For years, parts of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, 100 kilometres from Bangalore, had limited access as a reserved forest belt. Partial access to go fishing, hiking or camping is controlled by state-owned Jungle Lodges & Resorts.
For the first time in years since part of it was designated a sanctuary, you can now go camp out by it and perhaps even try to score permissions for a responsibly conducted safari by JLR within the forest. Say hello and thanks to your friendly neighbourhood tree lovers Kaushik Bajibab and Gana Kedlaya, now proud bosses of a two-acre campsite on the borders of the sanctuary.
Gana is a journalist and Kaushik the founder of Wishbone, a company that organises interactions with wildlife and the outdoors for children. Every wildlife nerd we know in Bangalore loves them. Probably because they do things like this: for the past three years Kaushik has been working on repopulating the Backyard Camp site with native plants, in hopes of attracting birds and butterflies endemic to this belt. “We’ve always been very involved with the environment,” Kaushik agrees. “But when we head to the city we see people have completely lost that connection."
Hear that and hit re-dial, you city slicker. The Backyard Camp offers a view of the beautiful Sathnur Lake on one side, and the forests on the other. At the forest you can hope to bump into the rare nearly extinct honey-badger (be nice!), elephants, wild boars, muggers - the reptilian kind - and might even score a leopard selfie.
The campsite itself is surrounded by lush organic gardens, as well as orchards of jamun, chickoo and banana. Kaushik and Gana have pitched five tents on an elevated platform, and marked out space for people who might want to pitch their own. At a common dining area, their kitchen dishes out homely south Indian meals, and they’ll take you gardening, cycling, and even help you build a raft so you can float out on the lake. (PS. It’s pet-friendly: we hope your dog likes other animals.)
The Backyard Camp trekking trails run close to the reserved land - an ideal way to peer into its secrets without breaking in. Please don’t call them if you’re looking to jump any fences, though. “We want people to come here to unwind, of course,” Kaushik says. “But we also want to create a community of people who understand the importance of what we have here.”
Let’s hope our next weekend getaway is this in-tents.
Getting there: The Backyard Camp is 66 kilometers from Bangalore Central towards Kanakapura. A stay here costs Rs 2000 per person including meals. Log on to https://www.thebackyardcamp.com/ for reservations.
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