Living in India and not having done a proper Tiger Safari was really bothering me. I decided to take off to Kanha National Park.
The park is part of a huge forest in Central India which has a number of tiger reserves like Pench and Tadoba other than Kanha.
This is the region where Rudyard Kipling spent a lot of his time and these jungles are also the setting for his book ‘The Jungle Book’.
We had a short 2-day break so we headed to Nagpur and directly left for Kanha from there. The drive through the forests was just the trailer and we were really looking forward to spending a day with nature and animals instead of humans and cars.
We chose a homestay which was almost inside the jungle (it’s called Meadows but they have chosen not to put it up on TripAdvisor or Facebook) – the only way to get there is to know the owner through someone who’s already been there – drop in a line if you want details!
Next day early morning was the safari and we were told that we are the privileged ones to be taken from a new gate (Sarahi gate) that has opened recently, so we’d have to leave by 5 am as its a one hour drive!
Our excitement was a little dampened by the idea of waking up so early. We didn’t have a choice and somehow managed to make it in the morning!
I think this would be one of the very few occasions in my life where I rode in an open gypsy in the dark with the full moon out and in that one hour ride I saw the moon set and the sun rise!
I’m sorry don’t have any pictures of this part as it was freezing and we were rolled in some blankets but if you close your eyes and imagine the cold wind on your face, the full moon setting on one side of the jungle and the morning Sun rising on the other, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
We finally entered the jungle, still cold but really excited. Our driver-cum-guide started telling us stories of Munna the tiger and Geeta the tigress!
Here are a few early morning sights of the jungle:
Our first few exciting animal viewings:
Our quest to see Munna continued. a\Apparently he had made a big ‘kill’ yesterday and was to be found protecting it in the same location – and guess what – such stories do turn out to be true. We did get a very faint view of Munna inside a bush with the ‘kill. Unfortunately, the view wasn’t good enough for a picture, so we continued our hunt to spot a tiger but saw some other beautiful creatures instead.
It was soon time for the morning safari to end – time for siesta and some food!
We went to a place that had opened only 10 days back; its situated in the middle of the farmlands and is a small homestay run by local people.
It was a pleasant surprise to find this place far far away from the weekend crowds of ‘khatiya’ gate. This is the one and only place to stay on this side and is superbly hidden.
The local forest officer came to meet us there and told us how he is trying to build a self sustained community by getting tourism there and developing the area with the help of the local people. I found it quite commendable. I’m including the address of this hidden gem in case you want to try it out. The best part is that the forest officer has ensured that anyone who stays there will definitely get an entry into the forest.
After a good nap and a great meal we headed back into the forest. The colours of the forest including the fauna were suddenly different!
Different species come out at different times of the day!
The people I want to thank the most are the forest rangers – their job day in and day out is just to keep walking through the jungle to ensure that animals are safe from being poached. They stay in small huts spread around the forest with no electricity away from their families and with a huge risk of tigers and other animals attacking them.
Such a pity that so many of them have to spend their lives doing this due to stupid human greed and insensitivity!
The tigers do come out in the evening to drink waterbut we weren’t destined to see any.
We missed one by a whimper. We saw fresh pug marks, heard birds and animals chattering as warning, waited for a while but unfortunately this trip wasn’t fruitful when it came to tigers!
Here are a few more shots of the forest and some animals which we came across as we drove out of the jungle:
Some tips that I think would be useful for a first time visitor:
- Book your Safaris in advance – there are a limited number of vehicles allowed in the forest at a particular point of time. Most people don’t realize that it would be difficult to get an entry permit.
- Go on at least 3-4 safaris to ensure you see a few tigers – just 2 safaris like ours are not good enough
- It’s a fairly long drive from Nagpur – so if you don’t have too much time do Pench instead of Kanha. Alternatively, the drive from Raipur airport to Sarahi gate is much shorter.
- The best time to visit is in May – it’s rather hot but then that’s the time tigers feel thirsty & spend a lot of time near the water!
- Let loose and enjoy the jungle for what it is even if tigers are not willing to show up!
This entry has been shortlisted for Holidify’s Travelogue Writing Contest in association with Linger. The content and pictures may not be used without prior permission of the author.
Submitted by: Shruti Sutwala
The original post can be found here.