Living in India and not been on done proper Tiger Safaris was really bothering me.. so decided to take off to the hotbed of it… Kanha National Park. The park is a 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 time and these jungles are also the setting for his book ‘The Jungle Book’. It was a short 2 day break we had so headed to Nagpur and directly to Kanha from there… the drive through the forests was just a trailer and we were really looking forward to spending a day with nature and animals instead of humans and cars 🙂
We chose to live in a homestay almost inside the jungle ( its 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 somelike like me who’s been there …so drop in a line if u 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…. well didn’t have a choice so 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 the one hour ride 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 on side the morning Sun rising on the other side of a jungle..you’ll know exactly what I mean…
Finally entered the jungle… still cold but really excited…our driver guide started telling us stories of Munna the tiger and Geeta the tigress!! Here’s a few early morning sights of the jungle…
Our first few excited animal viewings 🙂
Our quest to see Munna tiger continued…apparently he had made a big ‘kill’ yesterday and would 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 pictures… so there .. we continued our hunt for a tiger and saw some other beautiful creatures ..
It was soon time for the morning safari to end… time for siesta and some food 🙂 we went to this place that had opened only 10 days back.. its in the middle of farmlands and is a small homestay made 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 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 through local people.. quite commendable… putting below the address of this hidden gem in case you wanna 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 so different than the morning .. also the fauna.. different species come out at different times of the day!
The people I want to thank the most are these forest rangers – their job day in and day out is just to keep walking the jungle to ensure animals are safe of poaching. They stay in small huts sprinkled 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 also do come out in the evening to drink water…. but we weren’t destined to see one… missed one by a whimper.. saw fresh pug marks.. heard birds and animals chattering as warning.. waited for a while but unfortunately this trip wasn’t it when it came to tigers!
Here are a few more shot of the forest and some animals 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 safari at any point in time so booking. Most people like us don’t realize it would be so 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
– Its a fairly long drive from Nagpur – so if you don’t have too much time do Pench instead of Kanha. Alternately, the drive from Raipur airport to Sarahi gate is much shorter.
– The best time to visit is May – its rather hot but then thats 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!
Here’s one to jungles and tigers:) lets keep them alive!!