This was one vacation I was really looking forward to specially after the fiasco of plans to spend a weekend in Pench. 17 years of togetherness, friends and jungle – nothing beats the combination and we did have whale of a time. NH7 was a pleasure to drive and I averaged 60km and covered 180 km distance in 3 hours. That meant driving at 140km/hr for some distance but then the roads were clear and smooth and Innova lends itself wonderfully to highway driving.
We were at the park in peak summer and the heat was unbearable (mid day temperature was about 44° C) and there was very little water available -so most of the wild action was at concentrated around the water holes.
A tigress came to the water hole with four of her cubs to quench her thirst and cool herself down while down the same road another water saucer, made by the forest department saw a barking deer patiently waiting his turn to drink water while the bigger grazer, a Sambhar deer quenched his thirst.
In smaller puddles birds frolicked in territorial displays and fought with each other while the butterflies that were mud puddling became meals of the fly catchers. We saw one handsome orange headed thrush in an extremely bad mood shooing another one of his own species till a white-browed fan-tail fly catcher got better of him and claimed the place as his own territory.
Not far away was another family of tigers, two adults, a male and a female with two cubs frolicking in mud and playing tag on the bund of a small water body.
As the temperatures decreased in the evening, a wild dog family sat beside the road side and licked themselves before plunging into muddy water to cool themselves; bears and civet cat came out to feed and owls and night jars made their appearances.
One morning while we were driving down the tar road, just before main forest gate, a huge male tiger peeped out of the bamboo bushes on the right of us took three hops to cross the road and disappeared inside. The sightin g was so sudden that despite having cameras in hand we could not manage a picture. The same tiger then came out of bushes on one of the inside road and gave us a tired glance as if telling us “leave me alone guys; I am just looking for shade for my afternoon nap”. So we left him and continued with our jungle ride to be with birds on the waterhole.
Three days and five safaris later we returned back to the civilization with loads of photographs -some of them I am sharing here.
Tarique’s version of the trip has more photos – Go! take a look.