And the Rains Came...
Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
351Trip End Ongoing
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Samy was a tribal villager with one of the keenest eyes east of the Western Ghats, a global hotspot for biodiversity. His English was sparse, as was my Tamil, the language of Tamil Nadu. We communicated best just walking though the forest listening and pointing quietly. He was my guide as I hiked for a couple of days around the dry deciduous forests in the rainshadow of the tall mountains to the west.
We began in dense bamboo thickets, towering into the sky among patches of evergreen forest. Following the sounds of the jungle, we found several Malabar Grey Hornbill and a group of Malabar Flying Squirrels, two endemic species found in these mountains.
Several hours later, we were high in the mountains, eating bushbari straight from the tree. These small fruits pack the vitamins of four apples. Though the taste is somewhat unpleasant, if you sip water afterwards, the drink becomes sweet as your taste buds change to relative tastes.
Earlier, we had passed a wretched smell, a decomposing sambar--tiger kill--putrifying under a dense canopy. Below the trail, a Sloth Bear had freshly dug for termites.
From a promontory, we listened to elephants far in the valley below. A bison, locally called the Katermai, walked at the foot of the granite bluff. Above, two butterflies, locked together, performed sky mating. An electrifyingly blue Asian Fairy Bluebird sang from a nearby tree, perhaps the most striking bird I have ever seen.
Where I stayed