We had 4 safaris booked for our stay (These gates were selected based on information from the a few contacts related to recent sightings) -
1. Core Zone - Moharli Gate
2. Buffer - Junona Gate
3. Buffer - Junona Gate
4. Buffer - Agarzari Gate
Day 1 - We checked into the hotel had our lunch and were ready for our first safari in the Core Area.
Important things to note for ALL Safaris -
1. The first jeep to reach the entrance is at an advantage as it gets a clear path ahead for viewing as well as moving.
2. Mobile phones are strictly not allowed inside the safaris. Any kind of photography or videography has to be done only with professional cameras.
3. Book your safaris well in advance as only limited number of jeeps are allowed. Buffer zone safari costs around INR 4500 per jeep and Core Zone Safari costs around INR 6000 per jeep. You can even opt for a Canter in the core zone.
4. You can shop for souvenirs at any of the safari gates - they have a bunch of options from Magnets, T-shirts, Caps etc.
5. Always try to have a friendly conversation with the guides and drivers. They would be more than happy to share their knowledge and experiences.
6. Make sure to carry adequate water. It gets really hot during the afternoon safaris. Plastic bottles are not allowed hence take a steel bottle or you can even rent glass bottles at the entrance
7. Most important - don't just focus on being able to spot a tiger. Try to enjoy the entire process of listening to deer calls, guessing where the tigers could be, tracing their whereabouts and patiently waiting for them to come out of their hideouts
The Core Zone Safari afternoon slot was from 2.30pm to 6.30pm. We saw our first tigress - Lara and her 3 cubs right at the entrance moving to and from a water body nearby. Going deep ahead into the jungle, we reached the Telia lake and saw a very small glimpse of another tigress Maya resting on the other side of the lake.
Core Zone has more strict rules than the buffer zones. The forest area of the core Zone is majorly dry deciduous forest and hence the afternoon safari will be extremely hot.