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Walk in nature, shake off the summer heat

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Weekend Plus Desk :
Just ‘walk it off,’ is what most people say to cool others down. The coming months will surely hit you with soaring temperatures. How about challenging yourself by hiking or simply traversing a plantation? To beat the heat, merge with nature by walking through a rainforest or in a stream and then wink back at the sun.
A relaxing spa therapy or scrumptious meal easily make it to the to-do list when you check into a hotel. How about opting for nature walks organised by some of the luxury hotels in the country?
The Lalit Resort & Spa in Bekal, north Kerala, is surrounded by picturesque gardens, organic farms and a river. The guests are shown the coral lake, a walk around the river and more.
They have also tied up for a plantation trek with Ratnakaran from Thonikadavu in Kasargod district, Kerala. Guided by Ratnakaran, guests can take a walk through plantation where they can find coconut, walnut, cashew, papaya, black pepper and betel nut trees.
Along with some of God's gifts in the form of fruits, you can even take home a bag and a hat made on the spot by him with betel nut tree leaves.
“People are increasingly getting interested in such walks as it’s a good change from the activities available in the cities. And with the help of hotels, nature walks are becoming popular among people,” Ratnakaran, whose family also offers ‘sadya’ - a traditional vegetarian feast in Kerala - to his guests, said.
Talking about hotels incorporating nature walks in their itinerary to attract tourists, Parvinder Singh Bual, General Manager, Vivanta by Taj - Madikeri, Coorg, set in the midst of a 180-acre rainforest, said: “The nature walk has been an intrinsic part of the hotel. The whole idea is to bring you closer to nature so, we couldn't have done this without including nature walks.”
“Naturalists have studied the whole area and they are the ones who pick up the trails. Walks vary on the basis of what the guest likes. It can be bird-watching or stream-walking.”
Abhishek Jain, a naturalist, has been associated with the property for a while and also does customised wildflife trips for families and companies.
“The first part of the rainforest walk will take you through a coffee estate, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and other types of spices. There is a paddy field too. It’s about three kms and age is no bar. We have had people as young as a four-year-old or as old as 80,” he said. “Those who want to enjoy scenic beauty can go for a hike. That is based on fitness. People get a sense of it after walking for five minutes. Based on that, we take a walk through the shola forest where the trees are stunted,” he added.
He suggests hikers to go to Pushpagiri, which is said to be second-highest peak of Kodagu, and sixth highest peak in Karnataka.
If you thought Pune, Maharashtra, was just for buttery Shrewsbury biscuits, think again. There are quite a few nature-inspired experiences that you can indulge in.
“Be it the city excavation or the nature trail, activities revolve around the local surroundings of the region,” Sachin Didolkar, Director of Business Development, Conrad Pune, said.
“Embark on a Spiritual Sojourn’ at Conrad Pune is a typical one-day affair that has the guests exploring the soulful beauty of mediating at the Osho retreat, indulging in natural and organic vegetarian meals, having an open air yoga session in green forest habitat and finally mingling with the wildlife - like interacting with peacocks and other fauna,” he added.
At The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore, a luxury jungle resort located adjacent to the Ranthambore National Park, every nature walk is instructive, as guests explorie and gain knowledge about the flora and fauna with a naturalist.
During the walk, the naturalist takes guests bird-watching, explaining the birds’ behavioural aspects as also the ir role in the ecosystem. He also provides important and interesting facts about the local flora.
The naturalist team has recorded over 70 species of birds in the hotel, including the exotic ones like the crested serpent eagle, Indian spotted eagle, Indian eagle owl, ultramarine flycatcher, grey headed canary flycatcher and Indian paradise flycatcher.
“It is not only the apex predators that are important, but also the lesser flora and fauna that we don’t bother to learn about,” said Sandesh Guru, Naturalist - The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore. n

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