The raging falls of Onake Abbi sit at the very edge of the Western Ghats, of which it is a part. The trail that leads you to the magnificent sight of its water falling from a height of nearly 400 meters is one that is a fun jungle adventure.
From Agumbe town centered among fantastic forests, Onake Abbi is just a couple of kilometers by road. From Theerthahalli it is 38 kilometers. Drive past Agumbe town and just ask around for these falls; absolutely everybody will know where it is. It is much easier to find it this way rather than to look for direction boards.
Since you will not be able to take the vehicle beyond a certain point, this point becomes the starting point of the trek by default. The trek to Onake Abbi used to be a seven kilometer trek through extremely dense jungle until the government cordoned off a large part of what used to be this trail in an effort to safeguard the overwhelming variety of medicinal plants that grow here. This step has effectively reduced the trail to four kilometers and given it an easily identifiable path of rocks on the wet jungle floor.
Onake Abbi is one of the tallest falls of the Western Ghats. Sighting it in the peak of the monsoon will make your jaw drop. It falls with so much force that if you are close, 40 to 50 percent of what you see and feel is just an ice cold spray that dissipates in the face of the falls.‘Onake’ is the vernacular word for a long pole that is used to grind spices. The rock cliff off which these waterfalls rush over resembles this long and heavy pole after which it is named.
Interestingly, though Agumbe is blessed with the river, Sithanadhi whose voracious appetite is matched by a torrential monsoon, Onake Abbi's source is not this river. Instead, it is fed by small estuaries and many jungle seasonal streams. So naturally, it runs rather dry in the summer months. Taking this into account, between November and January would be the best time to see Onake Abbi.
If you are going to be straying off the designated path to the falls, it is best that you do this in a group. It is never a good idea to explore the jungle on your own, if you have no prior experience of being there.In all, this easy trek totals to four kilometers from the main road of Agumbe. Or, one kilometer from Agumbe bus stand to the gate of Onake Abbi. If you are traveling from out of town just for this trek, the ideal landmark for you would be the Agumbe Check Post.
It is most likely that by December of 2013, the government would have successfully constructed a cement road right up to the falls. Along with such plans, they have also put a significant part of the area under the title of Medical Plant Conservation Area – for the time being.The trek and sighting of the falls is a truly spectacular experience. As you walk through these thick jungles, look out for a bird known as the little school boy whose call is long, musical and much like a little child idly whistling as he plays.
Onake Abbi falls in the direction of South Canara. If you are skilled enough, you can trek to the top of it from where you can see as far as Mangalore, over 100 kilometers away. This would, obviously, depend on how clear a day it is.
The trail through the jungle that leads you to the bottom of the falls and its natural pool is completely downhill. It would take you at least one and a half hours to get there. Remember that nowhere in the rainforests of Agumbe will you be able to spot any large game. This is the land and playground of reptiles, amphibians and birds. Sambhar and mouse deer, civet cat and leopard are some mammals that reveal themselves at times.
You should definitely keep an eye out for the ball millipede. A kind of millipede that defends itself by rolling into a beautiful black ball, one so pretty that you just might mistake it for an ornate shell. If it's the Western Ghats experience that you seek, it is best you come out to find Onake Abbi Falls and her jungle trail.