A Refreshing Tour - Date With The Wilderness
First a word of caution: Goto Kanha or any other reserve forest to enjoy nature and wildlife as whole and not only Tigers, that way you will not get disappointed and be always happy.
You may find additional photographs on himaanshu.com
Me and my brothers were planning this tour for quite a while, as we all are interested in nature and wildlife. We chose to go to Kanha Tiger Reserve as it boasts large species of mammals and birds along with good numbers of the Sherkhan type, the Tiger. We wanted to indulge in more animal sightings so we went there in late May when the water is scarce and the temperature is quite hot. Because of this animals generally gather around water holes.
We started from our place at Karanja early in the morning and took the new Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway up to Nagpur. Then we headed straight on NH7 up to Seoni and took the SH up to Kanha via Nainpur and Chiraidongri. We were at Kanha in around eight hours and took the afternoon safari at the park after checking in. One mentionable fact is MP roads were too good, even the one leading to Khatia from Chiraidongri was of great quality and well leveled.
We had not done any prior bookings so we had to search a couple of resorts first to stay. We found out Pugmarks Resort run by Mr. Rahul Yadav and his father just outside the Khatia gate. After some bargaining we secured a deal. The rates hover around Rs.1000/- per room on this time of year but might change in upward direction in peak season which is normally from Diwali to December end. The resort had its own Gypsy available and was driven by Mr.Rahul only. The Gypsy tariffs hover around Rs.1500/- for morning ride and Rs.1000/- for the evening one. Personal vehicles are recently banned from entering the park area. Besides this, one needs to pay park entry fee of around Rs.700/- each time which also covers a compulsory guide fee.
The Kanha is only home to around 350 barahsinghas or swamp deers. The park is running a successful breeding program for them besides the Project Tiger program. You cannot find these twelve tined antlers bearing animals anywhere else.
Our first evening safari was a washout as rain gods thought otherwise:). We did sight many animals like bisons, langoors, cheetals, sambars, etc. but not the elusive sherkhan. The conditions were also not good to get some nice shots as light was fading first and it started to downpour heavily.
The following morning the safari started at 5 o' clock sharp from the gate and we again had tough luck finding the tigers. Though it was clear weather, many animals including tigers has shifted their regular places due to the rains. But we did sight many Barahsinghas(Swamp Deers), jungle fowls, bisons, cheetals and sambars. We also visited the Kanha museum, where one can find information about all aspects of park with the help of films, models and pictures. You can also have light snack and tea at the nearby canteen and also book for tiger show.
But in the evening safari on the 2nd day, our luck finally shone and we found a male tiger lying in a water hole. He was cooling off after a hot day without a worry of the tourists. We were able to take many photographs and were quite happy as this was a long dream come true. When we left him alone, we got to view the by now usual members of deer family and some wild boars.
On our 3rd and last day in the morning we quickly enrolled for the tiger show on elephant back after the safari started with very experienced driver, photographer and tracker Javedbhai, son of the head mahawat at Kanha. The day was great for us as we sighted a Tiger before elephant ride, a peacock danced before us from only ten feet, a pack of white rumped vultures were feeding on some other animals kill and finally a rare red headed vulture was seating atop a tree top.
The tiger show was also successful for us as we came face to face with another male tiger and had good view of him and not to mention the photographs.
All in all the tour was highly successful for us and we also visited Pench National Park and had a single session of morning safari there. We were not able to find tigers but could see birds like barbets, green pigeons, pitta, etc. But hey thats another story.
Hope you enjoyed this reading and regards.