- Pugdundee Safaris Lodges: Home base for tiger safaris in India
- Wildlife in Kanha National Park: A photo essay
Kanha National Park is one of the best tiger reserves in India
THE KHATIA GATE OF KANHA NATIONAL PARK and tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh is a busy place at 6 a.m. in mid-winter. Indian made jeeps, called gypsies, have been arriving since about 5:15 to be first in line when the gate opens at 6:15. Guides and naturalists line up at the park registration window while officials check passports. And eager tiger safari tourists, wrapped up in coats and blankets to keep the morning chill at bay, check their camera equipment.
There’s an unmistakable buzz in the air, and unmistakable camaraderie among the guides and naturalists, as the first light of day dawns on the busy scene. Everyone knows this is one of the best tiger reserves in India. With only minutes to go before the gate opens, the buzz turns to excitement at the entrance of the safari park. Engines are revved, gypsies jostle for position, cameras come out, and the park gate opens. And then a five-hour drive through some of India’s most beautiful forested landscapes begins.
The lure of tiger reserves in India
I became addicted to this routine when I was in Madhya Pradesh with Pugdundee Safaris. I jumped out of bed each morning excited to get into Kanha National Park. I loved the routine at the gate, drinking steamy hot chai in the chilly gloom, and chatting with the guides and naturalists. And, of course, I loved the drive itself – virtually everything about it. The possibility of spotting a tiger, the joy of experiencing a natural paradise, the pleasure of seeing all the other birds, animals, trees, and butterflies in Kanha, and the stop for a picnic breakfast.
Like many of the tourists on tiger safari, I too was intent on seeing a tiger. When the guides picked up the alarm calls and started the chase to, hopefully, spotting a tiger, I was as excited as anyone. It’s thrilling to follow signs and signals, and to focus your eyes and attention on looking for sinewy stripes in the forest.
But there’s so much more to see in Kanha National Park than tigers. The Pugdundee Safaris naturalists are all extremely well-trained and passionate nature lovers. They know as much about the many other mammals, birds, and flora and fauna of Kanha, as they do about the tiger population. And they are quick to spot them while driving.
Pugdundee Safaris Kanha Earth Lodge also offers walking safaris and village cycling tours – and there’s lots of opportunities for bird watching and getting to know the area’s flora and fauna up-close on these tours as well.
I spent about four days at the award-winning, luxury lodge and experienced everything that both Kanha Earth Lodge and Kanha National Park have to offer. Along with seeing several tigers – including the Munna, the King of Kanha – I saw spotted deer, barasingha, sambar, gaur, golden jackals, jungle cats, wild boar, langur monkeys, barking deer, and wild dogs.
I also saw more birds than I could count – including about eight different birds of prey, several species of hornbills, kingfishers, parakeets, egrets, and owls, and my favourites – the racket-tailed drongo, green bee eater, and Indian roller.
There are so many things I loved about Pugdundee Safaris Kanha Earth Lodge (and you can read about some of them here). But, for me, number one is the quality of the naturalists, and the attention they give to the lodge guests. They are always available to drive you into the park, to walk with you into the forest, and up to sunset point, and to share their knowledge and passion for the natural world.
I was guided at Pugdundee Safaris Kanha Earth Lodge by several of the naturalists, including KD Kargeti and Harpreet Dhillon. I saw a tiger with KD in Kanha, and spent about three days with Harpreet experiencing a walking safari, village cycle tour, and sunset point. I discovered that Harpreet is not just a great naturalist, he’s also a talented photographer. Thanks to Harpreet for sharing just a few of his wildlife photos on this blog. You can find many more on his Facebook page and Instagram – and he’s adding to them all the time.
Also want to give a shout out to Pugdundee Safaris for the company’s commitment to responsible tourism. You can read more about their conservation policy here, and I can tell you that I witnessed it first hand.
In fact, I was so impressed with Pugdundee Safaris, that I am offering a tour in collaboration with them to my favourite tiger reserves in India. I will be offering a Pugdundee Safaris tour of some of India’s top tiger reserves March 21 – April 2, 2018 (when it is starting to get hot, and the animals are easier to spot). You can come along with me and see for yourself why seeing a tiger in the wild was one of the most amazing travel experiences of my life.
This is going to be a very special trip. We will stay in Pugdundee Safaris award-winning lodges, be guided by their talented naturalists, enjoy delicious local foods, and take part in some very special, customized experiences – such as walking safaris, a boat ride, village visits, hiking, and one overnight camp in Satpura National Park. At least 8 game drives, in Bandhavgarh, Kanha, and Pench guaranteed – which means your chances of seeing a tiger are excellent. I did a similar trip and saw 11 tigers! We will need confirmed bookings on this one by end of November as the tiger reserves book up completely about three-to-four months in advance. The tour is organized and sold by Pugdundee Safaris.
If you are interested in this tour, please send me and email at [email protected] with TIGERS in the subject line and I will put you on the mailing list to receive more information.
Thanks to Pugdundee Safaris
It was more than the two people I mentioned above — KD and Harpreet — who made my stay at Pugdundee Safaris Kanha Earth Lodge so incredible. It was everyone – the managers, the staff, the other naturalists, the waiters, the chefs … virtually everyone, and I can’t name you all. But you know who you are.
NOTE: I was hosted by Pugdundee Safaris at their lodges in Madhya Pradesh, India. As always, my opinions are my own, my stories are heart-felt and I only make recommendations based on personal experience and with the needs of my readers in mind.
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