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Kabini, (Karnataka)


madaboutcheetah
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Hello,

 

Quick getaway for a 3 night safari in the middle of the week in search of the elusive Tiger ........ and I was rewarded by a sighting of a big Male in full view (although quite far away). Atleast, it was out in the open on the banks of the Kabini lake and got a very good view with my binocs and some random record shots of it with my lens. Nothing photographically, but, I was as just as thrilled as every time I see a cheetah!

 

Quick report on the area - Kabini is a perennial lake where the animals congregate in the dry season for the abundant water and the grasslands around the lake for good feeding grounds. The forest around the lake is also a good predator zone at the moment (Leopard, Dhole - the Indian wild dog). Needless to say, this dry season has had some spectacular Elephant herds, Gaur herds, other plains game - Spotted deer, Sambhar deer, wild boar.

 

On the predator front, this Tiger does apparently come to the lake around mid-morning to cool itself off and get a drink. That's when the sightings have been taking place.

 

Kabini has had a recent record of splendid Leopard sightings - and that I was rewarded with. Saw a female Leopard and cub (very good sighting - close to the road). Climbing up and down a tree for about 10 minutes and then went to the ground to chill out for the rest of the day (thick bush).

 

The game drive this morning ( I miss one game drive in my entire life) and what happens ........... a pack of 15 dhole (Indian wild dog) playing with each other, with NO OTHER VEHICLE around. ala Botswana is what my friend mentioned to me (two of them were on the Kwando trip in Feb too). Stunning photos!!!

 

About the cars and crowds ........ it is easy to get away from the crowds. Unfortunately, the way things work around here is ........ you really need to network and make contacts and then get what you want! It took us a couple of drives to figure out how to get things done. The good thing is, the Government has taken radical steps to limit the number of vehicles inside the park. I think the current cap is at 15 (not sure about this, but, around that).

 

Guess what - all the small lodges and owner owned camps are not given renewals for license to operate safaris anymore. Some are only given permits for one vehicle a drive (which means they are using a 20 seater vehicle). This then comes to the point of .......... JUNGLE LODGES AND RESORTS are now going to be the monopoly in terms of number of vehicles permitted (Government owned)- their Kabini River Lodge. The lodge and the service is really really bad (roughing it, literally) ....... but, you are held hostage as that is now going to be the only decent game drives going from Kabini and with the proper clout you can get a vehicle to your group (not everyday, though)..... lots of big time wildlife photographers there with their CANON 600mm lens.......... there are several fancy camps and lodges too..... We ate dinner two nights at a neighboring lodge (WATERWOODS) - great food, setting on the kabini lake and outstanding service. They were nice enough to accomodate our group for dinner and to give us our own private setting.

 

On the first game drive (we were already 5) and had to share the vehicle with 2 westerners ...... one lady had a bad reaction to anti-malarial pills and was throwing up due to the vehicle movement. All I could think of was, glad I don't eat the pills when I go to Africa as read on various forums ........... Thankfully, we were able to push for our own vehicle from the second drive. Nothing at JLR is without a big song and a dance, unfortunately. We were also provided a very good driver, who took us away from the crowds and the hoopla when he knew of our requirement. State your quality of game drive and make it clear on arrival!!!!

 

News is, that And Beyond are looking to invest in Kabini - for those of you who wish for that luxury experience. I can't see them investing, if they are restricted to big 18-20 seater vehicles. I am sure they have their standards to maintain? or do they use their clout through the Taj group to push their way and to get what they want????? Let's wait and see ........ rumor is, they are close to finalizing the land and area for the lodge.

 

A good resource for Indian wildlife and photography is, India nature watch - it's a forum like ST, but, more emphasis on photography. Have a look. Met many people who apparently participate on there. Gosh, one more of these sites for me to surf? Phew .......

 

All in all ......a great few days.

 

Any questions, happy to answer them.

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Thanks for all the info Hari.

 

 

From a distance/location perspective would it combine with any other reserves or places to visit in India for a 2 centre trip?

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Very interesting Hari. Thanks for the info.

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Lynne,

 

It combines very well with bandipur which is only across the kabini reservoir, although a two hour drive. They are doing well with tigers there also. Apparently, a very relaxed Tigress the guides there have named, Gawri (successful with raising cubs this season). Easy to fly into bangalore and then drive to these locations from there.

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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Guess what - all the small lodges and owner owned camps are not given renewals for license to operate safaris anymore. Some are only given permits for one vehicle a drive (which means they are using a 20 seater vehicle).

 

Exactly what I was expecting would be happening...

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Egilio,

 

Whilst it's awesome that they are going to limit the total vehicles in the park, it is going to put the monopoly with the Kabini River Lodge which is Karnataka Govt owned. On the other hand, there seems to be expansion in their own property ... which i find baffling!!!!

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Just saw some of the terrific dhole shots on India nature watch, Hari. Interesting that they look nothing like their African cousins, and much more like red foxes. Are there other parks within India with similar dhole polulations, do you know? And finally, about the vehicle restrictions. Are you saying that it may soon become impossible to book a private vehicle at all?

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Private vehicle only if you have your own group of 6. Maruti gypsy configuration. This is at the Jungle Lodges and Resorts, Kabini River Lodge. Not a chance at any other lodge or camp, though. What you also can do is, talk to them at check in about your keen enthusiasm and interest in wildlife/photography and see what you can do best.

 

Dhole - the best parks are kabini, bandipur and kanha.

 

 

A very reliable agent you can book everything through is toehold. Check their website at www.toehold.in

 

They do photography group trips, but, will also be able to book private safaris for you and they have a lot of clout with the JLR group of lodges etc etc.,

Edited by madaboutcheetah
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  • 2 weeks later...

That's good you were able to see a tiger and leopard with cub as a reward for enduring the vomiting vehicle mate. I can imagine your reaction to the one missed game drive in your life.

 

Thanks for the information.

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