I do not chase big cats in the forest. It may sound untrue, but it is a fact. The romance with the unruly breeze, the sound of forest , the curiosity of meeting wild creatures and the unpredictability of each turn in the jungle fascinate me the most. Getting up in the wee hours, when the cold breeze just curls you up, the curtain of darkness fading away with the beaming colors of sun, and when I see brightly lit up faces of those kids in the jeep, it simply makes my day even before I actually enter into the wilderness.
It was not the first time for me at Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. My most unforgettable safari experience in India is from Kanha National Park when I entered the park on a rainy day during monsoon last year and had the most unexpected encounter with Umarpani (T30) from close proximity. It was approximately 4.30 am when we had all gathered at the meeting point at the Kanha Earth Lodge by Pugdundee Safaris for our morning safari.
Soon after a quick tea, we set out to venture into the forest. The harsh breeze was enough to make you curl up with a blanket in the dark on the bumpy drive. As we drove down the road towards the main gate of the forest, the curtain of darkness slowly faded away with peeping sunlight making its way. After the initial mandatory formalities, we entered the forest with much enthusiasm.
The very first animal I saw was a wild boar just after entering the forest. Somebody once told me that if you see a wild boar, first thing in the forest, you might encounter a tiger. Though I don’t believe in superstition, but it did happen with me a few times earlier. The thought did run through my mind of the possibility of seeing a tiger, though I decided to keep calm. With the golden sun-rays, the forest came alive. The gorgeous Saal trees, the earthy roads, and the sound of buzzing birds became my constant companions.
The earthy smell of the woods, husky langur calls, short deer calls, and the high pitch peacock calls make you appreciate the fact that you are in their territory. My eyes popped up suddenly when I saw the peacock dance for the very first time. I was glued to it completely. Later I was informed that it was their mating season and this is their way of attracting the female peacocks.
Also Read: Into The Wild: Satpura National Park
My eyes always lit up when I see the spotted deer. They are the delight of the jungle. I have seen plenty of them but I am never satisfied.
The sambar deer, bison, a variety of birds and a plenty of langurs and monkeys came my way as I was driven around the core zone of the park that morning.
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Spotting 6 Tigers (My wish got granted so quickly)
As we were driving through the thick foliage of the saal forest, there was a jolt suddenly near a bamboo forest inside the park. All I could see was the movement of a bison inside the forest. Later the naturalist Ashu pointed towards the elusive tiger resting quietly inside the forest starring at the bison. It was a fleeting moment for me. I could only see a glimpse of his stripped body, blending quite well, with the dry bamboo forest. We waited in the hope of seeing him clearly, but after a few minutes the tiger’s roar made us feel his presence as he walked deep inside the forest. I was delighted even though I just had a glimpse of this magnificent beast. As we moved forward a few miles ahead, I saw a huge hurdle of jeeps.
All the popping eyes were pointed towards the bush where the guides claimed to have seen a tigress with her cubs. It was impossible to even have a rare glimpse. As I was waiting in the jeep like all others, I just shared a wish with a fellow traveler that what if the tigress decides to take a walk with her cubs and we see her. I couldn’t believe my own words when it happened exactly the way I said. Just after a few minutes, there was a movement. And the tigress with her four cubs slowly came out of the jungle one after another and crossed the road gracefully right in front of our jeep. I was speechless. All I did was shoot continuously with my camera the entire time. I couldn’t believe what I actually saw with my naked eyes. This was exceptional.
Where to stay in Kanha National Park
As I negotiated my way on that uneven earthy road, surrounded by roughed landscaped and small villages, away from the main gate of the Kanha National Park, I realized the exclusivity of the resort in the buffer zone of the forest. It was peak summer afternoon, when I finally landed at the Kanha Earth Lodge after four hours of drive from the airport.
The very first impression of the resort was quite overwhelming. The Gond Tribe inspired architectural designs caught my eye at the lobby. Adorned with stunning art pieces on the wall, intricately designed bar area, and the lower seating arrangement tell a lot about the tastefully done interior designs.
As I walked towards my cottage, I was amazed by the rustic feel of the surroundings and how the property is maintained with utmost care. The moment I stepped inside my luxury bungalow surrounded by the forest, the large open verandahs had brought a big smile on my face. I love spending time at the verandahs, especially in the wilderness.
Aesthetically designed, each corner of the cottage was eye-arresting. I also enjoyed every meal, prepared carefully keeping in mind the weather. The bush dinner is worth mentioning about. The most courteous staff makes your holiday unforgettable at the resort.
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