At Camp Splendour, you can dive into Thirumurthy Dam. Or paddle across it. “Halfway through, I really didn’t think I could go any further,” says Ramya Vikas, a social media marketing consultant. She was trying stand up paddling for the first time in the clear blue waters of the dam in Udumalpet near Coimbatore.
“But I mustered my remaining strength and gave it a final go. It was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life,” beams Ramya.After staying indoors for over a year, travellers are set to hit the outdoors, take risks, and live in the moment. And, they are turning to fast-paced, action-packed options for adventure — from jet skiing to rappelling.
Adventure tourism has picked up in the State, especially after the tourism department eased travel restrictions to hill stations like Yercaud, Nilgiris and Kodaikanal. “There has been 30 to 40 per cent increase in tourists visiting from Tamil Nadu.
Most families encourage children to take part in zip line, where tied on a wire rope, they travel from one point to another,” says K Dhananjayan, CEO of Eagles Dare Adventure (P) Limited, located near Doddabetta Peak in Udhagamandalam.
Abrar Khan, an IT employee from Hyderabad, embarked on his first rock-climbing adventure at Eagles Dare. “Throwing myself into climbing was the best way to release all the built-up tension from being cooped up at home during the pandemic for over a year,” says Abrar. “Views of misty Doddabetta, the highest peak in South India, after the climb made it extra special.” For 22-year-old Nikhilesh SD who is a student and a part-time employee in Bengaluru, just being able to try something new like zip lining, rock climbing, and sky walking pushed his limits and helped overcome his fear.
Views from a tightrope
“A sense of achievement triggers dopamine release from the brain and they will remember the experience. The self-confidence stays. There is a surge in families travelling in small groups with children to enjoy adventure sports,” says Seshadri Venkatesan, director of National Adventure and Leadership Skills (NALS) Private Limited based at Manjacombai in Udhagamandalam.
While zip lining and rappelling are popular, rope walking, where people walk on ropes tied at about 30 feet between trees is a survival training process, he explains. “Everyone goes through some form of fear in their lives and people should stand up to those challenges. This discovery is possible on a rope walk. There are different methods: we call it Burma bridge, sloth walk and so on. We harness them to a mobile anchor and they get a real sense of walking at 40 feet without anything to support them.”
At Eagles Dare, which also has a tea museum and tea factory, bungee swinging is another great attraction.
“After a free fall, they land on a swing,” says L Varadarajan, general manager. “Sky cycling is like cable car where people can pedal as they move on a rope enjoying the view. We also have a 100-feet wall for rock climbing.”
- NALS ( www.nals.in) is licensed by the Ministry of Tourism in Udhagamandalam, Government of India. They also have night treks to help cope with the fear of darkness, especially in children and team-building games led by a facilitator. Call: 94422-75501
- Eagles Dare (www.eaglesdareooty.com) is recognised by Government of Tamil Nadu Tourism and India Tourism for adventure activities. It also has the clearances from Hill Area Conservation Authority and the Aesthetics Aspect Administrative Committee or the triple AAA headed by the collector. Tourists can take a tour of tea factory , buy silver dips and white dips, visit the tea museum and also watch how chocolate is made at the chocolate factory. Call:96264-84528.
- Camp Splendour that has essential government clearances adopts a sustainable model where they support the livelihood of tribals. They also assist police, fire and safety in rescue and training efforts. Visit: www.campsplendour.com
- Go Kotagiri Tourism(www.gokotagiritourism.com)offers exclusive treks and rock climbing experiences in Kotagiri. Call : 96555-52099
While there are several physical health benefits to adventure travel, it also contributes to mental wellness. Nature and fresh oxygen is rejuvenating, says Ruchi Mohunta, a Chennai-based experiential educator whose company Nature Diaries has organised over 100 camps for women and children. “Nature therapy helps children get rid of gadget addiction, and enhances their communication and leadership skills. Adventure helps in self-growth and improves one’s personality.”
Never too late
Gokul Bhirman of Go Kotagiri Tourism says the adventure bug has bitten those above 50 too, especially after the pandemic. “We had an all-girls team (who acted as football players in Vijay’s film Bigil) along with their parents participating in rock climbing, ridge walking and and trekking with gusto. They enjoyed a shower at a pond in the forest territory, then made visits to strawberry farms. They called it a day after watching a beautiful sunset view of Coimbatore-Kallar.”
Another noticeable trend is a renewed interest in water sports in the Udumalpet belt, which covers rivers Aliyar, Amaravathi, Bhavani, as well as Thirumurthy Dam.
Be it kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddling, any water sport teaches you a new skill, declares group captain Jayashankar of the National Adventure Foundation, which runs Camp Splendour. “A 30-minute trek takes them to Panchalinga waterfalls. This adventure circuit, starting from Munnar to Thirumurthy dam and Valparai to Athirapally falls in Kerala and is a big hit among tourists.”
Meanwhile, Pravin Shanmughanandam, a travel expert from Pollachi Papyrus, points to a trend where travellers want to take it slow. He manages By the Riverside, a boutique resort at Sethumadai, the foothills of Top Slip. “They don’t want to do a million things. The perceptible change I see is that domestic travellers are now looking at local tours. They go for Nature walks, and enjoy pristine views of mountains and groundnut and coconut fields, a cool breeze and a nice sunset where the birds are vocal,” he says.
Pravin adds, “These are often followed by barbecue nights, morning visits to organic farms, and lazing around before heading back, recharged.”