Anaerangal Camp, Munnar, Kerala
Anaerangal Camp, Munnar is about 155 kms from Kochi and was the chosen destination for our last outing. With schools closing down for the summer, I along with 16 friends, decided to head to the mountains for a camping and trekking experience.
With the sole intention of unwinding and soaking up the splendor of nature that Munnar has to offer, wecar pooled and hit the road early in the morning. The traffic started to thin out as we moved out of Kochi city limits and the air got fresher and cleaner.As we got closer to Munnar, the vast and sprawling tea estates inspired the singer in few of us and we sang all the way up the winding roads.
Since it was the month of sunny April and monsoons were two more months away, we found to our disappointment that the numerous waterfalls and brooks that usually line this scenic Munnar route via Kothamangalam and Neriamangalam to Adimali were almost dry. We reached our campsite early in the evening, in time for some tea and snacks, and with enough daylights to enjoy the spectacular sight of numerous mountain heads spread out on the horizon.
The campsite was with semi-concrete-tents, built on a hillock overlooking a vast valley and the scenic Anaerangal Lake. Arranged in one straight row, the tents were covered with thatched roofs. With canvas walls on three sides and a solid brick walled bathroom at the back, each of the tent had a queen sized bed with clean and fresh beddings. Overall, the place looked rustic but had a charm of its own with its gorgeous view and quiet surroundings.
We had taken all the cottages in the camp and hence had the entire attention of the staff at our beck and call. There was a large gazebo at the centre of the camp which served as an ideal place for all of us to sit for a chat, play a game of cards or boggle, various leg-pulling sessions and laughs, through our entire stay. As we sat there, admiring the peace and the greenery around, the mercury started to dip down.
The gazebo had an inbuilt fireplace. Soon we had the campfire lit and made ourselves comfortable around it. I would definitely recommend the food to all, as all throughout our stay there was no compromise on this aspect and we were always served hot and delicious food. Also highly recommended is their personalized attention &service, which was great.
On our first day, by afternoon, the weather turned nippy and we unexpectedly got a summer shower that brought down the temperature even further down. Highlight of day one was a trek through a neighbouring estate, which had a mountain peak – called “Phantom’s Head” by the locals. This physically demanding trek, (some of my friends would contest this assumption!) usually done in 90minutes by the locals took our group almost 2 hours.
A real eye opener for a few in our group about the superb physical conditioning they were in! The inclines were very steep at places, to qualify for anything as moderate climb, but it did give our stiff bodies a good stretch and much needed exercise! The stunning panoramic view from the top was definitely worth the trouble and so was the 8km trek back from the peak on the other side of the climb, was the end verdict by all.
The next day we undertook a trip to visit the highest organic tea factory in the world, at Kolukumalai. We hired a few Willy’s 4 wheel jeeps for an adventurous trip up the not tarred but heavily pot holed roads, through the tea estates. The one hour ride has so many jerks and the shakes that in the end one just tires of the whole effort of just hanging on to ones seat!!We had amongst us a few jokers (read that as funny people!!), who with their songs and jokes made this trip a funny and memorable one. Point to note is that one should have lots of stamina as one literally has to hold on to the sides of the jeep for ones dear lives for the whole of the trip!!And to top it off, the driver will blast hip Tamil songs irrespective of whether you liked them or not!!(We decided to ignore his glaring hint that he wasn’t bit enjoying our singing and jokes as we continued exercising our vocal chords!)
At the factory, we were given a guided tour. Stages in tea-making like withering, rolling, drying, fiber extraction, grading, roll breaking, fermentation,etc. were explained to us and a demo of most of these processes were also done. The guide, who accompanied us, gave us a detailed description about the tea-making process, reminding me of my school days, wherein, this visit would have been a project by itself!!At the entrance to the tea factory is a garden, which was well maintained and had flowers of all possible hues and colors and looked splendid in the afternoon sun.
At the main office of the tea estate, one can buy tea in packets by the kilo. However, hardly any of the tea produced here hits the Indian market as the European market absorbs all the Organic tea that gets made here!!One of the cherished experiences one can have here, is post the factory visit, when one can sit and imbibe couple of cups of hot steaming tea straight from the factory at the office itself. Bliss!
In the evening we did a short picnic trip on the banks of the Anaerangal Lake. “Anaerangal” by the way means – “the place where elephants come down”is an ideal place for trekkers and bikers.The view at the lake was stunning and the impromptu picnic was simply an out-of-the-world experience.
The environment here prompted all of us to sit back, breathe deep and introspect; which our demanding city life hardly ever gives time for. So needless to say, the trip helped all of us to chill out and rejuvenate for yet another tryst with our anarchic city lives.
- INR4000 per camp for 2 pax (extra person or bed at additional INR1500)
- Children below 10 – free
- Cost inclusive of all meals , trek
- Trip to tea estate etc was around 1500 per jeep (approx)
- At an additional of INR 1000 per person – overnight stay with dinner and transfers by jeep can be arranged on a hill close to Phantom’s Head