1. Where does the walk start and end?
The walk starts on Neelankarai beach. To reach here you need to come down the East Coast Road and turn left just after Shanthi hospital and Vasan Eye Care. There is an arch over the road which says Kapaleeshwar Nagar. This turning is about 5 km from the Thiruvanmiyur Marundeeswarar temple. It is not possible to park vehicles here.
The walk ends at Besant Nagar (Elliot’s) beach, approximately 7 kilometers away.
2. How can we get to Neelankarai?
Unlike other walks this walk starts and ends in different places. And when the walk ends it is early in the morning when we are most tired. So we can have our vehicles parked close to the exit point.
So we usually bring our bikes or cars and park them near Besant Nagar beach (maybe on 5th Avenue that leads to the beach). From Besant Avenue (opposite Fruit Shop), 6 D bus will take you to Thiruvanmiyur and from there Share autos to Neelangarai. Or else you can get Share autos from Adyar. You can take an auto right from where your vehicle is parked but they tend to overcharge as its late in the night. Be at the 6D bus stop by 10 pm.
3. When should we assemble in Neelankarai?
We have to be at Kapaleeswar Nagar arch beach in Neelankarai before 11.15pm.
4. What do we do when we meet?
We have a question-answer session where the public are encouraged to raise questions on issues related to turtles, conservation, the state of the environment and any other pertinent topic. We often have lively discussions on contemporary issues before the walk starts.
5. Do we walk every night?
SSTCN volunteers walk every night of the week, but walks are open to the public only on Friday and Saturday nights.
6. How long does the walk take?
The duration of the walk depends on what we see on the walk. We usually also take a break at the mid point – Valmiki Nagar beach – and leave from there only after 3 am. We are likely to reach Besant Nagar beach by around 5 AM. If we do see or find nests, the walk can go on for much longer, even stretching till 6 or 7 am sometimes.
7. Can we bring something to eat?
Preferably not, but if you do bring, please do not use disposable bottles or containers.
8. Does SSTCN arrange transport?
No, SSTCN does not arrange transport. But lone walkers (esp women) can join sstcn volunteers in 5th Avenue at 10 pm.
9. How long is the turtle nesting season?
The turtle nesting season starts in January and continues till March. Our walks are conducted sometimes into April because hatchlings from our nests keep emerging and on the beaches we sometimes find hatchlings which have emerged from wild nests. We need to safely release them into the sea.
10. Do we have to make a payment to participate in the walk?
No, you don’t have to make any payment to participate in the walk. SSTCN is a non profit organization run entirely by volunteers.
11. Is there any age restriction for the walk?
As such we have no age restrictions. However, the walk spans 7 kilometers of beach so we need to be sufficiently fit. For very young children and for the elderly, who aren’t up to staying awake and walking through the night, we suggest that they visit the hatchery in March and April and witness hatchlings being released.
12. Is the walk only for students or can adults come too?
The walk is open to everyone. Several schools and colleges organize for their students to join us. As mentioned earlier, we have no age restrictions. The only criteria we look for in our participants are an interest in the environment and some basic levels of fitness.
13. Where on the beach do we walk?
We generally walk near the shoreline.
14. Is there a dress code?
We can dress in comfortable clothes and sandals but preferably not shoes which can get uncomfortable when wet. From January to mid February it can be quite cold in the nights and it is better to wear something a little warm. Shorts/ three quarters and tee shirt are preferable after mid February as other clothes may get wet and it is quite warm anyway.
15. Do we have rules that we have to follow?
If not for other reasons we are often a mixed age group so we are particular about walkers not smoking or consuming alcohol on the walks or coming drunk [even slightly so].
Note: SSTCN is a serious conservation organisation. Turtle walks are conducted for people genuinely interested in conservation and wanting to learn about turtles and other conservation issues. Walks are not for entertainment purposes.