Strengthening community-run eco-tourism in Odisha

Ecstasy amidst nature

Tourism

April 21, 2019

/ By / Kolkata

satkosia-sand-resorts

The nature camp has excellent trails for walks and hikes that will rejuvenate your senses.             (Photo: Satkosia Sands Resort)

Spread on both the banks of Mahanadi, Satkosia Sands Resort provides a great view overlooking the majestic Satkosia gorge.

Picture this. You are sitting on the banks of a river, surrounded by a dense jungle, a row of a few cottages embedded in the foliage with a bonfire lit right in front of your tent, while you are silently gazing at the stars and are completely lost in solitude of the evening. Sounds like a dream, right? To make the dream come true, head to the Satkosia Sands Resort, a community-managed nature tourism initiative at Badmul nature camp in Nayagarh district, about 160 km northwest of Odisha’s capital, Bhubaneswar.

The most densely forested state in India, Odisha is not just famous for its beaches or lagoons but is a place of tremendous natural beauty. The landscape at Satkosia, where the Eastern Ghats meet the Deccan Plateau, is one of the most essential ecosystems in India. The initiative was first started by Odisha Forest Department in 2016 in Badmul, a village in the heart of Satkosia Tiger Reserve, as a community-based nature tourism destination. Within a couple of years it has emerged as a prime eco-tourism destination in the country.

With 16 tents and cottages on the banks of the Mahanadi, facing Satkosia Gorge, the site is managed by MaaSatabhauni, an organisation of the locals. The success of the project can be gauged from the numbers. Over the last three years, the resort’s earnings through tourism receipts have moved from INR 3.1 million to INR 10 million. It was visited last year by over 3,000 tourists, including those from countries like Britain, France and Germany. Around 28 locals, mainly women from the nearby villages, are in charge of the camp. The local community keeps about 90 pc of the revenue generated as per the policy. Locals claim that this is the first time any community-based tourism project in India has generated such a large revenue within such a short span, encouraging others to follow suit.

Due to its prime location, the camp facilitates a 360-degree view of the famous Satkosia Gorge. The forests, rivers, and the breathtaking views make you want to unwind and explore the beautiful nature camp. However, this camp is not just for nature lovers but is filled with activities like sports, birding, boating, cycling, canopy walk and trekking.

canopy

One can take a walk on the first ever canopy walkway in the state

Trek or cycle through the forests

The nature camp has excellent trails for walks and hikes that will rejuvenate your senses. A walking trail or a challenging trek is considered the best way to explore the jungle. One can also opt for cycling to discover the evergreen trails in the forest. It does not matter if you are a casual cyclist or a hardcore enthusiast.

One can also take a walk on the first ever canopy walkway in the state and the second in India. The 120 metre-long walkway allows eco-tourists to have a look at the beauty around from a height of 8 metre connecting treetops. You can also watch the birds in play as you gaze at the splendid flora of Satkosia from tree-tops.

wildlife

The migratory birds in this region are mostly spotted across the water bodies

Into the wild

Being one of the newest tiger reserves in Odisha, Satkosia is the perfect place to learn about the wonders of nature. You can find here various animals like elephant, tiger, deer varieties such as sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, the sloth bear and the gaur or the Indian bison. It is also an important habitat for both gharial and mugger, the Indian alligator. The migratory birds in this region are Brahminy ducks, Bar-headed geese, Pintails, and resident birds are Pied Hornbills, Peafowls, Kingfishers, Egrets, Cormorants, River Terns, Doves, Woodpecker, Golden oriole, Barbets, Minivets, Sunbirds etc. which are mostly spotted across the water bodies.

boating

The boats are commissioned with safety gears and trained boatman

Paddle around

Boating through the gorgeous gorge in river Mahanadi in front of the property can be an amazing experience where you can get a 360-degree view of the beautiful camp. Witness the migratory birds along with crocodiles and gharials basking away in the sunlight. You don’t have to worry about the safety at all as all boats are commissioned with safety gears and a trained boatman. They also provide special binoculars for bird watching and wildlife spotting.

night

Campfires are also organised where you can bond over stories of the urban legends

A night under the stars

How long has it been since you just sat under stars and not worried over a thing in the world? The clear sky over here is majestic where you can just sit by the river and stare at the stars without any external light source. Campfires are also organised where you can bond over stories of the urban legends. Folk dance is also organised for the visitors to immerse in culture amidst nature. The musical evenings along with the bonfires are enough to make your night look like a dream.

satkosiia

The sandy beach of the river can be a perfect location to engage in sand sports

Fun for the outdoorsy

The campsite is not just for nature lovers but has lots of activities for the sports lovers. The sandy beach of the river can be a perfect location to engage in sand sports with friends and family. There are also eco changing rooms for swimming around the bathing ghats that are a separate section.

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