Summers are a bit harsh in India and a couple of things that make me happy about summers is the Mango fruit and Jungle Safari wherein you can experience the wildlife.
It starts with our love for nature. One random, crazy, impromptu plan to visit the nearest national parks made me think of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve. Though, I had been to Ranthambore National Park, Jaipur before but we had the hard time to spot Tigers, though fortunate enough to see peacocks, nilgai, the crocodile in the natural habitat.
February 2016:: After a brief discussion, research and plans, I did the flight bookings (would have preferred a road trip to Nagpur but had time crunch). Inquired about the stay in MTDC Tadoba and booked 2 nights. Yes, we are spontaneous and the impromptu plan works the best! 😀 Now, we had to pre-book the safari, quickly went to the official website, and did the online booking for the safaris – morning and evening! Book well in advance to avoid any inconvenience.
April 2016:: Since, there are no direct flights to Tadoba, we booked our tickets till Nagpur and from there Tadoba is just 145 km! After a relaxing stay at the Radisson Blu, Nagpur, we started off from Nagpur to reach MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) Jungle Resort, Moharli Tadoba. It was a bumpy ride and took almost 4 hours! The staff at MTDC were helpful and enthusiastic. If you don’t know the online safari booking procedure, the staff at MTDC will help you arrange one. Do take at least 4 safaris to try your luck.
Also, to mention, the suite at MTDC Jungle Resort, Moharli was simple, elegant, airy, well lit, peaceful, and comfortable. Do not expect much. Minimal furniture and basic facilities are provided. But the location is totally worth it. I would recommend staying there. However, they do not have any kitchen of their own. A canteen or small restaurant on the premises is given on lease and you can expect basic food there. Lunch and Dinner are to be pre-ordered.
Day 1: Evening Safari:: Post lunch, I was excited about my first safari and was daydreaming about what lies ahead. The reserve has around 50 tigers. Embarking on a jungle safari to this tiger reserve lets you witness the Tiger, Panther, Bison, Sloth Bear, Hyena, Wild Dog, Blue Bull, Sambar, Leopard, and Barking Deer. The swampland in Tadoba is one of the very few places inhabited by marsh crocodiles. I was enthusiastic to see wildlife especially Tiger. So, did I manage to spot one? Umm….Read and find it yourself. 😉
At 2:30 pm, the evening safari jeep waited for us outside the cottage and we in no time jumped into it. The driver is pre-allocated with the jeep; however the guide is assigned when you reach the checkpoint or the entry gate. The reserve has six entry gates leading into three core zones – Moharli, Tadoba, and Kolsa. There are some boards of do’s and don’ts, and information about the park. Also note the Park remains closed on Tuesdays.
After the checking of tickets/passes; we started our first jungle safari at Tadoba from the Moharli gate.At one point, you are surrounded with safari jeeps and within some time you are all alone in the jungle. What a feeling!
Our jeep with the driver and the experienced, knowledgeable guide zoomed into the Tiger Reserve and with the curious eyes, I was searching for some real adventure like Tiger in front of our jeep! Haha…Nothing that sort of happened, though. We passed red sandy trails, well-constructed roads, raw paths in the dense forest. It’s nothing short of a privilege to see nature’s inhabitants in their natural habitat, displaying raw emotions.
The first sighting we had was of the Mottled Wood Owl. It was so camouflaged that if we had gone on our own, without the guide, we would have missed it! Sleepy Mottled Wood Owl resting in the tree fork. Without disturbing it, we moved on and saw the group of Langurs watching the vehicles pass by. What a life!
At the midpoint, there are small check posts where the safaris are supposed to stop and enter the details of any sightings if any. By the time our driver and guide took the break, I made some fake candid poses with the jeep. Took the feel of how it feels driving. After a quick pit stop of 10 minutes, we moved ahead and saw a cute Spotted Deer Fawn gazing at us.
Though for me, each living being is the beautiful creation of the god and I appreciate even the smallest of the beauty, so for me whatever I was seeing was an experience. The trees, chirping birds, curious wild animals were making me happy, and trust me the sultry day didn’t matter then. We moved ahead and caught the sight of Sambar Deer and few meters away was the hulky-bulky Indian Bison. OMG! They are so huge! At a safe distance we stopped the jeep and took some pictures and moved ahead.
Through wireless, the driver got the information of Leopard spotting and we hurried towards that area. The adrenaline rushed in my body. The excitement, the fun, the adventure of watching cat family is another level. We reached the point and the driver pointed towards a location and we couldn’t see it! 😦 Behind the thick bushes lurked the leopard. I could only see its face and that too after a long careful watch. I wanted to see it moving around. We waited patiently and after almost 15 minutes, it walked away and I managed to click some of the photographs of the magnificent creature.
I believed we were lucky and will soon spot the tiger too. We had only an hour left to leave the park. I prayed and hoped that we will see until we exit the park. We also saw some spotted deer quenching their thirst in the local water hole and some hopping and jumping the road. While another group of Langurs were watching us and might be wondering why we have come in their zone! 😀
The sun was about to set and we made our way back to the exit gate and I was still hoping for some more beautiful sighting. Though I could not catch the glimpse of the tiger in this safari but the meditative trance of the sky, the colors, the half-naked trees memorized in my heart. We exited the jungle with a heavy heart but with full of amazing experience and hope to see more jungle friends with the rising sun.
I could not wait for the next day’s safari! Do you wish to come with me on the virtual travel of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve? What do you think will I be lucky tomorrow? Await my next post…..:)