Tuesday, April 26, 2022

 Bandipur and Nagarhole jungle safari - short Tour Diary

14/04/22 : CCU (Kolkata) > Bangalore - reached at 0810 hrs > Bandipur  (By 13 - seater  

                 Tempo Traveller – Rs 25,000 for 4 days)  - Sleep at Bandipur

                 Evening safari at Bandipur at 1530 hrs (time taken to reach is 5.30 hours )


15/04    Bandipur (Morning) and left for Nagarhole (2 hours away)  for Evening Safari   - Sleep at Nagarhole

16/04 :    Nagarhole (Morning - 600 hours ) and Zone 4 (Evening 1500 hours) - Sleep  at Nagarhole

17/04/22  Nagarhole (Morning - 600 hours ) : > Bangalore airport (boarded plane at 2000 hrs)    > CCU

14th    April  2022

We are a group of 9 people. Mohua will join us from N Delhi (where she went for official work). Didi, Anindya, Sheta and Rai will join us from Bangalore itself. They went to Bangalore on 13.04.22. Sovon, Arun, Sanjit da and I left for airport (CCU), early morning by Uber . We reached airport in 35 minutes.


However there was a crisis on 12.04.22. We were supposed to use Gozocab for our tour. But Gozocab informed us they could not arrange Tata Winger for us, due to huge rush. So at the last moment Anindya arranged a Winger, but we had to pay more. Our starting point is near Bangalore University campus, where Anindya is staying.


From the airport we reached the Bangalore University campus by a car provided by Gozocab. For that we paid Rs 1100. Mohua and Didi reached in time. We left at around 1000 am . We had to reach the Bandipur resort (Jungle Lodge and Resorts Ltd or JLR - owned by Govt of Karnataka) before last safari car leaves. We reached at around 3.30 pm. Strangely you cannot check in to their resort before 1 pm ! So you have to wait if you reach early. We had to skip the lunch and kept our luggage in the Tata Winger, because there is no time for check in. Since we were 9 people, one full safari car was allocated to us. The entry point is around 10 km from our resort. It rained heavily after we reached the forest. Therefore it was difficult to take pictures. We saw a Tiger, but could not take any picture.


After the Safari we came back to our resort and had some snacks. I went to see a documentary on Dhole (wild dog) in an auditorium inside the resort. The food served in the dinner was sumptuous. But it is very expensive. We paid Rs 12,036/- for 1 day - Viceroy package for 2 people. If you have extra person (Didi stayed in our room) , then you have to pay at the counter. There is no need to pay for the extra person. In all the rooms, there is enough place to accommodate another person. So 3 people can easily stay.

Both Bandipur and Nagarahole are easily accessible by road, between 60 and 70 kilometres from Mysore, and around 210-225 kilometres from Bengaluru. Both forests are part of the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve and are divided by the Kabini River, which flows through the forest. Both the forests of Bandipur and Nagarahole were famous hunting grounds for the Maharaja of Mysore, which was then converted into Tiger Reserves. 

Kabini is an area in the south of the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve and National Park. Because of the Kapila river ( also known as the Kabini river) and the famous Kabini dam, this area of the park is commonly known as Kabini. But technically, Kabini comes under Nagarhole Tiger Reserve.  

Bandipur is the larger forest at about 874 sq. kilometres, whereas Nagarahole clocks in at just under 650 sq. kilometres.  The Kabini reservoir separates the two parks. Bandipur is located at an extremely interesting juncture in the Nilgiri Biosphere, bordering Mudumalai and Wayanad, where the forest is extremely dry and arid, almost akin to a scrub jungle, at a higher altitude than Nagarahole.

Bandipur is a forest with rocky outcrops and thick vegetation, with the grasslands at the hilltops providing the only relief from the dense cover of wildlife that envelopes the forest. 

Nagarahole, on the other hand, consists mainly of moist deciduous forests, interspersed with teak and eucalyptus plantations, and is at a lower altitude, with open areas, which makes it easy to spot wildlife.

The resident wildlife in both Bandipur and Nagarahole is very identical, with both parks being havens for rare, majestic and elusive animals like Tigers, Leopards, Asiatic Elephants, Gaurs, Dholes (Indian wild dogs) etc.

Both parks are venerated Big Cat kingdoms, though the dynamic of sightings has shifted over the past 2 decades. In the early 2000s, Bandipur was the go-to hub for cat sightings, especially tiger sightings in South India, while Nagarahole could boast very few sightings. However, about 10 years ago, Kabini rose to prominence as the best place to photograph Leopards in South India, with iconic images of Leopards on trees, climbing, and even hunting began to make waves throughout the country. The latest addition to the Kabini  Hall of Fame, the phantom Black Panther

A likely major factor to the increasing frequency of sighting  of cats in Kabini is the absence of highway traffic unlike Bandipur, which has always been a major menace , because of tourists driving through the forest on the way to Ooty. We booked our Safaris in Bandipur and Nagarhole (not Kabini). Kabini is prohibitively expensive - even more expensive than Masaimara . In Kabini, boat safari is possible. 

All the booking are done from https://www.junglelodges.com (for Nagarhole ) and for Bangipur from https://www.junglelodges.comafari-lodge-bandipur/

We had to call their Manager Salma at her mobile for clarification (given at the website) In Bandipur, there are resorts like Serai Tusker Trails,Dhole’s Den. But I think booking the safari is simpler, if you stay at JLR . Some of the safaris are part of the package. You do not have to do anything.

The 15 resorts where you can stay in Kabini is https://www.toehold.in

(source : https://www.toehold.in .)

15th    April  2022

In the morning the safari car leaves at 6.15 am from the resort. The sighting is not that good. We saw common birds and animals. The safari is over by 9.30 pm. After the safari we went back to our resort and had our breakfast and left for Nagarhole. On the way to Nagarhole , Kabini forest falls on the left hand side. It takes around 2 hours to reach Nagarhole from Bandipur.

After reaching Nagarhole, we had our lunch and left for Safari at 3 pm. The safari area is quite far. It takes almost 45 minutes to reach there. We left the forest around 5.45 and reached the lodge by 6.30 pm. So we have counted that actual time allotted for Safari is not even 2 hours.We did not like it at all. 

In Nagarhole they do not have zones like Ranthambore. All the Safaris take the same route. so there is no mad rush for booking the zones, unlike Ranthambhore. Now we understand why Bandipur and Nagarhole is not so popular among wild life enthusiasts. We did not see many tourists unlike Ranthambhore or Tadoba or Jim Corbet. After some time you get bored of the predictable terrain. We booked 2 nights (4 safaris) in Nagarhole - which is a mistake. We booked Maharaja package for 2 nights and paid Rs 30,609 including GST for 2 persons. Didi paid extra for the additional person, since she stayed with us like Bandipur (Mohua, Didi and I)  In the evening I saw a documentary in the open lawn. The dinner is sumptuous. 


16th    April  2022

In the morning the safari car leaves at 6 am. The safari ends at 9 am. Since that actual time allotted for Safari is not even 2 hours, I would not recommend people to go to either Bandipur or Nagarhole. We did not go to Kabini - so I cannot comment. But again, considering value of money, I would not recommend Kabini to anybody. Kabini is the most expensive. It is even more expensive than Nagarhole.

After returning back to our resort we had our lunch and left at 3 pm for evening safari. The road to the safari gate is not good. Today we saw Elephant, Malabar giant squirrel, Gaur. 


17th    April  2022 

Today most of the team members opted out of the last safari of the day ,because of the predictability of the terrain . So we had to settle for Canter today. In fact today's safari is not part of the tour package. We had to pay around Rs 2500 for today's safari. Only Aninday, Rai and I left for the safari. Today I saw Striped Necked Mongoose apart from Malabar giant squirrel, Streak Throated Woodpecker and Darter. We did not see any Dhole.

After the morning safari we left for Bangalore. Didi has already left, since she has to reach Chikmagalur coffee Plantation. Her friend will join her from Bangalore. Sovan and Arun bought some Sarees from Bangalore with the guidance of Mohua. Our flight is at 10 pm. So we had time to go the market.

We reached Kolkata at around 1230 pm.

Chronological order