I couldn’t wait till I return home to start writing this piece. And nothing could be better (read beautiful) than sitting on the bank of river Sipna and jotting down the last wildlife experience. Been grown up in the family of nature lovers and travelers, I always had a thing for wildlife. And this love for nature brought me to Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve.
I was done with my tour planning one month before and I was more than curious to start off my journey for the place. I started my journey from Amravati (Vidharba District) to Nagpur and then to Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. From there a 40kms drive in between the villages to Tadoba. I had done my online reservations for stay and jungle safaris before-hand.
My first safari was scheduled at 3pm the very day I reached. And I was all set to kick start the wildlife ride at 2:30pm itself. While I was walking towards the reception area from my cottage at MTDC, I could see my safari gypsy waiting for me. Once I reached near the gypsy, the driver greeted me and asked me to take a seat. Up there, sitting on the seat, there was an adrenaline rush; the rush to experience the wild. The gypsy started and soon I was on the entrance gate of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger reserve and the gate said ‘Tadoba- the real home of tigers’.
After registering myself on the entrance gate and booking a guide for safari, I was all set to go. Soon started my ride into the wild. Few kilometers of journey and I was welcomed into the jungle by some beautiful Spotted Deer. Then, with in two kilometers of ride inside, we spotted a Sloth Bear, a rare view in Tadoba; you’re lucky if you spot one. “Sloth Bear are called so because of their sloth like nails”, said the guide. I was mesmerized to see the bear move in the bushes and then walk away. The bushes were a little dense for me to click a clear picture of the animal.
While the journey went on, I came across Indian Guar, Sambar, some more deer and some Wild Boar near the lakes. Yet there wasn’t any sign of the Big Cat. The guide showed me many points in the jungle but he was nowhere to see. After few more kilometers of ride we reached a spot where 20 gypsies had gathered. (Oh Yes! I did count the number of gypsies standing) When the guide enquired what the matter was, we got to know that people heard roars of the tiger twice and we’re guessing that it might cross the main road.
To feel the best of being in wild is to keep your eyes and ears open and mouth SHUT.
The thrill while waiting for the Big Cat to cross was amazing. And what’s more amazing is the feel of being watched by the Big Cat from behind the bushes. The wait went on for more than 30mins and there was a no seen. Disappointed yet happy, we drove back to the main gate, thinking for a better safari the next day. On my way back, I got site a huge Serpent Eagle, two Barking Deer and some other migratory birds (I don’t really remember the names).
Back in the hotel room, all I could think was of a sight of a Big Cat the next day.
My next morning safari was scheduled at 6am and I was all set by 5:45am. I decided to take the same guide who accompanied me the last day as he had an idea of the places that were untouched. After all the formalities, we drove our way to the core of the Tadoba Reserve. Fresh morning and the ride on the gypsy in the dense forest give you a wild experience. Driving through the forest felt like home. Birds creeping and chirping; Bees humming. Every move in the tiger land was a mind blowing experience.
Soon we reached a place where tigers are generally spotted drinking water early morning. There were three gypsies already waiting for the Cat to arrive. While heartbeat was high and I was waiting for the arrival of the Tiger, I enjoyed sighting various species of birds like Serpent Eagle, Green Bee eater, kingfishers and not to be forgotten a huge Changeable Hawk Eagle. The wait continued and we kept on moving from one location to another to spot a sight of one tiger, but alas; another no show.
Though disappointed because I couldn't spot a single tiger during the two day safari, yet the journey, the thrill, the adrenaline rush and the feel of staying in the bed of nature made the trip worth it. For wildlife lovers, spotting a tiger isn’t the only motive. The feel of being in the untouched nature, the voice of the trees and the silence; every bit of it is a different experience. It is that kind of moment which is irreversible. It is simply the best feeling!
Tadoba is located on the outskirts of Chandrapur district.
Best time to visit: 15th October to 15th June.
· By air- nearest airport is Nagpur (205kms)
· By rail- nearest railhead is Chandrapur (45kms)
· By road- Chandrapur-Tadoba busses or cars (45kms)
Best place to stay at Tadoba would be either at MTDC hotels or Youth Hostel or Tadoba Tiger resort. Booking for the safari could be done from the MTDC official website.