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Old 8th March 2012, 13:27   #16
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Default Re: Inn the Wild

Nilanjan, do you have a GPS log of the route you took?

Amazing pics and writeup as usual
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Old 8th March 2012, 14:24   #17
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Nilanjan, do you have a GPS log of the route you took?

Amazing pics and writeup as usual
Thanks. No, I am pretty low tech - especially in an area that I am familiar with. Route is in my head

If you want to check it out on Google Maps or Earth:

* Go till Masinagudi
* Take a right turn (if you are coming from Mudumalai/the North) at Masinagudi and go on Singara Road
* Go over open forest country and then through a coffee estate to reach the Singara checkpoint (you will spot some buildings and a large water body)
* 30 feet after the checkpoint, there is a trail leading to the right. That is the trail leading to Northern Hay Estate.
* 50m before Northern Hay Estate, instead of taking a left turn that leads to Northern Hay bungalow, take a right and then down. That track will lead to the resort.
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Old 8th March 2012, 15:11   #18
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nilanjan,
very good start and thanks for those nice pictures and narration. Also for the info about this Inn. I like the comment “During first visit - especially if you arrive in the evenings - most jungle resorts seem wild………."
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Old 8th March 2012, 17:32   #19
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It got pretty dark by the time I walked back to the resort. While coming back, I saw a herd of 4 elephants walking 200-250m away. They were heading towards the coffee estate at the back of the resort. I have too many - and much nicer elephant pics, so didn't bother clicking seriously.

I had skipped lunch after a heavy breakfast at home. Was ravenous, so ordered for snacks and sat in the balcony. Moved my chair to a place where I would be able to see the forest in front as well as the approach lanes to my room (as I mentioned, it was right beside the fence). A precaution just in case a friendly elephant comes in, the staff miss it and it decides to pay a visit to my balcony when I am busy staring at the moon or something.

Food quantity was good, quality was ok. Saw shadows moving around - Cheetals and wild boars had started grazing. Was checking out some of the pictures from my camera. OT: First time I was experimenting with RAW...most of the pictures came out flat. I am thinking that unless one has the time and develops the expertise to fine tune the pictures, it is better to shoot JPEG. Sure, the best RAW will be better than the best JPEG, but for folks like me who don't have time to work on each picture, and are not too interested in investing time in learning post processing properly, JPEG seems to be better. Let's see - the jury is still out.

A disadvantage of staring at a bright light source such as the camera screen is that you lose your night vision temporarily. Good that I had my torch in my pocket, because I heard and then saw a couple of hares just outside the fence.

Around 7.15 - or maybe 7.30pm - I heard commotion happening in one corner of the resort area, adjoining the coffee estate. Saw torches getting flashed, and heard elephants expressing their dissatisfaction (to too seriously i.e. no trumpeting). Those 4 elephants were trying to come in. Someone had forgotten to switch of the current for the electric fence (connected to batteries - it is illegal to connect to main source because animals can get electrocuted), and they were trying to take advantage of it. I took my camera and after quick surroundings check-up, started walking towards the noise. I could see some people standing in the main building and taking pictures of the animals. Anyway, the ground was rather uneven, and while walking towards the main buiding, I took a slight detour to come closer to the elephants. I made sure that I could run for the main building if they came in and charged, but I guess I was a little too excited to watch where I put my foot (I was carrying a torch and the camera). And I was silly enough to wear sandals. So when I heard a sudden trumpet, and then saw a couple of guys (resort staff) running back, I thought that the elephants had broken in and were charing inside. I had 30-40 feet to go till the main resort, so I started running. Mistake. Before I knew it, I had tripped (uneven ground, as I said) and was kissing a clump of grass and two weeks old elephant ****. Anyway, no time to think of that - I got up and ran to the building. Then realized that it was false alarm - the elephants didn't charge inside, just pretended too. In hindsight, I made a few mistakes: not wearing boots; ignoring which track I was taking in the excitement; not being close enough to the main building; if the elephants had come inside - fast - it would have been rather interesting, because everyone else was in the building, and I was the only one in open ground. Usually don't make such silly awareness goofups - good that no damage happened - to me or to my camera ( it had also fallen when I tripped).

Anyway, the resort folks shone torches and shouted at the elephants till they decided to move away.

After spending some time in the dining area I went back to the room and spent some peaceful time just soaking in the atmosphere. Heard the mating call of a Cheetal stag. And then Cheetal alarm calls that continued for sometime. Shone the torch, but couldn't see any big cat. It was probably hiding somewhere, stalking the deers.
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Old 8th March 2012, 19:14   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
It got pretty dark by the time I walked back to the resort. While coming back, I saw a herd of 4 elephants walking 200-250m away. They were heading towards the coffee estate at the back of the resort. I have too many - and much nicer elephant pics, so didn't bother clicking seriously.




Around 7.15 - or maybe 7.30pm - I heard commotion happening in one corner of the resort area, adjoining the coffee estate. Saw torches getting flashed, and heard elephants expressing their dissatisfaction (to too seriously i.e. no trumpeting). Those 4 elephants were trying to come in. Someone had forgotten to switch of the current for the electric fence (connected to batteries - it is illegal to connect to main source because animals can get electrocuted), and they were trying to take advantage of it. I took my camera and after quick surroundings check-up, started walking towards the noise. I could see some people standing in the main building and taking pictures of the animals. Anyway, the ground was rather uneven, and while walking towards the main buiding, I took a slight detour to come closer to the elephants. I made sure that I could run for the main building if they came in and charged, but I guess I was a little too excited to watch where I put my foot (I was carrying a torch and the camera). And I was silly enough to wear sandals. So when I heard a sudden trumpet, and then saw a couple of guys (resort staff) running back, I thought that the elephants had broken in and were charing inside. I had 30-40 feet to go till the main resort, so I started running. Mistake. Before I knew it, I had tripped (uneven ground, as I said) and was kissing a clump of grass and two weeks old elephant ****. Anyway, no time to think of that - I got up and ran to the building. Then realized that it was false alarm - the elephants didn't charge inside, just pretended too. In hindsight, I made a few mistakes: not wearing boots; ignoring which track I was taking in the excitement; not being close enough to the main building; if the elephants had come inside - fast - it would have been rather interesting, because everyone else was in the building, and I was the only one in open ground. Usually don't make such silly awareness goofups - good that no damage happened - to me or to my camera ( it had also fallen when I tripped).
Unless and until you know the area very well you have taken a huge risk in walking alone in the dark. I find it surprising for somebody who has visited forests quite a lot you decided to take the risk without adequate precautions. Anyway without risk there is no rewards.

OT: Is this place part of what used to be Wild In Northern Hays or is this resort a separate one.
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Old 8th March 2012, 20:23   #21
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Default Re: Inn the Wild

srikanth,
i don't think it is risky when we are inside a powered electric fence. most of the animals stay away from these fences. in our place most of the farmers switches on these fences after sunset and switch off before sunrise.
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Old 8th March 2012, 20:28   #22
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Originally Posted by pypkmsrikanth View Post
Unless and until you know the area very well you have taken a huge risk in walking alone in the dark. I find it surprising for somebody who has visited forests quite a lot you decided to take the risk without adequate precautions. Anyway without risk there is no rewards.

OT: Is this place part of what used to be Wild In Northern Hays or is this resort a separate one.
This is separate from Wild in the Northernhays...but closeby. This is further down and adjoining the reserve forest.

Regarding the risks: I am aware of them - but got carried away a bit this time (perhaps for the second time in my life in front of elephants), leading to bad situational awareness. Main mistakes were wearing sandals (too lazy to put on my boots - which I always do), not watching my step properly in unknown terrain and hanging around in open ground without reaching close to the main building first. I would have comfortably made my ground in the event of a sudden charge - on flat ground. I didn't factor in the uneven ground since I hadn't paid attention to terrain between the hut and main building when I came in. No excuses though. And lesson has been learnt

@ i.1979: the electric fence was a single strand of wire situated 3 feet from the ground. Connected to a battery, not main power source. And that evening someone had forgotten to switch on the current. In any case, if an elephant charges, it won't stop due to the mild shock that a battery-connected electric fence would provide. And that single strand of wire would snap like a string.

Last edited by nilanjanray : 8th March 2012 at 20:31.
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Old 8th March 2012, 22:13   #23
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Oops! when I read electric fence I was imagining as the same type I saw in our localities. In that case what srikanth said is 100% true. It was a huge risk because nowadays elephants are not at all friendly with humans. they have good reason for that.
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Old 9th March 2012, 02:26   #24
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Today's elephants are as evolved as humans in their own way. They have found ways and means to counter almost all deterrents like trenches and fences etc. But the larger issue is lack of space for them humans have encroached every bit and more leaving them at short fuse at almost all times. The elephants in and around Jawadhu hills near Vellore seem to have forgotten what a mock charge is. Every other week there is a human casualty not necessarily provoked by human actions.
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Old 9th March 2012, 09:28   #25
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There is significant man-elephant conflict in Masinagudi too. The elephants there are pretty bad tempered towards human beings - they have had enough of bombs and drums and irritating vehicles. We don't get to here many of the incidents if they involve forest people/locals. Only when a french tourist dies it makes news.

For example, I came to know that a man-eating leopard from Valparai was released in Mudumalai sometime back (another one was released in Satyamangalam forests). Now, if one reads the report about the Junnar maneaters and the problems that people had due to relocations (attacks happening in areas where no attack had happened in the past), one will know what can happen with such relocation exercises.

Talking about leopards: came to know that there have been a few maulings around the Masinagudi region. People collecting firewood were attacked. I was wondering why the cats would attack during daytime. Maybe the cats were protecting cubs or people provoked them.
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Old 9th March 2012, 11:55   #26
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Default Re: Inn the Wild

Looks like an amazing location.
A few questions Do they have a parking facility at a more civilized place from where they can pick us up in their Gypsy? Did you use their early morning Jungle trek services?
How do you rate the rooms, particularly the cleanliness?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
For example, I came to know that a man-eating leopard from Valparai was released in Mudumalai sometime back (another one was released in Satyamangalam forests). Now, if one reads the report about the Junnar maneaters and the problems that people had due to relocations (attacks happening in areas where no attack had happened in the past), one will know what can happen with such relocation exercises.
Valparai is one region that the wild is yet to hand over to humans. Though there are lot of tea estates and other government set-ups like power plants and research stations, the wildlife is more intertwined with the human settlements, unlike Bandipur/Mudumali or other South Indian forests. Instead of relocating leopards, they should relocate the humans and give Valparai back to the wild.

Though there are more leopard attacks, the man-eating tendency of Valparai leaopards have not been reported very frequently - but there has been 3-4 known attack by man-eater leopard in the last 2 years

Please do continue with your narrative - eagerly waiting for the next day's action!!
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Old 14th March 2012, 00:25   #27
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So I was sitting in the balcony, just enjoying the moon, smell and sounds. The manager came over, and said that some folks were going on a night safari. I was surprised, because it was pretty late, and the forest department has restrictions on night traffic. So here's the deal - the resort owner bought the property in the 1960s. Anyone who owns land in that area has right of way 24/7 to reach Masinagudi. And the actual/original route is a trail passing parallel to the reserve forest boundary (distance of 10-15 feet), and hitting the main Singara road close to Masinagudi.

So:
1. These guys can drive within their property anytime. The lake - frequented by all sorts of animals - is within the property. So one can drive down to the lake at night if one dares and if one has the right vehicle.
2. These guys can drive on that forest road anytime!

I was showing the manager some of my tiger photos on my mobile, and we started chatting. He is a wildlife photographer, and has taken some nice photos of leopards and wild dogs. I requested the manager to check if space was available in any Gypsy, and he later called me and said that two Gypsys would be going, and that folks who booked them have graciously offered me space. Great! I love the jungle in the night, so a safari starting after 10 pm was exciting, to say the least.

So I got into one of the vehicles at the back, and tried to make myself comfortable. Realized that it is difficult in a standard seat setup to stand holding a camera when the vehicle is pitching and rolling like crazy. Anyway, at the cost of my back and elbow, I managed to survive over 1.5 hours of offroading, with just a couple of bangs to the lens hood (no damage to the lens).

We saw bisons, sambars, cheetal, wild boar, rabbits and a few night birds, The usual creatures. I was hoping to come across a leopard, but no such luck! Stopped in the middle of a meadow for a smoke, and switched off the lights. The half-moon gave enough light to make the scenery beautiful.

Came back around 12, and then went for a drive to the lake. No animals. So we went down near a stream - narrow trail, overhanging trees, no moonlight. Stopped the vehicles for 10 mins and just listened to the jungle sounds. We thought we heard a tiger start calling. Well, it was only a type of owl. Tiger or Owl, the call -that went on for a few minutes - was haunting in that atmosphere.

After coming back to my hut, I sat in the balcony till 2.30am, keeping a sharp lookout for wandering elephants. When I could no longer keep my eyes open, I went inside and crashed.

Inn the Wild-dsc_1378.jpg

Inn the Wild-dsc_1407.jpg

Inn the Wild-dsc_1373.jpg

Inn the Wild-dsc_1410.jpg

Last edited by nilanjanray : 14th March 2012 at 00:27.
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Old 14th March 2012, 11:41   #28
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Awesome night shots !!

Driving your own SUV in the forest is permitted ?
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Old 14th March 2012, 15:39   #29
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Driving within the resort land - that also contains the lake - is permitted. But one would need a 4WD, since the trails within are rocky.

I did another trip there, and drove my vehicle to the lake in the night. Will be posting about the experience.
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Old 14th March 2012, 16:36   #30
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Nice night shots Nilanjan. I think the night safaris are quite sternous on the animals especially with spot lights etc. But it has now become a necessary evil for the tourists who come down to Masinagudi. Having said I used to drive down the Bandipur - Theppakadu - Gudalur stretch during late night and have seen almost all of them except for the big cats.

During one trip to Mudumalai, after starting from Chennai at around 1:00 in the afternoon we reached Bandipur check post at around 11:00 PM, we saw so many elephants and a few of them big herds that my wife and kids got scared seeing them at almost all bends and carefully negotiating them after stopping for a few minutes at every point waiting for them to move off the road while I continue my journey.
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