The experience on the fifth day at Dudhwa will rival what you might imagine in the Amazonian forest. Believe it or not! But please be forewarned and as such forewarned for a rather long day out on the road and in the wilderness.
Our adventure begins when we board a rundown, slow motion, 19th Century passenger train to journey through the core forest of Dudhwa. The train chugs past an amazing landscape: across rivers, grasslands and jungles; halting briefly at railway stations which seem to take you back into time. This rail track was laid by the British to ferry timber.
After a memorable three hour journey, we reach Katerniyaghat. This is the place where rivers Mohana and Gerua converge to create the mighty Ghaghra. The confluence is an elevating sight to say the least. It makes you feel the pettiness of mundane existence. This is what ‘asli zindgai’ is, you tell yourself.
But this is just the starter. We have come here for a cruise on Gerua river (our star attraction). This is going to be once in a lifetime adventure. Since Gerua is so pure (and rather deep as well), it is a hotspot of bio-diversity and treasure trove of wildlife. Our boat may not be impressive, but it does provide an opportunity to watch, at close quarters, endangered reptilian species like ghariyals in their natural habitat. They lie on sand banks, statue like, sunning themselves. This river is also home to Sus or Gangetic Dolphin, our national aquatic animal. Sighting the Sus is alike searching a needle in a haystack. It is seen for but a fleeting second as it leaps to gulp fresh air. This glimpse is reserved only for those who possess yogic concentration.
Our cruise gets even more exciting when our boat moves sluggishly up the narrow stream (called Maila Nullah) that feeds river Gerua. Cane forests are clustered on either sides of the stream. Their reflection makes the water appear greenish. Turtles, pythons, water birds are commonly sighted here. At this momentous juncture, you are simply left wondering: am I in U.P. or India or somewhere deep inside an Amazonian rainforest? This is the eleventh star celebrity of Dudhwa.
It is a big relief to be back at the camp. The return journey can be time consuming because of bad road conditions and the fact that it has grown dark. But all of this dissipates, once back at the camp, you sup delicious soup.
On the next day, we will not wake you early, you can enjoy in your tent. But do spare sometime to soak in the beautiful misty mornings of Terrai, please join us for a walk in wilderness, one last time.
After breakfast, it’s time to go return to our own humdrum of existence. But, now, surely you are all refreshed by experiencing the majesty of the Dudhwa forest and rendezvous with the amazing inhabitants.
The fact is that only a true Naturalist, like you, can appreciate Dudhwa.
And National Environment Science Camp, is the one and only place, for true Naturalists.