19 August 2009

Kabini - June 2009

Had been wanting to go to Kabini Jungle Lodges for dogs years but it aint easy to get bookings there. Every time some friends and I managed to close down on a date we would find to our dismay that the place is fully booked out. Finally we decided to book nearly 2 months in advance and keep our fingers crossed that nothing would come up at the last minute.

So a nice Saturday morning in June four of us set off for Kabini. If some one had a look at the eatables that we were carrying they would think we are going for a week to a place where there would be no decent food! And the moment we got in we were discussing where we are gonna have breakfast!

We stopped for breakfast at Kamaths. Last 50 kms were too funny...every time we asked someone how far we were or tried to guess from the map that we had, where we were, we thought we were 25 kms away...and then we would reach another milestone and realize it was still 25 kms away! Anyways FINALLY reached Jungle Lodges in time for lunch...and immediately fell in love with the place.

The hunting lodge of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore it has the most amazing colonial style architecture. And lots and lots of tree sprawl the whole place. The cottages overlook the tranquil backwaters of the River Kabini and just outside the cottages are hammocks where you can just laze and relax! No wonder it is rated by the British Tatler’s Travel Guide as one of the top 5 wildlife resorts in the world. (and the reason why Suju insisted that we go to Kabini only and not anywhere else)

In all I managed to do some 4 safari – 3 jeep safaris in the jungle and one boat safari on the Kabini river, apart from the coracle joy ride. I never expected to see the amount of wildlife that I saw. Though the tiger was elusive as ever, we saw everything else in great abundance. We spotted so many elephants including tuskers that by the end of it there was very little excitement when we saw a elephant. One near the Kabini bank had tusks that were nearly as long as his trunk!

And of course I should mention the tusker charge. A smallish elephant was busy grazing on the side of the track –barely 4 feet away from us. As we slowed down to watch him don’t know what came over him that he started trumpeting and charging at us. While everyone was busy shrieking, I was busy trying to capture him on my camera. Below is the clip from which you can make out how close he was. In fact you can even see Suju’s cap in the clip!

Herds and herds of Spotted Deer - not small ones but hundreds of them and loads with antlers too. Now I can believe when they say that Kabini is one of the brightest beacons for wildlife preservation in India today. Apart from the many tuskers and deer with antlers that we saw, we also saw a pair of antlers that would have fallen off in the natural course but were still lying untouched in the forest. (It seems that the antlers serve as food for hedgehogs etc and so there is a new rule that these are not to be picked!)

Sambas, Indian Gaur and Langoors were other wildlife that we saw. On the last morning we were told by 2 jeeps that they saw Wild Dogs but they seemed to be evading us...but I guess not for long. As we reached the bank of Kabini we spotted 3 of them just lazing around quite close to the deer on the other bank. As we were watching one of them suddenly got up. We got quite excited thinking that we were going to see a kill but some how it seemed the Dogs were not in a mood for they made a very half hearted attempt at chasing deer.

The boat safari was very, very good. We were lucky to catch a Crocodile just lazing on one of the small islands. And to complete the show after few minutes he decided to slide into the water and we saw him swim away and for few secs with just his snout and eyes out. Awesome site...

Apart from that we saw what I would call an elephant baraat! Some 13 elephants in one herd followed by another herd with some 15 more elephants. While one herd was just crossing over to the Nagarhole side...one herd swam and came to an island in the middle...and this is when I realized that ‘ELEPHANTS CAN SWIM!’ As we watched them we also saw 2 elephants fighting in the water. It seemed as one was stopping the other from crossing over. We were told by the guide that this is the mating season!

This was not the season for bird watching. In Nov/Dec many migratory birds come here and the jungle comes alive with their tweeting and chattering...but STILL I managed to see soooo many birds...I nearly saw all the Welham birds – Kingfisher, Golden Back Woodpecker, Bulbul and Oriole. Unfortunately missed seeing my own house bird – Hoopoe!

At one point I heard some kind of honking and was wondering which idiot was honking in the forest when we saw the Black Drongo. This bird is known for its mimicry and the honking was his courtesy!

The Eagles looked so magnificent. As we were watching a Crested Hawk Eagle atop a tree we were told that his span is really beautiful. I was like – fly, fly, please fly for us when we were told by the other occupants in the jeep that this bird is not at all shy and will not move. But I guess they spoke too soon because soon after that he flew off. Talk about telepathy! In fact that happened once again a little later with a Blue Jay too. I wanted it to fly so that we could see all his colors. The guide was too good – he was whistling like a bird but it still refused to move. Till I started begging...please move and it just flew off.

Painted Storks, Peacocks, Serpent Eagle, Purple Heron, Green Imperial Pigeon, Cormorants, Egrets were also very kind to us and blessed us with sightings!

I had the most wonderful time...more than my expectation as I never expected to see so much wildlife...and the resort was excellet too...well maintained and very friendly naturalists.

Recommend everyone to make a trip there!


Elango said...

Great post. Elephant chasing video was superb :). You do know about lot of birds... nice... Teach me about those when we trek in Parambikulam :)

Raffi said...

Wow! You could manage to take a video. Viewing this video on your blog is much excited than viewing it in your camera. we missed this in parambikulam...