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janzin

I've never had any luck posting videos directly--best to post it to Youtube and then link to it.

 

Fantastic tiger sightings, Bandhavgarh is a park I've yet to get to! And of course having Vikram and Rajan as your guides is super. Interesting about the drivers and park guides not spending a lot of time chit chatting, we found that super annoying in Ranthambhore, and we'd be continually asking them what the heck they were saying (which they weren't forthcoming about communicating.)

 

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Lucky 13  A First Time Safari to India Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks    TRIP ORGANIZED BY WILD WORLD INDIA   Itinerary: 11 Days/10 Nights November 20th Depart

Finally the 5 of them walked through the woods again and into a clearing of rocks and laid down.   We watched them come down one by one to meet and greet Solo.   After watching them all lay down we fi

They then walked up out of the water right next to our vehicles in the road and one even climbed on some trees which was awesome.   I got some of my best shots during this period as they were so close

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Continuation (Better late than never): 

 

After this wonderful and surprising jungle cat sighting by the side of the road to get to the gate for our morning drive, we were excited for our last drive at Bandhavgarh.  This final 1/2 day drive in the Maghdi Zone was spent largely on an exciting hunt for a tiger that our vehicle and another tracked first using tracks, then alarm calls and teamwork.  It was very rewarding when we turned the corner and saw the tiger walking through a meadow while several vehicles watched.   The location was different from all of our previous sightings and allowed for a good amount of vehicles to get a great view without the incessant jockeying   and the light and backdrop made for some nice photos.  

 

 

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Needless to say we left Bandhavgarh feeling like it had been wildly successful relative to even our somewhat apprehensive but lofty expectations.  From the accommodations, the food, the scenery, the guiding, the wildlife viewing- it was a wonderful start to our trip and we felt truly lucky to have spent a few amazing days there.

 

 We got in the vehicle for our long road transfer and couldn't wait to see what Kanha had to offer.  It was a largely uneventful drive with some nice country side scenery and some small towns we passed through. A lot of farm land, and M slept for a lot of it.  One interesting stop was at a famous tree that Rajan and Vikram often take clients to see where a colony of fruit bats reside.  They were mostly sleeping given it was daytime but the tree was loaded with them. 

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We would now be on Rajan's home turf and we were excited to see what the King of Kanha had in store for us.  I was also very excited to arrive at our next lodge as I had picked this one particularly for Marci.   Kipling Camp, home of the legendary Tara the elephant, is more of an eco lodge run by famed British conservationists Ann and Belinda Wright.  

Everyone staying here must read Travels on my Elephant by Mark Shand and it is the story of Tara and how she ended up at Kipling Camp.  The rooms are more on the basic side but we were lucky to have the owners in camp for part of our stay which made for some great dinner conversations.  And Jeswin, the on site naturalist is youthful and knowledgeable and is a wonderful asset.  They also had a new puppy which was a major plus for both of us.  

 

Kanha is a large and varied park and very different than Bandhavgarh.  We covered a ton of ground over our few days and the landscapes were stunning.   Taken from the Kipling website:

Kanha is situated in the Maikal hills, in the Satpura range of the central Indian highlands, in the State of Madhya Pradesh (22° 17'N, 80° 38'E). The land rises from 450 to 950 metres above sea level, and is drained by tributaries of the Narmada River. There are four main vegetation types - moist deciduous forest, dry deciduous forest, valley meadow, and dadar meadow. The moist deciduous forest, which covers 27% of the Park area, is dominated by sal trees. The forest is interspersed with grassy meadows, the result of early slash-and-burn cultivation by Baiga tribals.

 

The winter months (November to early March) are cool and dry, with the day temperature rarely going above a comfortable 32°C, and the night temperature dipping as low as 2°C with occasional frost. By mid-January most deciduous trees begin to shed their leaves. By early February, the simal trees are covered in large scarlet flowers and the sal are soon covered in bright green, new growth. The rutting season of the barasingha - one of the rarest animals on earth - is in December and January. Their haunting, bugling calls echo across the Kanha meadows and spectacular fights between stags can be seen. 
The summer months (March to mid-June) are hot and dry, with temperatures ranging from 42°C in the day to 20°C at night. The grasses on the meadows are pale and parched. 

The Park is closed to visitors once the monsoon breaks in mid to late June. Kanha is transformed with lush new growth. The rivers fill to bursting point. It is humid and wet with temperatures ranging from 20° to 30°C. Kanha has an annual rainfall of 1600 mm (~64 inches) or more, 95% of which falls during the monsoon, from late June to September.
The Park reopens again on 16th October.

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Given our trip was during the first few weeks after the park reopened after the monsoon the guides have to get back up to speed with what took place with all of the different animals that they "know" over the months where the park was inaccessible.   The park, as mentioned above, is known not only for just a good tiger population, but for endemics like the barasingha, a strong population of Gaur, as a good place to see dhole among other 'special' animals and birds.

Given I don't have my notes with me I'll be mostly sharing pictures as I'm not sure what took place when, but I will insert some commentary where warranted. IMG_8710.jpg.31e21056b74a708668479447d1fd3c26.jpgIMG_8705.jpg.3d63e0ee8c59c29ef4c11dc038558adb.jpgIMG_8703.jpg.d6c472bbcd6acb39ba439fda14082dd0.jpgIMG_8700.jpg.f0ef5358bffbcfe02ab792f978a4702a.jpgIMG_8694.jpg.efe1b7c761473f6efa8f9d4734476c2b.jpgIMG_8691.jpg.61ee3e95a4396e86d7005cb2431e83d3.jpgIMG_8687.jpg.329da329fbe5834834f5b9eba9fbe634.jpgIMG_8686.jpg.ea9ff736149c725b174e99371ded9883.jpg  

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On one of our early drives we were treated to a wonderful but fleeting daytime sighting of another jungle cat.IMG_8743.jpg.0278689d3f77100d200435396bb62157.jpgIMG_8738.jpg.cab48902787588e5ad3b04ed9f6e9bfd.jpgIMG_8736.jpg.bd25b50da2b69906a4dc9c92bdf387a3.jpgIMG_8730.jpg.f03a87e47334a0610203a530ae383c6f.jpgIMG_8729.jpg.23241e4baa82cb077163c7c8719f2586.jpgIMG_8726.jpg.64a6e640b9fae17b44d783cbc816d2f5.jpgIMG_8723.jpg.6c49b61a70c089c4b398482aa0d2cd8b.jpgIMG_8719.jpg.8ff386401b9ee12b28e3d66a30164295.jpgIMG_8718.jpg.5a48ad3298f452659ea5604bbfb1d982.jpgIMG_8716.jpg.0e88efe9354ec4f56157bcbdc0896798.jpgIMG_8715.jpg.33dc3d3546de6ef6bf2eb7a63cef4895.jpg

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The jungle fowl also finally cooperated for a moment to snap a picture.  As you can see, the light here was no less sensational than at Bandhavgarh, filtering through the sal forests.  Kanha is also a sensational place for birders- while we aren't total twitchers ourselves we appreciated the variety and beauty of the birdlifeIMG_8769.jpg.a59a0fa59aa8649dea9f02cd5cd6531e.jpgIMG_8770.jpg.d56ac2ba9bbbfbf94a6fbe58c0e04bca.jpgIMG_8771.jpg.6606694698e9a6b9b3d960157c91d5c1.jpgIMG_8773.jpg.9dc1a11b68264242e02254f2c701666d.jpgIMG_8777.jpg.9022920e537ea25cd11f502fad962694.jpg  

Edited by sek07
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At one point we came upon the scene of a kill that everyone tried to deduce- a pile of quills, a blood stained ground,  some footprints.  In the end we never found the culprit or the body of the porcupine but we apparently just missed what would have been a unique kill!

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It is worth noting that we again got the full day passes for Kanha-  one of the main gates to the park is just down the road from Kipling Camp.   We could take our time at breakfast and then pull right up to the front to enter the park first.  It was also evident that rajan is a bit of a local celebrity with many of the other guides coming over to say hi.  It was great to see how many Indians were enjoying their national parks and despite the large number of cars lined up its such a large park that it quickly disperses.

It is also worth noting that there aren't fences to the surrounding area and despite Kipling camp not being in the park, animals move freely and we. heard many alarm calls.  Herds of deer like to hang out in the open lawns of the lodge at night for safety, and jeswin has recently set up a camera trap which has produced tiger, leopard amongst many other animals right in camp.

 

Back to the drives- once again the full day pass allowed us our best sighting of our time at Kanha.  Rajan tracked this particular animal by himself, listening to alarm calls and positioning us somehow from miles away where it came out based on his experience.  We got to spend almost two hours alone with this beautiful cat

 

 

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We of course wanted to see the animal Kanha is best known for outside of the tiger, the barasingha or swamp deer.  We went to the best area for them and voila a swamp deer for a reason. Also pictured are an assortment of other animals we saw on this drive

 

 

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We then found another tiger scent marking along the road but this sighting was brief as it moved off the road as a number of vehicles were following.IMG_8976.jpg.58a3dffadc58ad96c72431cd57d0e132.jpgIMG_8988.jpg.094d1ba846e5cb63bf4cf89d81e9c3fb.jpgIMG_8997.jpg.a0802ce3d4fd9954e6a24209a815c538.jpg

 

Some more shots from the drive

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This tiger sighting was more distant but allowed some wonderful perspective as some herds were in between us and the tiger so they alarm called and watched intently but didn't run off.  

 

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The following is an assortment of shots, including the famous Kanha arch made of shed antlers.   Also worth pointing out are pictures of one of the few black buck in the park which we could only see at a distance but a truly impressive looking animal.  They were reintroduced in 2011 and hopefully they continue to multiply.   Finally the massive nilgai or Blue Bull which we went to a specific area of the park to see and we weren't disappointed.   Just a massive beautiful animal

 

 

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I will admit the one disappointment from Kanha, if you can call it that is that despite a very heroic search and Rajan asking all of his contacts, we couldn't locate the dholes.  They are frequently seen, and others at Kipling Camp did see them while we were there, we just got unlucky.  But it just means we will be back, likely to try Nagarhole Park in the south of India!

 

The picture of the jackal below got us all excited as from afar we thought it might be, but such is safari life.  We certainly couldn't complain about the wildlife viewing!

The snake was a neat sighting (marci didn't appreciate it ha!) and the grouse or pheasant whose name is escaping me without the notes was apparently quite rare for the park . 

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Finally- two non safari activities that were among the highlights of the whole trip.   Jeswin taking us to the local farmers market in town, and of course taking Tara to the river for her bath.  Also a few pics of the Indian meals at Kipling which were AMAZING (no comment on the British meals ;) )

 

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We said our goodbyes to Tara and started our extremely long drive/flight/drive to get to Agra and see the Taj Mahal.  Unfortunately M came down with a stomach bug that is all too common iwith visitors to India which made it a really really long day for her.  Ultimately we made it, and it lived up to the hype for us so we are glad we added the long trip on at the end.   

 

Once again thanks to Wild World India for planning and executing a wonderful trip, to our fantastic guides, our hosts in camp and the people of India we encountered.  For all those safari enthusiasts who are having a hard time breaking away from Africa I would say we are very glad we did it. especially now that covid is limiting everything, we are glad we changed it up and it will mae Africa all the sweeter when we return. 

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Zubbie15

Really glad you came back to finish this up, you had great luck getting that tiger alone for so long. Kanha is such a beautiful park, your pictures brought back nice memories. 

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michael-ibk

I really enjoyed this, very glad you decided to continue. Great Tiger sightings, but I´m especially taken with the great diversity of Indian wildlife you showed us. Kanha is such a beautiful park, and your report is making me feel very nostalgic. Good to see the Blackbuck are out now, they were still in an enclosure when I last visited five years ago. Hope this is/will be a success. Sorry about the missed Dholes - if it´s any consolation we have not seen them in Kanha in two visits neither. I think the bird you are asking about is a Jungle Bush Quail.

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