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Old 16th May 2015, 22:53   #1
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Default The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

I had driven down to Satpura National Park (again!) in April. A 3300 km trip, Bangalore - Pench - Satpura National Park - back. I stayed for a couple of nights at a forest rest house, which I had to reach after 40 km of offroading on forest trails. Heard a tiger kill a feral cow just outside the FRH fence (could hear alarm calls for a few hours, as the tiger stalked the herd; finally the sound heavy bodies clashing, and then silence; saw its eyes when I shone the torch - it was sitting over the kill). Drove for more than 200 km inside the park, doing self driven safaris. Then stayed at Forsyth Lodge near Madhai for a few days, doing morning and evening safaris. Great place, fantastic hospitality!

The Fortuner performed well throughout the trip. As expected. Whether while covering 1200km in a day, or when offroading in the forest using 4L.

After many years, I finally got good sightings of leopards. Sharing a few photos from the trip.

B&W closeup. Waited for a few hours under the burning sun to see him. He appeared after 6.30 PM. This is an ISO 3200 shot, 1/60s handheld.
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Leopardwalk
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Two brothers
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About to cross the road
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The stalker. He was stalking peahens.
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Black-naped hare. Jumped down from the vehicle to get a shot.
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Young leopard stalking
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Reflections
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Catwalk
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The Bison, my Fortuner, during a self-drven safari inside the park
The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner-20150420_065248_resized-1.jpg

Thirsty
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SHowoff
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Leopard in golden light
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Mating Indian Rollers. Shot in very bad light, before sunrise.
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That one second eye contact before he moved off into the tall grass
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Grey jungle fowl
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I see you! Malabar Giant Squirrel, shot while walking around the forest rest house.
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Old 17th May 2015, 00:27   #2
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Default re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Nice pics there! I did not know that self driven safaris were allowed.
Please share more details on the cost and quality of the accommodations and the routes.
thanks!
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Old 17th May 2015, 07:33   #3
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Excellent pics and your bison looks amazing in that picture. Request you to share the route details and other details on stay, Safari etc.,
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Old 17th May 2015, 12:28   #4
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Default re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Great set of pics!! Especially the first B&W one, the pic is surprisingly sharp for a high ISO, low light handheld shot.

With the number of sightings you have, big cat census can be done using your travelogue pic I guess.
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Old 17th May 2015, 14:54   #5
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Default re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Quote:
Originally Posted by avingodb View Post
Nice pics there! I did not know that self driven safaris were allowed.
Please share more details on the cost and quality of the accommodations and the routes.
thanks!
Quote:
Originally Posted by couswheels View Post
Excellent pics and your bison looks amazing in that picture. Request you to share the route details and other details on stay, Safari etc.,
Route:
Bangalore - Hyderabad - Nagpur bypass - Pench- Seoni - Chhindwara - Pipariya - Sohagpur - Madhai. And back.

I did travel through some interior routes, on the Southern boundaries of Satpura National Park (i.e. West from Parasia). Do not go on those roads unless you are driving a SUV, and are ready to put up with hours of camel ride. But then whenever I see a potential shortcut, I end up exploring that route, though 70% of the time I would have been better off with the regular route.

I usually don't keep track of exact number of kms or exact fuel efficiency. Neither do I maintain a detailed log book.

This was the itinerary:
Day 1: Bangalore - Rukhad/Pench, 1200 km
Day 2: Rukhad - SNP FRH
Day 3: FRH inside the park
Day 4: Madhai (Forsyth)
Day 5, 6, 7: Madhai
Day 8: Madhai - Pench
Day 9: Pench - Bangalore

I booked the forest rest house through MP forest department. Very basic stay, no electricity except a few hours of solar power generated lights/fan. Basic loo, no hot water. 40km inside the park, in the middle of nowhere. Food is very basic. But then again one goes to such a FRH to experience the atmosphere. You have to take special permission from the forest department to drive inside. Need to pay all sorts of charges too.

Forsyth Lodge link is here: http://www.forsythlodge.com/satpura.html
Rishi, the GM, is a member here. Highly recommended place.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mpksuhas View Post
Great set of pics!! Especially the first B&W one, the pic is surprisingly sharp for a high ISO, low light handheld shot.

With the number of sightings you have, big cat census can be done using your travelogue pic I guess.
Thanks.

Persistence pays. As does research. I was following various Facebook groups related to wildlife, got to know about good leopard sightings in SNP, so headed there. In 2012, when I had gone to Tadoba and seen 14 tigers, I had taken an impulsive decision to do a roadtrip after reading about tiger sightings that season.

But yes, I finally got good photos of leopards after waiting for 5 years. I was shooting with a D7100 + 80-400mm AF-S.

I started early on a Saturday. Picked up my friend from Hyderabad airport, and then stayed the night at Rukhad, beyond Pench. ~1200 km drive. Then reached SNP the next day, going over some horrendous roads because I was tempted to take a shortcut.

Had to battle a stiff neck throughout the trip. Hot water bag and Volini helped a lot.
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Old 17th May 2015, 19:15   #6
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Default Re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Nilanjanray- always a treat to read about your travels AND your Fortuner.
A question- the permission to drive inside - can you get this before you reach there -online, etc or does one get it after you arrive in the reserve?
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Old 18th May 2015, 15:56   #7
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Default Re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nariman View Post
Nilanjanray- always a treat to read about your travels AND your Fortuner.
A question- the permission to drive inside - can you get this before you reach there -online, etc or does one get it after you arrive in the reserve?
Nothing online except safari tickets from Madhai. You have to get permission from the local forest officials. I spoke to them, saying that I was staying at the FRH, and I have a 4x4, so I want to take my vehicle inside. I had done the same in 2013, so I also told them that I had driven inside 1.5 yrs back.

Cost me Rs. 2400 to take the vehicle inside. Then 1200 + 300 for each self driven safari. This I had to pay at the local forest offices inside the park.

A couple of mobile phone photos of the Bison:

The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner-20150419_160104_1_resized.jpg

The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner-20150420_180357_1_resized.jpg
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Old 27th May 2015, 13:17   #8
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Default Re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

A few more photos. Except the 2 leopards shot, all were taken at > ISO 2000.

Fangs
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Brothers: one has blue eyes, the other yellow.
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The watcher in the bushes
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Young leopard stalking peafowl
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Approaching leopard
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Old 27th May 2015, 15:19   #9
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Default Re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Hey Nilanjan !!

It's amazing how you manage to take these getaways to the woods so frequently. Thanks to your earlier thread of Tadoba that I got addicted to the posts you make regularly. The snaps are picturesque, mesmerizing and seriously unbelievable !! It entices me to make a visit back to the woods, yet once again.

Thanks to tips from you, our Trip to Kanha & Pench in November 2014 went off well with the Kids. I am still due to upload some Pictures and complete my Photologue and present it in the Forum.

I think I am getting drawn towards wildlife now, which I earlier never was; thanks to such wonderful updates from you.

Keep travelling & keep posting !! Cheers !!
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Old 27th May 2015, 15:21   #10
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Default Re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Nothing online except safari tickets from Madhai. You have to get permission from the local forest officials. I spoke to them, saying that I was staying at the FRH, and I have a 4x4, so I want to take my vehicle inside. I had done the same in 2013, so I also told them that I had driven inside 1.5 yrs back.
EXCEPTIONAL!!!!
I am also from Bangalore and can put up with 1200KM drives and use a 4X4 Fortuner. If you are willing to create a very small group of 3-4 Fortuners and go together for such jaunts, less fortunate guys like me will get lucky.

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 27th May 2015 at 15:24. Reason: Please refrain from using abbreviations for vehicles on the forum. Eg. Fort for Fortuner
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Old 28th May 2015, 01:00   #11
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Default Re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ-got-BHP View Post
Hey Nilanjan !!

It's amazing how you manage to take these getaways to the woods so frequently. Thanks to your earlier thread of Tadoba that I got addicted to the posts you make regularly. The snaps are picturesque, mesmerizing and seriously unbelievable !! It entices me to make a visit back to the woods, yet once again.

Thanks to tips from you, our Trip to Kanha & Pench in November 2014 went off well with the Kids. I am still due to upload some Pictures and complete my Photologue and present it in the Forum.

I think I am getting drawn towards wildlife now, which I earlier never was; thanks to such wonderful updates from you.

Keep travelling & keep posting !! Cheers !!
Beware. Wildlife can be an addiction. And is an expensive hobby.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FORTified View Post
EXCEPTIONAL!!!!
I am also from Bangalore and can put up with 1200KM drives and use a 4X4 Fortuner. If you are willing to create a very small group of 3-4 Fortuners and go together for such jaunts, less fortunate guys like me will get lucky.
Maybe a few of us can plan weekend trip to the Nigiris, to start with. I will let you and a couple of Bangalore folks (such as Rajan) know.

Btw, a convoy of 3-4 vehicles is not a good idea inside a national park, where self driving is allowed. Especially in a park such as Satpura National Park where animals are still not used to the presence of humans. Animals get spooked.

A few non-cat photos for a change

Forest path in warm light
The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner-dsc_0410.jpeg


Grey jungle fowl
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Black-naped hare
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Old 28th May 2015, 15:39   #12
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Default Re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Superb snaps as usual ! I was eagerly looking forward to your latest post. Congratulations to you and Bison ! Wishing you safe driving.
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Old 28th May 2015, 15:53   #13
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Default Re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Great travelogue & superb photography like always Nilanjan

But appreciate if you can manage more pics of the Fortuner next time onward

Thanks for sharing !
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Old 29th May 2015, 11:39   #14
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Default Re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

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Originally Posted by TOINGPOING View Post
Superb snaps as usual ! I was eagerly looking forward to your latest post. Congratulations to you and Bison ! Wishing you safe driving.
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by karan561 View Post
Great travelogue & superb photography like always Nilanjan

But appreciate if you can manage more pics of the Fortuner next time onward

Thanks for sharing !
Thanks. Maybe I will have more chances to click photos of the Bison during the upcoming Kumaon trip He would be turning 100 (K kms) somewhere on the way back.

Last edited by nilanjanray : 29th May 2015 at 11:41.
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Old 29th May 2015, 12:40   #15
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Default Re: The Leopards of Satpura: 3300 kms road-trip in the Fortuner

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Persistence pays. As does research. I was following various Facebook groups related to wildlife, got to know about good leopard sightings in SNP, so headed there. In 2012, when I had gone to Tadoba and seen 14 tigers, I had taken an impulsive decision to do a roadtrip after reading about tiger sightings that season.

But yes, I finally got good photos of leopards after waiting for 5 years. I was shooting with a D7100 + 80-400mm AF-S.
Unless you mention that it's a low ISO pic, we wouldn't have even know. Awesome snaps. Going by the number of sightings you had, it'd help if we even had a pic of yours in our car; we'll atleast have half the number of sightings
I've yet to do my first safari ride. The closest one to what I can call a safari was in Bannerghatta :P
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