Khunia forest is basically a vast stretch of grassland with a huge watchtower standing almost in the middle of it. It is a part of the vast expanse of jungle covering the banks of Murti River from Latagur-Chalsa-Murti-Dhupjhora-Batabri-Ramsai-Kalipur and Neora river bed. Khunia lies on the way to Chapramari from Gorumara. The distance of Chapramari from Khunia is only 1 kilometer. The watchtower inside the forest is known as the Chandrachur watchtower which was formerly known as Khunia watchtower. This watchtower is famous for offering views of the entire expanse of the forest and also animals like bisons and elephants.

How to reach Khunia forest


Khunia forest can be reached by driving on the NH-31 Highway because the Khunia junction just outside the forest interconnects eastern and western Dooars. Khunia lies on the western part of the jungle. You will have to drive straight from Gorumara National Park from Murti River to reach Khunia forest. You will reach a crossing from where you have to take the left diversion to arrive at Khunia.

Attractions in Khunia forest


Formerly, there used to be a small settlement known as the Khunia Basti inside the forest only. However, the settlement was cleared and shifted outside the forest to keep the vast stretch of forest intact. Now, the Chandrachur watchtower (Khunia formerly) provides uninterrupted view of animals. The watchtower is also a vantage point offering panoramic view of the wilderness with the meandering Murti River. Unfortunately, there is no lodging facility in the forest. It is an open wilderness with a watchtower for the visitors to enjoy the panoramic view of the sprawling forest.

Just outside the Khunia forest is the Khunia More which is a significant junction. Near the Khunia More is the Batabari forest with the Batabari settlement. The Batabari is a part of the Gorumara Park but is a less significant one. From the Khunia junction one road extends towards Bindu which is the Indo-Bhutan border area and the other leads to Batabari, Murti and Lataguri which is also the entrance of Gorumara. A third extension goes towards Malbazar and the 4th one towards Jaldapara.

While you can find out which road leads where, pay a short visit to the Khunia Park just off the road. This is also a beautiful example of natural abundance in North Bengal. The best time to drive through the forest is of course in the morning. Start early and drive safely and you may spot an elephant crossing the road.

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Chukchuki Watchtower is also known as Chukchuki Birding Point inside the Gorumara National Park. It is an ideal vantage point for watching myriad birds and photographing them. Tourists visiting Gorumara are taken to the watchtower for bird watching either on elephant back or by a car. It is a bird watcher’s paradise where one can spot local as well as migratory birds. The watchtower is situated towards the end of the park and provides perfect view of the birds. It is one among many other watchtowers in the park from where visitors can spot different animals like rhinos for which the park is famous.

How to reach Chukchuki Watchtower


Chukchuki can be reached only after you have arrived at Gorumara National Park. Gorumara can be reached by air, rail or by road depending on the place you are coming from. The park is only 10 kilometers from Chalsa and 1 kilometer from Lataguri. Bagdogra is the nearest airport if you are traveling by flight and New Jalpaiguri or Maalbazar are the stations where you have to reach to arrive at Gorumara. Alternatively, you can take your car and opt for a long drive also. In that case, Highway NH-31 will be the route.

Attractions in Chukchuki Watchtower


There are 5 camps in Gorumara National Park where you can put up during your sojourn. However, you will have to book in advance in order to get rooms and guide for your elephant ride. There is a cafeteria where you can have food and snacks and also watch tribal dance in the evening.

You will be taken to the Chukchuki watchtower on the back of an elephant which is the most exciting activity in the forest or you can also opt for the four wheeler safari in which case you will ride a jeep. You will watch birds like Indian Hornbill, Spangled Drongo, Scarelet Minivet, Peafowls, Peacocks, woodpeckers, pheasants, Asian paradise suncatcher. These are all submontane forest birds and the place is also famous for migratory birds among which the rare Brahminy duck can also be spotted.

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Ramsai eco camp is basically a rhino camp located close to Kalipur eco camp in Gorumara. It happens one of the 5 camps managed by the forest department of Jalpaiguri established to promote tourism in the Gorumara region. Of course, like all the other 4 this Ramsai eco camp also provides an opportunity to experience jungle stay full of adventure and wildlife safari. An added opportunity at this camp is the vast tea estate of Ramsai. In fact, for adventure lovers visiting the place during monsoon will be a great idea because at Ramsai rhino camp tourists are allowed during this time of the year.

How to reach Ramsai Forest and Eco Camp


Ramsai (ramsay) forest and eco camp can be reached through Lataguri only because the entrance through the Gorumara forest has been closed. It only takes 1 hour to drive from Lataguri to Ramsai. You can hire a sumo for which you have to pay 1000INR if it is non AC and 1200INR if it comes with AC. If you are driving by your car, take National Highway 31 and follow the route through Chalsa and Nagrakata. Alternatively, get down at New Maal station which is 30 kilometers from Ramsai or New Maynaguri which is 20 kilometers from the same venue. If you are traveling by air, then Bagdogra is the nearest airport.

Accommodation in Ramsai Forest and Eco Camp


For accommodation, you will obviously be staying at the camp which needs to be reserved beforehand. You can also stay at the Forest Inn which has been recently acquired by Ramsai. This is a private property. The Ramsai rhino camp is a relatively new one with the same offering adventure to the tourists. The properties have basic amenities including food. Fresh local fish is used to prepare fish curries which are delicious and you must try the Puti and the Boroli fish.

Attractions in Ramsai Forest and Eco Camp


You can enjoy the elephant safari covering 1 kilometer into the jungle and a visit to the Medhla Tower and the tea garden at Ramsai. You can spot rhinos, elephants, bisons and wild boars from the watch tower. A unique bullock cart ride will cost 35 INR per person and take you through the small village inhabited by a few thousand people. As you explore the village and the Gorumara Park, you will realize that technology has not been able to take away from the simplicity of their lives. Come back and enjoy the tribal dance in the evening.

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Klaipur eco resort at Gorumara is a unique combination of jungle adventure and village lifestyle. The resort is located in the southern part of the Gorumara National Park famous for one horned rhinos which also serves as the border to Medla forest. The facility is administered by the Forest Department of Jalpaiguri Div II. Kalipur is one of the 5 such camps facilities run by the forest department of Jalpaiguri. This is an amazing facility for jungle lovers and adventure enthusiasts because this will remind you of the tree house stay. You will simply love the abundance of nature in these parts.

How to reach Klaipur Eco Resort


Gorumara is well connected with the major transport modes of the town. If you are taking the train, get down at New Jalpaiguri Station and hire a jeep/cab to travel 95 kilometers to reach Gorumara. Alternatively, the nearest airport is Bagdogra if you traveling by air which is 110 kilometers from the park.  From Jalpaiguri it is only 49 kilometers. You can either take the Maynaguri-Ramsai route about 17 kilomeetrs to Kalipur or drive through Lataguri which is 10 kilometers. The best time to visit Gorumara Kalipur Eco Resort is from the middle of October through March.  From 15th June to 15th September the park remains closed due to rain.

Accommodation in Kalipur Eco Resort


The cottages at Gorumara Kalipur Eco Resort are beautiful and furnished. The 4 cottages have bamboo finish and traditional built. You will get a feel of how our ancient forefathers used to live inside tree houses. The balcony offers a panoramic view of the lush green grasslands and the adjoining tea garden. The cottages providing accommodation for 2 people come at 3900 INR while the ones offering 3 bedrooms come at 5100 INR. The room charges also include food which consists of fish in lunch and chicken at dinner. The elephant trip charge is also included in this but for a bullock ride you will have to pay 35INR per head.

For  booking:

Divisional Forest Officer,
Wildlife Division – II
“Aranya Bhawan”, Jalpaiguri – 735101
Tel. + Fax : 03561-220017

Attractions in Kalipur Eco Resort


While enjoying your sojourn at Gorumara Kalipur Eco Resort you can explore the park through an elephant ride. You will be taken deep into the park to the Medhla watch tower where you will spot one horned rhinos which are only found in Gorumara in the entire country. Besides, you will also find elephants, bisons and leopards sharing space with rhinos. It is also a popular place for bird watchers where you will notice rufous treepiesserpent eaglesdrongospeacockshornbillfowls and black ibis. These birds are mostly found around the plains of Murti and Jaldhaka rivers.

Once the elephant safari is over, you can visit the Ramsai tea garden adjoining the park. The manager will arrange a visit for you on request. During the evening you can watch the tribal dance with the beatings of ‘madol’, drums creating an enchanting atmosphere. Also do not forget to visit the local shrines and seek blessings from them. You can enjoy a film on the wildlife to enhance the mystery pervading the atmosphere in the jungle.

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Dhupjhora is located on the southern part of the Gorumara forest and is famously known for the Elephant Camp. The Pilkhana or the elephant stables are located on the western banks of Murti River and therefore the elephant camp. This zone is also known as the Gachbari because of the Tree House accommodation offered to the tourists who visit this area with an excitement to watch elephants and also take a ride on their back into the forest. This unique eco-friendly tourism has won the hearts of many wild life enthusiasts.

How to reach Dhupjhora Elephant Camp


reaching-dhupjhora-elephant-campDhupjhora is accessible by flight, train as well as by road. Flight arrives at Bagdogra and from there you have to reach Siliguri to arrive at Gorumara or Dhupjhora. Alternatively, you can board a train and reach New Jalpaiguri station. From here hire a jeep/cab traveling through the Sevak Bridge to reach Dhupjhora. The road is wonderful with the first half offering you the view of majestic hills and the second half mesmerizing you with the pure greenery of the forest. Gorumara is 80 kilometers from Siliguri and the journey is quite smooth in most parts. From Lataguri the entrance to the camp is only 10 kilometers.

Accommodation in Dhupjhora Elephant Camp


dhupjhora-elephant-camp-1For accommodation the tree houses and cottages are available which you have to book previously. You can either draft 3,500 INR to the address of the forest department for booking or ask your travel agent to do it. The tree house of course made of wood has basic amenities inside and a balcony to enjoy the view of the jungle from atop. The charge includes boarding and food as well. You will be served 4 meals a day with deliciously cooked food. However, the menu is quite strict in terms of variety which is fish in lunch and chicken for dinner and also room service is not available. You have to come to the cafeteria to have food or snack on anything.

Attractions in Dhupjhora Elephant Camp


Gorumara is a thick forest with dense tropical vegetation. Birds and different types of animals like rhinos can be spotted here frequently. So, while you anticipate seeing an elephant you could just confront a rhino. The most striking activity at the camp is the bathing of the elephants in Murti River. The bathing episode lasts for 20 minutes. Next you can see them having lunch. These elephants are not wild; hence they are served rice and pulses for lunch. The special attraction at the camp is the elephant ride which begins at 6:30 and you will be taken deeper into the jungle to explore it. The mahut of the elephant will be your guide. The tour takes 1 hour.

During the evening you can either sit at the balcony marveling at the woods or visit the community center for local song dance program enjoying your snack. You may have a chance encounter with a peacock as well. The tea is particularly very tasty. You can also take a stroll through the tea garden adjacent to the forest. The best time to visit Dhupjhora is during summers. Enjoy the wilderness from ‘Chandrachur Watch Tower’. (except 15th June to 15th September).

Photo Courtesy: ghumakkar.com

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Located at a distance of 52 kilometers from Jalpaiguri, 15 kilometers from Lataguri and 10 kilometers from Chalsa, Gorumara National Park can be found on the floodplains of Rivers Murti and Jaldhaka in the Terai Region of the Himalayan foothills. The main highlight of Gorumara National Park is the overwhelming population of Indian rhinos. It is one of the best protected and well maintained parks according to the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The park covers an area of 80 square kilometers and the best time to visit the park is during the month of November through February when the weather is pleasant.

How to reach Gorumara National Park


Gorumara is located at a convenient position which can be reached by air, through rails and roads. Gorumara can be reached from Bagdogra within 2 hours through a winding road flanked by tea gardens. Alternatively one can reach the park by hiring a jeep or car from New Malbazar railway station or Maynaguri railway station. The car will take the National Highway 31 to Lataguri, the entrance to the park. For adventurous tourists you can take the path less trodden through Gajaldoba barrage over Teesta to reach Lataguri on the park outskirts.

Accommodation in Gorumara National Park


There are plenty of accommodation options around Gorumara National Park suiting the pocket of the travelers. There are budget accommodation facilities for tourists traveling on a stringent budget and on the other hand 3-4 star hotels and resorts display grand hospitality to the ones traveling extravagantly. The largest concentration of big budget resorts can be found in Lataguri. Both government and private resorts are available. Aranya Jungle Resort and Banai, WBFDC forest lodge near Murti River are the most popular ones. Some of the others include Aranya Resort – Lataguri, Riverwood forest retreat – Dhupjhora, Kakur Bari Resort – Dhupjhora, Sinclairs Retreast, Murti Cottages, Kalipur Eco Village and Dhupjhora Elephant Camps.

Attractions in Gorumara National Park


The diversity in the national park in terms of flora and fauna is astounding. It is home to 193 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, 22 species of reptiles, 27 species of fish and 7 kinds of turtles. All these different kinds of animals inhabit the park full of sal, teak, Bombax, grassland vegetation and Shirish trees. Different types of tropical orchids can also be found at the park. Gorumara is also famous for the safaris conducted for tourists. The entry fee at Gorumara is 40 INR. To see the fauna from close quarters you can opt for safaris which you have to book from the forest department.

Jataprasad is a famous watchtower named after the legendary female elephant Jataprasad located on the northern side of the park. There is also the Rhino Point close by. Methla Watchtower is in Kalipur eco village where a unique bullock cart driven safari is available. The others include Chukchuki Watchtower, Chandrachur Watchtower and Chapramari Watchtower. Rhinos, elephants, bisons, leopards and many other animals can be spotted from the watchtowers. Some of the other tourist attractions nearby include Jhalong, Bindu, Caron, Diana, Bhutan, Paren, Kalimpong Hills, and Jaldhaka.

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Rimbik is a small town that is located in the Singalila National Park. This small town can be described as a major attraction for people who are trekking from Darjeeling or a nearby area to the national park – a road that also includes the famous trek to Sandpakphu. In the recent years, tourists who wish to explore new destinations in addition to the established areas such as Darjeeling, Lava, Lolegao etc. have been visiting Rimbik as well. The hamlet is basically situated atop a mountain that overlooks the River Ramman that flows from Sikkim into Bengal. It could be described as the last major habitation on the Bengal side of the border. It is located in close proximity with both Nepal and Sikkim.

Rimbik has a big market that serves as a source of supplies that are needed by the nearby villages on a consistent basis. This is also one of the reasons why the local villages depend on Rimbik to a certain extent.

Attractions and accommodation facilities in Rimbik


As such there are not too many tourist attractions that one may be able to see in this small hill hamlet. However, as has been said already this place is a paradise for the trekkers. There are two routes that one can take from Rimbik en route to Sandakphu. There is a straight forest trail that emanates from Bikebhanjan to Rimbik. The other route connects Sandakphu to Rimbik and passes through Srikhola and Gurdung. This particular route is longer but this one is highly preferred by the trekkers over the first one.

There is an uneven road from Rimbik that you can take to reach Srikhola. The length of this road is about 7 km. It is from Srikhola that you can start your trek to Sandakphu. If you are not a hardcore trekker as such and wish to just partake in the experience just for the heck of it you could walk till Gurdung.

The small village named Timbure is located in between Gurdung and Srikhola. This is one area where you are sure to receive some basic accommodation facilities. It can also be assumed that since Rimbik is a trekkers’ destination you will get a number of trekking huts that will offer some decent facilities. Rimbik also offers you a fantastic view of Kanchenjunga.

Destinations near Rimbik


As has been stated already Rimbik is located on the route to Sandakphu. It is at a distance of 24 kilometers. Manebhanjan is at a distance of 55 km and it can be traversed in a car in around 2 and a half hours. Darjeeling, which is the place to be in this part of the world, is around 80 km and it takes approximately 4 hours to get to Darjeeling from Rimbik.

How to reach Rimbik


Siliguri lies at a distance of 130 km from Rimbik and it takes almost 5 hours to complete the tour. You can get down at the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station and then take a car on hire or board a bus that goes to Darjeeling via Ghoom.

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Singalila National Park located at the Singalila Ridge is a popular tourist destination in Darjeeling District West Bengal. Sitting at an altitude between 7,900 feet and 12,000 feet, it is a unique national park situated at the highest point in West Bengal. The Singalila National Park covers an area of 78.6 square kilometers and is popular for its wide range of flora, fauna and also because of the trekking route to Sandakphu and Phalut, two of the highest peaks in Singalila Range. Originally it was a wildlife sanctuary which has now been transformed into a national park where tourists are allowed to undertake jeep safari on the gravel road winding through the park starting from Manebhanjan.

How to reach Singalila National Park


Singalila National Park can be reached by road, railway and air. However, the easiest route is by road for which you have to travel from Siliguri to Manebhanjan where you will find the first sign of entrance to the park. The actual entry point is at Tumling which is a few kilometers from Manebhanjan. Another entry point of the park is through Rimbik which is another small settlement at the Singalila Ridge. The best time to visit the Singalila National Park is from March through May and again from October through early December. During the former months you will be able to see thick blossoms of orchids and rhododendrons covering the park. In the later months the snow capped peaks will dazzle you with their pristine beauty and color play during day and night in clear skies.

Accommodation in Singalila National Park


There are plenty of accommodation facilities available in and around the park. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration lodges and trekkers’ hut are available at various points like Gairibas, Tonglu, Sandakphu and Phalut. Online booking service is available. For non trekkers private lodges and huts galore at Tumling, Jhaubari, Meghma, Gairibas and Kalpokhri. One of the cheapest, well facilitated and best positioned accommodation units is the Shikhar Lodge near Singalila National Park.

Attractions in Singalila National Park


The Singalila National Park offers loads of attractions to the tourists which include its diverse and beautiful flora and fauna and the mesmerizing and enchanting view of Kanchenjunga and Everest. The forest is full of oak, ferns, silver firs, bamboo, primula, Bistort, Geranium, orchids, rhododendrons and magnolias. The rich fragrance and color of the trees and their blossoms fill the air during spring time. There are over 600 varieties of wild orchids in the Singalila National Park. This feature makes the park a unique destination in the world.

Amidst this beautiful environment live a large number of animals and birds which can be spotted during the jeep safari or trekking tour through the forest. The Red Panda, barking deers, pangolins, Pika, Takin, Clouded Leopard and birds like Satyr Tragopan, Old World Babblers and Golden-breasted Fulvetta can be spotted throughout the forest. A large number of reptiles and amphibians can be found near the Jore Pokhri and Sukhiapokhri Lakes.

The view from Sandakphu, the highest point of Singalila is enthralling. All the major peaks of Eastern Himalaya can be seen enveloped in a vast stretch of snow where time stands still.

Entry fee to the park is 100 INR and foreigners need to show their ID proof to enter the forest. Permission to enter the core area can be obtained from the forest department at Manebhanjan or Tumling.

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Established in 1986 Neora Valley National Park is located near Lava in Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling District. Covering an area of 89 square kilometers this park is of the richest biosphere reserve in India. Open from 8 am to 12 noon, 1pm – 4pm. It is closed on Thursdays. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations and is growing rapidly in importance due to the number of tourists and also due to the diverse flora and fauna of North Eastern Himalayas. Located at a distance of 32 kilometers from both Lava and Samsing which is the border area, Neora Valley National Park has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Entry fee to this awesome reserve is INR 20.

Covering an area of 89 square kilometers this park is of the richest biosphere reserve in India. Often referred to as the land of the endangered Red Panda, it offers a staggering variety of vegetation and also birds. The nature lovers will be overwhelmed by the abundance of rhododendrons, bamboo groves and mountain streams. The highest point of Neora Valley National park is 10,500 feet which is the Rachela Pass.

How to reach Neora Valley National Park


Both buses and cars can take you to North East India’s biggest biodiversity zone, Neora Valley National Park. Buses plying from Siliguri will take you to Kalimpong from where Lava is 32 kilometers. The entry point of Neora Valley National Park is through Lava. There is an alternative route through Samsing for which you have to reach Chalsa from Siliguri which is 65 kilometers. From Chalsa Samsing is about 18 kilometers from where you can enter the biological zone. Accommodation is obviously in Lava or Samsing depending on whichever route you are taking.

Attaractions in Neora Valley National Park


The geography of the Neora Valley National Park is unique. The heavy growth in the forest sometimes even restricts the sunlight from entering the forest. It is also known as the Virgin Forest and quite true to its name much of the forest land is yet to be discovered pushing the adventure lovers to explore those inaccessible parts. The Neora River is the primary water resource of Kalimpong.

The flora of the region is diverse and the virgin wilderness supports tropical, sub-tropical, temperate and sub-temperate vegetation inside it. Mixed species of bamboo, sal, oak, ferns, rhododendrons and various types of orchids can be found in the park. The fauna supported by the forest environment is even more diverse. Red panda, sloth bear, Himalayan Flying Squirrel, wild boar, leopard cat, goral, serow, civet are some of the mammal species living in the forest. Others include lizards, king cobra, green pit viper, moths, bugs, wasps, cicadas.

Neora Valley National Park is also known as the bird watchers’ paradise. Some of the most sought after birds can be spotted here within areas of 1600m-2700 meters. Birds like Jerdon’s Baza, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Tragopan, Golden-throated Barbet, White-browed Bush Robin, White-tailed Robin can be seen.

Trek to Neora Valley National Park


This is also a trekkers’ paradise because he/she can explore the diversity while climbing up to the highest point of the park which is the Rachela Pass. Jaributi is a particular point inside the park which is full of medicinal plants. Other interesting points include the Tiffin Dara and the Red Panda Camp.

You must obtain the permit to enter the park from forest range offices in Lava and Samsing and nobody is allowed in the park after sunset.

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Ponbu is a small almost insignificant village of Eastern Himalayas. It is situated on the trek route from Samthar village to Purbikhola. Ponbu is part of adventure tourism on the eastern Himalayan range and is 8 kilometers from Samthar village. Located atop the ridge overlooking the vast Teesta River Valley and the surrounding plain lands of Terai, Ponbu is a refreshing break from the busy life in lower Kalimpong hills. You won’t be able to take your eyes off the view from Ponbu. There are numerous waterfalls cascading downstream to meet the Ponbu Khola which further flows into the mighty Teesta River. All these streams form isolated valleys which are all individual trekking spots.

How to reach Ponbu village


Reach Ponbu by trekking from Samthar and put up at the home stays due to be scarcity of hotels or other accommodation units. Take some time out to enjoy a typical village life at the home stays with the residents at their farmlands and poultry. Ponbu is home to around 100 families.

Attractions  at Ponbu


The trekking route to Ponbu is actually a bird watching trip. You can explore the Nezeok Reserve Forest which is home to around 250 species of birds. Some of them include White Browed Shrike Babbler, Greater Yellownaped, Blue Throated Barbet, Blue Winged Minla, Ashy Bulbul, Pygmy Blue Flycatcher (female), Paddy Field Pipit, Streaked Spiderhunter, Longtail Broadbill, Orange Bellied Flowerpecker, Blue Whistling Thrush. This trek is actually a bird watcher’s paradise and one that you will never forget.

Trekking at Ponbu


You can walk down to the Teesta Valley through this route if you are interested. Explore the river banks of Teesta and Rilli. While exploring you will find an exciting way to cross the river practiced by the local people. The hand pulled ropeway is one of the most thrilling ways to cross the Teesta River. Though not for the faint hearted, it is generally an attraction of this place. After you have explored enough, drive down to Kalimpong Gurudongma House for overnight stay.

The trekking trip to Ponbu is generally divided into Upper and Lower Ponbu and it is on the lower Ponbu trip you can admire the course of Teesta and its valley.

Accommodation in Ponbu


Generally, tourists do not stay overnight in Ponbu because that is outside the trekking itinerary. However, if you wish to stay there, then home stays will be available with food. Sometimes, the trekking team sets up camps at Ponbu to explore the variety of birds in the region.

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