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Satpura and beyond, March 2015


elefromoz
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This is my “maiden voyage”, so to speak, on Safaritalk. I’ve been lurking for a while now, I'm in awe of the spectacular photography and intrepid travellers and several months ago I decided it was time for a wildlife trip to India. I had read through all the posts on the India trip report forum, Atravelynns last two visits struck a chord…and I was off, planning an itinerary with Vikram, owner of Wild World India. Id visited Nepal some thirty years ago and enjoyed Indian Rhino sightings, much as Id loved to have got up to Kazaringa, it wasn’t to be this trip and we settled on an itinerary through Gujarat. The Parks were Velavadar, Gir and Little Rann of Kutch. I’ll touch on this later. From there I had planned Bandavagh and Kanha but Vikram recommended we try Satpura instead of Bandavagh. His reasoning here was that firstly, Tiger sightings had been pretty low of late, secondly Satpura seemed to offer a really good chance of Leopard and Sloth Bear. I was pretty happy with that.

 

Coincidentally, while we were at Kanha I was having lunch one day and an American lady( wearing a “fanny bag” ha ha, think that’s what she’d called it, in one of her previous reports),walked past me, she looked remarkably like Atravelynne from her trip report photos! I approached her later and Yes, it was her indeed! How small the world is becoming. A similar thing happened to me a couple of years back at Boundary Hill Lodge (anyone who’s stayed there knows just how remote it is) in Tarangire NP Tz. There was a lady and her guide sitting at another table, we were the only guests at the time, something about her, Canadian accent, solo female traveller, so I approached her and ‘yes” it was one of the regulars of Trip Advisor, the difference was that Id never seen a photo of her, just a feeling. Anyway I digress. Lynne suggested I should write a report on our Satpura time, it appears no-one has to date. So here we are. Oh and I should mention, I photograph for fun and to share with family and friends whose camera skills are worse than mine. My husband uses an even smaller camera.I use a Canon SX40 and edit (crudely) in iphoto.

 

We flew Delhi to Bhopal , we left the hotel at about 4.30 to catch a 6.20, 2 hr flight. A nice surprise after arriving and being picked up by our drivers, was a surprise visit to the lovely Jehan Numa Hotel for breakfast. This elegant hotel with a long royal history, is owned by the same family that owns Reni Pani lodge, where we to stay in Satpura. The drive to Satpura from here was about three hours. This area had been having some unseasonal heavy rain so it was a wet, muddy arrival. Reni Pani is a lovely Lodge, set in the jungle.

 

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Our first game drive was at 3pm, the Lodge Jeeps travel the 20mins or so through farms and villages to the checkin Gate at the river, where you then get onto a little boat, cross the river and get into a Park jeep, accompanied by Park Driver and Guide. Vikram travelled with us as well. Aly, the owner of the Lodge accompanied our friends in their jeep. We slipped and slid our way through the mud and slosh. We were lucky enough to see 3 Sloth Bears, one mother and cub and one single adult. While my photos are really nothing than “black blobs” (they tend to put their heads down and bulldozer along through the dirt, grazing, occasionally coming up for a look)it was great to see at fairly close range.

 

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This Park is green with both trees and grasses, hilly, and rocky outcrops, Completely different terrain than we’d seen in Gujarat. We also saw our first Gaur. A lovely Sambur with a huge “rack” stood on the rocks looking down on us, as it got dark.

On the road back to the Lodge we spotted a Nightjar and an Indian Hare (both in the dark). Here, we were escorted to/from our room, about 100m up on the hillside. It reminded me of the Sopa Lodge at Ngorongoro Crater when we thought we’d walk back down to our room unaccompanied after dinner and the Askari saying “No no madam, “Lee-o-pard” in garden".

 

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Lets hope the weather clears tomorrow.

So I'll see how this post goes, will it post, where will it post, will it have photos…...

 

Message from wilddog You have them now @@elefromoz . Sure it will be fine next time.

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Actually Im a female :o…..obviously haven't ticked some important personal info boxes somewhere.

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Welcome @@elefromoz . Good to see your first trip report.

 

Re your gender. You can change that easily by going into your your profile - icon top left of the page) and editing it using the edit button - top right of page. :)

 

As you suspected your Images are not fully displayed. You need to insert the URL into the pop up box - click on the small green square - second row of options in the text box.

 

It is best to have two tabs open one with your gallery and the other with your text so that you do not have to close either when preparing your report. More information on this can be found here, http://safaritalk.net/topic/14-posting-images-in-the-text/ You can practice image insertion in this thread too.

 

If you are unable to do edit your recent post to show the images correctly - I will adjust it later for you.

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Welcome to Safaritalk, @@elefromoz .

 

I was with Lynn that day in Kanha, we exchanged a few words. Good to have you here and looking very much forward to seeing and reading more about Satpura. I remember you and also Vikram told us you had a great time there.

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Hi @@michael-ibk, I'd been wondering how you all were getting on after we met that day. Enjoying your joint trip report very much, guess I'll find out soon how Kanha shaped up for your trio.

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Hey, your photos are there! Lodge looks lovely indeed, and great you saw a Sloth Bear right away. And a Vikram sighting, too. :)

 

 

And thanks, we´ll get to Kanha (eventually).

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@@elefromoz thanks for starting your TR - were you one of the Perth party that Vikram was travelling with during March? I am just in the process of booking 5 weeks with Wild World India for March-April 2016 and was delighted to read about Satpura as I had wanted to visit next year, but due to too many good wildlife locations to choose from Satpura will have to wait for next time. Reni Pani certainly looks a very comfortable lodge. Looking forward to your Gujarat sightings and feedback, as we are visiting the same places.

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Satpura is on my list of possibilities for the next couple of years, so I appreciate your posting. Thanks.

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@@Treepol, Hello, Yes, that would have been us, we were lucky enough to have Vikram as our guide for the whole trip. He did mention those lucky Australians he had booked for a 5 week trip, wow, you should be really able to cover some ground with that much time. Although I was exhausted by the end of our trip, we did so much and India is a huge country requiring a lot of transiting between Parks, but hey, Im not complaining.

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We were jolted from our sleep at 0130hrs to a fierce thunderstorm, deafening cracks of thunder and lightening lighting up the world around us. Things were not looking promising. We were given our”wake up”,tap on the door” at 5.45. It didn’t take long to figure out that todays safari drive wasn’t going to happen. The rain continued to come down, and the thunderstorms continued to roll through. We made a group decision that we didn’t want to go out in that weather, none of us had even bought raincoats, its supposed to be hot at this time of the year. We settled in for a lazy day around the Lodge.

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As it turned out, the Park was closed anyway. One of the couples at the Lodge were lucky enough to see a Sloth Bear outside their room as they waited out the weather. A reminder to keep your eyes open on the paths. One of the staff told us the Sloth Bear likes to take shelter from the rain on our porch, at the top of the hill…Hmmmm.

 

It cleared a little later in the afternoon so we got into the very wet jeeps for a drive through some of the local area. The surrounding wheat fields are home to some Blackbuck, but they were proving elusive today in the tall crop. We’d enjoyed many sightings in Velavadar so weren’t that disappointed. As it neared darkness we passed a Serpent Eagle and an Eagle Owl flew by. Dinner was washed down with an Indian Shiraz, drinkable, but if home, I would never have paid the $50 we paid here. Off to bed with fingers crossed that the Park re-opens tomorrow.

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(fingers crossed too that I have done this correctly this time, continuing on in the "reply to this topic" box)

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A shame about the weather but nothing can be done about that. So was the park closed afternoon, too? Interesting about the Blackbuck - are the found outside or is there a better chance of seeing them in the park itself?

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welcome @ elefromoz. Great pictures. Look forward to hear your Gir reports.

 

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@@elefromoz lovely shots of the gaur and the babies - they look so cute. wwi is getting loads of ST visitors!

 

sorry that the weather turned suddenly. why did they close the park - because of the thunderstorm?

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Welcome, good to see another Aussie on ST. Looking forward to the continuation of this TR.

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@@elefromoz

A very enjoyable start with great pictures. I am looking forward to the rest of this...

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Welcome @@elefromoz :)

 

India is getting its due this month! Will be interesting to those of us who have not been to see what we've missed while off in Africa!

 

The lodge and area look very inviting; and the pics very nice!

 

Thanks for coming to ST and sharing. Just think, by lurking you managed to meet a long time experienced ST'r in Lynne and her co-horts, rather quickly. Who knew!

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@@michael-ibk , yes the Park was closed for the whole day, even the day before the Gypsies had really struggled with the mud. To enter the Park, you first have to cross the river by boat, the flattish river bank entry, about 100m of it, quickly turns into a quagmire in the deluge. Luckily it also dries up pretty quick. I believe there are some Blackbuck in the Park but we didn't spot them. As we speak, a re-location of the Barasingha to Satpura is in progress, some fantastic projects happening in India in conservation.

 

@@Kitsafari, I too loved the baby Gaur, reminded me a bit of the salmon swimming upstream, start off all smooth and sleek, then change colour, grow humps and lumps in odd places and end up looking nothing like they started out. An adult Gaur is a force not to be messed with, apparently docile, we had one snorting, huffing, generally looking like he wanted us to go away, far too close to our Jeep, and I was quite relieved when the Driver retreated.

 

@@Earthian, @@Geoff, @@TonyQ thanks for the welcome

 

@@graceland...Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine. Ha ha

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Today the rain is gone, the sun is shining and the mud quickly drying.gallery_49445_1266_5227492.jpgWe head out with high hopes for Sloth Bear, we want to see more than just "black blobs" moving through the grass today.

 

gallery_49445_1266_533668.jpgThe boat that takes you across to the Park on the other side, the green roof on the opposite bank is where you actually enter from your lodging.

 

gallery_49445_1266_3985787.jpgAt least someone had enjoyed the rain

gallery_49445_1266_1738935.jpgWe all decided we did not want to come back as a Spotted Deer in our next life, being the most common of the "prey base". Later, at Kanha we were to witness one coming to a very grisly end. Still, a most attractive animal.

 

gallery_49445_1266_3832678.jpggallery_49445_1266_2282367.jpgWhat not to love?

 

gallery_49445_1266_2418296.jpgDocile?? I wouldn't push my luck. Males can weigh in at 1500Kgs, bigger than the American Bison. But then, maybe Im wrong, maybe a "gentle giant"

 

gallery_49445_1266_4517465.jpgBy the river, a lovely spot to stop for morning tea.

 

gallery_49445_1266_3476919.jpgThis photo infers that the Park is crowded, but in fact there is a limit of only about 10 Jeeps a day (drive) allowed in the Park, so more often than not, you find yourself alone.

gallery_49445_1266_2851054.jpgThis spot is also where the working Elephants and their Mahouts are based. Vikram assured us that the Elephants are well cared for, they certainly looked in pretty good shape. That said we declined the offer of an Elephant ride.

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Today turned into "Sloth Bear Day", we saw 8 individuals, including Mothers and cubs.The absolute highlight of the day was a Mum and her twin Cubs on her back. Occasionally one would fall/slide off and then scramble back up. All the while Mum would go about her business of grazing, digging, pushing branches around, after about half an hour she ambled off with her precious cargo on board. It was pretty tricky getting photos through the trees and grasses, and I have taken advantage of the "friends with benefits" situation, and used a couple of our travelling companions shots.

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So the photos won't win any awards, but, the Aaawww factor is there. I have a bit of a "Bear thing" and have had some wonderful USA/Canada trips pretty much with Bear encounters as the highlight, so seeing the Indian Sloth Bear was a real thrill for me.

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I like the majestic gaur ..biggest bull on earth..great pics of cheetal too...and also some good bear sightings. .

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the Gaur may be docile but he sure looks formidable.

 

yes, my aww came when I came to the last pix of the bear, with the 2 sleepy babies tucked safely on board.

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@@gagan, hello, yes I think the "cheetal" are very photogenic too

 

The weather continued to improve for the afternoon in the Park, there was still a bit of mud around though, the Gypsys, being so light, handle it well, great little vehicles.

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gallery_49445_1266_783987.jpgNot a Gypsy…

 

We headed back into the hills, Vikram pointed out a Giant Squirrels nest, so I asked the obvious question, "where's the Squirrel". Not to be beaten, he found one a couple of minutes later.

gallery_49445_1266_1256511.jpgA very athletic fellow, leaping from to tree effortlessly, making a photo a challenging task indeed.

 

gallery_49445_1266_697103.jpgStork Stork-billed Kingfisher

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Green Bee-Eater, common, but too pretty to ignore

 

gallery_49445_1266_1837532.jpgThe Mugger Croc, my Reni Pani guidebook tells me he has "an inclination to 'lurk" in shallow water". A fellow "lurker" :)

 

 

We then spent a bit of meadow-time, waiting in case a Leopard showed itself. We heard the warning calls, deer raced across the track, but a no-show from the Leopards we’d been hearing about. Satpura looks beautiful in the sunshine.

gallery_49445_1266_3109818.jpgAnother glass of Indian Shiraz, and I went to bed dreaming of 'rosettes"

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Wow.. looks like a place that should be next in my list of places to visit. Far from madding crowds ..

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Big Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw for the Sloth Bears! What a fantastic sighting. :)

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How great you found the Sloth bear.....and cubs! Very special.

 

I have only seen one once and then only as a blob in the distance at the top of a hill.

 

Some lovely images ☺ thanks.

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