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A Herd of Wild Asses couldn't keep me away from the Lions, Tigers and Wolves


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That Jonathan Scott is quite the traveller! We bumped across him in the Mara too. Not long after you were in India.

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Yes, he left soon after us I believe but is hoping to get back in May/June, all being well.


18th March – Come to India, We’ve got Tigers! (Forget Kenya!)


Hari was feeling unwell and so elected to skip the morning drive. As it happened, he didn’t miss much. Other than the usual mix of Sambar, Chital and Langaurs, it was very quiet. We covered the area around Pander Pauni, where we stopped to photograph a drinking Chital, and the area around Tadoba Lake and surrounds looking once again for the elusive dhole. I focused on getting a few scenic shots and a few birds, including Lesser Adjutant Stork. It seemed everyone was having a quiet morning as there was no sign of tiger anywhere.


Photo of the queue at Tiger Trails' Gate



P3184523 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P3184524 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P3184535 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


I liked the signs that were around the park:



P3184526 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



S1050008 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



S1050009 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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This is where the dhole were supposed to have been seen recently, no luck for us though!



P3184540 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr





Marsh Mugger at Tadoba Lake



P3189606 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



A Lesser Adjutant Stork:



P3189685 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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During the lunch break I photographed some birds around the lodge:


P3189741 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P3189745 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P3189750 Indian Silverbills by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P3189784 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P3189809 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P3189856 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P3184569 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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In the afternoon we went to Telia Lake and were one of the first jeeps to arrive. The film crew were right behind us. We heard a Chital barking close by, and so reversed up the road, believing that a tigress mush be walking in the forest towards us. Sure enough, a beautiful Tigress appeared like a ghost in front of us! She was the second tigress we'd seen the previous day and she stood watching us.

P3189875 Tigress by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

Then she sauntered towards us:


P3189881 Tigress by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

P3189883 Tigress by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Then she padded once more towards us:


P3189893 Tigress by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



and crossed to the left of our jeep, so close that I could only get her face in focus:


P3189896 Tigress by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P3189897 Tigress by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


She exchanged a glance with Hari before she carried on behind us, padding towards the film crew. Apparently they have a thing for men with beards! Hari mentioned that if she'd been a human he would have asked for her phone number.


P3189900 Tigress by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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We searched the shoreline but did not see any more tigers as we drove the circuit again. On the opposite shore, we could see Jonathan and a couple of other vehicles watching something, but couldn’t see what it was from our vantage point. It was now too late in the day to do another circuit. So we had a slow drive back to the lodge and were the first to arrive. Jonathan and those other guests who were behind us were watching two tigers by the lake, I’m not sure how close they were to them and then they had the privilege of a sloth bear which apparently sat right by their vehicle towards the end of their drive! Lucky so and sos!


P3189910 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P3184597 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P3184617 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


View from the lodge:


Edited by kittykat23uk
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@@kittykat23uk. I am really enjoying this report. Wonderful sighting and great photos. Looking forward to the next installment.

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Thank you @@Pennyanne Well, sadly our time in Tadoba is nearly at an end..

19th March- Hitting the Buffer (zone)

Tadoba is closed on Tuesdays. However, at Tiger Trails there is the opportunity to do a drive in the buffer zone of the park. The price for this has recently increased to 3500 Rs per jeep or approx £42 (1750 pp for the two of us). It took a long time to get to the buffer area, but we saw a few birds on the way, including Pied and Rosy Starlings. A flock of the latter seemed to be feeding on a flowering tree. The area is very picturesque, surrounding the large Ishi Lake. We passed a few water birds along the shore on the way into the main area of the buffer zone including Open-billed Stork, Common and White-fronted Kingfishers.

P3194635 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

P3190058 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

P3190072 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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As we entered the main area of the buffer zone we spotted fresh pugmarks of a large male tiger. We searched for it as we drove towards the lake shore and climbed a watch tower. As we were admiring the view, Chital started barking alarm calls. We quickly descended the tower and returned to the jeep and set off again in search of the tiger. But he proved elusive. As we drove towards the shoreline of the lake we came across a large herd of Gaur. I took a few pics before we drove onto the open grassland area, but as we did so this scared the gaur and they ran off into a stand of bushes.

P3190075 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

In the same area, an island of vegetation was swarming with Barn Swallows, and a few Black-headed Ibis were foraging along the shoreline. Word had got out about the possibility of a tiger and soon the place was busy with vehicles from the local villages. Interestingly, some people come to visit and only traverse the buffer zone, since there are no restrictions on access for self drivers.

P3190083 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

P3190098 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

P3190109 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

P3190118 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Our driver chatted to one of the other drivers and laughed nervously. Later our guide related the story to us that, earlier in the morning, a group had been out in a gypsy and had encountered the owner of the pugmarks, a rather angry tiger who had charged their jeep and stopped short with his front paws up on the bonnet of the vehicle! Naturally the guests were rather freaked out by this encounter and had left the area in all good haste! For once I wasn’t too disappointed that we hadn’t managed to find this particular cat! It was no surprise that this tiger was maintaining a low profile after this incident.

As we drove back, we stopped to watch a Pheasant-tailed Jacana and some langaurs.

P3190139 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

P3190156 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

P3190164 Hanuman Langaur by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

After a quick breakfast we left for our flight from Nagpur. Despite a delay, as the road was still being built, we got there in plenty of time and our flight went off without a hitch.

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3 nights each split between Svasara Lodge and Tiger Trails, which meant we had 10 game drives in the park and 1 in the bufffer zone.


So, how many tigers did we see? I believe we had 10 sightings of tiger and saw six individuals:


1. Tigress Sub-adult cub no. 1 on the afternoon of the 14/3 relaxing at Telia Lake, seen again on 16/3 relaxing in the puddle on the road, then 17/3 late morning by the lake and the first tigress we encountered that afternoon as well.

2. Male tiger, 6-7yrs old on the morning of the 15/3.

3. 15/3 Afternoon tigress who scent-marked the tree. 3 1/2 yrs old.

4. 16/3 Tigress with injured paw, asleep, believed to be lactating.

5. 17/3 Second of the three sub-adult tigresses at Telia lake seen that afternoon, also the same one that gave Hari the eye on the 18/3.

6. 17/3 Third of the sub-adult cubs that we saw from a distance on the other side of the lake.

Edited by kittykat23uk
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So just to reflect on Tadoba before moving on to the second half of my trip. I really didn't want to leave! :(


I am glad we spent time at both Tiger Trails and Svasara as the lodges both had very different vibes going on. Svasara was the better equipped of the two, can accommodate more people, has better rooms, like we had fridges/mini bars , tea and coffee facilities in our rooms. We both felt that Svasara was the better of the two and offers far better value for money. The staff were more attentive, on the drives at Svasara we were offered snacks and water without having to ask.


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. 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.


Tiger trails has the better vehicles as well, larger with 3 rows of seats and in better condition than the one we had first at Svasara (though that might have just been bad luck). In Svasara all the gypsies belong to local drivers and are the smaller type with two rows of seats.


My tipple of choice is rum and coke, a 60ml measure of rum was around 200Rs. Soft drinks (sprite, coke etc) are around 70Rs and bottled water around 40-50Rs. It seemed that water in the rooms was included, as was water out on the drives, plus little snacks and juice (where Svasara was concerned). Drinks, including bottled water ordered at dinner is charged for. Tea and coffee, and juice at breakfast is included. I believe that they also have filtered water as well as bottled, though I didn't risk this. Drinks were slightly more expensive at Tiger Trails.

Edited by kittykat23uk
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The guys in Tiger Trails helpfully provided a Map of Tadoba. See attached.

tadoba map.pdf

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So from this map, you can see where each of the two lodges enter from. Svasara enters via Kolara gate in the top right of the map. You can see that this lodge is close to pander Pauni and Tadoba lake.


Tiger Trails, on the centre left of the map enters via Khutwanda gate with closer access to Telia lake.


As I understand it, there is another lodge, mtdc which I think is located near to Moharli gate, which looks to be the closest gate to Telia. Might be worth a look..

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20th March Luxury and Lupines


We were advised in our itinerary that we wouldn’t have time for breakfast in Mumbai, but we risked it. I did fret rather that we might be leaving it too late, but Hari reassured me that we’d be fine, and we were! Our 08.40 flight went off without any problems and we soon arrived in Bhavnagar. We met Ghansyam, our naturalist guide who would be accompanying us for the remainder of the tour (he is an excellent birder and works hard to find mammals too, we had previously used him as our guide in Pangot in 2007). We birded en route to Blackbuck Lodge in Velavadar, picking up such delights as Greater Flamingo, Great White Pelican, Pied Avocet and Black Winged Stilt.




We arrived at Blackbuck Lodge in time for lunch and were shown to our luxurious rooms. The rooms have all mod cons, large comfortable beds, both indoor and outside showers, TV, tea and coffee facilities and mini bars. Complimentary bottles of water are also provided. There is also a very deep stone bathtub, which would have been a wonderful luxury to use, were it not for the sign asking you not to be greedy with the water! With that in mind, I stuck to the showers. Dressing gowns are also provided for use.


Each chalet has its own veranda which is screened off on either side, giving some degree of privacy from the neighbours. They all overlook a waterhole which seemed to be favoured during the mid morning to early afternoon by the local Blackbucks and Nilgai. The lodge also has a nice big pond in the centre of the grounds which attracts Flap-shelled Turtles and a few birds. By the restaurant Five-striped Palm Squirrels and various lizards could be seen and pale house geckos helped control the insects in my room.



P3204730 Blackbuck by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P3200167 Blackbuck by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P3204750 Five striped Squirrel by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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