I admit I was quite taken in by the Chhattisgarh Jungle Trek. Very few treks have captured my imagination off late as much as the forest trails in Chhattisgarh.
While I have trekked in all parts of our country, it had been a while since I had stepped off our Himalayan trails. When the Chhattisgarh tourism department spoke to me about the possibility of opening up treks in their state, I was immediately interested. Chhattisgarh, I knew, had terrific forests and hills. This was a state waiting to be opened up.
I understood the predicament of the Chhattisgarh tourism department. On one hand they had some of the loveliest forests in our country, on the other no one knew about them. Very soon we were on our way to Chhattisgarh, exploring the trails in the north of the state. We returned mesmerised.
So without much ado, here are 5 things that will keep you hooked to the Chhattisgarh jungle trek.
The Sal forests of Chhattisgarh
Straight away, like the coniferous or oak forests of our Himalayan treks, the sal forests are a delight. They are never too dense to make you feel claustrophobic, yet when you walk under them, you never want the forest to end. They give a wonderful shade, have tremendous variety, yet light streams through them all the time. For photographers there cannot be a better opportunity.
Each day is a new trek
I was expecting trekking through the forests of Chhattisgarh to be similar every day. I was wrong. Every day turned out to be a new trek. The variety in the trail and forests keep you glued. For example, we start the trek camping on the beaches of a river. I never quite expected that. The next two days had lots of walk on the delightful river which never was more than ankle deep.
Tribes of Chhattisgarh
Look out for the tribes of Chhattisgarh. They are from a generation that we have only read in story books. On the trek you will bump into tribal settlements in the middle of the forests. In one of the villages where we stay, it is mostly indigenous tribes who live there. Their features and culture are unmistakable. So far they haven’t seen trekkers or tourists before. Expect a lot of curiosity from them.
Camping in the forests and besides a lake
I was absolutely in love with the experience of camping in the heart of a jungle in the middle of nowhere. Each camp was so different. We started with the river beach camp, camped in the middle of the forest, stayed in a tribal village, and also camped beside a lake. I don’t think I have had so much variety even on a Himalayan trek. When I look back I have also got to thank our close association with the forest department of the Guru Ghasidas National Park who allow us to camp in these forests. These forests are absolutely off limits for regular people.
Wildlife of Chhattisgarh
I am not guaranteeing spotting of any wildlife, but we are trekking in the middle of the Guru Ghasidas National Park. During our explorations we spotted lots of fresh animal paw prints. Leopards, hyenas, chinkaras. Our trek leaders have spotted bears almost every other day on the treks. Once we ran into a herd of wild elephants. The omnipresence of wildlife is everywhere. Animal sightings are so rare in our Himalayas that trekking in Chhattisgarh is a good chance to go back to real forests. Just to put any fears away, we are always going to be accompanied by forest guards who have prior information about animal movements.
So there you are, 5 good reasons to trek in Chhattisgarh. In winter when the Christmas season is so chocablock with trekkers in the Himalayas, I would strongly recommend the Chhattisgarh trek. I was mesmerised. After a long time I had found trekking in another part of our country so delightful.