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Safari in India? A few words about how (not) to see a tiger

Title is a bit ironic, I know. However, give me a chance to tell you more about my experience with safari. This time it was not in popular with safari Africa, but in India. This country has a potential to make safari a great experience due to its natural heritage.

On my blog I stick to one rule: I do not obscure reality. I write about travels and places that I visit without coloring, embellishing and creating a false truth. Even if we all would prefer to believe that our world is perfect ;)

So the truth is that during this visit in India I was supposed to be in another train and in another part of the country. I asked to changed the train specifically because of the safari experience.

The closer to nature I am the happier I feel. Even if I spend one day surrounded by bird’s singing, jumping monkeys and deer, it is worth the sacrifice for me. And I absolutely do not regret that I changed the train for this experience!

I’m going to start with the question: Have you ever been on a safari?

I haven’t. During my trip to India I had my first chance to try safari. As it is with “The first times” emotions reach the top and expectations are endless. That’s how I felt about safari in India.

Karnataka’s impressive array of wildlife varies from Asian elephants and tigers to a number of smaller creatures such as birds, lizards, snakes, frogs and insects. The state’s forests support the highest elephant population in India, the highest concentration of gaur and one of the largest remaining populations of the endangered tiger and leopard.

In the 6,600 sq km area designated for wildlife, there are five national parks, 21 wildlife sanctuaries and several nature reserves. It’s really a lot!

Karnataka’s diverse habitat supports nearly 3,500 flowering plants, of which 1,500 are endemic to the region, 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, including several that are endemic, and 73 reptile species.

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

The fact is that our whole group IndiaBlogTrain has been focused on seeing tigers and elephants in nature (who wouldn’t like), so armed with our cameras we literally couldn’t wait to start.

We arrived in Kabini National Park in the late afternoon, had lunch and a moment to unpack our stuff in the tent- huts that were literally in the middle of the jungle.

Their roofs were thatched, while the walls were made of material for tents. A very interesting idea. The standard was basic, with the camp beds but the hot water.

Of course, I had a panic attack thinking about the mosquitoes eating me alive (you know what is my approach to them after dengue fever I had). I was shocked that in the middle of the jungle I haven’t seen any (!). I’m just writing this to reflect about travel stories. I was told about mosquitoes that will eat me alive in India, but finally I saw only a few during the whole trip. The conclusion is: always have your own intuition while travelling and don’t let other people scare you!

Some other interesting facts: my SIM card Internet worked perfectly in the middle of the jungle, like never before in any other place in India! That was ridiculous, because my friends who had the same SIM card couldn’t even connect. Being online in the heart of the jungle was priceless and completely pointless ☺

Coming back to safari, we actually had two. One was at the dawn, and the other at the dusk (at 5 am), because it’s the best time to see animals eating. We jumped in the open jeeps with our guides.

Let’s focus on their extraordinary skills for a moment. They way the guides could spot a small bird or a monkey, hidden in a tree’s crown, and get it closer by making special sounds was really impressive. Thanks to guides we could see many shy species such as monkeys.

And how about elephants and tigers?

Well, as it happens with nature, it does what it wants, and not what people expect, so… I haven’t see any… However, I saw a dozen of monkeys, deer and a Pumbas’ families (which sounds better than wild pigs).

Here is a Bambi also! :)

Here a small traveler’s reflection appears. As people we have a tendency to think that we are the leaders of the world and it circulates around us.

In fact, the nature has its own cycle, its paths, time and it’s the one who decides whether to open us its secrets or not. Any attempts to approach the magnitude of nature, are mostly unsuccessful or require great patience, teach humility and remind us that we are only a part of the larger system.

From my egocentric point of view I would love to see a tiger, but at the same time I am so happy that not everything is under human dictation, and nature still has the last word.

Anyway, giving you some hope. My friends, who had taken a train trip in the northern part of India, saw tigers and elephants in wild. So you never know what and when you can expect in case of wildlife.

However, my safari experience was worthy as I had the opportunity to see many interesting animals. Beautiful forests, birds singing and deer walking around our houses – it is still a beautiful world of nature.

At the end of the day we also had a fire camp under the shining stars. What an amazing moment to remember!

And after a few glasses of wine, we were all pretty sure that we actually saw these elephants (joking!).

That night we slept in tent-houses instead of the train. I tell you that I spent half of the night in a hammock staring at the stars. I haven’t seen such a beautiful sky for a long time…

The picture was made by my super talented friend Janet <3 Remember to visit her travel blog: Journalist On The Run

I am really falling in love with India again…

 

*Photo credits: Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India / Jinson Abraham

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