With stress surrounding my workplace and minor health issues, the past month wasn’t that great for me. All I was wishing was a getaway and energize myself back to normal. So, with no second thoughts, I signed up with Exoticamp to experience camping at Vagamon and geared up for the weekend getaway. I have never been to that part of the God’s own country and that’s yet another factor that kept my excitement on.
As planned, on 10th November night I boarded the bus. It was already filled with a few campers from Chennai, en route to Kumili. I am someone who firmly believes in the quote “No road is long with good company” and I cant ask for a better company other than my blogging friends Brags anna, Raji and Jenny. It’s been a while, so happy to catch up with them on the bus. Being a sleepy head, I momentarily dozed off and woke up by the cold wind escaping through the windows the next morning. By 7 am on 11th nov we reached Kumily a border town between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. As we were indulging Appam and Egg Curry at a hotel quite opposite to the bus stop, campers from other cities like Banglore, Coimbatore and Tanjore also joined us.
Then, we got into Jeeps that would take us to the base camp. Luckily, our Jeep had an awesome music system and our DJ, Raji played awesome tracks that kept me excited all the way. We stopped by a stream on the way. As it wasn’t deep, I took the pleasure of dipping my feet into the flowing cold water and it felt refreshing. The rest of the drive went on a heavenly combination of music and the vast green landscape filled with tea plantations. BY the noon, we reached our base camp.
The camp had 2 non-negotiable rules in order to ensure the safety of everyone, strictly no smoking and drinking. Other than that, you are free to do anything and everything that neither affects the fellow campers, not the environment. It was a small private cottage with a couple of restrooms to get change and refreshed. Now to the exciting part, the base camp also had a small private waterfall. Playing and taking bath in its cold water for more than hour made my stomach growl in hunger. There is nothing like good food served when you are really hungry and their yummy Kerala style meals along with fish curry gave me a sense of satisfaction. I had a nice time talking to the fellow campers and get to know them, my favourite part of any travel. It was an awesome diverse group and it would be bad on my part if I fail to mention about the super cool organizer Sukanya a.k.a Suzuki. The camping place was a kilometre and half from the base camp. Though they offered jeep to take us to the camping area, most of us decided to walk there with our luggage transferred in Jeep.
A short walk (not many would agree with me) took us to the beautiful camping area where the tents are placed in an order like a straight line. Tea was offered and something hot in the cool climate felt soothing. I have stayed in multiple camps during my treks and I would call this camping setup a luxury one. It even had a proper restroom. A few metres walk from the camp was a beautiful viewpoint. The view of clouds passing the mountains and mist moving in front of us was breathtaking.
We returned back to the camp as it was getting dark. Seems the rain was as excited as us about the campfire. A few took shelter in their respective tents and the crazy others under a single tarpaulin sheet which was kept to protect the firewood. Believe me, it was a crazy bunch and yours truly was also one of them. Some modified and sang famous Tamil romantic number “Vaseegara” (i doubt Suzuki only) as “Oru porvaikul pala thukkam” (many slept under one blanket) instead of “Oru porvaikul iru thukam” (two slept under one blanket), others burst into laughter hearing this. It did rain heavily, but not even a drop penetrated the tent. Time was spent on listening music, reading Malice by Keigo Higashino and a short nap until Sam knocked our tent to notify that the rain subsided. Sam prepared his secret noodle soup while the campfire was being set up. We all sat around the fire in circles and the fun time started with an icebreaker intro session followed by some awesome singing by Ipsita, Suteja and Sameena. It was hard to contain my excitement when Suteja sang one of my fav numbers “Rayilae Rayilae Oru Nimisham” from the movie Five Star. After a bit of dancing the gathering got dissipated upon the arrival of food. We were served yummy Chapathi, Veg Fried Rice, Veg Curry and Chicken Curry for the dinner. Post dinner, most of us went into their respective tents and dozed off, but a few brave souls (like myself) slept later after discussing horror stories until midnight and that’s how an awesome day came to an end.
As usual, I woke up early in the morning around 4.30 am. It seems it had rained heavily the last night. Brags Anna and Sammena were also awake at that point in time, so we decided to take a walk to the base camp and back. The scene of dawn breaking over the mountains have always been a magical scene. With morning tea served, we took a walk to the viewpoint again. We had so much fun shooting a mannequin challenge video there.
The organizers never failed to give us the local flavour. Loved the Appam and Puttu with Egg Curry and Veg Stew that was served for breakfast. We relaxed a while and walked back to our base camp leaving our luggage be transferred by Jeep. Just like the last day, we had lots of fun in the waterfall again. I even learned a few steps from Suzuki that eventually increased my total dance steps know to 4. With a heavy heart, we bid farewell to the base camp and headed to Vagamon Medows, a famous tourist attraction in that area.
As it was a Sunday, it was quite crowded too. I enjoyed running down the slopes (refer Brags anna video) and we took the iconic squad goals pic :P. The Maggi we had for lunch wasn’t enough and the gap was filled with snacks from a shop opposite to the meadows. With things done and dusted, we headed straight to Kumili to catch our bus back to Chennai. As before, the music was loud on our Jeep. It somehow reminded me of “Senthazham Poovil” song from the movie Mullum Malarum.
Before boarding the bus, we stopped by a local spice store where I bought some Black Pepper and Cardamom as instructed by my mom. The sleeper bus stopped at a highway hotel for dinner. That one awesome trip came to an end when I woke up to the Chennai rains the next morning. It’s definitely a trip to remember.
Below are the two videos made by Brags anna and Raji, Watch and Enjoy.
The Exoticamp team not only demonstrated professionalism and passion in organizing the camp but also added the fun flavour which made the camping more enjoyable. After having such an awesome experience, I am looking forward checking their other interesting campsites such as Munnar Tea Estate Camping, Marakanam Beach Camping, Mango Camping and Vineyard Camping. I also like their vision of empowering locals via their camping projects. I sign off wishing the young and energetic team all the very best.