Honnemaradu is a great place to experience. Situated at Linganmakki dam backwaters, it is only 3kms from the dam. A couple run this program and they have named themselves "The Adventurers". One needs to book well in advance and a group minimum of 12 is a must. The Adventurers have a office at Rajajinagar, Bangalore where the bookings can be done. At Honnemaradu there are only basic necessities, so one needs to get into a mindset of spending time with nature and not expect a resort.
We reached there at 7:00 AM; Bangalore-Shimoga-Talagoppa-Honnemaradu. Our instructor was Nomito, a middle aged lady. Nomito and her husband while trekking the Western Ghats committed themselves to preserve this forest and hence this concept originated which they later got approved from the Government. They also train villagers to understand forest and different species of flora and fauna . They encourage them to take up forest guide as an occupation. She showed us around the campus consisting of several camp sites, an auditorium where local art forms are practiced and encouraged and a school to educate the villagers.
After breakfast, we headed to the water. Life jackets made it so easy to swim, for a non-swimmer like me. I loved to float in water for hours. Nomito taught us to swim and I enjoyed swimming till an island. Next we were taught paddling with a coracle; which again was very exciting. After a tired morning we had lunch and relaxed in the campsite. I got some time to write my journal, midst the serene atmosphere.
We decided to camp in an island for the night. We packed food, tents and sleeping bags and sailed to the island on our coracles. We pitched tents and hunted for woods in the forest. After sunset we had a very boring campfire with not much fun, I guess all were too tired. So, soon after dinner we went to bed.
Island where we camped for the night
Next morning Seb and I went around the island capturing some pictures. We returned back to main land, had breakfast and then went hiking up a mountain – Called Bheemana Hejje (Footprints of Bheema). The hike was short but very nice. Impressions of large footprints in summit are believed to be that of Bheema. Nomito explained how every tree was special to the villagers who saw them as their ancestors. She also explained how building dams had not only evacuated villages but also separated the villagers from their memories. From the peak, we got a beautiful view of Sharavathi backwaters.
Next, we headed to the water again. I was too tired so I preferred just floating to swimming. We then were taught canoeing. After another short practice round we headed back to campsite and had lunch. After thanking Nomito for this wonderful experience she had provided us, we left Honnemaradu at 3:00PM.
What I liked the most about this camping or concept is its simplicity. You are let to be with nature. Everything else seems to easily blends with nature, but man. Nomito is strict when it comes to discipline and thus sometimes sound like a Hitler. But as you get to know her, and as she unravels the story behind this program, she is would be one of the very interesting persons you would ever have met. I think the discipline is very important in such programs.
One gets to do, all the adventure stuff, like pitching tents in an island, carrying food and bags, paddling coracles which make a self involving experience. Most important of all, it allows you to blend with nature.
142, 69th Cross, 5th Block, Rajajinagar,
Bangalore INDIA 560 010
Phone: 91-80-23305508 or 91-80-23409712