The state of Maharashtra is a biological hotspot - rich and awesome. Trekking or visit to one of the state tiger reserves, there is something for everyone. We set of to explore Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve this June. Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve boost of the highest density of tiger population in India. Close to 65 tigers for 620 sq km. Our trip was a great delight with many other animals that we sighted like the Peacock, India roller, bulbul, White eye Buzzard, Paradise flycatcher (male and female), India Spita, Crow pheasant, India Bison, Spotted dears, four Antler deer’s, marsh land crocodiles, Sambar, wild boar, Monitor lizard, Woodpeckers, Indian Muntjac (baking deer), Jungle hen, Serpent Eagle, Crow butterfly, Langurs, Seven sisters, Magpie Robin, Green beater are a few name that I could remember that were shared by the local guide on the open jeep safari that we had. Tadoba Andhari is located along the hills of Chimur, Kolsa and Mouharli. We travelled by the Duntoro Express from CST till Nagpur. Tadoba was declared a tiger reserve in 1955 and later Andhari was joined in 1986.
The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to 3.38 m (11.1 ft) over curves and exceptionally weighing up to 388.7 kg (857 lb) in the wild. Its most recognisable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with a lighter underside. The species is classified in the genus Panthera with the lion, leopard, jaguar and snow leopard. Tigers are apex predators, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and bovids. They are territorial and generally solitary but social animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey requirements. This coupled with the fact that they are indigenous to some of the more densely populated places on Earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans.
What is a Muntjac?
The Indian Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak), also called the red Muntjac, common Muntjac or barking deer, is the most numerous Muntjac deer species. It has soft, short, brownish or greyish hair, sometimes with creamy markings. This species is omnivorous, feeding on grass, fruits, shoots, seeds, birds' eggs as well as small animals. It sometimes displays even scavenging behaviour, feeding on carrion. It gives calls similar to barking, usually upon sensing a predator (hence the common name for all Muntjac of barking deer).
**** source wikipedia.org
What was special on this trip?
TreksandTrails had been to Tadoba earlier from Mouhali gate. This time we choose a different path. We went to Kolara gate and had our reservation done at Tadoba Tiger King Resorts. The participants were super enthu 72 years and above - yes all 6 participants. The special requirement was honoured by TreksandTrails - AC travel and all lower berths. The drive from Nagpur station to the resort was unique. Our drive after a quick breakfast was where we witnesses at least 4 wedding procession along the way. Seems to be an auspicious day I must say. Soon the mood in our chariot (CAB) changed as we had old bollywood songs being played. Taking you back to yesteryears of 1980s.
Arrival on time!
We checked in on schedule into our rooms. Buy the time we got fresh lunch was ready. The kitchen of this resort has a dining area. With huge table that could seat 8 - 10 people. At the lunch table it looked as if it was scene from Last Supper. As we arrived on Friday Jumma namaz had to be offered at a local masjid. So I got dressed up and got a lift till Chimur village (12km – 15Km). This ride cost me just Rs 30.00 - however not many option to come back to the resort. Hence one of the local CAB driver agreed to drop me back for Rs 300.00 I agreed as the afternoon safari was about to began. Ankit Savla and Yahya Virani joined another group on the evening safari, while our participants had their own Jeep safari. This was a rusty ride exploring the buffer area and then the Core jungle. Without mobile network, just the evening sun setting in a distance. The best part about these ride are that jeeps keep crossing each other and would share tiger spotting and other info.
Resorts and Stay - how was it?
Tadoba King Resort did justice to its 4.5 rating on Trip Advisor, good AC in all rooms, decent Genset backup, and nice food served. The only concern was all days they cooked that same menu for non-veg. And pakodas cocked at the resort (not a part of the itinerary) are the most expensive. The room at this resort are named after the tigers of The Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, Like Eddanna, Gabar, Tison etc. For those visiting hear be prepared to lock your doors of the room well before sundown. Cover all the small spaces in the door as the light at night attract insects of all shapes and sizes, like the stinky bug, red neck, grasshoppers, cricket, moth etc. Yes the insect did not stop Yahya Virani and Ankit Savla play 2 games of chess. Friday night it rained all night. In the morning before you leave for the safari the resort offers you Tea / Coffee with ParleG biscuit. Also packed breakfast is given to you. I did not see any system of keeping a count/ check about the number of water bottles consumed by us.
Everyone was alerted Tara's cubs were spotted and all the jeeps and canter made a beeline to witness these cubs cross over. This is when OOOH and AAHS happen, a mere 20 seconds window of opportunity and 25 jeeps with telephoto lenses, DX, tele converters. The best in class 500mm, 600mm, 800mm Nikon, Cannon. I am quite sure that 3500 frames were captured. Those without pro cameras used mobile phone camera. The best was no one tried taking a selfie with the tigers. This was best highlight of the day. Other 3 safaris did not yield any sighting for our participants. However our driver Javed had other plans for our last safari. We drove till Kolsa - crossed over into Andhari region, as there was news that one of the tigers had made a kill (Sambar) early in the morning. We did not spot any tiger near the kill. But we drove back to the Telia lake were Soonam lay in the shallow water. Not interested in even facing our jeep. Soon the word spread and all the other jeeps started coming. We spent a good 20 minutes here. We did hear Gabar roar at a distance. As if telling us not to disturb his Soonam.
How to prepare for this safari?
- Please carry sunscreen and face cover for yourself
- Need to have good camera - zoom lenses 800mm and above
- wear light cotton clothes
- Its gonna be hot in a open jeep safari be prepared
- Carry an insect replant cream / Mosquito replant cream
Packed Bottle water is chargeable extra
Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve is closed on Tuesday, National Holidays and during Tiger census.
Internet / Mobile network connectivity varies.
Check the Menu details if possible at the resort.
Tiger spotting is not guarantee - so be prepared.
Credit/ Debit card payments are not accepted at the resort
The closest ATM is in Chimur village 12 - 15 km drive one way.
Camera lenses over 250mm has a chargeable fee per visit
Who should go here?
- Nature loving person
- Apart from Tigers, Tadoba is rich in Biodiversity - observation is k the key
- Someone who lovers to explore and be in the wild.
Other places to Visit:
Souvenir shop at Mouhali gate
Anadan Vaan (Baba Aamte Village) - charges extra.
Taj Baug - a complex which has 45 Muslim shrines.
Where should I go?
Best time March to May when is easiest to spot tigers.