Dhole Experiences of India Wildlife Safaris

India Wildlife Safaris
Dhole, Indian Wild Dog
India WIidlife Safaris
Dhole, Indian WIld Dog in Tadoba National park

On my first game drive in Tadoba, my safari guide Chirag asked me if I was excited to see Tigers in Tadoba.  I had just been to Bandhavgarh and Kanha in my India Wildlife Safari tour in the past two weeks. Needless to say i had some exciting encounters with the Tigers. I told Chirag the magnificent Tigers are always welcome. But can we concentrate our energies on seeing the Dhole. I mentioned to him that i had seen Dhole very briefly, in Kanha National Park.

Indeed, the Asiatic Wild Dog, Cuon alpinus, is a very rare wildlife sighting. During more than 100 game drives in various parks of India where Asiatic Wild Dogs occur, I have only seen them on four occasions.  As of 2015, the species population throughout Asia is estimated at only 2,500 adults.  The species is thus classified as endangered by the IUCN.   A combination of habitat loss, and fragmented populations underlies this decline.

What is the difference between a Wild Dog and a domestic dog?

However, as many folks on game drives inquire, why should anyone be excited about seeing a Dog that has simply chosen to live in the wild?  This question is based on the erroneous assumption that the Asiatic Wild Dog is the same species as the domestic Dog.  In fact, DNA evidence conclusively demonstrates that the Asiatic Wild Dog is a separate species from the domestic Dog. Humans did selective breeding, from the Wolf, Canis lupus and the dog.  Indeed, some three million years have elapsed since the Indian Wild Dog and the Wolf (and therefore domestic Dog) diverged from a common ancestor.  They are, therefore, very separate species!

In his book “Mammals of India” (2009), Vivek Menon distinguishes the Asiatic Wild Dog by describing it thus:  “A uniquely Asian, reddish-brown forest dog. The Dhole has shorter legs, a more bushy tail, and a thicker muzzle than both the Wolf and the domestic dog. It varies from light sandstone to rust-red. The pelt turning deeper further south.  They hunt in packs of six or seven and start eating their prey before it is dead. Usually they clean it to the bones within a few hours. Total body length is 90 cm with a weight is 12 – 18 kg.  Prefers open woodland habitat interspersed with grassy meadows.

Dholes in Tadoba

Returning now to my experience in tracking the Asiatic Wild Dogs of Tadoba. Chirag and I set out on five game drives in hope of seeing this amazing Canine species.  However, in those game drives over the next three days, we only attained one distant sighting of three Wild Dogs.  I was thankful for this but hoped we might do better. Perhaps getting close enough to obtain some good quality photographs.

At the end of the fifth and last game drive, I thanked Chirag and the jeep driver and gave them a tip. We had seen a total of four wild Tigers, three Asiatic Wild Dogs and other wildlife.  But Chirag, sensed my disappointment, and announced, “We shall take you tomorrow on a special 2-hour game drive in search of the Dholes.  I was very thankful for this extremely kind and thoughtful gesture.

The final safari

The next morning, our jeep was among the first to enter Tadoba.  We went along the usual trails where either of the two packs of Tadoba Dholess are usually seen. But we found nothing in the way of either the Dogs themselves or even signs of them.  I had to be leaving the park soon and we started to head back along the lake route. Suddeny looking ahead, Chirag cried out, “It’s a pack of Wild Dogs just off the road… and they’re on a Sambar kill!”

For the next 40 minutes, I was in Asiatic Wild Dog heaven. I watched, capturing photographs and video all the while. The six Asiatic Wild Dogs dissembled the Sambar carcass, which had been a healthy, living animal probably just 30 to 45 minutes earlier.  The ferocious little Canines were just 4 meters off the road. Perhaps a tad nervous by the presence of our jeep but industriously tearing into their early morning feast just the same.

The following youtube video of this experience tells the story far better than my words could ever convey.

Should anyone consider keeping a Asiatic Wild Dog as a pet, please consider the following (from Wikipedia):  “Brian Houghton Hodgson kept captured dholes in captivity, and found, with the exception of one animal, they remained shy and vicious even after 10 months.  According to Richard Lydekker, adult dholes are nearly impossible to tame, though pups are docile and can even be allowed to play with domestic dogs until they reach early adulthood.”

I hope that you may have success in finding this rare predator of India, the Asiatic Wild Dog.

May you similarly be blessed with a Dhole moment!

All the best,

John M. Uscian

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Why Choose India as a Safari Destination?

India Wildlife Safari
Tiger in Jim Corbett National Park, India
India Wildlife Safari
Tiger in Corbett National Park

When East Africans meet, they often greet one another with the phrase “Habari za safari?”, which translates as “How was your journey?”  Indeed, the word safari is Swahili for journey or travel.

In non-Swahili languages the word safari has been adopted and carries a more specific meaning.  “An expedition to observe or hunt animals in their natural habitat”.

The term safari is used for  travel adventures where one goes to observe or hunt animals. I hope that everyone will limit their hunting of wild animals using only a camera. Camera is much easier on wild animals. As these aimals desperately need our protection in this age of ecological threats).

By the fall of 2009, I had already undertaken safaris in East Africa, Southern Africa, and Australia.  I remember reflecting on the many African Elephants, Lions, Hippopotamuses, Rhinoceroses, Zebras, Wildebeest, Antelope, Giraffes, Wallabys, Cocakatoos, and Platypus I had seen on these adventures.  And I thought about what I really wanted to see next.

The Tiger immediately came to my mind.  I assumed that the best place to see wild Tigers would be in Russia. It is here that fabled Siberian/Amur Tiger reside. Thus my on-line search began for a proper Tiger safari provider in Russia. These searches revealed that reliable safari providers in Russia were few.  I also discovered that trying to see wild Tigers in Russia was a difficult undertaking likely to end in failure.

The by products of these internet searches was the Royal Bengal Tiger. FOr that i had to do an India Wildlife Safari. These providers seemed to assert much greater promise for seeing the iconic Tiger than the Russian Tiger safari providers.  I realized that India was the destination to travel to in order to see the great striped Cat. So beautiful and yet so endangered in the wild.

I emailed one company, Nature Safari India, and stated my desire to see Tigers and Asian Elephants.  To my utter surprise a complete reasonably priced Tiger safari itinerary was emailed back to me the next day.  The company seemed to indicate that seeing Tigers was a strong possibility. A little bit suspicious of such a claim, I asked for three references. I was promptly provided with two in the USA and one in England.  All references spoke very highly of Nature Safari India and I thus decided to make the down payment for my first Tiger safari in India.

Arriving in India in late May of 2010, Nature Safari India tour guides first took me to Jim Corbett National Park. Here Asian Elephant sightings were guaranteed and Tiger sightings were a possibility.  Upon entering Corbett, I was completely awestruck with the beauty of this wildlife refuge. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas and containing thick 400-year old sal forests interspersed with grassy meadows and boulder-strewn dry river valleys.  I had never seen a more beautiful area of the world. This opinion has remained unchanged in my returning to Corbett park three times during the past 5 years.

The most memorable part of my first Corbett experience was seeing the Asian Elephant herds and the desire to see my first Tiger.  It was adrenaline-laden enthusiasm that my ears heard the words of my guide Sarbjeet. He said that, “A Tiger is in this area of the Ramganga River, just off the road.  We must wait for it to emerge from the tall grass on the side of the river.”

We waited but no Tiger showed.  It was soon 11:00 a.m. and time to return to the Dhikala Lodge.  But I was determined. I told Sarbjeet that i wish to stay in the watch tower near the river so that I could see the Tiger if it emerged from the grass.

Sarbjeet sensed my determination and he did not dissuade me to sit out in the very hot  sun.  He sent his jeep back to Dhikala Lodge with another driver and joined me in the tower. This tower ascended a good 20 meters or more at its third and highest level.

After about an hour, Sarbjeet noticed something in the river.  He told me to come to the second floor of the tower and look through some trees. The leaves mostly obscured our view of the near shore region of the Ramganga River.  As the wind blew, it created a brief window in the tree branches. There lying right in the cooling waters of the shallows of the Ramganga river, I saw a Royal Bengal Tigress.

It was one of the most amazing wildlife experiences I have ever had.  I watched the Tigress for two hours. Took plenty of photographs when the trees branches moved.  The image of the Tigress’s black stripes set amidst a rich orange and white background. Simply an amazing initiation to viewing wild Tigers.

I was hooked.  Tigers are the most beautiful of the big Cats and now I wanted to see them even more.  Though I saw no more Tigers in Corbett National Park on that first safari. But I did see about 10 more tigers and some of these at very close range in Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks.  All of these were very memorable experiences.

It was now i realized on this first Indian safari that I loved India. And Indian wildlife even more. I would rate it to be the very best wildlife I had seen in any of the nine countries of Africa I had previously visited.  This impression was assisted, no doubt, by the fact that I also saw large herds of Elephants, Spotted Deer, Wild Pigs, Sambar Deer, Barking Deer, Indian Monitor Lizards, Leopards, Indian Wild Dogs/Dhole, and a good sampling of some of India’s 1,300+ Bird species.  Many of these species are the most striking Avian species to be found anywhere in the world.

India Wildlife Safari destination

In addition, there is a certain quality in the Indian cultural climate that casts an ambience. An aura that adds what can only be termed a spiritual dimension to the whole wildlife experience there.  The Hindu stories, for example, speak of the important roles played by the Tiger, and other animals in the history of this great land, India.

Somehow the reverence the people of India hold for these animals is communicated to the foreign traveler. One understands the respect Indians have for these animals.  Then one realizes why there are still wild Tigers and Lions in India.  While these animals have disappeared from so many neighboring countries.  Indeed, these predators are not seen as dark, fearsome forces of nature. Rather they are seen as critical elements that have their rightful place in the natural order of the world. They are entities to be revered and protected as they represent an important aspect of that which makes life complete.

I would also state here that there is no better safari provider in the world than Nature Safari India.  I have returned to India on six occasions and each time Nature Safari India has been my host.  On three of these occasions, I brought university safari groups to India. These groups comprised of 20 to 30 individuals. On each occasion, Nature Safari India always delivered well beyond my highest hopes.  I give them my highest recommendation. Also i would urge you to book your future India Wildlife safari with Nature Safari India.

All best,

John

 

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Mode of safaris in National Parks of India?

safaris in national parks of India
Jeep Safari

For first timers traveling for safaris in India, it is important they understand how the safaris in national parks of India operate. What types of vehicles, and what are the benefits of each type of vehicle. Does the vehicle serve your purpose of safari? If you are an amateur or a professional photographer what type of vehicle is good for you?

Below are the various types of safaris in national parks of India.

  1. Jeep Safaris
  2. Canter (open safari bus) Safaris
  3. Boat safaris
  4. Canoe safaris
  5. Walking safari
  6. Cycle safaris
  7. Cycle Rickshaw Safari
  8. Elephant Safari
  9. Camping Safari

Safari timings

In almost all the national parks in India where tourism happens there are 2 safaris in a day. Except in Gir National Park there are 3 safaris in a day. In certain bird sanctuaries you can be inside doing birding from sunrise to sunset. The first safari starts at sun rise, and is usually of 4 hours. In Kanha the morning safari is 5 hours. The afternoon safari commences about 3pm and lasts until sunset.

Depending on the sunrise and sunset timings the safari timings change practically every month. So in winter the safari might start at 0645hrs, while in summers the safari might start at 0545hrs. Similarly as sunset in summers is late, hence the safaris start around 4pm until 7pm, and in winter from 3 till 6pm.

Some parks have full day safaris as well, these safaris cost almost 4-5 times more than a single safari. You are allowed entry 20 minutes before sunrise, and you may exit 20 minutes after sunset. Photographers generally prefer to experience full day safaris. But i will recommend these safaris for either professional photographers, or people who wish to experience how it is to be inside the national park for full day.

Gir national park has 3 safaris in a day, the first one starts at sunrise for 3 hours, the 2nd one immediately after the first one ends, and the 3rd safari at 3pm for 3 hours.

Jeep Safaris

This vehicle is ideal to experience the safaris in national parks of India. The model used for safaris in most of the parks is the Maruti Gypsy. it is a 4X4 vehicle, very silent, and comfortable. In some parks Mahindra Thars are also used for safaris. They are diesel vehicles, hence a bit noisy. But they are also all terrain vehicles and comfortable. Maximum 6 people are allowed to sit in the Jeep besides the guide and the driver. But as it is a bit compact hence ideal for 4 guests. In case of professional photographers carrying camera equipments just two guests are recommended.

Safaris in National Parks of INdia
Jeep Safari in Ranthambhore

Some Lodges have recently started a modified version of a Jeep also. It is much more comfortable than a Jeep as it has bucket seats. But it is a slightly bigger vehicle, so not so easy to maneuver in the safari. But this also seats 6 people only.

Please see the video i shot in the park to understand this vehicle.

Canter Safaris

In some busy parks like Ranthambhore, Nagarhole, Corbett they have Canter safaris. Lately this has started in a very limited way in Kanha and Bandhavgarh also. Canter is a open safari bus which seats 12-20 people depending on the model and park. There is only one guide in the canter. For a serious wildlifer this is not the ideal way to do a safari. But if there is a group of friends, or family, then Canter works very well as it keeps everyone together. To avoid getting a canter safari you must book yourself atleast 120 days before the safari. But if it is a last minute booking, then you will have to be content with the Canter. Interesting part is that wildlife does not discriminate between a Jeep and a canter, it shows up nevertheless. But a Jeep is far less disturbing to wildlife compared to a canter.

Safaris in National Parks of India
Canter Safari in Ranthambhore

Elephant Safaris

Kaziranga, Corbett, Dudhwa, Nagarhole, Satpura, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Pench and a couple of more parks have Elephant safaris. These safaris are of one to two hours duration. it is worthwhile to experience atleast one such safaris during stay. It is an amazing way of seeing Wildlife. For guests who have never experienced an Elephant back ride, it is a great experience you must do atleast once. It is very fruitful in Kaziranga, and Dudhwa when you go for a safari to see Rhinos. Best part about an elephant safari is that it cuts through the Jungle. These pachyderms do not follow any fixed routes, hence you experience a Jungle in it’s true sense.

Safaris in National Parks of India
Elephant Safari in Bandhavgarh
safaris in National Parks of India
Elephant Safari in Kaziranga.

Walking Safaris

Satpura National park in Madhya Pradesh has walking safaris too. One goes on a trail of 5kms to about 10kms. A forest guide, and a couple of hotel staff also accompanies you as you are entering the Tiger country.

Cycle and Cycle Rickshaw Safaris

These are best for bird watching in Bharatpur. You can hire a cycle for yourself, and go around the sanctuary cycling and watching birds. This is perfect when you do not need guides, and you are an accomplished birder yourself. But if you need a guide, then Cycle Rickshaw safaris are the best. Most of the rickshaw drivers have been working in this sanctuary for decades. They know exactly which bird is in which area, which tree and which branch.

Safaris in National Parks of India
Cycle Rickshaw Safari in Bharatpur for birdwatching

Boat Safaris

These are commonly done in Chambal, Dhaulpur, Bharatpur, Ranganathithu, Katarniaghat, Nameri, Panna, Nagarhole, Pench, and Satpura. The boats get close to the birds, and then the boatmen cut the engines for you to peacefully spend time with the birds. If one wants to take photos then it is important to stay as still as possible, as the water does not make it easy for the boat to go still in water. One can also see Crocodiles, and Gharials in most of the above parks via boats.

Safaris in National Parks of India
Boat Safari in Dhaulpur

Camping Safari

This mode of safari in national park of India is used when you are tracking the Snow Leopards in the Hemis National Park. One has to camp on frozen rivers, valleys in search of this elusive Himalayan ghost. It is serious camping, hence precautions must be taken in carrying enough of winter warm clothings. One encounters temperatures of below 20 degree celsius.

Above are the various modes to do safaris in national parks of India. Should you have any further queries regarding the same, please write to us on info@naturesafariindia.com

Best Wishes

Sharad Vats

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Off days in some National Parks of India

When are the national parks closed
T64 in Ranthambhore National Park

While you are planning a safari in the National Parks of India it is important to know when the parks are closed? Which day of the week? Or any festivals when the national parks are closed?

First and foremost one must know that the core zones of all the Tiger reserves are closed for the monsoons in India. There are couple of reasons why this is done. One, due to rain the mud trails become slushy. Hence there is a possibility of the safari vehicles getting stuck in the slush. So the forest department prefers to close the national parks. Also the monsoon break provides an opportunity to the forest to rejuvenate itself.

when are the national parks closed
A Tiger in pre-monsoon shower

Closure of some popular national parks

All Madhya Pradesh National Parks i.e. Panna, Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Pench, Satpura, Sanjay are closed every Wednesday afternoon for safaris.  These parks are also closed on Holi and Diwali festival days. No safaris on these two days. The monsoon break for the Madhya Pradesh parks is from 1st July till 30th Sept. But the buffer zones are open for safari in these parks.

In Maharashtra, Tadoba remains closed full day on Tuesday. But there are buffer zones in Tadoba which are open for safaris. So a guest need not feel that there is no Jungle safari or activity happening on this day.

Ranthamhore National Parks zones from 1 till 5 are closed from 1st July till 30th Sept for monsoon. But zones 6 to 10 are open for tourism during this time.

Jim Corbett National Park and Dudhwa National Park are also closed for monsoon from 16th June till 15th November. But the Jhirna range is open for tourism in the monsoons also.

Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary is open round the year for tourism. But, birding is at it’s peak during Dec till mid Feb as the the migratory birds make Bharatpur their home during these months.

Is it worth doing a safari in buffer zones during monsoon time?

Yes, by all means. If you are a nature lover then yes, the forest is at it’s beautiful best during monsoon. If you just wish to see the Tigers during this time, then this is not the ideal time. It is simple, because when it rains do you step out of your house for a stroll, not really, or rarely. Same is the case with Tigers. They prefer not to get wet. But it is not that the Tigers stop walking, and patrolling their territory, they do it, but slightly less. Hence the chances of Tiger sightings are less. But nature offers so much of love soaked in beauty that you don’t miss the Tigers.

Also, if it starts to rain during the safari it is tough to take images, as you rather protect your expensive camera equipment than risk it in the rains.

when are the national parks closed
Some Wild Flowers during monsoons

There is so much of growth all around, wild flowers, butterflies, birds nesting, bird songs, vibrant colors, cloudy skies, and a lot more. The whole landscape is decorated just for you. Complete eco-system is thriving.

So, if you are a nature lover, then you must visit during the monsoons. Find out in advance which resorts are open. Most of the resorts are closed during this time. But there are some resorts open, which take bookings. Find out, go, explore, and upgrade yourself to a nature lover from just a Tiger lover. It is like, you must love the home of the Tiger, because only if you do, will you understand the value of it’s home, and that is the only way to save the Tiger.

Honestly, the forest is not only about the Tigers. Let us see the big picture together rather than just one important element of nature.

Sharad Vats

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15 Most important things to keep while on a Safari in India

Important things to carry for Safari in India
Common Grey Langur

The national parks in India are very remotely located, except a couple of them, which are located close to a big town. Infact the towns which are close to these handful of national parks are not equipped with essentials that you might require. Hence i thought it important to list down these 15 most important things to carry for a safari in India.

  1. Travel adaptor
  2. Portable recharger
  3. First aid kit / personal medication
  4. Sewing kit
  5. Torch
  6. Mosquito Repellant
  7. Camera, with extra memory cards
  8. Binoculars
  9. A Field guide book
  10. Hand Sanitizer
  11. Sun screen
  12. Some munchies
  13. Masks
  14. Hat
  15. Cover to protect your camera from rain and dust.

Reason i recommend to carry some munchies, cookies, dry fruits, chocolates etc is because the morning safaris begin at 6am. You normally will have your morning tea with couple of cookies, and then go for a safari. Hence it is advisable to keep something to munch silently, discreetly while on a safari. Needless to mention that you will not drop any eatables, or wrappings in or out of the vehicles. While sharing your eatables with your fellow safari goers is fine, but never with the animals you encounter.

I repeat this often, that one encounters lot of dust and sun during safaris in India as the vehicles are totally open. If you are sensitive to dust and pollen related allergies please carry all preventive material like masks, and medications too.

Medical emergencies

For pregnant ladies safaris in India are not recommended at all. The tracks are bumpy, and can create medical complications in pregnancy. Hence safaris are best avoided during pregnancy. But still if you as a pregnant wife wish to accompany your husband then please do and stay put in the resort or the Lodge. Please do not go inside the national park.

In case of any medical issues there are no good hospitals or doctors close by. Any good hospital could be a 3-4 hours drive from a national park. Before going on a safari, please ensure you are medically fit. Avoid the safaris if there is even a minor viral infection, as it can get aggravated due to the journey thus spoiling the whole experience of yours, and your partners as well.

Remember only if you are fully well, and healthy will you be able to enjoy your safaris. So recover from any ailment that you might have, and then head out to track the Tigers.

Wish you all the best

Sharad Vats

 

 

 

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Which is the best national park to see the Tigers in India?

Best national park to see Tigers in India
Male Tiger sighting in Kanha

Which is the best national park to see Tigers in India? This is the first question asked by almost all tourists who want to see the Tiger in the wilds of India. The answer to this question is easy and tricky simultaneously. In India we have 49 Tiger reserves, out of which 15 are very popular due to good Tiger sightings. This does not mean that there is no Tiger sighting in other parks. I would like to share an image here of a sighting i had in Dudhwa national park. Not this park surely does not feature in the top 15 parks for Tiger sightings in India.

Best national park to see Tigers
A Natural History moment captured in Dudhwa National Park

What i am trying to say is that Tigers are present in all the Tiger reserves, and they can come out anytime, all you need is patience. The Tiger reserves are huge. You have to remember that you are visiting a national park and not a zoo. So to expect to see a Tiger in few minute after entering the park is not fair.

Chances of Tiger sightings are in all these parks. The frequencies are a bit different and ever changing. At times things can change so fast that within a month an area of a national park can be vacated. For e.g. if a Tigress gives a litter, she practically withdraws for some time from the tourism areas. This could mean that the Tiger sightings in that area or the zone can go dry for sometime thus disappointing lot of tourists.

Also, this is a fairly individualistic perception, and analysis also. For e.g. someone visits Ranthambhore more, and less of Tadoba, so in his opinion Ranthambhore could be good for the affinity he has for the park. It is tough to get sighting data of all the Tiger reserves. But if one travels regularly in these, gathers information, data from social media as well then one will get to know what is happening where.

We give a lot of emphasis on quality of sightings, than the quantity. Now this may include for how long was the sighting? How many vehicles were around when you were seeing the Tiger? The lesser the vehicles, the least disturbed Tiger is. If all this is ticked, then i would say it was a good sighting.

There are healthy chances that you will sight Tigers in your visits to Ranthambhore, Tadoba, Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh, and Corbett, not necessarily in the order listed. But when i say a visit, it implies at 3-4 nights stay, and doing about 5 to 6 safaris atleast if not more. If luck is by your side then you will sight Tigers on more than one occasion in these parks. Last but not the least important factor is that you must have the right guides, and drivers with you when going on a safari. So still want to know the best national park to see Tigers in India, write to us on email below.

Do let us know if you wish to see Tigers in India or Indian Wildlife. Write to us on info@naturesafariindia.com

Sharad Vats

 

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Difference in a Canter (safari bus) and a Jeep safari

There are two kind of safari vehicles used in the National Parks of India. One is the Jeeps which usually seat upto 6 people max, or an safari buses which seat from 10-20 people. But both have their own advantages. The advantages and disadvantages of Canter and Jeep Safaris are to be understood before you start your safaris.

Advantages of a Jeep:

  1. Jeep is a small vehicle with less number of tourists in it. Max 6 guests are permitted to sit in a Jeep. Thus it is less disturbing to you and to the wildlife.
  2. The seating height of a Jeep is lower than a canter. Hence it is a better vehicle to take photographs of wildlife, and it offers a better angle too.
  3. Jeep is easier to maneuver compared to a canter during a safari.
  4.  The petrol engine in a Jeep makes it less noisy. Thus not only less disturbing to you, but more importantly to the wildlife.

Canter and Jeep Safaris

Advantages of a Canter (Safari bus)

  1. If you are traveling in a group more then 6 people then it is best to be together in a canter. As there could be chances that you do not get the second Jeep. So all of you together in one canter is a good idea.
  2. The height of a Canter is at times advantageous in times of Tiger sighting. There are moments if you stand on a canter you can see deep and into the bush and not so much from the Jeep.
Canter and Jeep Safaris
Canter Safari in Ranthambhore

Let us not forget that to a Tiger or any other wildlife it does not make any difference whether you are in a canter or a Jeep. If he is in the vicinity and decides to come out when the canter is around so don’t think that the canter is more lucky, or Jeep. Tiger sightings are always a matter of chance, and experience of drivers and guides does surely help.

Last but not the least, if Jeep safari is not available then it makes sense to surely avail Canter Safari. The route followed by both types of vehicles is practically the same, so chances of wildlife viewings are also almost same.

If you are a serious wildlife enthusiast and wish to avail a Jeep for the safari, then only way to get it is to book early. Plan your safaris 5-6 months in advance to get the type of vehicle and zone preference in the national parks of India.

Happy sightings.

Sharad Vats

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Are Tiger sightings better in premium zones in Bandhavgarh and Kanha?

Safaris in premium zones
Tiger on your trail

Many tourists have no idea about the concept of premium zones. So this is the most frequently asked questions by all of them visiting Bandhavgarh and Kanha. I thought of penning down and explaining this myth of safaris in premium zones.

Tala zone in Bandhavgarh and Kanha zone in Kanha were made premium zones by the forest department about 4 years back. They were made premium zones by just doubling the entry fees to these zones. Obvious question is why was this done? The forest department realized that the tourism was increasing to these zones more because good Tiger sightings were happening here. Everybody used to buy tickets for these zones and converge to the areas where the Tiger were being sighted.

Hence the Forest department took a decision to regulate tourism and ensure that there is no unnecessary pressure of tourists in certain areas of the park. This decision compulsorily forced the tourists to visit other zones as well. So, not only the forest department succeeded in diverting tourism but also by increasing the entry fees they increased their own revenues. A master stroke indeed.

Safaris in Premium zones
Sunset view from Tala zone, Bandhavgarh

This decision showed very positive results in just two years time. The tourists were forced to visit the other zones as well. This resulted in more tracking of Tigers in the entire tourism areas. Results showed up. Tiger sightings improved in practically all the zones. Tigers are present everywhere in the park, and they fortunately do not understand the premium and non premium zones. The benefits of this decision was improved Tiger sightings in Magdhi and Khitauli in Bandhavgarh and Kisli, Mukki and Sarhi zones in Kanha.

In 2014 things started to change a bit. Tiger sightings reduced considerably in the premium zones. Reasons for shifting of Tiger sightings cannot be predicted or controlled. Nature has it’s own script which is tough for us to decipher. Subsequently the sightings improved in the non premium zones, so the tourists started to visit them. This was also more economical for them afterall. Mission was accomplished for the forest department. They wanted the tourism to get distributed and their initiative got approval from mother nature. The craving for safaris in premium zones reduced.

Hence from 2015 season the non premium zones became the preferred zones by the tourists. But no one knows what nature has in store in future. The Tiger sightings can switch again, and most likely they will. They change with factors like changing male female ratio, plus new cubs, or any new dominant male etc. So let this not be the final verdict. But i will update you in some time on how the sightings are happening in various zones.

Which zone to book?

If you wish to make the most of your safaris, then visit all the zones of a national park. it will give you a complete idea about the national park. Besides, they all have Tigers, and they will show up at some point in time. Do not be fixed on a particular zone until and unless your focus is a particular Tiger. Having said this, i do understand that when you spend your precious resources you definitely wish to see Tigers. Hence based on our past experiences if you let us decide for you, then there are healthy chances that you will sight a Tiger.

Update on 22nd August 2016: The premium zone concept has been scrapped by the forest department. Now, all the zones have same entry charges. This is a great news in today’s circumstances.

Sharad Vats

 

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Bandhavgarh National Park reopens for new tourism season

Eagerly awaited by all Tiger lovers, and photographers,Bandhavgarh National Park reopened after the monsoon break. Not exactly a house full kind of opening, but the main reason for this would be that only Tala zone was opened for tourism hence w.e.f  1st October. Well, this is a soft opening only from Bandhavgarh’s own standards, and very good compared to rest of the national parks. Magdhi and Khitauli zones open from 15th October.

But in this short span of time the Tala zone showed some glimpses of the glorious past. Having had a not so good 2014-2015 season, i think Tala will be back to where it belongs. Having said all this, the Tigers were sighted at 4 different places in initial safaris, and also a Sloth Bear climbing a tree. Now this is ot a regular sighting, and lot of people will trade many Tiger sightings to see a Sloth bear climbing a tree. So, if you have not booked your safaris yet, please write to us on info@naturesafariindia.com and see more details on different national parks of India on http://www.naturesafariindia.com/national-park-index.html

Sharad Vats

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National Parks in India reopen to full houses in October 2016.

Male Tiger in Kanha, by Sharad Vats
Tiger Safari in Kanha National Park

First week of October is a very crucial week for all Tiger lovers in India. They eagerly await the re-opening of the national parks after the three long month closure due to monsoons. As the opening date nears, the level of anxiety increases, anxiety about what would have transpired in these months? Would all Tigers survive the monsoons? Did any territorial fights happen during this time among Tigers? Did any Tiger die in these fights? Did any sub-adult Tiger move on in search of new territory? Did the young cubs survive? Did the Tigresses give any new litter? All these questions have a conclave in the mind prior to the park openings. The thrill is similar or maybe higher like one is awaiting release of a highly popular movie on a Friday of their beloved movie star.

Then the parks open. All Wildlife lovers enter, (different parks in the country) the first few pug marks generate mental celebration as that is information enough on the well-being of their beloved Tigers. And finally there are Tiger sightings, all the admirers come out of the park on cloud nine.

Ranthambhore and Kanha National Parks this year have opened to full houses practically in terms of Tiger sightings. The male Tigers of Mukki and some new Tigresses have given a lot of hope for a wonderful season ahead for those interested in sighting Tigers this year. Ranthambhore on the other hand has retained everything as of last year.  Bandhavgarh and Tadoba are anticipating a big opening on 15th Oct, and Corbett in mid Nov. If you have not planned your safari yet, do it now write to us on info@naturesafariindia.com.

Sharad Vats

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