The road to Bandhavgarh

Old Nov 6th, 2007, 09:39 AM
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The road to Bandhavgarh

We want to see tigers while in India and it appears that the best place is Bandhavgarh, which was supposed to be a six hour drive from Khajuraho on a very bad road. We were counting on the six hour drive but today the agent wrote that the time has increased to nine! hours due to the rains causing further road deterioration. For those who have been to Bandhavgarh, do you think the terrible drive is "worth it" or should we just go to Ranthambore or skip the tigers?
(I posted this on the Asia board as well.)


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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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Hi -
I was warned about the road as well. It probably took us between 5 and 6 hours. We were there for 3 nights and I personally thought it was the highlight of my 3 week trip to India. We had 11 different sightings, with 10 different tigers. We stayed at the Bandavargh Jungle Lodge and the staff there was incredible. I cried leaving our wildlife expert because he taught me so much and really cared about the park and what he was showing us. I cannot speak more highly about our trip - especially our time there. We were there in January, and while there were definitely some other people there, it didn't feel touristy or crowded at all. Re the ride - it was long, but for at least the ride there, I thought it was really really interesting. I stopped to take pictures of the villages and just felt like I was in a national geographic movie...My husband slept the whole way back, but I had to stay awake as not to miss anything. There was only one really curvy part when I asked the driver to go extra slowly, but I felt fine the whole way. As long as you are going thru a reputable company and have great drivers, I would say go for it.
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 12:54 PM
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I'm relieved that the road is at least interesting. I was concerned that there would be nothing to look at. Did you use Compass tours?
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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I did not use compass tours. Re the road being interesting, I think that depends on the types of person you ask. I didn't find anything in India that WASN'T interesting. I can't tell you that there weren't long stretches of mustard flowers or hills with wheat though. That is definitely the case...but I loved seeing kids on their way to school, or the guy on the bike pass us with cases of eggs on his back, or seeing huts in the distance, or a cow just in the middle of no where. The trip is definitely not a typical tourist sightseeing trip, but I definitely enjoyed it and more so, enjoyed the pot of gold at the end of the tunnel - being 12 feet away from tigers. You can always go really early in the morning - and sleep for part of it if you want.
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 08:33 PM
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Marija,

That was one of the reasons i am not going to Bandhavgarh this weekend. The long road transfer ..... check with Kavey on these boards, i think she has been to Bandhavgarh but not sure of her mode of transport.

I am going to Pench on the 9th. I fly into Napgpur from Mumbai and drive to Pench. 90kms (apparently 1.5 hours)

Hari
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 08:37 PM
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I won't recommend Ranthambore. It is a very badly managed park and has a history of recent poaching that has reduced the tiger numbers quite considerably. That being said, it is a stunning park!

Kanha is another option for you - but another long drive!

Of the southern Indian parks - Kabini in Karnataka. I have seen a tiger when i was last there in 2004. Also, well known for the packs of "Dhole" / indian wild dogs.

Hari
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 09:26 PM
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Marija,

Check out www.mapsofindia.com
for travel distances and a good idea of the geography of India in genera.

Are you planning on the new CCA property or the Bandhavgarh jungle lodge?

I will anyways, talk to the people at Pench RE Bandhavgarh and best way to get to over this upcoming weekend visit. Will be happy to keep you updated.

Hari
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 11:25 PM
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Hari -Keen to hear about your Pench experience. Its prob one of the eaisiest parks in India to get to and I'd like to squeeze in a few nights on a trip to India. Have a good trip.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 12:53 AM
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Thanks, Amol. Will keep you posted!

Rgds,
Hari
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 01:00 AM
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Bandhavgarh is infinitely better than Ranthambore not only in the number of tigers and likelihood of seeing them but also in the way the game drives are managed by park authorities. In Ranthambore drivers are assigned a set route around the park (customers have no say) and a set time to complete it. As the routes are quite long they seldom have time to let you stop at any sighting you do find for very long because they risk being late to complete the route. If they are late not only are they heavily fined but sometime suspended from their job for months at a time.

We took the train to and from Bandhavgarh rather than the road transfer so I can't comment on the road quality itself.

We stayed at Tiger Trails which is certainly not luxury but it comfortable and friendly and fitted our needs perfectly.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 01:32 AM
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I've visited Bandhavagarh and Kanha and enjoyed both even though the journeys were long. There is always something interesting along the way. If you decide to visit then I recommend that you stay there as long as you can. After such a long journey it would be a shame not to give yourself every chance to see the tigers and you may not have the chance to visit again.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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Thanks so much for the information. Hari, I'll be interested to read what you find out about getting to Bandhavgarh. We are tempted to try out the new CCAfrica property. Kavey, how comfortable are the overnight trains?
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 07:36 AM
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Well. The top level available is the 2nd class AC.

The carriage is split into compartments of 4 beds each, two down and two above. The compartments are open to the corridor - no doors, separated by a flimsy curtain. Along the edge of the corridor you also have pairs of beds, one down and one above. If you're travelling as a couple you might prefer these as you get more privacy with your curtain.

In the day the people owning the top ones will share the lower berth with whoever owns it for the night so they can sit normally.

We went for two lower berths and we were assigned two in a compartment for 4. On arrival the people in the two above were a elderly so Pete offered to swap with the wife so she didn't have to climb up. As Pete is tall this worked better for him as he could stick his legs through the curtain and out into the corridor whereas if we'd been given the berths along the length of the train he wouldn't have been able to do that.

You'll get given a sheet, pillow etc. We took chains with which to lock our suitcase to sturdy metal brackets beneath the lower bunk and one of those metal cage bags that backpackers use in which we locked our camera backpack, again attaching it to sturdy metal brackets, whilst sleeping.

We took picnic food but you can book the hot meals provided if you want. It's long and boring but I LOVE the train experience as it's a very Indian thing and I love watching the scenery too.

BTW AC wasn't AC but ceiling fans!
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 07:45 AM
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Thanks, Kavey. How bad are the bathrooms?
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 08:29 AM
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Hmmm. Well, they are bearable. The carriage has a dedicated guard who ensures that passengers from lower priced carriages don't enter so it's only fellow passengers using the bathrooms and generally the people booking this price ticket (even though it's cheap to us) are middle-class travellers who don't leave the bathrooms in a state.

BUT at the end of the day, our trip was a 25 hour journey so, even with some cleaning during the trip, they aren't exactly pleasant. But I found them bearable for sure.

I'd develop strong thigh muscles so you can go without touching the seat OR take your own toilet roll so you can create an impromptu seat cover before sitting!!!
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 01:20 PM
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Don't skip seeing tigers no matter how long it takes to get to them! But as already said, Bandhavgarh seems to be much better than Ranthambore.

But even a 10 hour awful drive is worth it to see one tiger.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 07:47 PM
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Marija,

Here's my recommendation reading the above concerns,(especially if you are staying with CCA) ... they will have a comfortable SUV organized for your transfer from say, Jabalpur airport (which is supposedly a 4 hour road transfer from Bandhavgarh).

Sure, will keep you posted RE Pench. I will also have one of their road transfer to Baghvan lodge in Pench ..... maybe they will have similar transportation organized for Bandhavgarh?

Btw, the bathrooms on the trains are AWFUL!!! Don't recommend it at all ....

Hari
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Old Nov 8th, 2007, 04:36 AM
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Dear marija,

There is a first class train( I have no idea how it is), but as it is first class it should be good, it goes to Katni, which is 75 km from the bandhavgarh park,

go to the site www.indianrail.gov.in and click on the train/fare accomodation logo and fill the place of departure as delhi and reaching place katni, there are 2-3 first class trains from delhi to katni.

You should ask for the lodge to give u return transffers from katni,
I sincerely hope this helps and pls e-mail me if u need any other information,

Good luck, Sonali
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Old Nov 8th, 2007, 05:31 AM
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Thanks, Sonali. I'll try the rail website sometime when it's working. Now I get an access violation error. Where are all of those Indian programmers?!




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Old Nov 8th, 2007, 06:06 AM
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marija,

I just accesed the web site,it's working, when is your trip to india.... (which month)

Ask your agent if he/she can get u rail tickets and arrange the lodge transfers,

Also kanha is a very good park, I went there in feb end march beginning of 2006 and had some amazing sightings, in kanha, saw around 12 tigers,

I have a trip report posted around that time on the africa forum, I will try to find a link for it and paste it,

Sonali
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