Taking to blogging after long time (more than a year ) ! I guess transitioning between jobs can be a boon, as the work load is less and at the same time you have time to pursue other interests.
This Diwali, went to Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh (MP) with family.This is a part of larger tiger circuit and spread across the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The tiger reserve can be accessed by multiple gates. Considering the rise in pollution as a result of fire crackers in Diwali, it is better to go so place in green. Best solution to avoid noise and air pollution.
There are multiple resorts mushroomed in the adjoining areas to the forest reserve. But it is better to book the trusted ones. (* Next time plan to go with local friend and stay in village huts) We stayed in MP Govt. Tourism resort (Kipling Court). The rooms are nice and look over a seasonal water stream, though dry in winter. One can trek along the stream in free time and if lucky can see wildlife there as well. I was welcomed by a snake outside room and lucky to spot antelope very close on the walk. It is better to go for two days with four safaris. The safaris are operated on fixed times in morning and afternoon. It is better to do the booking for safari in advance. Only fixed number of vehicles are allowed inside. The vehicles with permit can be hired at the government operated resorts or through forest department.
The first safari was in the afternoon. The temperatures are decent and not too hot in November. The temperature inside forests is considerable lower and better to carry full sleeve clothing. Spotting wildlife is pure chance. Some tourists have seen tiger on the first safari whereas few have not seen even after multiple attempts but it is important to note almost everyone was spell bound by the forest. The wild animals call to each other regarding threats and that’s how our guide was tracking the tiger. We saw herd of spotted deer, red jackal, antelope etc. but the tiger was elusive. The view near the river front was amazing during the sun set, deer , wild boars grazing. There were green bee eaters catching preys. It was worth the effort to sit for 3 hours of safari.
There was significant cloud cover in the evening and could not see any stars. The mobile network (though weak) and television network have reached the remote place. If you come this far and crib about not using mobile phone, then it makes no sense. Better stay in city. This is a good opportunity to disengage from technology apart from the DSLR. Inside jungle if you have sharp nose, can smell very sweet aroma of some plants.
Next safari was early morning (5 am we left our room). Its pitched dark and cold. Better to carry light woolen clothing and something to cover ears. There are two routes in the forest and the vehicles are randomly assigned the routes. The lucky ones who went on route two saw the tigress . The tigress is fondly called “Callarwali” in local which means she has been radio collared. We on the other hand were hearing the warning calls, saw the foot prints but not the tigress. We could not catch the tigress but saw wild Indian Bison and they looked equally scary in the dark with muscular built, spread out horns and shiny eyes. The guide told us that even the tiger prefers not to mess with them. The safari ends around 10:30 am slightly longer than evening safari. Go with open mind, even if you don’t sight any wildlife do enjoy the forest. It was a different experience to sit quietly with family and still enjoying every moment of the safari.
The total cost per safari is INR 3000 approx. The cost of stay per room is approx between Rs 1500 to Rs 5000 INR. So it is better to come in groups as it divides the cost. The park is closed during the monsoon season and opens in October.
I am going to be near this place , going back again ! ! There are other sanctuaries nearby to explore as well.