The plan was made only a few days before the journey date. As my friends were driving from Hyderabad and joining us in Vijayawada, we decided that we will travel to Vizag, break the journey for a night and then travel onwards to Ananthagiri Hills. I went ahead to booking the rooms.
Once that job was taken care of, we just waited for the day. We started at 5:00 AM from Vijayawada and out of the vehicle of choice was Swift Desire. We decided to have breakfast at Rajahmundry but when it did arrive, we decided to skip ahead. Within this are you should certainly try a local delicacy, these are called “Kobbari Vundalu” and “Kova Billalu”, sorry but I am not going to translate that into English. These are made with milk and are sold at Rs. 2 per piece in the local street shops. After we went past we struggled to find a place for breakfast, after a lot of indecision and stopping at a few places to eat, we stopped 50 KMS from Rajahmundry. The place was not really a place to eat, the food was crap and the place was not clean, so, if you have this kind of travel plans, do have your breakfast at Rajahmundry.
Although there is a lot of talks that the road from Vijayawada to Vizag is great, you need to understand that these roads run right through numerous villages, you hit a village literally every 10-20 KMS, so there really is no chance of maintaining a decent average speed. We reached the AP Tourism Rushikonda Beach Resort, Visakhapatnam around 14:30. You are best placed if you look for Gitam University rather than the resort, the resort is perched on a hill opposite Gitam University.
Check in was easy, took less than 5 minutes. We were helped by the courteous staff, which, going in by reviews on Tripadvisor was the only issue with this resort. We, however, experienced top class customer service for the length of our stay. We were tired and hungry, we booked two luxury room and as we stepped into the spacious rooms, our spirits just rejuvenated from the view and the generous layout of how the room was built. The room itself is spacious enough but the room is accommodated with a gigantic balcony, almost the size of the room which overlooks the beach. One of the most beautiful views you will find within Andhra Pradesh. We ordered food, the restaurant was quick and efficient, our order turned up in less than 20 minutes.We took a short nap and by 16:00 we hit the beach. On our way out, we were informed about a Tribal Dance being held at the resort. We left for the beach, the Rushikonda beach was the complete opposite of the beauty it portrayed from the balcony of our resort rooms. The beach was filthy as if it was one huge gigantic garbage can. There was nothing that you could not find in the waves that were washing up. However, we did find a part of the beach that was parted by rocks, this part was slightly cleaner.
I woke up next day to watch the sun set over the beach and we were in for a rude shock. there were several people who were answering nature’s call right on the beach, yes, right there on the same beach where come evenings there will be hundreds of visitors playing in the water, maybe gulping some down, yes, granted the ocean is vast and maybe the water does not get contaminated but, welcome to India where no body give a dime about maintenance or maintaining a public recreational place.
After visiting Rushikonda, which is basically a hill which you can drive up for some scenic views, we started our journey to Araku where we were to stay at Haritha Hill Resort Anantagiri Hills which is managed by AP Tourism. The place is nice as this is not the first time we visited this resort. It’s decent and basic food and amenities are provided in the middle of nowhere and the resort itself is beautifully built. We then went on to visit Borra caves, Katki falls and nearby surroundings.
Katki falls is an amazing place, This is my second visit to Katiki Falls. Assuming you will be staying at the Ananthagiri Hills AP Tourism Resort, this is very close to the resort. You will hit a junction where one direction leads you to Katiki Falls and the other to Borra caves. If you are travelling by car, you will need to stop here and rent a Jeep to take you close to Katiki Falls. The charges are Rs. 1000 if you want to rent out the jeep or Rs. 150 if you don’t mind sharing the ride. We chose the Rs. 1000 option as we were 2 couples.
Once you take the horrendous but exciting drive up the hill in the jeep, you begin to realise that you have spent your money well. The road is treacherous but the drivers are skilled and the jeeps are modded for these conditions. The jeep will drop you off at the base of a hill from where your 2 KM trek begins, this trek will certainly sap some energy off you. Remember to take water with you, although there is stall from where you can buy.
Along the way, you will find kids selling amla, an old couple selling “Cheekulu” a chicken snack similar to satay chicken but completely cooked on coal. Do buy from the couple as the snacks are delicious. Avoid all the Bamboo Chicken sellers as all of them are scamsters and they will give you rubbish for the premium cost the charge. I repeat, avoid the Bamboo chicken sellers, especially a guy called Bamboo Chicken Apparao who will pester you.
The fall itself is amazing, the last bit of trek is the most challenging as the surface gets extremely slippery. The fist time I visited Katiki, we were four of us and we had the fall all for ourselves and we spent a good two hours. The water drops from a height of over 50-60 feet and it does pack a punch. The water is cold and you will be out of breath once it hits you so heavily. This time around when we visited the falls, there were about 20 travellers and it was horrendous. Although others who came along with me had fun, I really did not like it as there were so many people. The base of the fall is actually only about 12 feet and everyone will have to squeeze into that space.
There is a small pool of water at the base of the falls but there were beer bottles broken and splattered all over the place and hence everyone was avoiding the pool and the remaining area got really crowded.
Remember the following if you are visiting Katiki Falls;
- Avoid the Bamboo Chicken sellers. Read more about Bamboo Chicken
- Avoid Weekends or Public Holidays.
- Stay safe, if there are not many jeeps at the base, ask your driver to come along with you.
- This is completely unmaintained, so watch out for sharp objects near and around the falls.
- Always travel at least in a group of 4 or more.
- Keep your belongings safe.
Borra caves was fascinating with the folklore about deities and formations of the caves, it was almost closign time when we reached there and we had to bribe the officials there to reach inside. It was a great two day trip to Vizag and Ananthagiri Skills.
A time lapse video shot from my room 210 at the AP Tourism Haritha Resorts in Ananthagiri Hills, Araku Valley. This was shot on the 9th September 2013 from 05:45 AM to 07:15 AM with a 5 Second interval using the Lapse it Pro Application on an iPhone 5. Another variation.