A few Machaans were still functional for protecting the goats during the nights from the attacks of wild animals.
The mango trees in and around the premises displayed new leaves. As our kids played around with the fallen leaves on the earth below, I smelt a pair of new leaves. The aroma was still fresh, reminded me of the mango trees of Durgapur.
The food had a beautiful aroma, all thanks to the earthen hearth. The post-lunch Adda inside one of the cool mud houses had to be cut short because of our bus timings. At times, even if people don’t want to leave a comforting place, they have to because of the life’s waves that wait to drift them along with them. With our lives’ waves waiting to take us along, we had to accept the summon and come back to our homes. Little did we knew then that it would be months before we could go out again.
Information about travelling in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary
Between the months of October and April. You can also choose to go during May-June to spot the animals, but those are the hottest months there.
Best mode of Transport
The best mode of travel to Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary is train. You can also take a flight to Bhubaneshwar and then take a train to Angul station. From Angul, you can take a hired cab to the nature camps that offer stay in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary.
There are three nature camps in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary – Chhotkei, Baghamunda, Tikarpada, and Tarava. You can book your stay through this website link, – https://www.ecotourodisha.com/exploreecotourism.php.
Hiring Cabs and guide
We had contacted Sunil Sahu, who provided us a cab that picked us from Bhubaneshwar and stayed with us throughout our stay in Chhotkei Nature Camp. Sunil Sahu personally drove us in the night safari. Sunil Sahu’s contact numbers are – (+91)9938543854, (+91)9438588478
Activities in the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary
Bird watching, jungle walks, short hikes to the nearby hillocks, and river cruise. You can spot birds like Red Vented Bulbul, Great Indian Hornbill, Black Oriole, Woodpecker, Night Jar, and Jungle Warblers from the nature camp cottages themselves.
Food served in the Nature Camps
The quality and quantity are excellent but there are no fancy items offered. Only basic rice, daal, eggs, vegetable curry and chicken curry are served. Occasionally, if fishes are available, they are served to the guests staying in the nature camps.
The approximate total expenses in the Satkosia Gorge trip on March 2020 was 12k to 13k per person excluding the kids. I am not giving any details about the cost breakup because it is subject to change.
If you really want to experience a forest ambience by staying inside the heart of it, the eco-tourism to Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary can be your next travel destination. Bon Voyage!