Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve Day 6...

Bandhavgarh Day Six
This morning as we were on our game drive we heard the monkeys sounding their alarm calls, so our guides started looking for a tiger. 
Baby Langour Monkey

The next thing I heard was “leopard! Leopard!” A leopard was pretty far away in the forest. He ran to the left and we lost him in a valley, then he sprinted the other way actually coming toward us. I was trying to get the right camera ready and meter it and our driver told us he’d be coming out of the bush behind us on the road. Sure enough, seconds later he jumped across the road and disappeared in to the bush on the other side. I was really lucky to get one good shot of him as he jumped across the road. I didn’t really know it at the time, but leopards are very rare in India. In fact the leopard that we saw this morning was the first leopard that our guide had seen all year. That would make it a once in a lifetime sighting for tourists like us on safari. About half an hour later we heard alarm calls again and came around a corner to see a beautiful tiger walking into the bush. For the first time this trip, the light was perfect and she wasn’t far away from us. Unfortunately she was walking away from us and didn’t look back, so we didn’t get any decent pictures of her.
Rare Indian Leopard sprinting across the road

The afternoon game drive was okay. We saw tracks and heard alarm calls, but didn’t see anything exciting. The tigers amaze me. When we are in Africa the lions in the parks are the kings of the jungle and they know it. They don’t try to hide and really don’t care about any humans. These tigers are in the same position and yet, they are rarely seen outside the cover of the bush. They don’t run away from humans, but they certainly don’t hang around either. Between the sightings that all of the jeeps in our group had, the sightings averaged about 20 seconds to 90 seconds at the very longest. If I had to guess, I think the reason for the skittishness of the tigers is because the tigers in National Parks in India are still poached quite frequently.

This evening one of the guides invited us to his home. He lives in a house about the size of our living room and kitchen combined. In that house live six people. One room has three beds together and a tv and the other room has a kitchen and two cots against the wall. The water and bathroom is outside. They were a very gracious family and welcomed the four of us and were very proud to host us. The family has a 30 year old daughter who is married and doesn’t live with them anymore, then two boys and a girl in their 20’s. Their mother didn’t speak any English, but you could tell she was delighted to have us in her home. They sat us down in the kitchen as our guides’ daughter started preparing a meal for us from scratch on a cutting board on the floor, then cooked it on an element powered by a propane bottle. Our guide apologized for not having very much food, but insisted on feeding us a special treat called “bada”. It was a special occasion, so they opened up a bottle of coke for us and we chatted as the daughter cooked the treat that is served on special occasions. Bada is a potato and parsley? And bread and some other spices that is kneaded up into small sections, then is rolled in finely crushed peanuts, then is deep fried. It is served with an optional dip of tomato and green chilli peppers.

We had a really enjoyable evening with the family, but then had to get back to the lodge. Before we left, they insisted on giving each of us small presents (stickers and pictures of tigers with Bandhavgarh National Park on them).

I have really enjoyed the Indian hospitality here so far. They are such a kind people. They are inviting and proud, soft spoken and polite everywhere we have gone. Our visit with the family in their home really showed us how kind they are. They didn’t have much food in the kitchen and wouldn’t eat any of the food that was prepared as they wanted to make sure there was enough for us. It was very important to them that they serve their new North American friends.

Tomorrow morning we get up early and drive eight hours to Pench National Park where we will have five more days of tiger safaris. We are crossing our fingers and hoping that our tiger sightings will improve.
My Indian Images...


  1. I'm glad it kept your interest. This day was one of my favourites from the trip. A small point that I forgot to mention. The mother and family were quite proud to have us in their home and were very kind and gracious. When we commented on how great she looked, the mentioned that she was 42 years old. They also told us that their oldest daughter is 30 years old and has a four year old child. I found the math in this equation interesting.

  2. Great post about wild life. keep it up.....

  3. Hi Harvey,

    Having being a Bandhavgarh native for the better part of my life, these pieces delight me to the core. Sights like these are what me and my kids have been bought up with so it is a genuine heart warming feeling to see enthusiastic travelers write about our jungles in such pompous ways.

    Off the record, I run a small, boutique jungle lodge in Bandhavgarh. Please let me know when you come here next. I would love to offer special discounts to our readers here :)