Spectrum: A treetop trail

Spectrum: A treetop trail

A view of the canopy walkway at Kuveshi in Joida taluk. Photo by author

Imagine you are walking in a dense forest. Cool and pleasant breeze is blowing and as you walk further, you spot wild animals in the bushes and chirping birds on treetops. You walk along a river flowing beside green fields and then, rest just under the canopy of trees, high above the ground. The views of verdant rainforests from a height, the joy of spotting rare wildlife from a safe distance and the opportunity to reach the peak of the trees can sure relieve your mind and body from stress. Sounds thrilling but far-fetched? Not anymore, as a canopy walkway will be thrown open to public from tomorrow at Kuveshi in Joida taluk of Uttara Kannada district. 

New perspectives

This canopy walkway, built amidst the dense forests of Western Ghats, is the first of its kind in the country and invites people to get a new perspective of the forest, while also unveiling the world of arboreal creatures at the treetops. Built at 30 feet above the ground, this 240-metre-long walkway with multiple platforms provides an unparalleled experience to nature and adventure lovers. It not only offers glimpses of the verdant rainforests, but also fosters a greater appreciation of the rich biodiversity of Western Ghats. This region is home to numerous animal and tree species.

Canopy walkway
Canopy walkway

The idea of canopy walk was conceived during the Bird Festival in Dandeli in 2016 as a way to boost tourism in the region in an eco-friendly and innovative way. As the forest area around Dandeli comes under Kali Tiger Reserve (KTR), there was no provision for developing a canopy walk there. Upon searching for a suitable place, Kuveshi, which does not come under the KTR limits, emerged as the best option. In addition, this place lies at the concluding part of the Great Canara Trails, an ambitious project of the Forest Department. The work began in the last week of March 2016, with due support from the State government and the Forest and Tourism departments.

“Large trees are essential for developing a canopy walk. For that, we had to search for a suitable area with sura honne (Alexandrian laurel) trees. This type of tree is quite strong but can be bent. The location was finalised with the assistance of the Forest Department,” said Alim and Bharat of Mysuru-based Outbreak Adventures, which constructed the canopy walkway. “Though we are into adventure activities, this is for the first time we have designed a canopy walk,” they said.  Normally, canopy walkways are seen in Australia and Malaysia. They studied the designs of canopy walks in those countries before starting the work here.

They began the work after zeroing in on the height of the walkway. To prevent the damaging of trees, protective layers were put up around them, where iron-strings of the walkway were

fastened. “As these trees are fully grown, the platforms are strong. If necessary, adjustments can be made using screws. This apart, the wood of native trees like the kari matti (Indian laurel) has been used in the construction of the walkway and if maintained well, it will remain intact for over five years,” they said.

“It was not possible for the construction workers to stay in the thick forest for more than a week. So, we had to replace the staff every week. We had to be careful as ants, poisonous spiders and rare insects are commonly found here,” they said while explaining the challenges they faced during the work.“Canopy walk will boost ecotourism efforts in the region. Entering such dense evergreen forest is an experience in itself. The rich biodiversity of the region and Kuveshi’s proximity to Goa are an added advantage. This tourism effort will also lead to the generation of jobs locally. We intend to develop this as a model for ecotourism efforts,” said O Palaiah, director, Kali Tiger Reserve.

Rare sights

Kuveshi village is 15 km from Castle Rock and 65 km from Dandeli. Visitors can reach the Kunagini check post through Ganeshgudi and Jagalbet. Kuveshi canopy walkway is 8 km from there.

With prior permission, tourists can go near the canopy walkway in their vehicle. From the parking area, they have to trek around 500 metres. As there is no mobile phone network in the area, officials caution that visitors must not separate from the group and must follow the instructions of the guides. In case the visitors lose their way, it will be difficult for them to contact the authorities.

The canopy walk at Kuveshi resembles hanging bridges built across rivers. It can accommodate 10 persons at a time on the platforms. But only two persons can move on the bridge together. People can either stand or sit on the platforms and rest. As the bridge oscillates while people walk on it, one must be careful to walk slow and steady. And, visitors must not forget that they are walking at a height, in the middle of a dense forest.

“Walking on the canopy walkway gives a feeling of crossing the footbridges of Malnad region. These footbridges are constructed using locally available materials. But the experience of walking amidst the canopy of the trees is unmatched. It is thrilling, refreshing, and the forest awes you with its vastness and complex web of life,” says Naveen Sagar of Shivamogga, who experienced the canopy walk when it was officially inaugurated in February 2018. 

Boards put up at the site caution that those having the fear of heights (acrophobia), children below 12 years of age, and those with breathing and heart problems must avoid the canopy walk.

“The Tourism Department has made an agreement with the Jungle Lodges and Resorts to coordinate the canopy walk,” said Aniketh, manager at Jungle Lodges and Resorts. The tourists can visit in groups between 9.30 am and 3 pm. However, the canopy walk will be closed during monsoon for maintenance. The canopy walk is a worthy addition to the tourism efforts of Dandeli region, which is already a favourite among travellers.


(Translated by Divyashri Mudakavi)

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