Travelling in the North-East in the summer of 2006
Guwahati >> Eaglenest >> Tawang >> Nameri >> Kaziranga >> Shillong >> Cherrapunjee
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The angling camp at Potasali village is the only place to stay anywhere close to Nameri National Park, and so it was our natural choice. It was a delightful place to be in, located in a quiet village at the border of the park, just next to Bharali River.
Potasali Angling Camp
The names were many – Bharali river, as it was written in the map, was locally called Jia Bhorelli. The angling camp being in Potasali village, was normally called Potasali angling camp while the sign on their gate read – ‘Bhorelli Angling Camp’.
It was early evening when we had arrived, and the rest of the day was consumed in a short walk towards the river. Bharali river served as a border to the park, and we could see the thick forest with tall trees to the other side of the river. As we walked on the shore, a couple of people in a raft with some angling gear arrived floating down with the current, ending their day-long fish hunt.
Bharali river and the forest of Nameri National Park
The next morning we went on a guided trek in the park. The guide said that the park does have some tigers, and obviously we did not get to see any. But the birds were in good numbers and there were many species that we had never seen earlier. Green Pigeons – yellow footed green pigeon and a few more varieties were prominent. But what awed us was the presence of hornbills in great numbers. We were once walking on an open patch when my fellow traveller sighted four great hornbills flying past. When another one followed from behind, he started counting. Soon came two more and then there was silence. There were seven in all, he said, and by the time he finished, another one followed! We were all walking towards them, and now stopped and decided to wait. In the next few minutes while we waited, they kept coming one after another, taking the count up to more than 30! None of us had ever seen great hornbills in such big numbers, and watching them arrive with swooshing sound of their wings was a real treat. We walked further only after waiting for a few more minutes and ensuring that there were no more of them coming in.
Great Hornbill flying past us..
We decided to go rafting later in the afternoon. This was no rafting in the rapids, but a pleasant floating journey down the river with no major obstacles to worry about. We descended into the river almost 15km upstream from the camp. Two boatmen in the raft took care of steering and rowing the raft while we sat back and enjoyed the beauty around. The Himalayan river Bharali, which probably originated somewhere near Sela pass carried down perfectly clear water in which we could clearly see the bottom even in the deeper stretches. At the start of the ride, we saw a few Ibis Bills, a bird which is hardly seen anywhere else in India. It was a pleasant sailing down the river as the current carried us smoothly downstream most of the time, with few or little turbulences. At some place where the river widened, the boatman pulled out the raft ashore and said we can swim here if we like. We were all waiting for an opportunity and jumped in the very next moment. It was indeed a bit cold but not too cold to feel chilling. We were accustomed to it in no time and immensely enjoyed swimming in those clear waters. Infact we did not really feel like getting out of there, but we eventually had to. We spent nearly four hours on the river and it was late in the evening and already pretty dark by the time we arrived at the camp.
A bird we had managed to identify with great difficulty; but I can’t recall its name again..!
It was time for us to depart the next morning. We were all heading in different directions from here. I was planning to go to Kaziranga, another one of us was headed to Namdhapa and the third one was heading back home. It was a short, but very eventful stay for us at Nameri.
About Nameri National Park
Nameri National Park, adjoining Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal, falls in Sonitpur district of Assam. The Potasali Angling Camp or Eco Camp as it is sometime called, is the only accommodation close to the camp. Book in advance, as it often gets full. Next option to stay would be at budget hotels in nearby town of Bhalukpong. To reach the camp, drive to Tezpur from Guwahati. Take the Tezpur-Bomdila highway and drive for another hour via the town of Balipara till you reach a place called Haathi Gate. Turn right on a small road without tarmac at Haathi Gate, and ask around for the camp. Frequent buses connect Guwahati and Tezpur. From here, you can take local buses or shared jeeps to reach Haathi Gate.
You can trek in the park with the assistance of a forest department guide. The angling camp can organize angling trips and pleasure rafting trips on Bhorelli river.