Months of dragging yourself through classes, weeks of the same mundane routine, days of ruffling through pages, and managing to squeeze in a few hours of sleep. There’s a way out of this dull clockwork life of ours. ‘The Adventurer’ program brings to you an opportunity full of zest and thrill, to wrap yourself in the beauty of nature.
‘The Adventurer’ is a six-week outdoor education program exclusively for the students of Manipal. At the end of the training period the team of students, guides and teachers embark on a cycling and trekking expedition into the Agumbe Nature Reserve. Some highlights of the trip are a ninth century fort, a secluded waterfall, camping on Kundadri Hill, catching a glimpse of the majestic Milky Way rise, and a possibility of spotting the King Cobra.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM LEADER
‘The Adventurer’ is a program founded by Mr Ganesh Nayak, a professor in the Department of Instrumentation and Control Engineering at MIT. Apart from being a qualified engineer, he is a trained Outdoor Educator who has earned a certificate for the same from the esteemed National Outdoor Leadership School, USA. He is well-known for his bicycle expeditions in the Himalayas, Iceland, and the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia. He has been training students and organizing bicycle rides and treks since 2015.
To help us understand this program better, Aarushi Jain, an assistant instructor has shared her experience.
WHAT PART DOES ‘THE ADVENTURER’ PLAY IN YOUR LIFE AND IS IT WORTH THE EFFORT?
‘The Adventurer’ came to me at a very weird time. It was a gloomy night and I just wanted to get out of the dullness and monotony. I wanted to do bring some changes in my life – meet new people and leave the world as I knew it behind, even if it was just for a short while. And fortunately for me, this presented the perfect getaway.
In six weeks, we dealt with almost all the aspects of sustainable travel, endurance training, independence and everything one needs to venture out in the wild. For the first five, we would train four days a week. We would ride early in the morning before college started. Initially, we were freaked out at the thought of waking up that early, sometimes even second-guessing joining the program. However, once we assembled at the location and training began, it put all these thoughts behind me. There were three hanging bridges that we rode to and we even took a leap into a natural pond. The final expedition we took on was to Kudremukh – a ride of 250 km and a trek of 20 km approximately. Riding through the greenery and the fresh breeze whistling past me made everything worth it. We reached the base camp of Kudremukh in the evening of the second day and by then it was dark already so we couldn’t explore much. The next day we started our trek. The sholas of Kudremukh were simply breath-taking. When I reached the top (the second highest peak in Karnataka with an elevation of more than 3000 metres) the pain, the struggle and the stress were nothing more than a wisp of my memory. Something inside me changed that day I emerged out to be stronger than ever.
WHAT HURDLES DID YOU JUMP TO REACH YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL?
As for the hardships, except for the upward slopes and the early morning rise, the program was set at a very steady and disciplined pace. There was an incubation period in the beginning for us to get acquainted with the rest of the crew and adapt to the new routine we would follow for the upcoming weeks. I was probably one of the weaker cyclists, but towards the end of the training phase, I was as good as any of the others. With time, everyone got over their fears and overcame their struggles in this program. Several people tell me that it helped them gain confidence and self-esteem back too. It was a life-revolutionizing experience for each one of us in our own quirky ways.
WHAT SORT OF GUIDANCE AND EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE WERE YOU PROVIDED FOR THE PROGRAM?
We had some very interesting workshops associated with the program. There was a session with a trained physiotherapist who taught us about our postures and certain exercises which would help us in the long run, pertaining not only to the ride and trek but in general as well.
Then we had a workshop on snakes and wilderness first aid at Kasturba Medical College with Dr Freston. He gave a basic idea of how we should adapt to situations when confronted with the several animals found in Kudremukh. Another workshop we attended was hosted by Madhushree Ma’am, an acclaimed ecologist. She taught us about the diversity found in Kudremukh and the rare species we could possibly encounter, like the dancing frog.
We had a session with Mr. Rahul, who is a bird enthusiast. He took us for a tour and showed us several varieties of birds around Manipal and taught us how to recognize what species it is. Lastly, we had a session with Mr Regaen, who hosted a workshop on bike maintenance.
The faculty members accompanying us, as well as the instructors, were very experienced and imparted a great part of their knowledge to us. They were well-equipped with the amenities and supplies, and very responsible in managing a bunch of college students.
Written by Tejas Mishra for MTTN.