This weekend I was on a trip to the Galibore Fishing and Nature Camp. It is about a 110 km away from Bangalore, on the banks of the river Kaveri. It gets its name from a hillock named Galibore.
The camp is surrounded by hills on all the sides and overlooks the river Kaveri and presents a beautiful picture.
There was a lot of enthusiasm and speculation amongst the team members, with whom I was going to the camp, as to how would the place and the trip be.
We had taken the services of an organization which arranges for team building events and adventure activities for corporates. There were colleagues from Germany and India and the trip was basically meant all of us to know each other well, besides having lots of fun.
So much for the introduction. Now on to the actual travel diary.
We started for the trip on Friday , the 15th of July at 1:30 PM from the office, after a briefing by Shiva, the in charge of the trip. Before we started, he gave each one of us a sheet of paper, in which we had to put in the details about all the team members – both what we already knew and what we found out during the journey. Then the trip began.
This exercise was meant to be an ice breaker for all of us and it served its purpose more or less as all of us were keen to fill the sheet, though after some time, due to the summer heat and the not so good road, the level of enthusiasm of some of the colleagues went down a little bit.
We had a small break in between for refreshments and another short break for stretching.
On the way, we were delayed by a small group of protestors who had blocked the road, though we could not understand what was the cause for the same. Then we had to take a detour due to a road having been dug up.
En route, we saw the regular village life of South India, with people tending to their cattle, farmers in the fields, people in the road side stalls, the hum drum of the village market, children going to the schools. The children were as much curious about us as we were about the trip. Some of them waved to us and upon our waving back to them, they hid their faces in their palms giggling with the simple pleasure of having received attention.
Also we saw some round frames made of bamboo, with spirals on them.None of us was able to make out what was that.Then someone observed that closely and concluded that it was meant for the rearing of silk worms and we could see that indeed there were some white looking things in the spirals., which were silkworms inside their cocoons!!
There were lots of coconut trees on the way and I asked one of my German colleagues whether she had ever had a coconut. She replied that though they get it in the supermarkets there, but since they have no clue as to how to get the fruit from inside its shell, they hardly ever buy it ! True indeed, what’s the point of buying a fruit which you don’t know how to reach !
Thus chatting and enjoying the scenery, we reached the camp at about 6 PM.
The bus stopped at about 3 kms from the campsite, where we were greeted by some more members of the event organizing team, hereby referred to as Shiva’s team.
We were given some refreshments and then Shiva announced that we would be covering the rest of the distance on foot. But that was not so simple, he divided us into three teams.
In each of the team, half the members were blindfolded and the remaining half had to guide them on the trek. My partner was Stefan and he did a very good job of keeping me on the right track, without me falling or hitting a stone, which had a pretty good chance of happening as the trek was very uneven full of small bushes and small rocks.
After some time, the role of the guide and the guided were reversed and the other half were blindfolded. But here Shiva cleverly and silently changed the partners. So I was made the guide of Thomas and Stefan got someone else. I guess that was to simulate the changes that keep happening all around us in real life, to which we have to adapt ourselves to immediately. We successfully overcame that hurdle and all of us reached safely to a destination wherefrom we boarded the bus again as there was news of sighting a herd of elephants nearby and so for safety we had of reach the camp before it was too dark.
Upon reaching the camp we were greeted by the sounds of the water flowing in the river Kaveri, and since it was quite dark so we could not see clearly. Also we saw huge trees just beside the river and close to them were our cottages.
We assembled at the dining area and had some more refreshments.
There we had to pick some numbered labels so as to be allotted to the cottages.
After this activity, Shiva asked us to keep the luggage into the cottages and freshen up.
Then we reassembled in the dining area where after the time was spent in talking about what we had come to know about each other. Lots of interesting facts came out about all of us. It was real fun.
Shiva had since kept our watches in his custody, so many of us had no clue about the passage of time.
And soon it was time for dinner. The cooks at the lodge had prepared a nice dinner and after that Shiva declared that the next day would begin at 5:30 am when he would wake all of us. We protested but he would have nothing of it and reluctantly we agreed to that. Before giving us leave for the day, he divided us into two groups for the activities of the next day.
There is no electricity at the lodge as such, but they had provided fans at night., which was very necessary as it was very humid that day.
So after a good night’s sleep, we woke up the next day at dot 5:30 am as Shiva had promised he would make us do.
He asked us to assemble in the dining area in about half an hour.
Since four of us were sharing the cottage, so while the two were getting ready, I and one of the other roommates, went out and what a lovely picture it was. We went running to the river bank. It had been ages since I had seen such a beautiful scene where there was a river bank lined with trees, with birds chirping and the noise of the water flowing.
A few of the team members had done that before but for most of us it was the first opportunity to do so. We started off with the coracle bobbing up and down in the strong currents of the river. The skilled boatsmen made us reach the other end of the river safely. Upon reaching the other end, we were greeted by a very old man named Tambi who had been living there for the last twenty-five years, taking care of a temple that was about five hundred years old ! And scary but that’s how the tale is that the temple was the site for performing sacrifices (human/animal I do not know).
Anyways, after that we “coracled” back to the camp.
Upon reaching there, we found a nice breakfast having been laid for us.We had a hearty breakfast and by the time we finished it, the other team that had gone for the other activity came back. We changed our gear for the next activity that was to be rappelling while the other team changed theirs for coracling.
We started for the other event, excited by the recommendation of the other team !
But we did not know that the event would not be that simple. We had to trek a long distance uphill, which seemed more of an “uphill task” because of the sun having come up. Many of us were exhausted by the time we reached the point where we had to start the rappelling. Then we saw what exactly was rappelling. It was to climb down the rocks, with the help of ropes.
I found it pretty good but it ended so soon that by the time I could get the chills of hanging at such a height, it was over. Sort of anti –climax in a thriller movie. Once all of us had rappelled down, we went back to the camp .. this time in jeeps.
Upon reaching back, we were met by the other team and then before we could cool ourselves, Shiva had us on our feet again .. this time to build a raft. He divided us into three teams , gave us some material bamboos, ropes(jute and nylon), tire-tubes and a basic knot with which to start building our rafts. And the condition was that it should remain afloat with two people from the team atop.
Now needless to say the two people to remain atop were the most keen to see that the design is perfected ! And yours truly was one of the two from my team !.
But the beginning does not end here… we were given blindfolds so that half of the team members were guiding the other blindfolded half in building the raft. Scary isn’t it ?
Anyways, we started with one design but the end product turned out to be completely new. But whatever it was, now the time was over. So all the teams were loaded onto the coracles and sent to the other side of the river while the organizers brought our rafts after us, of course by loading them onto the coracles.
Now the real test began … I was not sure whether the raft that I was to sit on wasn’t the one on which my last rites would be performed, as I could see the faces of some of the organizers being distorted by utter disgust and hopelessness, that the site of our raft produced !
Nonetheless, the first team successfully completed the task of keeping their raft afloat. Then came our turn. Kamal and I sat on the raft , of course with life jackets on , and then with guidance from Shiva as to the positions in which we would sit ( we ourselves did not know how to use the raft that we had built) so that the raft remained afloat. Also in this mayhem , a spider ( huge one) found its way on to me , but the organizers removed it before any harm was done. And viola, before we knew, the five minutes of staying afloat were over and the team was overjoyed ( at least Kamal and I were or at least I was) !
Then the third team also completed their task. And then the fun began with Shiva and his team forming a human boundary in the river and allowing all of us to have fun in the water but within that boundary, as the currents were strong.
We had lot of fun staying in water and when Shiva asked us to step out, not all of us were very keen to do so. So we coracled back to the camp. And their after changing into dry clothes, all of us assembled for the lunch. Had a hearty lunch, after the appetite that all these activities had produced in us.
We were feeling very sleepy but Shiva would hear nothing of it and told us what our next task would be.
We were regrouped into three teams. The task this time was to cross the distance between two trees, via the rope tied between the two. It was to simulate the crossing of a river, via ropes. Also each of the teams was supposed to perform a solo item, a skit and a group song.
While the leaders of the team were learning the tactics of crossing the “mental” river, the rest of us were thinking of the items that we had to perform. Stefan was in my team and we decided that he would perform the juggling act as the solo item so off he was in search of some round things ( lemons was what he got ultimately ) with which to practice. And here we decided the skit that we would perform. We decided to depict what the animals of the jungle might be thinking when people like us would be visiting them in the jungle ! And Anant and Divya started writing the group song in which they described the coracling that we had done in the morning.
But first things first, our team was called for crossing on the rope.
I started first and crossed it successfully, though it felt as if I would be exhausted before I could complete the thing. The rest of the team also successfully crossed the same and we finished the task in less than fifteen minutes which was the time given to us.
By the time all the teams finished, it was dark and a camp fire was lit up.
Then we were served the snacks and along with that started the items that we had to perform. I will skip the description for another blog as it would take a lot of space to do full justice to all of the performances.
There was a disappointment though, we were supposed to have the camp fire on the other side of the river, but there was news of heavy rainfall in the catch-ment area of the river due to which it became unsafe to go there. Nonetheless we had lot of fun here itself but there were one or two items still left before it started raining and so we had to rush to the canopy, which was the dining area.
Once there, we had our dinner amidst lot of chit chat and lots of water pouring around us and by the time we finished our dinner, it was almost impossible to go to the cottages/tents without the umbrella. One by one we reached our tents with the help of the jungle lodge people and their umbrellas.
After all the fun filled yet exhausting activities, what more could one do but to go to sleep. And before I knew when I fell asleep, I was hearing to the voice of someone (Shiva or Seema , I am unable to recall ) making a wake up call ! So cursing, we all got up and had some tea and biscuit as we had another trek to cover. But the cold virus decided to attack my system with the entire force the same day and I had a tough time.
Again as per the ritual, we were divided into two teams and sent off for the trek.
This time it was a bit difficult for me for I was busy with my nose ! Anyways with lots of halts we reached the point where there was a watch tower from where we could see the river and the valley. It was a beautiful site seeing the river making its way in between the hills.
Then some of the energetic team members went further up the hill while the rest of us went down. It was a bit difficult as the soil had gotten loose with all the rain of the previous night and I slipped thrice before I reached the bottom of the hill. Anyways, I thought that the worst was over but no there was lots more to come.
Then upon reaching the base camp, we had a hearty breakfast as usual. We refreshed ourselves and then was the time for a rope activity called “Squirrels can fly”. In this one person was tied to one end of a rope hanging from a high branch of the tree and the other end was pulled by the remaining team. So one was lifted up high in the air. Was a bit scary but fun nonetheless.
Then there was one more activity which I would not explain here as I did not fare too well in the same, and leave the details for some other time.
Then Shiva gave us a small lecture on the personality types, which were deduced based on a set of questions. Interesting to know that the way you walk can tell the type of person you are!
Then there was another “rope trick” that we had to do before we could start with the lunch. In this a few things were scattered on the ground in a circle and one person was tied to a rope hanging from a tree with three ropes on the three sides with which the remaining team members had to maneuver the one tied , so that he could pick up the things from the ground without touching the ground and put them in the bucket. Kamal from one team and Joerg from my team were the “soldiers” as that was the toughest job, being tied and being at the mercy of three groups of mad people pulling you here and there !!
Then that was the end of it and we had lunch and got ready to leave the camp with fond memories of all that we had done in the last two days. The return trip was better than the trip while going to Galibore as we had become more open , having done so many activities together, which was the purpose of the trip.
Ah yes, how can I forget , en route we had one break where we found tamarind trees and as much as we enjoyed it, we made the German colleagues taste it and the look on Bernd’s face was more than enough to tell what was going on in his mind !
So we reached Bangalore in time enough for us to reach home and watch some television, which to my surprise I did not miss even once in the three days that I was away from it.
All in all, it was a nice trip and I would be looking forward to more such trips.