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Old 20th May 2015, 12:49   #1
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Default A long weekend at Kabini

We spent a long and relaxed weekend at The Serai, Kabini, from Thursday 14th May to Sunday 17th May. This is a photologue of the visit, with some explanations attached to the photos where I felt it was required.

We planned this trip about a month ago and even then, I was only able to grab the last available room at The Serai. Being a 4 star resort in a place that has many such resorts (Orange County is another one), I didn't expect that the place will have such a heavy rush. But after we arrived there, the Resort Manager informed us that they are always full during the holidays. The same is true of most of the resorts there. So if you are planning a visit there during the holidays, book early, no matter which resort you choose. IMO, the biggest advantage of The Serai is that it is next door (well, here "next door" means about a kilometer, but you know what I mean) to the Jungle Lodges Resort from where all the safaris are run. For example, Orange County being on the other side of the river, is quite a distance away from JLR and travel time between the resorts will be quite high. Of course, most resorts have their own vans to transport you to JLR, but AFAIK only JLR is allowed to conduct safaris inside the National Park.

The drive to The Serai is quite simple really. From Bangalore, take SH 17 to Mysore and just before you enter Mysore, at the Columbia Asia hospital signal take right onto the Ring Road. Follow this road for about 20 kms until you reach the turn off for HD Kote and continue until you reach Antharasanthe village. From here, follow the signs to your particular resort. There are many signs along the way so you will not be confused at any point. Google Maps or your car navigator will take you there without any hassle, too. Nothing much to write about the drive, roads are good all the way, especially the road between Mysore and Antharasanthe, after it was relaid some time last year.

All photos were taken with my Nikon D90 and Tamron 16-300 mm lens.

On to the photos.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbns047.jpg
The reception lobby and the campfire area.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbns022.jpg
The one on the left is where we stayed. There are about 10 such sets here.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbns002.jpg
The view from our room. The entire place was very green and super clean.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbns001.jpg
The interior of our room, before we settled in for the weekend!

A long weekend at Kabini-kbns017.jpg
You can walk down to the river's edge just outside the resort.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbns018.jpg
During the monsoon months though, the water level will probably be almost at the gate of the resort, so you won't be able to get down here.

If you are in Kabini, you go for the safaris. And, boy, are you in for a treat! If you are a wildlife enthusiast and want to take photos of birds and animals in their natural setting, this is probably the best place to go in Karnataka. There are other places too, like Bandipur, Bhadra, etc., but the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve is amazing in its bio-diversity and the sheer number of sightings you can have. Note that children below 8 years are not allowed on these safaris, as it is very difficult to keep them quiet. I will let the photos do the talking now:

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn01.jpg
Little Egret

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn05.jpg
These ducks run on the water before taking off

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn08.jpg
Purple Heron

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn15.jpg
A lone tusker (Onti Salaga, in Kannada) doesn't like the Mynahs disturbing it!

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn16.jpg
A male Spotted Deer keeps a lookout for its herd. There are literally hundreds of these and are the most common animals you will see here.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn17.jpg
A female Gaur watches me carefully...

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn20.jpg
...while its H.U.G.E. husband crosses the road in front of us. This guy easily weighs a ton!

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn18.jpg
The Indian Roller or Bluejay is Karnataka's state bird. This one was sitting on a power pylon deep inside the forest, patiently posing for me. Must be used to humans clicking away like crazy!

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn21.jpg
A peacock searching for food, these are pretty common here too. Its harem is somewhere around.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn22.jpg
A pack of wild dogs block our van. These are the third predator of the forest, after tigers and leopards.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn24.jpg
There is a kind of magic in seeing this majestic predator slinking in the forest, without concern for anything else. They are very shy usually, but this one came out of the bushes and walked right across our van, while everyone inside waited with bated breaths and the only sound was the click, click, click of the camera shutters. It was an amazing experience, one I will not easily forget. It was the crowning moment of our weekend and it was well worth whatever we paid for it.

Some more photos of the leopard:
A long weekend at Kabini-kbn26.jpg

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn28.jpg

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn29.jpg


<Continued in the next post>

Last edited by Stryker : 20th May 2015 at 17:50.
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Old 20th May 2015, 12:51   #2
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Default A long weekend at Kabini

<Continued from previous post>

After the land safari, we took a boat safari early next morning. We were woken up at 5:15 AM by the resort staff and given a cup of hot coffee. The safari starts at 6:30AM from JLR and we started right on time, with a boat load of people, most sporting lenses as long as my arm! This is another experience worth having, since the early mornings are the best time to catch birds at their best. The morning light is usually great for photographs and the birds are pretty co-operative too, as long as you don't make much noise or try to get too near them. Photos from the boat safari:

A long weekend at Kabini-kbns031.jpg
These are the boats that will take us on the safari. Run by JLR.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbns035.jpg
It was very cloudy and the light was not too good, but it improved very quickly.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbns039.jpg
The barks on these tree stumps are very powdery and that causes the water to have these swirling designs. It also causes the water to have a orange/yellow tint to it for a long distance around themselves. Boats moving on the river also spread these powder around, so most of the river at this location is very colourful.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn36.jpg
A herd of Spotted Deer along the bank, looking for breakfast.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn34.jpg
A group of Painted Storks rooting aound for worms and such like.

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This young Cormorant looks like it wants to either hitch a ride or point the way to more action!

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn38.jpg
A Darter or Snake Bird on a tree stump

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn39.jpg
A lone doe walks along the bank. Its reflection in the water looks too good.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn40.jpg
A Grey Headed Fish Eagle is very still, letting me take my time to compose and take the photo.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn49.jpg
A Painted Stork

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn52.jpg
A pair of Spoonbills fly away after eating their fill

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn53.jpg
A Little Egret stands alone. The dew drops on the grass in the early morning sun look like pearls scattered around, don't they?

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn56.jpg
We spot a crocodile taking in the sun

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn60.jpg
It then decided to climb up a bit more and give me a better opportunity to photograph it. I was grateful.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn63.jpg
A pair of elephants looking for a drink probably.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn65.jpg
A Great Egret takes off after breakfast.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn67.jpg
A Pond Heron was sitting in the railings when we came in to dock after a two hour ride.

A long weekend at Kabini-kbn68.jpg
Hey, this web even has WWW encoded into it! This is one tech savvy spider!


We enjoyed our time there and I hope you enjoyed the photos. We met many families there who return regularly every year for the safaris and we plan to do the same too. The thrill of seeing wildlife in the wild (as it were) is very addictive and no wonder there are a lot of wildlife junkies.

Last edited by Stryker : 21st May 2015 at 14:53.
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Old 20th May 2015, 13:43   #3
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Default Re: A long weekend at Kabini

Lovely pictures there, thanks for sharing
How are the tariffs at Serai compared to JLR ?
Also, on the Mysore outer ring road after taking the right turn at Columbia Asia - doesn't this road end up joining the NH212 towards Nanjangud ? Where is the turn towards HD Kote ?
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Old 20th May 2015, 14:10   #4
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Default Re: A long weekend at Kabini

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Originally Posted by NPV View Post
Lovely pictures there, thanks for sharing
How are the tariffs at Serai compared to JLR ?
Also, on the Mysore outer ring road after taking the right turn at Columbia Asia - doesn't this road end up joining the NH212 towards Nanjangud ? Where is the turn towards HD Kote ?
Thanks for the compliments, NPV.

The tariff at Serai worked out at around 25K per night (all inclusive, room + breakfast + lunch + dinner + 2 safaris + 2 hours spa + taxes) for three people. JLR had quoted 8.8K per person per night, but that was inclusive of two safaris everyday too. That would have been a little lesser overall, but we opted for The Serai as we were happy with their hospitality elsewhere too.

You are right, continuing on the Ring Road will take you to NH212 towards Nanjangud and beyond. For Kabini, you turn right on the Ring Road at the Mananthavadi road, which is a few kms before NH212.

Last edited by Stryker : 21st May 2015 at 14:59. Reason: Spell check
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Old 21st May 2015, 16:11   #5
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Default Re: A long weekend at Kabini

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Beautiful set of snaps out there. Very colourful indeed! Please do let us know, what is the camera gear that you use!

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Old 21st May 2015, 17:29   #6
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Default Re: A long weekend at Kabini

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Beautiful set of snaps out there. Very colourful indeed! Please do let us know, what is the camera gear that you use!
Thanks, ampere.

As for my gear, camera is a seven year old Nikon D90 and the lens is a six month old Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD (to give its full name). It is not the most ideal combination for wildlife photography for several reasons, the main one being that the lens is a do-all kind from wide angle to super zoom, which has its effect on image quality. The other one is that the D90's high ISO performance is pretty dated and not too good beyond ISO 800, so photos in overcast and dim lighting will not be very clean.

But, hey, it is more about the photographer rather than the gear, right?
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Old 21st May 2015, 18:14   #7
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Default Re: A long weekend at Kabini

Thoroughly enjoyed your photographs. You seem to be a birder too, noting the names of all birds. The Indian roller is just amazing to see during flight, has brilliant shades of blue. Chanced upon one last week near Hennur road. How come no snap of your machine that drove you around.
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Old 21st May 2015, 18:34   #8
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Default Re: A long weekend at Kabini

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Originally Posted by majumon View Post
Thoroughly enjoyed your photographs. You seem to be a birder too, noting the names of all birds. The Indian roller is just amazing to see during flight, has brilliant shades of blue. Chanced upon one last week near Hennur road. How come no snap of your machine that drove you around.
Thanks, majumon. I'm not an avid birder myself, all the names of the birds came from some of my co-tourists, one of whom was an all out birder who was spouting Latin names for these beautiful creatures as well!
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Old 22nd May 2015, 01:37   #9
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Default Re: A long weekend at Kabini

Stryker

Beautiful pics and a crisp travelogue , you have been very lucky to spot the elusive leopard and dhole on the same trip , I went there last Nov and thoroughly enjoyed the trip , there is something magical about Indian forests and more so about the Karnataka forests , I yearn to go back there on my next visit to India , your pics made me relish my own memories , thank you mate!!
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Old 22nd May 2015, 09:34   #10
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Originally Posted by vickzkool View Post
Beautiful pics and a crisp travelogue , you have been very lucky to spot the elusive leopard and dhole on the same trip , I went there last Nov and thoroughly enjoyed the trip , there is something magical about Indian forests and more so about the Karnataka forests , I yearn to go back there on my next visit to India , your pics made me relish my own memories , thank you mate!!
Thanks for the appreciation, vickzkool.

Yeah, we were really lucky to spot the Dhole pack since they are usually very elusive. The leopard was another stroke a pure luck, since the van was about the leave the safari area when a driver from another van called our driver and told him to return to a particular spot. We returned there and the leopard was patiently waiting for us!
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Old 22nd May 2015, 09:45   #11
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Default Re: A long weekend at Kabini

Great set of sighting you have had. My last visit to Kabini was in 2010 and it was an amazing experience to watch those elephants across the river on the shores, and those wild dogs (also called "Dhole" in India) are damn ferocious.
Let the pics keep coming with more sightings if you have had.
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Old 22nd May 2015, 14:26   #12
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Default Re: A long weekend at Kabini

Thanks, anup7649. The naturalist from The Serai who accompanied us for the safari gave us a very good explanation of how the Dholes hunt as a pack and how they are one of the most successful predators out there due to their co-ordination in hunting. Looking at them, one wouldn't think so. They look very much like our street dogs, probably smaller than them. Their tails are very different though, more like the ones you see on wolves.

Here's another photo of one of them looking back at me:
A long weekend at Kabini-kbn23.jpg
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Old 22nd May 2015, 17:57   #13
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Superb thread Stryker. I have fond memories of Serai Kabini. It's one of the nicest resorts I've stayed at - fresh air, greenery everywhere, bonfire at night, boating and no idiot box. The staff took very good care of us too. I found it better than the rather noisy Orange County.

I must say, you've got some lovely pictures there. I managed to photograph one leopard, some elephants, gaur, wild boar, deer and lots of birds at Nagarhole. No signs of tigers or wild dogs though.

Hope to return to the place some day.

PS. Is the name of naturalist you are talking about Chamraj?

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Old 22nd May 2015, 18:04   #14
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Thanks, Aditya.

Quote:
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PS. Is the name of naturalist you are talking about Chamraj?
Ummm, no, his name was Yesudas. But there are three or four of them, so I guess Chamraj could still be there.
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Old 22nd May 2015, 18:19   #15
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Default Re: A long weekend at Kabini

Ahh. Wild dogs and leopards in a single safari, that is great luck.

Seems like everyone apart from me who has gone to Kabini has spotted big cat


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Where is the turn towards HD Kote ?
NPV, as Stryker mentioned the turn off towards Handpost is few KM's before Mysore ring road joins NH 212, this is a junction and can be missed if you are not careful. Signboards are present only when you are traveling from Mysore city side.

If you reach railway overpass on ring road you can be sure that you missed the turn.
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