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Just Checking in... :D


kittykat23uk
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Hi all,

 

this isn't my trip report but just thought I'd check in.

I'm now at the hotel in Mumbai, heading on to Gujarat tomorrow. Had the most amazing time in Tadoba. Whilst we didn't unfortunately see wild dogs in the end, we did have more, longer and better sightings of tigers than my three previous trips combined! In total we saw 6 different tigers, some of those a couple of times. Several close views, plus a single brief encounter with a sloth bear and a more distant view of a leopard drinking from a waterhole.

What's more, Jonathan Scott of Big Cat Diary fame was staying at tigert trails and he came in our jeep on one of the drives because there were some dignitaries in the park and they didn't have enough permits to give him a private jeep! He is there directing a new series called Tiger Diaries with an Indian film crew. They had originally planned to film in Ranthambhore but can you believe that out of 32 drives they only saw tiger 3 times?! We've seen them every afternoon!!!

Strangely, the mornings have been pretty dead here. Though we have been putting in some time to look for the dogs where they were last seen (no luck for us but others did see them). If we had gone all out for tigers, we might have had a couple more sightings.

Tadoba is closed Today, So we did the drive in the buffer this morning and came across fresh tiger pugmarks. apparently a jeep that got in before us was charged by this tiger, to the extent that it's paws were up on the vehicle! They got so scared they left the buffer zone and word then quickly got around that a tiger was there so lots of locals came to look for it too.. Sadly this one proved elusive.

Anyway, we had phenomenal tiger sightings! I must come back to Tadoba again!! :D

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fantastic news, so glad you FINALLY got there and you are having such good sightings, and rubbing shoulders with Jonathan Scott as well. You obviously brought him luck in Tadoba! or perhaps your trip planning is better.

 

Enjoy the rest of your trip :)

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Yes I'm so glad I bit the bullet so to speak and went now. There are four sub adult cubs hanging around at a lake called Telia lake. We saw three of them. Plus a few other tigers. Next stop is Velavader. :D

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Looking forward to the photos. Did you get Jonathan to sign your camera bag or something? I hope you bent his ear about Safaritalk...

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I got a photo taken of the two of us, just for Safaritalk, but I already got him to sign one of his books at the bird fair. I may have mentioned safaritalk a few times.... :)

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Wow, 6 different tigers, lucky you! And sloth bear AND leopard! I´m green with envy now. And have to got to Tadoba (wherever that is ) immediately! ;)

 

And the low tiger score in Ranthambore does not amaze me, I didn´t fare better there.

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Really glad to hear you had such a successful time in Tadoba - I was a bit worried that I'd praised it too highly...

 

Looking forward to more detail when you get back. Hope the second part of the trip is equally good!

 

Andrea

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Excellent ..... Hopefully Amrut, the owner was there? Did any cats come to the waterholes at the lodge?

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A tiger did pass by near the waterhole while we were at Tiger trails but we didn't see it and it went behind the place where the camera traps are located. They did get a honey badger on one of the camera traps though at about 1 am.

 

As good as our sightings were, there was always someone else who seemed to have done better! For example, we had a male tiger walking down the road for about an hour offering us great views, another group saw this, and another tiger and the dogs in the morning.

 

The vegetation is so thick (lots of bamboo) that you just have to be in the right place at the tight time whilst driving around for an animal to either cross or walk down the road. Some roads are very straight and therere are open verges to either side before the forest starts. We had some great sightings around Telia Lake which has a one way system, so if there are several vehicles and a tiger passes behind you you have to do the circuit again to get back to a spot where you can see the tiger. If there are no vehicles or just a couple, then there can be a "gentleman's agreement" to reverse and follow the tiger that way. On our last day we had one of the Telia sub adult females walk right by our jeep. We were ahead of everyone else on that circuit. So when it was getting late we were one of the first to head back, because we didn't have time to do a third circuit of the lake. Those who were behind us, got a sloth bear late on the way back right in front of their car!

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Sounds awesome ...... Thanks for checking in!

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Forgot to ask - did you also stay at the other lodge in addition to Tiger Trails? Sorry forget the name (one by the gate) ........ How did you like it?

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Hey Joe,

 

Glad that you had a grand time at Tadoba. Have they opened up some of the previously blocked routes for Safaris?

 

Wish you luck.

 

Cheers

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all, back home now, somewhat sleep deprived.

 

Tadoba- no the routes are still blocked off. We stayed at both Svasara and tiger trails. Svasara was the better equipped of the two, can accommodate more people, has better rooms, with mini bars and tea and coffee facilities and even satellite tv.

 

Tiger trails has a nicer setting, more like being in the reserve, local water hole and remote cams set up. Good for birds. But the rooms don't have any tea and coffee making facilities, beds are less comfortable, no fridges for storing water and less varied food as they cater to less people. Feels more like a research station. Tiger trails is the more expensive of the two. I am glad I stayed at both but would probably stay at Svasara only if I return to save some cash.

 

On to Gujarat. We had planned to visit there first originally, but had to switch this around to make the trip work. The lateness of our visit and the unusually dry monsoon meant that the birding was not as good as it could be. We didn't see the harriers in any great number at Velavadar, most of the passage migrants had moved on.

 

Also, I think we had some bad luck in Velavadar. we had two key mammal targets there, wolf and striped hyena. However, the hyenas were nowhere to be found during our 3 night stay. The Bbc were there filming for a new series called Monsoon.

 

It was suggested that the hyenas may have been disturbed. It was a real shame because one of them had a den right beside the road and had been showing regularly there in the preceding weeks. We did see wolves one four different occasions, but not close enough to photograph well.

 

I felt that Velavadar did not provide good value for money. The drives start late, you can expect to enter the park after 7 and only once camera permits have been sorted out. The fees for these are now 540 per camera or camcorder, per drive. Take more than one ( I.e. if you have two bodies with different lenses) then they could charge for both. Indian nationals pay just 100 rupees. The drives only last 2.5 hrs max. This means that you are not getting the best of the start and end of the day, afternoon drives start at 4 ish and end at around 6.30 pm. Sunset was around 6.30, but there is still twilight until 7.15 ish. Also, blackbuck lodge is a lovely property, very comfortable, outdoor showers, pond and waterhole in the grounds, blackbuck everywhere.. But it is expensive and there are no other cheaper options.

 

In contrast, little Rann of Kutch was surprisingly good, we were able to photograph the wild asses and also sit and watch a den of desert fox pups for a long time. There are no camera fees there and no restrictions on length of drives. Again, the birding was not as good as hoped owing to lack of water in the park. The Rann Riders lodge was besieged by a Honda bike Ralley on the first night. But they thankfully ended the party by 10.00.

 

At Gir, surprisingly we didn't see any leopards, but had lion sightings on every drive. However, those used to seeing lions in Africa will find the sightings here to be a frustrating experience. Most of the sightings we had were tightly controlled by the forest authority trackers, who literally walk to within feet of the lions, directing viewers to move on after only a few minutes. It gives the whole affair a "safari park" or "zoo-like" feel to what should be a wilder experience. Our most satisfying encounter was when we saw the lions before the trackers arrived, it felt much more real to see the lions without having them manoeuvred into view by the trackers.

Edited by kittykat23uk
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KK, welcome back - sounds like a great trip. Sorry to hear that the lion viewing was so controlled but I am quite envious that you saw Asiatic lions and am looking forward to seeing pics.

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Plenty of pics to come! Just sorting through them all will take ages!

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Less talking more sorting ;)

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I have spent all day organising them into manageable folders so I can pick out the best ones. :)

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Definitely interested. :)

 

Simply beautiful.

Edited by michael-ibk
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I would say if you want some company I would love to go back again, but that might not fit with my tentative Borneo plans.. :)

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Glad you had fun Joe. Waiting eagerly for your trip report.

 

I am plotting to get there by early July for a few days and so far it looks like boss will let me.

 

Cheers,

Kartik

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I expect it will be v hot then!

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I am hoping it will be. Hopefully it would not have rained before my visit. Might have to cancel and make a last moment plan if it rains by then.

 

Cheers,

Kartik

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Fingers crossed! There were thunder storms on the first two nights we were there.

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