February 3, 2015
To experience the local atmosphere and tea plantations we arranged a guided hike from our hotel. We wanted an early start to take advantage of the morning light, but the hotel receptionist was pretty insistent on 9:30 departure. The guide, Kumar, met us at the hotel and we drove to the starting point with our car and driver who then met us at the lunch spot at the other end of the trek.
The supposed 9k trek is more of a guided a walk than a true trek. The trail first passes through rolling grasslands that were dry and brown at the end of January. Still, it’s a peaceful setting dotted with herds of sheep and quaint European style farmhouses.
We then cross a eucalyptus forest and head down to the tea plantation. Kumar explains that no photos are allowed for the first 2k through the plantation. This really is one of the most scenic sections of the hike and a shame that owners don’t allow photos. Kumar lets us sneak couple of quick shots when no one is looking.
After we leave the property we traverse the length of the valley with nice views back over the same tea plantation. Here photos are allowed. In a few sections the tea plants have been damaged by freezing temperatures in the lower lying areas.
We cross through the tea and into farmland outside a local village. Great crops of cool season English veggies – cabbage, beets, carrots, garlic, etc.
Once in the village we are taken to a local “restaurant” where we are given a faux banana leaf “plate” and served rice with an Indian potato gravy, spinach, some sort of deep fried savory cake and a cracker type bread. All very good.
The room is considerably warmer than outside, heated from the kitchen fire in the back room. The room is dark with low ceilings and wooden tables along the walls. As we finish eating more foreigners enter, a group of Japanese and a couple of young western women. More of a foreigner restaurant than local. Still, the food is local, tastes great and is only 70 rupee per person.
After lunch Kumar tells us it is too hot to climb the mountain, the last part of the trek. I’m shocked and complain that is certainly not too hot. He relents, telling me I will see how hot it is. For Europeans it may be a bit hot, about 75 and sunny, but for a native of the southwestern US used to hiking it was not too hot and really not that difficult. I never did take off my long sleeve light wool shirt.
The path climbs through a colorful local village surrounding a bright yellow temple.
We then continue up the hill behind the village where we hike through dry shrub lands with patches of yellow straw flowers.
The views overlooking the tea plantation would be great in clear weather and earlier in the day when you weren’t facing into the sun. Still, is a great spot that gives you a sense of the size of the plantation and the surrounding farms and reserve land.
Kumar is still a bit miffed and has said little during the climb up, and after a brief stop at the top we start our way down to meet our driver in the town.