Trip report of a different kind

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Mar 4th, 2006, 08:54 AM
  #1
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Trip report of a different kind

Hi folks, I am posting a short report regarding my trip to kanha in madhya pradesh, sorry to go off africa, but since lots of fodorites are interested in the wildlife parks of india and tiger sightings, I think this report will be helpful to anybody planning to travel to India

Well first of all the kanha national park consists of 1904 sq kilometers, out of which 900 sq km is the core area which consists of dense jungle, the other 1000sq km area is the buffer zone which has some villages.The park has some 2000 ranger guides maily consisting of the villagers who have been evacuated from the core area. Each vehicle entering the park has to compulsorily have a ranger guide and once they leave the park after the game drive any natural sightings of tigers(location,sex,etc..) has to be recorded with the park authorities,it is a good system as any poaching can be identified in the early stages.
The park opens at the break of dawn over the jungle and closes at 12 o'clock at noon, again opens at around 3 in the afternoon and closes at different times according to the season.The park is officially closed from june to september.
There is heavy rainfall during this period which results in the growth of lush foliage so the sightings on elephant back and 4 wheel drives are not that great in the months of october,november...., till around february end march beginning.The best sightings are supposed to be in may(loads of people have had 22 tiger sightings in 2 days), at the height of summer, but it is tooooo hot so the best alternative would be feb/march. The temp roughly varied from 10 to 25 degrees celcius, which was perfect.
The other good thing the park authorities do is that in the 3 main core areas i.e. mukki,kisli and kanha they send a group of 4 elephants in each area early in the morning to track the tigers.Any tiger spotted with a kill or just resting is located and the group of elephants take tourists to see the tigers for a nominal price. In this way atleast people who have come from huge distances donnot have to go back without seeing a wild tiger even if they have been unlucky in the morning game drive and have been deprived of a natural tiger sighting.
more later.....
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Mar 4th, 2006, 09:12 AM
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Well now starting my actual trip report

We arrived at kanha at around 12:00 noon on the 27th of feb. We travesed thick jungles of bamboos and sal on our way to tiger tuli resort. took an afternoon game drive, did not see any tigers but saw lots of deer and the famed barasingha which is only present in kanha, heard and saw lots of pug marks,sambhar calls,monkey calls letting us know of the presence of tigers, saw a group of around 6 wild dogs(that made our day)
The next day we started our routine game drive and came across a tigress crossing some bushes, we then went to another area and met with a group who told us they were very unlucky and when we asked them what they had spotted they said they had seen a leopard and sloth bear(both these animals are more difficult to find in Kanha than the tiger)We had a good laugh at them. Saw a tigress with a chital kill at a distance of 5 mts on elephant back

In the afternoon we had some very good sightings. We spotted a tigress just 10 mts from our vehicle and 5 mts from 2 chital ready to spring. Unluckily the cheetal spotted the tigress and ran off.The tigress then while leaving for dense bush showed her entire self at close range, wow that was great....
We also spotted a large male cub which was around 19 months in a nullah at another location in the park..beautiful
On our way back met the same group who felt that the sloth bear, leopard sighting had no merit and guess what they told us that they saw the same tigress we spotted in the bush make an actual kill in front of them of a baby chital(wow that is luck) we wish we had stuck around the tigress.....

next day....later
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Mar 4th, 2006, 02:38 PM
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Welcome back Sonali! Glad you had a great time. Too bad we weren't meeting up next week in Zambia, maybe some day. How do the Indian lodges compare to ones in Africa...food etc.
I have to look up some of those animals you named, never heard of half of them! You have until Tuesday 7:00 a.m. Hawaii time to finish your report!
Dennis
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Mar 4th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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Thanks for the report. Looking forward to more. India is on my horizon. I have not heard a lot about Kanha. Is this a best kept secret spot or am I just not up to date on the best tiger spots?

The tracker system is interesting. Did you indicate it is unique to Kanha?

Lions and tigers all in one year is quite the life!
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Mar 4th, 2006, 04:36 PM
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Hi, Dennis

Well the facilities at the lodge is pretty comparable to african lodges. We stayed at tiger tuli resort and the manager and staff were pretty helpful and friendly. They have 2 types of accomodation,cottages and tents, we stayed in the cottages and the amenities were good.They also have a lake at the backdrop of the dinning area and a swimming pool to relax in. The resort is well maintained.They also have resident naturalists who are very well educated regarding the flora and fauna of the ecosystem. They take u for game drives if u request for them and in the evening they show various slide
shows and movies about the kanha ecosystem,u are free to interact with them and ask questions.The food is much more basic, but delicious compared to
africa. In the morning they give u packed breakfast at the dot of 5'am as we use to leave early so that we were among the first cars to get inside the park,which increased the chances of an early morning tiger sighting. They give u good cheese/variety sandwiches, alu paratha,cutlets,upma,eggs,juice etc....bottled water, hot tea and coffee to have in the bush(great breakfast) the food when u return for lunch is one non veg dish, 2 vegetables, salad,chappatis,rice and different variety of dals, in the evening there is soup,salad,one non veg dish,2 veggies(paneer)tadka or black dal, rice, pasta and one sweet dish along with chappatis. The manager is very helpful and will ask the chef to cook specific dishes if told in advance
I will definatley complete my report before u leave for zambia dennis!!! and we must meet and some wildlife destination
Lynn, just posting about your questions
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Mar 4th, 2006, 04:59 PM
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Lynn, I really think kanha is one of the best kept secrets of indian wildlife. I have been to some indian parks and have been very dissapointed at times.Kanha has surpassed all my expectations.I went with friends who were visiting for the 9th time to kanha, so they really had first hand detailed knowledge which was helpful. They had managed to locate an fantastic local guide who far surpassed the highly educated guides and trackers....
Tracking tigers compared to lions is much more difficult and complex and one really needs to know the park and animal behaviour well to maximise sightings. knowledge of pug marks, jungle calls by deer and monkeys etc
are most imp in spotting a tiger. It is fascinating to follow the movments of the cats, without even seeing them by following the calls made by various animals. It is very exciting.
I feel the best bet for good tracking is eihter to have a good local guide or find out in advance the qualifications and recommendations of other guides available to maximise sightings....Our guide was a local but excellent, at 80% of our natural sightings we were the one's who spotted the tiger and other cars just followed us to the spot!!!
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Mar 4th, 2006, 05:12 PM
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Sonali-
Thankyou for posting this - this is wonderful information! India is on our list of places to return to someday, and after reading this, I think it will have to jump up a few spots on that list!
Kanha looks to be just south of Agra a bit, is that correct?
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Mar 4th, 2006, 05:29 PM
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Yes lynda, kanha is south of agra which is in the northern part of India. Kanha is located in the central region of India in a state called madhya(middle) pradesh (place). The nearest airports to my knowledge are jabalpur and nagpur. The park is around 170kms from jabalpur and 250 kms from nagpur. At both the places u will find taxis to take u to your resort in kanha. The resort I stayed in tiger tuli resort, have pick up service from jabalpur and nagpur airport and train station. At present an airstrip is being constructed to start flights to kanha.
Sonali
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Mar 4th, 2006, 05:58 PM
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Sonali,

Great talking to you on the phone yesterday.....awesome sightings.....i told some friends about this and they want to go end March....My cousin Gini is away for 3 weeks to the USA so, we hv to do it end March.......

Also, plan to try Tuli Tiger resort.....to the rest of the fodorites, Tuli tiger has a website, which u can chk out by doing a quick search. Also, i think towards the end of 2006 CCAfrica Kanha property will be opened........
 
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Mar 5th, 2006, 03:33 AM
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Hi Hari, End of march should be great!!!! Tuli tiger resort is really nice. Enjoy

continuing with the trip report

Well the next day we got up at 4:45,were out of the hotel with packed breakfast at 5. The previous day we were in the kanha range, so we tried the kisli range today. Guests had sighted a mother with 4 full grown cubs and unusually a male tiger with a sambhar kill on elephant back the previous day.We were trying to locate them, met the elephant trackers in the morning and asked them about the various calls heard in the jungle that morning. They told us that the tigress was moving along the road indicating the freshly made pug marks, a few meters away we located a spot where she had entered a nullah, the denizens of the jungle were giving lot of alarm calls nearby indicating that she had recently passed and was still on the move and was being spotted in the thick bush. We then proceeded to a spot called umarpani, which is quite picturesque and then heard of elephant sightings of a female with 3 full grown cubs at kanha meadows, so off we went to the kanha range and had some wonderful sighting of a female tigress with 3, 19-20 month old nearly full grown cubs. Later from our jeep we could spot the cubs playing, it was amazing..... then we went back for lunch

In the afternoon spotted bison(gaur) and some rare birds and were in process of tracking a male tiger when suddenly our guide stopped and said tiger, tiger.
Around 8 mts from out jeep a tigress was intently looking at a bush of trees, she then proceeded to collect a kill of a barking deer from the bush and carried it for a couple of meters, she maybe did not like the kill, as without eating it she came back hid the kill, crossed the road majestically in front of our jeep, scent marked her territory on a tree and proceeded amazingly to another kill of a chital in a ditch near the road. We could see her eating the kill and crunching the bones..... just next to the road before we returned to our resort

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Mar 5th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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WOW! What an incredible experience! It's wonderful to hear that you not only saw tigers but also cubs, an indication that the tiger population is doing well there.
Coincidentally, I am in the process of planning 2 trips -- one to southern Africa and one to India. I had always heard that Ranthambore was the best place to go for tiger sightings. How does it compare with where you were?
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Mar 5th, 2006, 08:51 AM
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Sonali
Thanks for sharing this report... I'm going to be in Ranthambore next month, which I know is having a bit of a tiger crisis with recent revelations clarifying that tiger numbers are far less than previously claimed, but I'm going there to attend a fixed festival trip.
Some of the festival attendees are doing extensions of their trip. Some of my friends are doing this and going to Kanha as they know they have better chances of tiger spotting there but I just could not afford to do it on this trip.
NEXT TIME!
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Mar 5th, 2006, 08:58 AM
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Sonali,
Great report. Tiger with cubs...how exciting! And your description of the food certainly got my attention.

So, if you had to choose: tigers or lions???
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Mar 5th, 2006, 10:32 AM
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I think you may have explained this to me this in an email, but is tiger viewing like you did in Kanha available to anybody who arranges a it?
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Mar 5th, 2006, 12:05 PM
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Sonali, another question - how do you know it is a tigress as opposed to a tiger? Sorry if that is an obvious question (like lions) but I really don't know the answer!
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Mar 5th, 2006, 12:56 PM
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Thanks, great report.

I am considering a visit to India in 2007 or 2008, to include a visit to one or two tiger reserves, and also to Gir to see lions. Glad to know there are reserves with lots of tigers.

Michael
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Mar 5th, 2006, 01:48 PM
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Thanks Sonali, this is really enjoyable reading. I think you have just sped up my plans to visit Kanha. If I had to choose between tiger or lion, the tiger would come first everytime. I have never seen a wild tiger but I have seen over 200 different wild lions. I have only been on one safari in India, and that was to track the Asian lion in the Gir Forest....but that is for another time.....keep going Sonali
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Mar 5th, 2006, 03:02 PM
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Hi everybody good morning,

mediatorr,Ranthambore in the past was considered good for tiger spotting, recently sadly because of poaching and certain rules of the park that only 10 jeeps are allowed in the park and they are booked way in advance and anybody else who wants to go has to go in a big bus!!! SEcondly there is this rule that every vehicle follows a certain route only. You are not allowed off route i.e on another route even if a tiger is spotted there. I think you would be better off at kanha and pls go in between feb and may to maximise your sightings

Oh kavey I am so sorry, what national are u,hey the rates for Indians is different from foreigners, check out on that, u could maybe make it to kanha.

Leely, yes the food was great and I did not have an upset stomach so the quality was good. It is becoming a competition btw tigers and lions, but for now they both have become my favourites

Lynn, yes the tiger viewing that I did is available to everybody, the elephant safaris are full of foreigners, they are charged 600 rupees compared to indians who are charged 100 rupees, u just have to be careful who u choose for a driver guide.

Lynda, a male tiger is much bigger has some fur around his face and the pug marks are different, the male makes bigger pug marks than the female, the guides and rangers know the tigers of each territory intimately, also male tigers are solitary compared to the females who are loaded with cubs.So a tiger seen at a close distance can be easily recognised

Micheal,
You should definately visit kanha on your next trip the other park I can suggest is karzinga which has a good population of the one horned rhino(much more endangered than the other one's)Gir is great, I really enjoy it and yes I was extremely glad that we had spotted soooo many tigers with cubs, there is hope for the tiger

Africa, happy to know of your plans to travel to india..... need any help just post on the site or folks if I am not posting during that period u could always send me a mail(this is an offer for all fodorites). wow 200 wild lions that is great. Keep me posted on your next trip.




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Mar 5th, 2006, 03:28 PM
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Hi, Sonali74, and thanks for this report. Although India is not Africa, your report is relevant because it deals with wildlife viewing, which is an interest of many on this board.

I was delighted to read that you had so many tiger sightings in Kanha. You were very fortunate -- many people who visit India's splendid game reserves may not see any at all.

In 1990, I visited four of India's game reserves -- Kanha, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh and Corbett.

On our first morning in Kanha, a chital burst from the brush right in front of our jeep, followed an instant later by a flash of orange and black. It happened so fast, by the time we raised our cameras, both had vanished into the buses on the other side of the road. We thought at the time that it was going to be easy for us to see tigers in India, but we were wrong.

It would be the last tiger we would see at Kanha, although we saw plenty of tracks and heard many a frantic scream from monkeys. At one point we even saw tiger legs through the thick vegetation. But none that we could actually view.

In Ranthambore, which is a beautiful park with its lake and ruins, we saw none as well. Nor did we see any in Corbett, in the north of India. Lots of paw prints, droppings, even flattened grass where they had been very recently sleeping. But no sightings.

However early on our first morning in Bandhavgarh, a large male tiger was spotted by our game lodge scouts deep in a jungle clearing. We were awakened before dawn, taken by jeep to our waiting elephants, and encircled that tiger as the sun came up. He walked directly below the elephant I happened to be on, looked up at my camera and began to snarl and roar. Right in my face! It was by far the most frightening yet satisfying experience I have ever had in wildlife photography. You can see my favorite image of him at http://www.pbase.com/pnd1/image/22388831

It would prove to be the only tiger sighting on our safari, but it demonstrated that the quality of a tiger sighting can be as important as the quantity of tigers seen.

Thanks again for awakening the memories.

Phil
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Mar 5th, 2006, 03:38 PM
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The rest of TR

The last day in Kanha, we were again among the first to enter the park and decided to go to place called dig dola inside the park where there were good chances of seeing a male tiger. We has just stopped on the way to hear some animal calls and we spotted a sloth bear furthur on the road, we kept as quite as possible and slowly proceeded along the road.... the sloth bear was busy eating into a termite hill and then proceeded to cross the road close to our jeep fantastic.....we then proceeded to the park centre where u get tokens for the elephant sightings in kanha , but we found out that the elephants at kanha and kisli were given a vaccine on that particular day so they were resting, we had two options one to go spotting on our own and the other was to go to the elephant spotting at mukki where they were viewing a tigress with her 2 cubs, we decided to try our luck for a natural spotting and luckily we spotted a full grown tiger cub who was trying to hunt cheetal, funnily the cheetal were aware of the cub and were not bothered, it was so cute....... then finally on our way back we were just opposite a fenced enclosure(made for the barasingha deer)
when we heard repeated monkey calls. We immediately stopped and tried to follow the line of vision on the monkey and after a few minutes we spotted a tiger(sex not know, as it was at a distance of 40mts) crawling belly to the ground, looking at the barasingha inside the enclosure.... that was fun,poor tiger all that much food so close, but behind the fence!!!!

The last drive in the evening we went into dense bush deep in the jungle to a place called indri to spot our eluisive male tiger but were out of luck.... but we were all very happy regarding our tiger spottings, they were great!!!!

Thanks folks for sharing this beautiful trip with me( I relived it with you)

Sonali

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