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Old 19th November 2015, 13:45   #1
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Default Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

A short photologue
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A man can only resist so much before he gives in. I tried hard. Telling myself that I had already done a few trips in 2015, and maybe I should wait till 2016. The tiger photos on Facebook didn’t help. Then people starting photos of cubs from Tadoba. That was the tipping point.

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I had been to Tadoba a few times, and end Oct/early Nov was not the best season for sightings. But I was hopeful that Tadoba wouldn’t disappoint, given that it hadn’t received much rain during the monsoons.

This was a solo trip. I started from Bangalore around 10 pm, since I wanted to reach Tadoba in time for the afternoon safari next day. I have a déjà vu feeling every time I get onto NH7. This was the 4th time this year – after trips to Satpura National Park in Dec/Jan, Satpuras again in April and then Uttarakhand during the monsoon. Took a 1-hour nap somewhere after Kurnool, a few metres away from a toll booth. Filled up fuel in Hyderabad. The bad stretch after Adilabad had improved, so I was able to make good time to Karanji. From Karanji, I took a right and went to Kolara via Wani – Warora – Chimur. A few stretches were horrendous, but that didn’t prevent Bison, my 4x4 classic Fortuner, from maintaining a decent speed. It had done 105,000 km before it went on this trip, it would add 4200 km to the log before the trip ended.

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What I carried for the drive: bananas and oranges; black coffee, in a 600 ml Pepsi bottle; lots of water - I drink 4-5L of water a day when driving; biscuits and chocolates; peanuts.

Driving 1100 km with one hour of sleep is tiring. But excitement and adrenaline kick in when one is about to go for a safari. I reached Kolara a little after 1 pm the next day. Checked in at Kolara FDCM, grabbed a quick lunch, got my camera gear ready, and was ready for the first safari well before time.

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The afternoon safari was disappointing. The most interesting incident happened after the safari, when the Gypsy was dropping me back to FDCM. A snake was about to cross the road. I saw it in the light of the high beams, asked the Gypsy to stop and jumped down. Just when I managed to get prone on the road – to get an eye level shot – there came two idiots on a bike. They seemed drunk (fyi, Chandrapur district is dry nowadays), the way the bike was moving around. We asked them to stop but shouting and giggling, they passed over the tail of the poor snake. It wasn’t hurt, but did an about turn and vanished in 2 seconds.

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Next morning I was able to spend some time with a tigress, Chhoti Tara, one of the two tigers in Tadoba wearing a collar. It was an overcast day, so I wasn’t able to get any golden hour shots of her, but I wasn’t complaining too much. I read that another Team BHPian had the same sighting.
I had a few close misses in the next few days. But the light was good, especially during the mornings, so I just soaked in the atmosphere and concentrated on other fauna. The tar road from Moharli to Tadoba lake must be lovely in Dec – Feb, with mist and soft sunlight till 9 am.

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After a couple of days in Kolara, I shifted to Moharli. There is a shortcut to Moharli from Shegaon (Shegaon is a small hamlet on the Chimur – Warora route), I took that narrow forest road.

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I stayed at Moharli FDCM, which is located a hundred metres away from MTDC. When I am traveling alone, and on a tight budget, I don’t mind roughing it out, and would rather spend money on safaris than on fancy accommodation. I stayed in a tent, with a few bugs for company. There was an attached loo, Indian style. No washbasin. It would get hot during daytime, and cold in the night. But Moharli FDCM – like the Kolara one – is surrounded by the buffer zone forest, so that tilted the scales for me. As long as I can hear the wind rustling through the teak trees, smell the forest and hear alarm calls in the night, I am happy in a rustic tent.

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I had two more tiger sightings in bad light, both near Telia lake. One was early in the morning. I was waiting in the Gypsy on the main tar road, hoping that a tigress with cubs would show up, when we started hearing Cheetal deer alarm calls near Telia lake. We turned the vehicle and went near the lake. A tigress (Sonam, if you are interested in the local names of these cats) came out of tall grass, walked on the bank of the lake for a few hundred metres, and then climbed the embankment and disappeared into the undergrowth. She was pretty far from me, and light was bad. It was a moment for using the senses and not the camera. After a few shots I put down my camera and watched her till she vanished.

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I saw the same tigress again on my last safari in Tadoba. It was nearly dark, when she appeared. She walked on the far side of the lake – a few hundred metres away - for 5 minutes. If she had come out 15 minutes before, I would have had a few nice environment shots. But that was not to be.

Maya/P2 – the famous tigress of Tadoba – didn’t favour me with a visit this time. She had always come within a few feet during my previous Tadoba trips. Time to break up and move on, me thinks.

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Next day, I stayed in bed till 7 am. A luxury after waking up before 5 am for the past few days. I had a long drive of at least 900 km ahead of me, and I wanted to recharge my batteries. I would be passing through unknown forest roads in the dark. I hadn’t decided where I would spend the night, but I was hoping that it would be somewhere interesting.

The Moharli – Shegaon forest stretch is lovely in the morning. But then the 8-10 feet wide road becomes very dangerous, filled with booby traps. I hope that toilets get built fast in those tiny hamlets. I had to drive and maneuver very carefully

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There is a shortcut from Shegaon to Chandrapur – Nagpur highway. If you are coming from Moharli, reach Shegaon, take a left for Warora, and after 100 metres, take a right. Ask anyone for Tembhurda road. Last time I had taken that road – in 2013 - it didn’t show up in Google Maps. This time, it did.

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I reached the wonderful 4 lane Chandrapur – Nagpur highway. And instead of turning left and South towards Bangalore, I took a right and headed North.
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Old 19th November 2015, 14:46   #2
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Default re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

Excellent. Thanks a lot for sharing this fantastic experience with us. It makes me so happy to see the wildlife in such a beautiful pictures. Please Keep inspiring us. Thank You.
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Old 20th November 2015, 09:43   #3
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Default re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

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Originally Posted by Wildy View Post
Excellent. Thanks a lot for sharing this fantastic experience with us. It makes me so happy to see the wildlife in such a beautiful pictures. Please Keep inspiring us. Thank You.
Thanks. A couple of more photos:

Tigress in the grass
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Wild dog drinking from a puddle on the forest road
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Old 20th November 2015, 11:01   #4
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Default re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

Brilliant nilanjanray!

Not many make use of a Fortuner 4x4 like you do. Eagerly waiting for more of the same - excellent snaps and crisp write up. Also, do add photos of the Bison once a while.
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Old 20th November 2015, 11:16   #5
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Default re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

Beautiful post and pics Tigers really are captivating. And it seems you were quite blessed, in having so many tiger sightings!
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Old 20th November 2015, 11:17   #6
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Default re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

Beautiful Pictures Sir.
But as far as I know, diesel vehicles are not allowed inside Tadoba.
That's why the locals run petrol powered Gypsy inside the forest.
Wondering how they allowed the Fortuner inside.

Please correct me if I am wrong.
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Old 20th November 2015, 13:58   #7
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Default Re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

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Originally Posted by deetjohn View Post
Brilliant nilanjanray!

Not many make use of a Fortuner 4x4 like you do. Eagerly waiting for more of the same - excellent snaps and crisp write up. Also, do add photos of the Bison once a while.
Thanks. No Bison photos from Tadoba, but will share a few mobile phone photos from another forest.

Edit: a couple of photos from the phone. Excuse the HDR effect and oversaturation - it looked fine on my phone, but looks bad on my computer screen.

Trying to shoot a vulture. There was a kill on the river bed.
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Morning drive through a sanctuary in MP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KomS_CarLog View Post
Beautiful post and pics Tigers really are captivating. And it seems you were quite blessed, in having so many tiger sightings!
Thanks. Not that easy to sight tigers unless you get lucky. I spend a lot of time hoping for a sighting

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Originally Posted by iamahunter View Post
Beautiful Pictures Sir.
But as far as I know, diesel vehicles are not allowed inside Tadoba.
That's why the locals run petrol powered Gypsy inside the forest.
Wondering how they allowed the Fortuner inside.

Please correct me if I am wrong.
Thanks.
1. Diesel vehicles - like petrol vehicles - are allowed if you pay the fee.
2. I didn't take the Fortuner inside for a safari. I could have, but chose not to for various reasons. I was always in a Gypsy.

I did drive through the buffer zone forests on my way to Tadoba and back, but those areas are outside the park limits.

Last edited by nilanjanray : 20th November 2015 at 14:16.
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Old 20th November 2015, 22:18   #8
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Default Re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

Lovely photolgue. Its refreshing to see the wilderness. Which gear did you use for this shoot?
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Old 21st November 2015, 03:32   #9
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Default Re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

Really enjoyed reading this travelogue. The photos were really beautiful.
I, for one loved the last line - " took a right and headed North "
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Old 21st November 2015, 14:32   #10
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Default Re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

Tadoba has been on my long list of places. After seeing your photos, Tadoba has jumped the queue to be the next destination. Of late, this place is getting familiar. Please share about your acccommodation (cost etc.) and also the safari routes for best sightings.
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Old 22nd November 2015, 13:20   #11
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Default Re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

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Originally Posted by Twinn View Post
Lovely photolgue. Its refreshing to see the wilderness. Which gear did you use for this shoot?
Thanks. D7100 and D610, along with the 200-500mm f/5.6E

Quote:
Originally Posted by saishivaj View Post
Really enjoyed reading this travelogue. The photos were really beautiful.
I, for one loved the last line - " took a right and headed North "
That's for another travelogue. The hint was in the first post - when I said this was a 4100k trip. Bangalore - Tadoba - Bangalore is only 2200 - 2300km

Quote:
Originally Posted by DImPo View Post
Tadoba has been on my long list of places. After seeing your photos, Tadoba has jumped the queue to be the next destination. Of late, this place is getting familiar. Please share about your acccommodation (cost etc.) and also the safari routes for best sightings.
Tadoba has always been one of the best places for encountering tigers.

You would do best to do some Googling or even searching this forum. Re acco as well regarding the park. Or check in TripAdvisor regarding acco. There are luxury resorts as well as budget places.

And there are 'no best routes'. Neither in Tadoba, nor in any other park. It depends on tiger movements in a particular season, and movements during the past few days.
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Old 23rd November 2015, 07:22   #12
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Default Re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

That was really a refreshing and exciting travelogue. Must say that your photography skills are supreme as well! Last year I went to the Mudumalai and Bandipur forests but wasn't lucky enough to spot a tiger.

Was actually planning a drive this Christmas. Now after seeing your post I really feel like visiting a tiger reserve. Any suggestions for places to drive from Kolkata apart from Sundebans? Can spare around 5 days.
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Old 23rd November 2015, 11:59   #13
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Originally Posted by Maverick14 View Post
That was really a refreshing and exciting travelogue. Must say that your photography skills are supreme as well! Last year I went to the Mudumalai and Bandipur forests but wasn't lucky enough to spot a tiger.

Was actually planning a drive this Christmas. Now after seeing your post I really feel like visiting a tiger reserve. Any suggestions for places to drive from Kolkata apart from Sundebans? Can spare around 5 days.
Thanks. Tiger reserve? I don't think you will have a good chance of seeing the big cat in North Bengal or in Simlipal, so best option is Tadoba. Should be doable from Kolkata in 5 days.

---------
A photo from the next leg of the journey. Low key processing. Low shutter speed, so the fangs are in focus while the face is blurred due to movement.

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Old 23rd November 2015, 17:13   #14
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Default Re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

stunning photography dada. Am one of those lazy guys who never takes a photo during my travels and on seeing all these photos i keep kicking myself. Enjoyed going through this.
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Old 23rd November 2015, 21:12   #15
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Default Re: Fortuner Chronicles: Bison goes tiger shooting (Tadoba)

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Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Thanks. D7100 and D610, along with the 200-500mm f/5.6E
Nice gear setup. 200-500 - is it the new Nikkor that was launched this year?
Did you use any teleconverters.
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