This time of the year; May 11-May 15, 2015, I was part of a group of seventeen grade eleven students and three teachers that went on a “Khoj Expedition” to Ranichauri in Uttarakhand. Ranichauri, is a small hamlet a few kilometers away from Chamba Village. It is about seventy two kilometres from Rishikesh and is at a height of 6500 ft. above sea level,
Ranichauri is home to a Horticulture and Agriculture University, and the Indian Meterological Department run Ranichauri Observatory located at a height of 2192 meters (Incidentally, the Ranichauri is the second highest observatory in the India, the highest being in Jammu and Kashmir). Ranichauri is also home to a large number of birds, animals, plants and trees.
At the camp site, (‘X-Terra’ run by the Nature Connect Adventure Tourism group) we were in the midst of an Apple Orchard and a scattering of Apricot trees. Early in the mornings we were woken up by a veritable chorus of singing birds. Some of the best included warblers, magpies, doves ,robins, and or odd cuckoos. Away in the distance were the snow covered peaks of Nanda Devi and Trishul all seen intermittently when the weather allowed it. The predominant kind of trees in the area include Pine, (Deodar) and Silver Oak. All around us was a rich canvass of colourful wild flowers and the bright red wild Strawberry fruits.
Camp X-Terra at Ranichauri offers opportunities for extreme adventure sports which include a daunting 120 feet or more vertical cliff face for rappelling, 80 degree cliff faces for rock climbing, numerous locations for valley crossing activities, and flying fox rope activities. To top all of this is a challenging six kilometres tor and fro trek trail that tests the will and determination of the visitor. There is a good cell-phone coverage throughout the camp and surrounding areas, and yes electricity is available twice in the day, that is morning and the whole night.
A note of caution for all visitors would be to carry enough warm clothing as the weather can change rather abruptly, one moment it might be sunny and warm, and the next it can become quite chilly with temperatures dropping a few degrees from sixteen to twelve! On one of the days, it looked as if a whole cloud had flown into the camp and sure, it became really cold! A couple of sleeveless sweaters, and a good jacket will suffice. The X-Terra campsite offers tents which can accommodate three beds each. Water supply is slightly limited and warm water for bathing might be a luxury. I bathed a couple of times with cold water, and sure it did wake me up!
Ranichauri is accessible by road and is about six hours drive from Delhi. While going to Ranichauri we travelled by bus, and for the return trip we took jeeps till Haridwar; from Haridwar we boarded the Shatabdi train at 6:10 p.m. and reached New Delhi at about eleven in the night. From the New Delhi Railway Station we took a connecting bus to Gurgaon.
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