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Grade 9 Edutour - Satpura

Never have I ever been so energetic and excited at four a.m. in my life. The atmosphere at the Chatrapati Shivaji Airport was a unique one where grade 9 students were all set for their “camping” trip to the Satpura National Park.  The two-hour flight was mostly spent in deep slumber or games of Uno. Upon landing in Bhopal we were officially introduced to the adventure company, Jungle Lore instructors, Sir Tejas, Rohit and Satish. The bus we boarded was a different one where there were beds on top and seats underneath. We stopped for a buffet breakfast, where we got time to take a short break from the early morning travel. We wasted no time after a hearty breakfast and departed for our destination. Unlike our other edu tours, thankfully the travel time was only a couple hours in which most of us slept soundly to soft music playing while the others were playing monopoly deal, or talking about the fun events that were about to take place.

We reached The Reni Pani Jungle Lodge a little after twelve. After filling our stomachs with tasty dishes we were divided into our two batches (basically 9A and 9B) and were assigned our rooms. Being separated from some of my friends was hard but I realized that it was for the best and that most of the activities were better done in smaller groups. As the name suggests, the lodge was a colossal resort where each room was actually a spacious cottage that could house more than five people. Luck was on my side and I got assigned to a room with a high-rise balcony along with my best friends. Students did not hesitate to admit that this was by far the best resort our school had chosen.

As I was part of the first batch, we were going to camp out on the first day. We had little free time to ourselves as it took us a while to settle down. The walk to our campsite was not long but fun all the same. We heard several birds chirping in the distance while the dry leaves crunching under our feet worked well for constant music. Upon reaching the campsite we came to a conclusion that this camp out was in reality “glamping” (glamorous camping). There were several tents lined up horizontally and vertically whilst there was a small circle of chairs surrounding an unlit bonfire in front of the lined tents. After leaving our things in the tents we went out to a nature trail where we learned about the barks of trees and hare poop. On returning, unsurprisingly the sun set fast and the stars soon lit up the night sky. The temperature shortly dropped several degrees and we all brought out our woolens. Sitting around the now lit bonfire, roasting marshmallows and only gazing at the night sky certainly had a spark of its own. Each star lit differently than the others and decorated the black ocean like diamonds. Soon a great variety food was laid after which we just sat around the bonfire enjoying the silence and the stars. My eyes felt heavy and my eyelids soon started to fall, just in time my best friend saved me from broken sleep and we went into the tent only to leave soon and go to our friend’s. While we were enjoying the heat inside, some students were still outside listening to scary stories.

The next morning we freshened up, ate breakfast and trekked back to the lodge. After taking a long shower and eating a hearty lunch we met at a pagoda and had a session and saw videos on the various sightings in the park and also some strange experiences such as a jeep being attacked by a female sloth bear. The informative session was surprisingly fun and quite interesting. We then set out to camera trapping. We walked a little deeper into the lodge near a stream / pond. Where an instructor taught us how a camera trap works (motion and heat sensors) and what the various factors that determine the position a camera trap were. Usually animals come to streams to drink water (obviously) but also because the salt levels in the soil is high which is why putting a camera trap near a water body is a good option. Also it should be attached to a tree on a low level as most animals stand of four legs and not two.

Once we were back from camera trapping we readied ourselves for the night safari to follow. To be honest, even though we did not see the main attractions of the park the night safari was a lot of fun as I have never done it before and it was an eccentric experience. As the headlights are the only things that create little light in the jungle, looking back from the jeep was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. The wind and leaves in my hair and also the civet spotting, was one thing I’ll take definitely one thing that ill take back from that safari.

The next morning was again an early one at five where we rushed out to the jeeps at 5:45 and departure for a boat ride. Crossing a river with crocodiles was definitely one thing that made me keep my hand from the cool water. On the other side of the lake were another set of jeeps waiting for us to enter the park. The morning safari was not that different than the night, except the fact that the sky was lit up by the sun and not the stars. Although we did not see much, except various species of birds and different kinds of trees, the breakfast on rocks by the river definitely made up for that. The juice boxes, cookies and parathas were definitely the cherry on top of my cheesecake for the start of a new day. On returning from the safari, the two batches finally reunited and met for several hours and shared their experiences for hours until lunch. After eating we left for our community service in the village houses and school nearby. My group and I had to build a Chula with better ventilation so that the smoke doesn’t cause any health issues in the house. The overall experience of doing something to help someone else was very enriching. We used bricks, a mixture of dry clay, hay and water as cement and pipes to build this Chula. As the jeeps were doubling back for several students we decided to start walking back to the lodge. Seeing a sunset is not that big of deal, as we see it everyday over the sea back in Bombay but what was so different about this sunset was the fact that it was over a meadow.

Upon reaching the lodge, it soon dawned on us that this was our last night at Edu Tour 2016. It was clear that none of us wanted to leave. There was little keeping me from crying but I held it in all the same. Just how everything about this trip had been special, different, feedback session had been no exception. We gave our instructors feedback in a way in which we had to list our spade moment (difficulty), club moment (someone you wanted to hit and why), heart moment (favorite moment) and diamond moment (the cherry on your cheesecake). On finishing this and also a game of tangent, where we have to answer something completely unrelated to the question asked, we left the golghar for a bush dinner.  The next morning we ended our edu tour with the last activity of treasure hunt that was made by my own classmates. We gave our thanks to the Reni Pani staff and left for the Bhopal airport.

Its funny how in three days, I created infinite memories. Special Thanks to Ms. Vandana, Ms. Mrudangi, Ms. Ankana, Sir Marshall and the jungle lore team for accompanying us to this wonderful trip. It was by far the best edu tour I’ve had.

Report by: Soumya Karwa  Grade: 9