My fourth visit in the last 10 months, and I still cannot get enough of The Camp. Located in Palsambe, which is about 50kms from Kolhapur city, The Camp is great place to rejuvenate yourself physically and mentally. The campsite is surrounded by lush green fields, deciduous forests and small-altitude hills.
Kumbhi, a perennial river that flows through the village is the lifeline of people living there.
Palsambe supports a rich variety of flora and fauna, owing to its proximity to Dajipur Wildlife Sanctuary. The local habitat there is conducive for numerous species of birds, butterflies and mammals. For those who are passionate about the creepy crawlies, this place is a treasure trove of insects, spiders, millipedes and centipedes.
In the mornings, you will wake up to calls of munias, bulbuls, spotted doves and magpies. Spend an hour sitting on the verandah, and you will sight magnificent raptors like Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), Black shouldered Kites (Elanus axillaris), Black Eagles (Ictinaetus malaiensis), Oriental Honey Buzzards (Pernis ptilorhynchus) and much more! In the afternoon, a small group of quails will enter from one end of the field in an orderly fashion, make their way from one sapling row to the other, and quietly make their way out, the same way they entered.
A short walk away, you can see the beautiful Kumbhi cutting across the forests and fields. A rickety old bridge made from 8-10 tree barks serve as the connection between the banks of the river. Villagers cross the bridge effortlessly, carrying load on their heads and hands, jostling about their everyday chores while we struggle and balance ourselves to get one decent picture!
An afternoon spent by the riverside will yield sightings like Orange Minivets (Pericrocotus flammeus), Vernal hanging Parrot (Loriculus vernalis), Pompadour green Pigeon (Treron sp.), White throated Kingfishers (Halcyon smyrnensis), Golden fronted Leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons) and not to forget the sunbirds and flowerpeckers!
The rather mildly disturbed habitats offer snapshots of natural history that we are not likely to see in an over-populated location or a very dense forest. Shikra feeding on a Bulbul (possibly young one); a Rat snake winding around a Baya Weaver bird's nest in an attempt to prey on the latter's eggs;
a Malabar Pied Hornbill sitting on a tree picking berries, tossing it in the air and gulping them; a mossy rock teeming hundreds of millipedes; a humongous caecilian attempting to wiggle its way across the road; a Jungle Cat visiting the fringes of the farm land at night to catch some easy prey- were some of the wild glimpses we were lucky enough to witness, whilst our stay at The Camp.
Areas around Palsambe offer sights that depict a beautiful blend of natural history and cultural history here. Close by, are the Ramling Caves which have beautiful monolith rock structures and caves which harbour a Shiva Temple. A waterfall makes its way through the rocks and during the summers, you can wade through the cool water, explore the caves and also do a short hike to the top of the waterfall.
Another beautiful scape near Palsambe is the Morjai Devi Plateau. A non-stop one hour trek leads you to the top of the plateau and once you reach the top, you do not have the heart to come down. Breathtaking views of the surrounding forests make your feet glued to the plateau. There is a devi’s temple at the far end of the plateau, so you may bump into pilgrims or locals who come to offer their prayers.
Throughout your walk in the plateau, Malabar Crested Larks (Galerida malabarica) and Blue Mormons (Papilio polymnestor) will accompany you. During the monsoons, the plateau bursts into colours of white, yellow, orange, pink and purple and it quite a spectacular sight to see!
Lastly, the stay at The Camp is a delightful experience. It comprises of a single house with multiple rooms and in-built bathrooms. Water supply is round the clock while electricity supply fluctuates. If you have an inclination to try out traditional cuisines, then the food here is sure to tingle your taste buds! The place offers several activities for people interested in nature-watching, hiking, visiting cultural and heritage spots, night sky observations etc. There is no cell phone network available there except for BSNL so if you want to be cut off from the rest of the world, The Camp is definitely the place to come. A truly blissful and rejuvenating place!