We've already read tons of articles from the Himalayas and quite a few on the Southern Trails but did you know of these very interesting locations around Mumbai and in the west for either day trips or overnight camping. We'll share our experiences of these locations with you.

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in India

Walking on the Wild Side 

Everyone wants to see it! The pride of India, the majestic tiger. Trailblazers organized a camp for the students of a Mumbai school to the famed Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in India. Set in the scenic Aravalli hills, the rugged terrain of this reserve is also home to leopards, sloth bears, sambhar, wild boars, spotted deer, nilgai, and numerous birds. Open-air cantors added a bit of thrill to the safari experience. The royal cat eluded us but we were able to sense its presence through its pug marks and claw marks on the trees. The jungle did grace us with sightings of sloth bears, crocodiles, wild boar, sambhar and the ubiquitous spotted deer. We also spotted a family of peacocks and loads of rufous treepies. The treepies have become habituated to humans and frequently approach the cantors. Students were delighted to see the birds from such close quarters. The next visit was to Ranthambore fort, built in the 10th century and ruled by many dynasties, including the Chauhans, the Mughals and finally the East India Company. Amazed by some of the stories of the fort, students thoroughly enjoyed the visit. A brief introduction to Indian wildlife was offered by the Trailblazers team through engaging games, which students enjoyed. Camps such as these motivate us to continue giving our best to spread the message of environment conservation to students all around.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Lake Trail

The trek to the highest point in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) during monsoon is a favorite among adventure loving Mumbaikars. The Buddhist basaltic caves --Kanheri Caves - are the starting point for the trek to the highest point in SGNP. Trailblazers conducted this exciting trek for a group of children. The group crossed the caves and went towards the open rock plateau leading to the Gaumukh temple from where one can see magnificent views of the surrounding city. To see the three cascading lakes namely Tulsi, Vihar, and Powai Lakes, we trekked a bit more to the highest point - Jambulmal. Trailblazers experts shared information on fauna and flora spotted on the trek. Once at the highest point, magnificent views of the lakes were enjoyed by one and all. The silvery shimmer ensconced in a carpet of green mesmerized the group.

The Western Ghats 

Tribal Trail

The Western Ghats is one among the oldest mountain ranges found on Earth; it is now a UNESCO world heritage site and also an important biodiversity hotspot of South East Asia. The Western Ghats spread from borders of Gujarat in the Dangs to the southern tip of Kerala in Kanyakumari, an area of 1600 km is covered under the Ghats. Located at a distance of 60 km from Mumbai city in a serene mountain range of Maharashtra, is the most well-known tourist destination called Vajreshwari. This famous site is known for its landforms, scenic views of mountains, hot springs, and the Tansa River. Apart from landforms, Vajreshwari is also a pilgrimage site with the Vajreshwari temple, an important sacred place for the Hindu community. Students visited a small village in Vajreshwari known for its cleanliness and good hygiene standards followed by resident villagers. The village consists mainly of the local Marathi community and the Warli tribes living in the nearby forest. Warli tribes are known for their interdependence with nature and their paintings. While there are no records of the exact origins of this art, its roots may be traced to as early as the 10th century AD. Research suggests that the tribals are the propagators of a tradition which originated sometime in the Neolithic period between 2,500 BC and 3,000 BC. This art carry on a tradition stretching back to 2500 or 3000 BC

Trailblazers conducted a student camp in the small town of Vajreshwari for grades 9 & 10 for a Mumbai based international school. The objective of the camp was to study and understand landforms and village tourism. As a part of the camp, the students visited the Ideal village as well to interact with the Sarpanch (the head of the village) and learned about the importance of hygiene standards in villages, water conservation through rain harvesting, vermicomposting and biogas generation. The village head also shared information on the national and international awards and recognition that the village has received and how community service and team-building

helped them to achieve these accolades. A short walk near Usgaon Dam was also conducted to learn and understand the concepts of water harvesting and the role of dams in water conservation.

After a traditional village meal at a local NGO which has been working with Warli tribes from past 20 years in areas of women empowerment, career guidance, health and child education, the students interacted with various members of the NGO and learned about the challenges that they face when dealing with tribal communities and government officials. The visit to the NGO also covered short sessions on vermicomposting, biogas generation and herbarium making. The outdoor camp ended with memories etched forever in their minds

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