Tiger tourism in Nallamala Hills

Package includes cottage stay, educational tour, jungle safari, trek up to Umamaheshwaram Temple

The lush green hills of Nallamala are now open for tourists to explore and learn from, thanks to the eco-tourism package announced by the Telangana Forest department.

Safari ride into the Amrabad Tiger Reserve, which had been a minor sojourn for the pilgrims bound for the Srisailam temple, will be part of the ‘Tiger Stay Package’ which is set to begin from November 17.

The package includes cottage stay, educational tour, jungle safari, and forest trek up to Umamaheshwaram Temple, exclusive of food. Pricing starts from ₹4,600 for two, and goes up to ₹17,000 for 12 members. More the number, better the bargain!

On the first day, the tourists arriving at CBET (community-based eco tourism) resort of Mannanur, about 143 km from Hyderabad, around noon will be apprised of the Forest department’s initiatives which include a tour to the health clinic, interpretation centre, plastic recycling centre, biological lab and others.

Jungle safari will follow, taking tourists through the verdant forest paths up to Farhabad view point, with ample opportunity for wildlife photography without any additional charge.

Chenchu guides

Youth from the local Chenchu tribe will accompany the tourists on the ride and explain about the culture of the particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG), besides providing assistance in spotting the wild animals.

Returning to a night’s stay in the plain yet comfortable cottages named after bird species, the tourists may expect their experience only to get better, with a guided trek into the wild scheduled for the day break.

The trek is not for the weak-limbed though. Part of it is in the rough, rock strewn terrain which presents a formidable challenge to the knee joints.

The effort is amply rewarding, majorly due to the presence of the Chenchu guides who slide into their new roles effortlessly, stopping at every occasional tree to explain its significance and the symbiotic relationships it promotes.

Interesting trivia

Did you know that sloth bears shake up the topmost branches of fruit bearing trees, gifting succulent fruit meal for the wild pigs or Sambar deer underneath? Or that there is more than a single variety of honey, each with its distinct taste and texture? Or that unique medicinal properties of forest trees cure conditions ranging from simple diarrhoea up to accidental fractures?

Breaking the ice with these unassuming guides will open the portals to great learning, as they could come up with most interesting facts like these and more about the wild which even the forest officials may not be aware of.

The trek will last about four to five hours, terminating at the famed Umamaheshwaram temple nestled in its precipitous alcove.

After a late breakfast upon return, the tourists may leave packing memories of a lifetime all in a day.

Spoiler alert: spotting of the big cat is pure chance — one in a hundred, one may say — though the package is named ‘Tiger Stay’.

In fact, sighting of any wild animal is unpredictable, as they shy away from human presence.

Hence, it is advised to go with an open mind, and thank one’s stars for any sighting.

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