A lesser-known off-beat trek in the Western Ghats in Karnataka is the Valikunja hike. Unlike the other popular treks in Kudremukh National Park, like Netravati and Kudremukh, this hike is not taken up by several people, letting you enjoy it in peace. It is a challenging hike that is well worth your effort, but the leeches – you would have to be aware of. Trust us on this. This blog compiles everything you need to know for the Valikunja trek.
Valikunja Hiking Guide
Table Of Contents
- How To Reach?
- Best Time To Do Valikunja Hike
- Languages Spoken
- Network Availability
- ATM Availability
- Parking Availability
- Restroom Facilities
- Where To Eat?
- Where To Stay?
- Guide Contact
- Things To Do In Valikunja
- Hiking Details
- Important Points To Remember
- Essential Things To Carry
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Related Posts
How To Reach?
Kerekatte village is where the forest checkpost office is located. It is nearly 40 km away from Samse, 50 km from Agumbe, and close to 27 km from Sringeri. It takes one hour to reach either of the three villages devoid of the distance. On our trek, we chose to stay in Samse and start an over-tour of about an hour to reach the destination. You could also opt to get on the local buses that pass through Kerekattle and stop there. However, this is not highly dependable. So, your best option is to go for a jeep or an auto ride to the village from Samse. The condition of the roads is well-laid.
Best Time To Do Valikunja Hike
The best time to do the Valikunja trek is the post-monsoon months, from October to January. Fair warning: Expect a lot of rain and leeches from July to early September. Thanks to the brown grass around, the summer months ooze a golden hue and are relatively much dryer.
Kannada is the only language spoken by the locals. We found that the forest officials speak limited English.
Only the BSNL network was found to work in the region. Unfortunately, Airtel and Jio did not hold out right from the start of the trek. We couldn’t find a signal even at Kerekatte village.
There are no ATMs available in the village. The nearest ATM is 5 km away, in the town of Siddapura. So be sure to stock up on cash earlier.
A spacious parking lot is available near the forest checkpost office at the Kerekatte village. You can park your vehicles there.
There are restrooms available at the forest check post office. After that, however, you’re dependent on nature throughout the trek, right from the start.
Where To Eat?
There are a couple of restaurants right opposite the forest check post office. Since we brought in a packed lunch from our homestay, we’re unsure about its taste. It is always best to bring a packed lunch for the hike, along with snacks, energy bars, chocolates, fruits, and water.
Where To Stay?
There are no homestays available at the Kerekatte village. People usually come in from Samse for the Valikunja trek. We stayed at Maavina Kombe Homestay (+91 9740360365) at Samse. It is a spacious property with a very kind host. The food was also good. They also offer pickup and drop services from the Samse circle.
We recommend contacting Vishwanath for all the arrangements for your Valikunja trek. Trust us when we say he makes things easier for you. This includes the guide and the vehicle to drop you from the forest checkpost office to the hike’s starting point. Refer to us, “Twins On Toes,” and get the best deal!
Vishwanath: +91 9740360365
Things To Do In Valikunja
Hiking is the singular most popular activity in the region. A few people also opt to see the waterfall.
Entry fee: Rs. 500 per person (for Indians) + Rs. 1000 for a guide (1-10 persons). Extra charges for DSLR + lenses that you carry. The price differs for students and foreigners.
Permission: Since Kudremukh National Park lies in the reserved forest, seeking permission from the Karnataka Forest Department is mandatory. Trespassing is a punishable offense. The permission has to be obtained from the office at Kerekatte.
Registration: Unlike the popular treks in the region, Valikunja is still offbeat. Online registrations are not required. You can walk into the office directly and get yourself registered.
Camping: Not allowed.
Timings: Entry is permitted from 6 AM, while the last entry is allowed until 9 AM. You have to descend by 6 PM.
Duration: 4 – 5 hours for the ascend, 3-4 hours to descend.
Highest Altitude: 1050 m
Hike Distance: 9.5 Km, one-way.
Water Resources: You will encounter three waterfalls in your first couple of kilometers of hiking. There are no water resources beyond that. This means you’re entirely dependent on your bottled water for the rest of 14-15 km, to and fro. Keeping in mind the season, be sure to carry enough water.
Difficulty Level: Difficult, highly subject to your fitness level.
Terrain: Grasslands, Forests, streams, and rocks
Wildlife: We didn’t spot any wildlife while hiking.
A jeep or a Tatat ACE would be arranged by Vishwanath, depending on the size of your group. Extra charges apply. The journey is about 5 km long inside the forest, and the drop is at this location. This ride would take you about half an hour, and the hike starts later.
The hike is wide-spaced, with beautiful views of trees and multi-colored leaves. After walking about a kilometer, you would come across the first water stream, and the next few follow closely. Ensure to refill your bottles since there are no water sources after this. On our way, we had to stop at several spots to get rid of the leeches, so be sure to protect yourself against that as well.
The trail combines open terrains and dense forestry and doesn’t have much of an ascend. You would have to walk inside the forest for quite a while and the open terrains for about a kilometer.
The view was spectacular, with dew drops clinging to the leaves since it had rained a few days earlier. The endless mountain range of the Western Ghats gives you company as you walk.
The valleys are visible when you go past 3/4th of the hike’s distance. The last few kilometers are incredibly steep, with overgrown grass making the ascend extra challenging. Make sure to keep climbing up, though.
The very first peak you come across is different from the Valikunja. Neither is the next. Keep walking along the side of the visible trail to reach the next hill, the summit you are looking for.
At The Valikunja Summit:
The summit peak is marked with a transmission tower. The 360° view is breathtaking. We saw a rainbow adorning the skies above the Western Ghats.
Important Points To Remember
- The use of plastics, smoking, and drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited. The bags are searched thoroughly, and any plastic found is immediately disposed of at the forest checkpost office, including the chocolate wrappers.
- As a hiker, it is incumbent on you to be responsible and not litter. Leave it better than it was before.
- Hiring a guide is mandatory for the Valikunja hike, without which you will be denied entry. This means that you cannot do this hike solo. Upon reaching the forest checkpost office, the officers will arrange a guide for you.
- The directions are not marked along the trail. The chances of getting lost are high in the Kudremukh National Park. So, make sure to stick with your guide or group.
- Beware of leeches. There are plenty of leeches found along the trail. It is important to know how to get rid of them the right way.
- Start early. You should reach the forest check post office at Kerekatte by 7:30 AM at the latest. The formalities and the jeep ride will take an hour before you start your hike. Any delay will lead you to a hustle.
Essential Things To Carry
- Ensure you carry at least 2 L of water per person.
- Have a copy of your Aadhar or other proof of ID, which would be checked while registering for the trek. Everyone has to fill in their address, contact details, and a sign.
- Take sufficient cash with you as you cannot make online payments at the forest check post office due to the poor networks in the area.
- Take a decent amount of snacks and energy bars. There are a limited number of shops and product shops in Kerekatte.
- Cap, sunscreen & sunglasses are essential if you are hiking between January and June.
- Carry a poncho or raincoat if you are traveling from June to December.
- Wear comfortable shoes since the hike distance is fairly long.
- Trekking poles will help you plenty.
- Do not carry flammable materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
How difficult is the Valikunja trek?
The total distance of the trek is close to 20 km. And this needs to be done in a day, and keep in mind the steep ascend. You can take up this trek if you are physically fit and mentally strong. Our opinion would be that prior trekking experience plays a major role. The difficulty level of the trek is placed between moderate to difficult. However, this assessment is highly subject to your fitness level.
What is the challenging section of the hike?
The last couple of kilometers of the trek are steep and overgrown with grass. This makes it one of the most difficult points of the whole trek. The unavailability of water sources beyond the initial few water streams and the exhaustion take their toll. The leeches you would have to beware of don’t help. But trust us when we say you’ll sure enjoy the journey and the view does make justice to the arduous path that you take.
Can we hike solo to the Valikunja trek?
Being accompanied by a guide is mandatory to hike to the Valikunja, without whom you will be denied entry from the forest check post office. This is due to many mishappenings in the region. So, you cannot hike or enter alone. Trespassers will be severely punished and fined.
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