Camp Leopard Rock is a rustic camping site maintained and run by a good friend of mine, Sridhar Reddy. Sridhar is an adventure and outdoors freak and has a long standing experience in trekking, mountaineering, rock climbing, camping, rafting and what not. In his passion for the great outdoors and to lead a life away from crowds in the country side, he bought out few acres of land near Nagarahole National Park in Kodagu District of Karnataka and set up a camping site for like minded adventure and wildlife lovers.
The camp is located at a distance of approximately 175 kilometers from Bangalore. The camp can be reached by driving on the Bangalore – Mysore road upto Srirangapatna where one takes a right turn to reach Hunsur road, and then at Hunsur one should take the Hanagudu road for 10 kilometers to reach the camp. The camp is situated on the banks of the fresh-water Hairige lake. Accommodation is in two man tents, the food is basic and life is just bare and simple there. Visitors to the camp often go rafting in the lake or do rappelling, when not going for a drive into Nagarahole National Park for wildlife viewing.
The landscape is predominated by agricultural fields and a couple of villages at a distance. However in September 2006, we were all in for a pleasant surprise when one day Sridhar called up and said that a leopard had visited the camp the previous night and took his pet dog. Occasionally when roaming about the area at night we have even seen Jungle Cats and Jackals. Personally I love the rural setting of the camp and whenever I have a day or two to kill and if I have no plan to go birding anywhere else, I end up in Sridhar’s camp and we while away the time either driving idly through Nagarahole national park or fishing in the lake or simply sitting around the camp fire late into the night.
Wednesday the 4th of October was declared a state wide strike in Karnataka and our office was also closed for work. Family was away at hometown and so I had the day to myself. I decided to spend it at Camp Leopard Rock. I made the decision rather late the previous evening. It had been sometime since I took out my CBZ for a long ride, so that evening I packed the backpack and left Bangalore by 10PM. Riding along the now pleasant Mysore road, I turned right at Srirangapatna and took the Hunsur Road. Hunsur road is being widened and most of it is completed but for few stretches of bumpy ride. After Hunsur a left turn at Hanagudu road and after 10 kilometers I was at the camp by around 2 AM. Sridhar was fast asleep (snoring too) so I didn’t disturb him and just sneaked into another tent to catch few hours of sleep.
Early at 5.30AM we drove down to Nagarahole National Park and spent the morning driving up and down the main road, HD Kote road and Karmad road. However it was a lazy dull day with just a few gaurs turning up to show themselves. Birding also was not very productive and a lone Serpent Eagle was the only highlight of the morning. Afternoon we spent lazing at the camp watching Indian Hornbills, Coppersmiths, Grey Tits visiting the fruiting Ficus tree at camp. At around 3 PM I went to the nearby agricultural fields for some birding.
The fields at many places are bordered by small patches of scrub jungle and here I saw Ioras, Yellow Eyed Babblers, Spotted Fantails, Common Woodshrike, Small Minivets, Brown Shrike, Red Munias, Laughing Doves, Plain Prinias, Red Vented Bulbuls, Green Bee-eaters, Red Wattled Lapwing, etc. Though the bird activity was very good I couldn’t make many images owing to the overcast sky and low light conditions.
Later we sat around the camp fire late into the night with some spirits to warm us up. Early next morning at 2AM we loaded the CBZ onto Sridhar’s pickup truck and drove back to Bangalore reaching at 6.30AM