5 in the am and two things happen simultaneously; first, the alarm in the phone goes off and second, someone on the outside knocks at the door trying to wake us up. I could also hear something slide behind the hinged panel covering a square hollow in the wall next to the entryway. I pull open the panel and there sits a kettle of piping hot tea, some coffee and cookies. A cheerful voice greets and tells me this is your 5 am wake up call, good luck today.
I take the breakfast tray and place it on the table at the outdoor patio in the balcony. It is still dark out and pretty brisk. I can hear the circuitous and indefatigable vocalisations from birds and animals and thats when it dawns upon me in a most euphoric way that I was in the middle of a jungle! To be precise, by a river at the edge of the core zone of the Kanha forest.
Sitting at the patio, My wife and I, sipped on our beverages. The night had started to wear off ever so slightly; the fireflies over the still waters of the river were still rampant. It was a surreal start to our day. Soon, we rounded up the kids, got into our cold gear, grabbed our cameras and and rushed out – couldn’t be late for our safari drive! We got to the porch where our naturalist was waiting for us in his 4 x 4 vehicle. It was pretty cold but the blankets and the hot water bags placed at our seats were exceptionally comforting.
We hit the road and a few minutes later, we were at one of the entry gates to the Kanha Tiger Reserve. As we entered the jungle, we were as anxious as a hen with one chick. We had been on a lookout for a tiger since the past decade and it had managed to elude us every time. As our vehicle continued to make its way through the sinuous routes of the forest, the more definite was the flora and the fauna and the resonance of the calls from the wild. The route led us to an endless picturesque landscape enshrouded in mist; the cool air and the smell of the lush green forest coalesced into something so audaciously refreshing, you could almost taste it. There was life everywhere, the forest was so alive, so invigorating.
Our guide had just heard a warning call from a barking deer and gestured that the tiger could be around, we were amped. While we were fervently looking out, we saw a troop of langurs sitting ever so calmly by a tree. Ah, the winter sun! It seemed like they were observing our movements. Makes one wonder, who is amusing who?
As we kept on driving, astoundingly dense the forest grew and more wild life started coming our way. The sun rays passing through the the tall and thick trees were heavenly, true to its christening as God rays.
Perhaps the most prominent residents here, the deer are truly graceful creatures that can be found effervescently jumping in virtually every corner of the park. The spotted deer, the sambar and the endangered Barasingha are some of the species of deer that native to the park.
From the families of the wolf and the dogs, this omnivorous creature seemed to be always on the hunt. We saw a pack of them try to hunt a spotted deer. The hunt was unsuccessful but from the looks of it, they are very agile and lithe hunters.
Kanha is home to tons of beautiful residential birds and also a lot of migratory birds. The rich flora and fauna make this an ideal habitat for the winged. Look towards the skies here and besides hearing all kinds of chirps and bird songs, you’d be amazed at the myriad of hues on display – a birdwatchers’ paradise.
THE BIRDS OF PREY
They are apex predators. The biodiversity and abundance of life in the forest naturally draws these raptors in. It is quite a sight to see a bird of prey stoop and then fly off with its prey in its talons. We could always spot them poised on tree tops tenaciously observing and searching, optimally using their instinctively heightened senses to track the most camouflaged prey. We saw a convocation of three eagles attempt to hunt a ground peacock. What a sight!
Another endangered species. Tracking the Bear in a forest of this magnitude was something only experts could do. We were on a route when our naturalist stopped the vehicle and yelled BEAR! It was sitting quite far from us. It was an expert track.
As we approached a pit stop, we suddenly realised that we were absolutely famished. While our naturalist had fully stocked breakfast basket, the local guide had mentioned that the samosas along with the chutney available at the rest house were legendary.
While the breakfast was being laid on the front part of the the car, I went and grabbed some samosas and chutney from the rest house canteen.
Hot samosas and chutney with a cup of Earl Grey in the middle of a thick green forest under the soft winter sun. Fancy that…
To be concluded…