Visiting Dudhwa National Park, please do take out time to do a safari in Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary. Located about 30kms from Dudhwa, this sanctuary is very different to Dudhwa. Kishanpur compliments Dudhwa very well. You will see all big things in Dudhwa, i.e the Tiger, Elephant, Rhino, maybe a sloth bear, but hardly any prey base. In Kishanpur you will see a lot of prey animals apart from the big cats.
Standing on the main road in Bhira before the railway crossing, you have no idea on what to expect. After a drive of about 5kms, we reached the Dudhwa Wilderness Camp. A very small Lodge with just 6 rooms, but nicely furnished. Total staff of three, but they take care of everything you need. Infact i think it is good to have less staff in a Jungle Lodge.Basic food, but the ambience is absolutely awesome. Do take out time to sit on the terrace of the room no 1 to 3. The Jungle comes to you at this camp. The boundary of the forest is visible to the naked eyes. At dusk you start hearing the denizens of Kishanpur who are much closer than you expect. The camp had two resident jungle owlets who become active in the evening.
We reached the entry gate of Kishanpur and looked around for the guard. Found him, and he gave us an entry permit to the sanctuary. One of the most reasonably priced entry permits in the entire country. The guide boarded the Jeep, and we entered. After about 2kms of drive, we reached a spot where the Jeep stopped, and the guide and driver said let us go to the Machan to look around. I accompanied them not knowing what was in store for me. Holy Lord, behold, what unfolded in front was something unimaginable. A huge water body filled with migratory birds. On our reaching the top, they got a bit disturbed, and a few hundred just took off like a jet plane. They landed about 100 meters away from us.
It was now that the guide said, Sir, this is Jhaadi taal. I had heard about it, but saw it now. Observed a herd of Swamp Deer at a distance, standing next to few crocodiles basking on a small island in the middle. The tall grass in the background, and the peaceful foreground started to soak in gradually. It was now i realised that unlike other national parks, there was just no tourist rush here. Mine was the only Jeep in the sanctuary. I felt Kishanpur belonged to me.
After a brief while, we stepped down, and got into the vehicle again. Now started our round of the Ring road. This road goes around the Jhaadi taal. In about 200 meters there was another Machan (watch tower). What was very beautiful here was a hyde they had made for the photographers to go stand in, and take photographs of the birds without getting noticed. We stood there for a while and moved on. Suddenly we hear the screeching sound of a Swamp Deer. The guide got interested, stood up on the seat, pulled out his binoculars, and was a bit hysterical. On being asked what was this, he said, a Tiger has caught a Swamp Deer for sure. It was then that the alarm calls started. We waited for something more to happen. But nothing.
We took a left turn after the 2nd watch tower, and the driver stopped to show a pugmark of a male Tiger. It was massive, never before i have seen a pugmark this size. The driver said, this is the larges male Tiger here, and he moves from Kishanpur to Pilibhit and back. Moved onwards and crossed the 3rd watch tower too. It was now that we started to follow very fresh pug marks of a Tigress with 2 cubs. We kept following with a hope that we will find her sitting on the road somewhere. But the pugmarks kept going, and so did we. The Tigress would have walked nothing less than 5kms. It was like a rangoli of pugmarks on the road. We took the whole circle of the ring road, and reached the watch tower no 2 again.
It was here that i noticed something sitting in the centre of the road, looked small as it was far away, and was in a shade. He got up, and looked at us. A Leopard. Left the road in a hurry. This junction on the first watch tower has 5 roads going into different directions. We left the 2nd road, and reached the spot where we thought he might emerge from on the third road. But the Leopard had read our mind very well. He did emerge, but atleast 50 meters ahead of us on the road. We again see the Leopard on the road, but at a distance.
The safari time was coming to a close. So thought of heading back. What a great experience in this small but beautiful Kishanpur wildlife sanctuary. We came back in the evening, and saw the Tiger on road no 18. That is a story in itself for another blog perhaps. A small piece of advise for first timers to Kishapur. Do not be too adventurous by wondering far from the watch tower on foot. The big cats are usually aorund in this area waiting in the tall grass for unsuspecting prey.
So whenever you do go to Dudhwa, please do visit Kishanpur for atleast one safari if not more. If you can stay one night there that will be even better. Infact it is possible to do Kishanpur from Dudhwa itself. Ask your hotel or safari provider to get you a safari in Kishanpur which is just 30kms away. Yes you will have to start very early for the morning safari, but it will be worth it.