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Old 28th March 2016, 22:30   #1
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Default Solitary Exploration of the Nagarhole Forests

It has been sometime that I went out for an outing specifically for the wildlife. Spent a good a good five days in the wild. I love the Nagarahole and Thirunelly forests and I keep returning to it. I picked out Jungle Retreat Wayanad again. I had visited Jungle Retreat in January with a couple of office folks. Incidentally I had told Anil that I wish to return for a longer stay in February but had not confirmed any date as such. I called Anil on the Thursday evening to see if I can get an accommodation (single occupancy as I went on a solo trip again). Got an affirmative that he will arrange one at a very short notice in spite of the place running full. Thanked him and immediately transferred the required amount to the resort account. After returning home from office, packed the required stuff and was all set to go.

Day 1

For a change no 2 am start as I was anyways spending quite a bit of time in the wild. Started at 6.45 am and drove leisurely to have a stop at Hotel Vaishali for the breakfast. Had yummy, Idly vada, Akki rotti and a double dose of strong coffee. With moderate traffic, the progress was quite decent. Stopped at a HPCL bunk a few kms before Mandya for a top up. Drove till Srirangapatna and deviated towards to Hunsur via the KRS road (Bad decision). The roads are good for a few kms only and the rest you will spend time avoiding deep potholes and the roads are bumpy too. Once reaching the Ilivala, the road conditions improved a lot. Stopped at Hunsur to withdraw a bit of cash and turned towards the HD Kote road to drive through the Nagarahole Forest. The roads inside the forests were tarred at a few places and pot holes being filled. Reached the resort around 11.30 am. Manu (caretaker) quickly arranged the room and I relaxed a bit. While having lunch, I was chatting with Manu on any alarm calls or sightings that happened. He did tell me about the alarm calls near edge of the farm on the western side and the incident with Makhna elephant the previous night inside the farm.

A Makhna Elephant (A male elephant without tusks) had broken the electric fencing and had barged in to the resort and was feasting on the grass near the wooden cottage. It took a good 2 hours to drive the Makhna elephant out beyond the electric fence by bursting crackers and the bright LED torch lights.

Post lunch set off to find what the alarm calls were about. Spotted the leftovers of a spotted deer kill. The pug marks around were surely of a tigress and its male cub Not wasting any time around the kill spot returned to the farm. Refreshed and went to the watch tower sitting there relaxing to the bird chirpings and the evening forest sounds. There were plenty of deer in the farm.

Left overs

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Tiger Scat

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They do set up a campfire in another farm which they own. It was nice place to spend a good hour with the camp fire, a delicious soup and clear sky.

Returned back to the resort, had a sumptuous dinner and slept light to be ready to head out in case of any alarm calls. That night none came apart from a few peacock calls. It was very peaceful that night with moonlight providing enough light to sight any elephants in the farm.

Day 2 Continued.

Last edited by nkrishnap : 28th March 2016 at 23:12.
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Old 28th March 2016, 22:54   #2
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Day 2

Got up early and left the resort to Nagarahole for a safari morning safari. I was the 2nd one at the gate, the probability of getting gypsy for a safari was getting stronger. I indeed get hold of it. Let the pictures take over from here.

A few birds, I am poor at naming them. If someone could name them I will be grateful.

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Other spottings

Wild Dogs

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Elephants

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Wild Boar

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Barking Deer

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Langur

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Path

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Post the Safari, I was headed to Ponnampet to a Colleague's house for lunch. En-route drove to Iruppu falls for a quick visit.

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Drove back to the resort around 4 pm and relaxed for the rest of the evening with the majority of the time spent at the watch tower. Had dinner around 9 pm and hit the bed. As a norm, sleeping light helped. The elephants decided to take a sip in the waterhole inside the farm around 12.30 am. There were a couple of them. After 20 minutes or so, a tusker entered the farm and chased the other two elephants out with a couple of trumpets which were bone chilling right at the middle of a quiet night. Got to experience all this from about 100-150 feet.

Day 3 continued

Last edited by nkrishnap : 28th March 2016 at 23:13.
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Old 28th March 2016, 23:09   #3
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Day 3

Got up early as usual and this time it was Tholpetty Safari (turned out to be quite poor with so many jeeps let into the forest. In fact a mini traffic jam too occurred)

Drive from the resort to Tholpetty Foggy Morning



A few pictures from the Safari.

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Returned back to the resort and relaxed for the most part of the day. Primarily because it was Sunday and there were too many people around to spot anything. Later around 8 pm, took the car out for a drive towards the Thirunelly temple and to Kattikulam. Spotted elephants near the Appapara forest range office, silently waited with the lights switched off and the engine running. After about 20 mins or so, elephants crossed the road and went on its way. A km or so further spotted Guars which were a little away from the road side. Did not bother to stop and drove back to the resort. Had dinner, and slept light, but that night no alarm calls to wake me up.

Day 4 continued

Last edited by nkrishnap : 28th March 2016 at 23:13.
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Old 28th March 2016, 23:19   #4
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Day 4

As being a norm now, got up early and headed for Nagarahole safari again. Got hold of the gypsy again and was off.

A few pictures from the safari.

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Came back to the resort around 10 am and had a nice breakfast of Appam and Kadala curry which I had requested Manu to have it prepared. Headed out for a quick walk through the farm edges to see if we can spot the tigress, but with no luck returned back to the resort.

Packed all the stuff and bid good bye to the resort folks and drove towards Damankatte forest office for a safari in Kabini.

Kabini Safari Report in a separate posts
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Old 29th March 2016, 00:33   #5
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Day 4 Continued

Drove from Thirunelly to Damankatte Check post via Balle. Reached the forest office around 3 pm. There was a small group of people waiting to go for safari there. Quickly bought the tickets and we were off for the safari by 3.30 pm.

At the Forest office, A brahminy kite nest

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The first water hole we visited

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Dry forest

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Indian Roller Bird

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Malabar Squirrel

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We wait at the tiger tank after hearing the alarm calls, nothing turns out, so we move further and come across this beautiful leopard crossing out path

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Langur

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Kingfisher

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We moved further to cross the Balle road towards the backwaters. In the meanwhile hearing alarm calls and a few deers looking in a direction towards the bushes/trees. I asked the driver to stop and reverse a bit. Results paid off, it was Tiger strolling towards the water hole, it was quite far and this is what I could salvage from the 300 mm lens.

Tiger

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Deer on way to Kabini backwaters

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At the backwaters

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Sambar Deer having a mock fight

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Crested serpent eagle

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Another Malabar Squirrel

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Sunset at the backwaters

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On the way back

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After the safari drove to Mysore to stay for the night, reason, to do a morning safari at Kabini again.
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Old 29th March 2016, 01:05   #6
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Day 5

Started from Mysore around 4.30 am, the Damankatte forest office is around 63 kms from the place I stayed for the night. It took about an hour to reach the forest office. Safari vehicle moved on 5.45 am.

First we straight away head to the tiger tank, as luck had it, we spotted a Tigress and 3 cubs about 5 or 6 months old. As luck had it, the light was still poor and could not capture any pics. A few minutes later the tigress and the cubs moved into the bushes behind the water hole.

We headed towards the backwaters to try our luck.

Sunrise

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Sleepy Crested Serpent Eagle

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Mongoose

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Deer and Fawn

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Malabar Squirrel

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We decided to try the Balle side core area too to see if we can spot the black panther. We could not spot any. But spotted this elephant. Asked the driver to stop the vehicle with engine switched off. For 10 minutes, this elephant was curious moving around restlessly during the camera shutter noise. A few minutes later it gave a mock charge followed by a trumpet, crossed the path and disappeared into the bushes.

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Indian Roller

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We headed back towards tiger tank to see if the tigress and cubs had come back to the water hole. No tigers in the water hole, but this mud soaked Sambar deer was there.

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Guar with a single horn

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Returned to the forest office, thanked the driver and returned back to Mysore to the hotel room. Quickly refreshed, ordered a sandwich and a strong coffee. Vacated the hotel and made a straight dash back home. Reached home around 3 pm. Rested for a while and took out the family for a dinner on account of my birthday.

5 Days well spent exploring the Rajiv Gandhi National Park and the Thirunelly region. No guess required, I will going there again pretty soon.

Last edited by nkrishnap : 29th March 2016 at 01:10.
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Old 29th March 2016, 09:23   #7
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Note from Support: Thread moved to Travelogues section from Assembly line. Thanks for sharing

Last edited by GTO : 29th March 2016 at 09:23. Reason: Bump
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Old 29th March 2016, 13:52   #8
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Default Re: Solitary Exploration of the Nagarhole Forests

Excellent Photos and giving a well deserved 5 Star for your solo adventure

I specifically like the photo where the elephant is charging at you with straw in its trunk. It deserves to be framed

Regards
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Old 29th March 2016, 15:25   #9
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Default Re: Solitary Exploration of the Nagarhole Forests

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Originally Posted by nkrishnap View Post
Reached home around 3 pm. Rested for a while and took out the family for a dinner on account of my birthday.
Nice snaps! So looks like you had a good gift for yourself and also treat the family for a dinner!

Belated Happy birthday!
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Old 29th March 2016, 17:23   #10
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Default Re: Solitary Exploration of the Nagarhole Forests

Very nice, crisp snaps. Deserves 5 star.

5 days vacation, quality time inside peaceful Jungle indeed a great birthday gift one can have.
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Old 29th March 2016, 18:00   #11
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Default Re: Solitary Exploration of the Nagarhole Forests

Nice, nkrishnap. You are very lucky to see a leopard, a tiger, wild dogs and a vulture in one trip, even if they are across several safaris. Yes, 300 mm just does not cut it inside the forest. You definitely need a 500 mm or even a 600 mm lens. But you seem to have done a great job with what you had in hand. After all, that is what counts. What photo equipment are you using?
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Old 29th March 2016, 22:29   #12
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Excellent photos, You are really lucky to spot a wide range of wild life, particularly tiger and Leopard. It was a feast to my eyes

I had wandered in Mudhumalai nearly 4 times in search of Big cats but in vain. Thanks for sharing your experience and the nice photos.
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Old 30th March 2016, 08:48   #13
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Default Re: Solitary Exploration of the Nagarhole Forests

Nice 5 day outing...forests never fail. Even if one visits the sae forest several times, every time the pictures that come out will be different than the previous time.

Congratulations to you.

A couple of quick questions - You mentioned Damankatte forest office (63 kms from Mysore) has a safari. Was this a gypsy safari or a mini bus? Bandipur and Kabini are the only Jungle Lodges in the region - or has any new one opened? I had recently heard that there is a safari (Karnataka Forest Dept) that has opened but no stay. From your stay in Jungle Retreat how far is the forest dept gate for safari? And this is KL right?

I must say quite a feast for you - 5 days in the jungles.

Belated happy birthday.

Cheers
Rajain

Than
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Old 30th March 2016, 09:58   #14
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Default Re: Solitary Exploration of the Nagarhole Forests

Quote:
Originally Posted by chandrda View Post
Excellent Photos and giving a well deserved 5 Star for your solo adventure

I specifically like the photo where the elephant is charging at you with straw in its trunk. It deserves to be framed

Regards
Thank you. I will narrate the experience with one of the elephants while on trek in a new post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Nice snaps! So looks like you had a good gift for yourself and also treat the family for a dinner!

Belated Happy birthday!
Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nempuguru View Post
Very nice, crisp snaps. Deserves 5 star.

5 days vacation, quality time inside peaceful Jungle indeed a great birthday gift one can have.
Absolutely. Being away from City madness, fresh air of the forests, birds chirping away and poor mobile connectivity rejuvenates you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stryker View Post
Nice, nkrishnap. You are very lucky to see a leopard, a tiger, wild dogs and a vulture in one trip, even if they are across several safaris. Yes, 300 mm just does not cut it inside the forest. You definitely need a 500 mm or even a 600 mm lens. But you seem to have done a great job with what you had in hand. After all, that is what counts. What photo equipment are you using?
During this trip, I had Canon EOS 500D with Canon EF 24-105 F4 and Tamron 70-300 VC lens. Picked up a Canon EOS 7D Mark 2 and Canon EF 100-400 IS2 lens a few days back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anandharamanp View Post
Excellent photos, You are really lucky to spot a wide range of wild life, particularly tiger and Leopard. It was a feast to my eyes

I had wandered in Mudhumalai nearly 4 times in search of Big cats but in vain. Thanks for sharing your experience and the nice photos.
For some reason sightings in Mudhumalai is lesser compared to Bandipur or Nagarahole. I have experienced the same too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajain View Post
Nice 5 day outing...forests never fail. Even if one visits the sae forest several times, every time the pictures that come out will be different than the previous time.

Congratulations to you.
Thank you. Each visit will be new experience even if you have visited the place many many times.

Quote:
A couple of quick questions - You mentioned Damankatte forest office (63 kms from Mysore) has a safari. Was this a gypsy safari or a mini bus? Bandipur and Kabini are the only Jungle Lodges in the region - or has any new one opened? I had recently heard that there is a safari (Karnataka Forest Dept) that has opened but no stay. From your stay in Jungle Retreat how far is the forest dept gate for safari? And this is KL right?

I must say quite a feast for you - 5 days in the jungles.
Damankatte Forest Office has only Canter Safari which is quite decent for the asking price of 300 bucks and on weekdays they do take you out for a longer safari (about 2.5 to 3 hours sometimes) and also to the core areas where the others are not allowed. Only negative they start from the farther side, by then the other vehicles would have driven out the animals into the forest. Give some and take some.

There are quite a few resorts/lodges that have opened, but I do not find them interesting. Try the Aranya Bhavan in HD Kote, decent enough and cheap enough for the stay, availability during weekdays should not be a problem.

Yes, Jungle Retreat Wayanad is near Thirunelly (KL). This about 55 kms if my memory serves me right. I did not do the Kabini safaris staying from Jungle Retreat, in turn did the Nagarahole and Tholpetty Safari. The forest gate timings do not allow you to do Kabini safaris conveniently.
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Old 30th March 2016, 12:38   #15
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Default Re: Solitary Exploration of the Nagarhole Forests

Excellent coverage, and brilliant pics.

Your love for the wildlife is evident, and not many realize that for proper wildlife experience you would surely need more than 2 days to get the hang of the whole thing. Wild Life should be enjoyed this way and not just getting pics of everything and packing your bags.

You were clever enough to make a solitary trip ! And your trip has paid off well !!
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