Although we were a little tired of the train journey from Pune, and the adventures of the day, we were keen to make the best use of our Day – 1, and night at the Satpura National Park. So it was suggested that we join the Night Safari into the Buffer zone and take a chance to see some nocturnal activities in the forests. Chinmay was to drive us in a rugged Mahindra Thar, and Vijay Lakshmi, her daughter Komal and her mother were to be our travel companions. So it was decided that we would take an early dinner and then assemble for the night adventure.
The night safari consists of a slow drive in the Buffer zones of the forests. The driver is accompanied by a guide who keeps flashing a flashlight around. It so happens that if the beam of the flash light catches the eyes of a wild animal, they gleam in the dark and we know that there is an animal near by. We then light the area as unobtrusively as possible, and watch and shoot the animal (with a camera! ) if it decides to stay there and let us be the paparazzi.
Night safari is unlike anything you would ever experience and can be dwarfed only by only by much scarier supernatural experiences in the dark. It brings out the best and worst in you – all your accumulated fears from the childhood start getting a manifested, and adrenaline keeps pumping on its own. There are times when the vehicle will be stalled and lights switched off to listen to the calls being made by the animals and birds to identify if the apex predators are nearby. Those are the moments, when the darkness of the night and the sounds of the jungle start closing in on you. Just when the bristle on your neck start rising and you start thinking that the jungle is going to swallow you up, the engines reverberates into action, lights turn on and technology jolts you back to life.
क्षितिज तक फ़ैला हुआ सा,
मृत्यु तक मैला हुआ सा,
क्षुब्ध, काली लहर वाला
मथित, उत्थित जहर वाला,
मेरु वाला, शेष वाला
शम्भु और सुरेश वाला
एक सागर जानते हो,
उसे कैसा मानते हो?
ठीक वैसे घने जंगल,
नींद मे डूबे हुए से
ऊँघते अनमने जंगल|
We went to distant nooks and corners of the forest, on bumpy roads and along steep ridges and were on tenterhooks of most of the time, as we had no clue on what could turn up the next moment. Though there is movement of leopards in the buffer zone during the nights, chances of seeing them is rare. However, we were able to see some wildlife like Sāmbhar, owl, Indian Night Jar and the rare Civet.
After driving for around two hours, the hopes of catching glimpse of more animals started getting slimmer. The night started turning pretty cold and our Jungle Safari was to start at 5:00 AM in the morning. So we decided to turn back, but not before making an attempt of a dekkho at a pond where a crocodile lives. However the reptile seemed to be sleeping in some warm corner at that ungodly hour and did not bother to show up. So we drove and reached the lodge by around 11:00 PM. Enough adventures for the day, as we had to conserve some energy for the next day too.
This trip was originally published on Shadows Galore.