THE MIND BLOWING NIGHT TRAIL IN THE RAINFORESTS OF AGUMBE WITH i TRAVEL GROUP: INCREDIBLE INDIA

This blog is a 2 part series of my experience in the Rainforest of Agumbe facilitated by i Travel Group. We spotted many species during our trails. It is one of the finest wildlife experiences in the western ghats of India.

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I spotted this huge Katydid. It camouflages itself and looks like a leaf. Hence the moniker – Leaf Insect. Agumbe Rainforest Night Expedition. The wettest place in South India.

After an eventful morning spent in the forests of Agumbe (See my other blog on Agumbe), we were gearing up for the night trail after the sumptuous South Indian lunch and nap. But before we ventured out in the dark, we spent the evening watching documentary on snakes and also an informative presentation on snake followed by question and answer session.

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Some fungus we spotted. Can you help me identify the species. Agumbe Rainforest Expedition. The wettest place in South India.

Once the presentation got over, every one headed to the dinner table, while I came out to the lawn area. I was attracted by the yelping of dog pups coming from different directions. It was pitch dark and I tried hard to locate the pups. Failed to spot one, I asked one of the snake researcher at the Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology founded by P. Gowri Shankar in 2012. Turned out it was a bunch of bi-colored frog aka Malabar frog (Clinotarsus curtipes) who were making those distressed calls. I was amused at the uncanny similarity. These frogs are found in the Western Ghats of India. Thanks to its appearance, it was the weirdest looking creature I spotted in Agumbe.

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Bi Colored Frog aka Malabar frog (Clinotarsus curtipes) It yelps like a dog pup. Read about it in my other blog on Agumbe which chronicles the night trail. Agumbe Rainforest Night Expedition. The wettest place in South India.

I left the frogs alone. Post dinner as we started wearing our leech socks for the night trail, Agumbe decided to justify the moniker it has earned over the years – The wettest place of South India. It started raining heavily and showed no sign of stopping. The sport that we were, none of us backed out from the night trail. I decided not to carry camera. We took baby steps as Prashanth P (Research Station Master) led us through the dark forest, supported only with flashlights. Rains lashed us from all directions. Unperturbed and dry under our raincoats, we trained our eyes on spotting the rare creatures which the forests of Agumbe are famous for.

Our first success was spotting a Malabar pit viper (Trimeresurus malabaricus). Also known as Malabar rock pit viper or rock viper, it perched on one of the upper branches of a tall tree. Unfazed by the torrential rains, it sat in one position for as long as we observed it. In fact, the next day, when we spotted the Malabar Pit Viper again in the morning, it was still sitting on the same branch. These are venomous snakes found in southwestern India (mostly Western Ghats). They are easier to spot in the monsoon months. Being nocturnal, they are mostly inactive during the day.

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Common Indian Toad. Agumbe Rainforest Night Expedition. The wettest place in South India.

They feed on geckos, musk shrews, tree frogs etc. Speaking of which, we spotted the Coorg Yellow Bush Frog (Raorchestes luteolus) hidden behind a leaf on the opposite tree. Its synonymous scientific name is Philautus neelanethrus. It was an exciting spotting for me since I saw a frog on a tree for the first time ever. I have no idea how it got there. Perched approximately 1 meter from the ground, it made constant mating calls. During vocalizing, the vocal sacs of the Yellow Bush Frog expanded in to a sac/ball/bubble, indicating that it is a male. The expanding helps them to make louder sound. The vocal sac is the flexible membrane of skin. The purpose of croaking in this fashion is either to keep away other male frogs or mating, of course. Yellow Bush Frog is not to be confused with aorchestes travancoricus  Kalpetta yellow bush frog (Raorchestes nerostagona)

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Skin of a cicada. Agumbe Rainforest Night Expedition. The wettest place in South India.

Did you know scorpions glow in dark?

A little ahead, the team congregated at the foot of a muddy wall. A scorpion hid itself amongst dead leaves and mud. I learned scorpions are easiest to find in the dark? As Prashanth focused his ultraviolet (UV) flashlight light on the scorpion it cast a tantalizing glow on the unsuspecting scorpion. It glowed a vibrant blue green, standing out in pitch dark. The scorpion glowed only when UV light was focused on it. No theory has been established yet as to why they glow or what’s the function of this attribute?

Bioluminescent Fungi in the rainforests of Agumbe:

Thanks to the presence of glow worms, fireflies and glowing scorpions in the pitch dark forest of Agumbe, we already saw much natural glowing on 2 night trails. But the best was yet to come. We saw bio luminescent fungus under the foot of a tree on first night and another one in a more scenic location, which is, on the sides of a shallow water stream. All of us would switch off our flashlights and small sections in the undergrowth would glow magically. Since it was pitch dark, the glow was easy to spot. The fireflies hovering around us added to the drama. We stood there agape mouthed, in absolute silence, our shoes soiled with mud and water. It was one of the most magical phenomenons I had seen in a forest. The faint green glow becomes stronger when the eyes adjust to it.

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We were amazed by the fungus luminescence. Agumbe Rainforest Night Expedition. The wettest place in South India.

More snakes spotted – Rat snake this time.

The other snake we spotted in the night trail in the rainforest of Agumbe was the rat snake (Ptyas mucosa). It perched still on the top of a small plant. Allowing rain to wet it, the tiny snake coiled and made no movement. Unlike the pit viper, it was quite at a touching distance. It feeds on rodents, toads, small birds, other snakes, lizards and eggs. It is, however, often the meal of the King Cobra.

Other species we found on the night trail in the rainforest of Agumbe:

Tarantula, Common Indian Toad, Indirana frog, Tiger centipede, House centipede, Cricket, Roux’s forest lizard (Calotes rouxxi ) were the other species we found in the rainforest of Agumbe on 2 nights. We even spotted the exoskeleton of cicada. We were amazed to see that the exoskeleton was not destroyed and retained the shape of the cicada. Quite a smooth exit, that!

Roux’s forest lizard is endemic to the western ghats of India. Its habitat is varied viz. moist evergreen, secondary forests and dry scrub. It is insectivore and hunts during the day.

ALSO READ:

In search of King Cobra in Agumbe with the i Travel Group: The wettest place in South India!

Testing Wildcraft’s Rain Gears in Agumbe, the wettest place of South India!

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Left to right – Rochana Poddar, Sujan – Naturalist, Janani, Ritesh Kadam, Nilesh Kothari.  Akkibatha Rashigudda peak. Agumbe Rainforest Expedition. The wettest place in South India.

How to plan a trip to Agumbe:

You need expert guidance in Agumbe to spot species. In my earlier solo trip to Agumbe, I failed to spot any species. I would recommend curated experiences by i Travel Group  It is a Mumbai based company headed by Ritesh Kadam. Ritesh takes batch of discerning travelers who yearn to learn something new on meaningful trips such as this. Passionate and knowledgeable about wildlife, Ritesh offers many enriching travel experiences in a responsible way. His trips are sensitive to local environment and culture. You can contact him at ritesh.kadam@theitravelgroup.com or call him at +91 9503839398 for enquiry or booking.

Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology, Agumbe has good facilities. They have documentary shows, educative workshops on snakes, accommodation in clean and dry tents and superb meals. The in house chef Pramod BS served us sumptuous South Indian meals such as Kadabu, Kokum Rasam, Upma and Kesari Bhath flavored with clove.

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The delicious Kadabu at Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology. Agumbe Rainforest Expedition. The wettest place in South India.

Recommended book on snakes of India –

Snakes of India – The field Guide by the famous Romulus Whitaker and Ashok Captain is a must read for all information on Indian snakes.

The view from my #SoulWindow is enriching!

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Sujan demonstrating on Rochana in Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology. Agumbe Rainforest Expedition. The wettest place in South India.

 

Responsible Tourism In Agumbe Rainforest:

Pls remember Agumbe is not your serene picnic spot. It is an ecologically sensitive zone. Below are some pointers which you must take care of:

  • Please be careful while walking. Watch your steps as you might crush a creature. Best is to take baby steps.
  • Take pictures but
  • Don’t touch any of the creatures.
  • Don’t pluck any plant material
  • Don’t collect any specimen of flora or fauna from the jungle.
  • Don’t talk or sing loudly.
  • Don’t litter. Pack your non biodegradable waste and dispose off to the nearest city Udupi or in your home city.

 

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Roux’s forest lizard (Calotes rouxxi). Near Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology. Agumbe Rainforest Expedition. The wettest place in South India.

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22 thoughts on “THE MIND BLOWING NIGHT TRAIL IN THE RAINFORESTS OF AGUMBE WITH i TRAVEL GROUP: INCREDIBLE INDIA

  1. I know nothing about India, so have no idea whereabouts Agumbe is in your country! I’ll take your word this was a good experience as I have a fear of snakes! That said, your photos show the lovely nature and wildlife of the place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Agumbe lies in the South of India in Karnataka state. It’s a biodiversity hot spot and a haven for King Cobra. Even I was scared of snakes before this trip. But 3 days in Agumbe changed my perspective.

      Like

  2. Agumbe sounds like a biologist’s paradise. I am not so sure I would like the night trail with so many critters about. Didn’t you feel afraid of stepping on something because it’s so dark? In the daytime, I would prefer to try my luck although I may miss some of these delightful creatures.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I grew up with a stream in our backyard and we had (what seemed) like millions of frogs in it. Your post reminded me of that time! What a cool opportunity to get to do a nighttime trek in the rainforest!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: IN SEARCH OF KING COBRA IN AGUMBE RAINFORESTS WITH THE i TRAVEL GROUP: THE WETTEST PLACE IN SOUTH INDIA! | A Soul Window - Travel Blog from India!

  5. Woah! as it is rainforest trek seems challenging and you ventured out for a night time trek! But the excitement of spotting so many species seems so overwhelming. I would have done it just to see the Bioluminescent Fungi 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kalinga Ecology centre in Agumbe sounds interesting due to possession of rare species of creatures. I loved the bi colored frogs and their dog like sounds. Fungus luminessence is so wonderful and magical. This centre is doing a good cause in preserving these rare species.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is so interesting that you got to see many unique species of animals and insects along the way. It isn’t a kind of experience that I would see myself trying, but it’s too unique to pass up. Your photography is superbly done too!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: LUXUXY BREWED STRONG AT JAVA RAIN RESORT, CHIKMAGALUR- WEEKEND BREAK FROM BANGALORE. | A Soul Window - Travel Blog from India!

  9. For a night trail, your pictures are awesome but kind of scary considering all those insects! You are definitely brave!! I have never even heard of going on a night trail but now would love to find one!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow quite an adventurer you are. Someone had their fair share of fun but glad I am not there. I am pretty much scared od snakes. But Happy Journey in advance if you are ever going to again in near future.

    Liked by 1 person

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