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Old 19th May 2017, 17:39   #1
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Default Jungle Retreat Wayanad and Nagarahole

I visited Jungle Retreat Wayanad in February for a couple of days. Post this
I was occupied with work and weekends were busy ensuring that the visit to the forests had to be held back.

May is a bit of lean time in office and hence I decided that this time it will be 3 days that I will spend at Jungle Retreat Wayanad. Dropped an email for the accommodation and got a positive response. I booked it right away and was looking forward to the visit to Nagarahole Forests again.

There was elephant census being conducted in the Nagarahole National Park from 16th May 2017 to 19th May 2017. During these days Safaris were cancelled. Hence I had the opportunity of doing 4 safaris. Called up my JLR contact and did the booking for the safaris.

Day 1: 14th May 2017 (Safari 1)

As usual, I start by 1.30 am and drive towards the Mysore road. I stopped at the HPCL bunk near Mandya to fill the fuel tank up and drove on towards Hunsur via Mysore outer ring road. The drive was uneventful apart from the irritating humps between Mysore and Hunsur. Just too many humps. Reached Hunsur and stopped at Caffe County for a short break and coffee. After being refreshed, I reached the JLR safari point at Veeranahosahalli 5.25 am on the dot.

We reached the gate at 5.55 am along with a few other guests from Kings Sanctuary. Crossed the check post at 6.10 am and we were off.

We first went directly to the spot where the sightings were happening during the past week. No luck with the cats there, we traversed all around the lake and then moved towards the old reception center. We spotted the below enroute.

Lessor Agitant Stork (Endangered)

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Painted Stark

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Sambar Deer

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Common Hoopoo

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Wild Boar resting while the crow is pecking away at the insects

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Crested Serpent Eagle

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National Bird

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Mother Care

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When we reached the reception center, I asked the driver to stop, as two Dholes were crossing the path. Looks like these had a nice meal and the tummy full. These were actually struggling to even stroll, forget running as the stomachs were that full. Then the Alpha male decides to poop to ease up a bit. Post this they rest near the tree. In the meanwhile a wild boar had strayed near them. While the male rested, the female just gave a half hearted chase and returned back to rest.

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Dhole half hearted wild boar chase

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Elephant Grazing. Most of them are skinny with very little greens available to eat and water drink until a few weeks back. They eat overtime for the lack of greens during summer.

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With the safari ending, we were dropped back near the Veeranahosahalli gate. Drove straight to the resort from here and reached at 11.40 am. Checked in within a few minutes and took a power nap. Had a quick shower and had a delicious lunch. Got ready and went back to the Kutta gate for the afternoon Safari.

Last edited by nkrishnap : 19th May 2017 at 21:01.
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Old 19th May 2017, 18:48   #2
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Day 1 continued (Safari 2)

The safari was supposed to start at 3.30 pm, however there was a bit of delay as one of the guests came a bit late. With a delay of 15 mins, we were off. We go to the old reception center to find the dholes still resting there, confirms the suspicion of heavy meal. We saw the department Canter coming the direction we intended to go, hence reversed and went in the opposite direction behind the reception.

Dhole still resting

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Young Stag

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Spotted Deer Fawn Feeding

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Langur posing

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We head further deeper towards the pond. We spot a herd of elephants grazing away. One elephant was further away from the herd probably due to the tumor kind of thing on its back.

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Elephant with the tumor

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We turn and head towards Chikpala Lake, all seems peaceful with no alarm calls or any hint of a predator movement.

Painted Starks

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Lesser Adjutant Stark

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A little further a Malabar Giant Squirrel merrily feasting on the berries.

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It was around 5.10 pm and I suggested the driver to go back the same route we came. We waited near the waterhole (almost dry with barely any water). We hear the peacock, Giant Malabar Squirrel and spotted deer give calls continuously. Surely the predator was on the move and the direction of movement seemed bang in front of us. The calls getting louder and louder, we were just waiting for the predator to come out in the open. However, to our dismay, the range officer doing patrol comes and tells us its time to leave the safari trail as it was 5.30 pm. We oblige and drive back knowing that another 5 mins we would have had our sighting.

On the way back, the Dholes that were resting are little more active. The female had climbed up a small tree to survey the place around it. It got down seeing the Safari vehicle.

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Post this drove back to the check post. Thanked our driver Santosh and drove back to the resort and reached by 6.45 pm.

Anil was at the resort on Sunday and was chatting about wildlife with the other guests. I secure the camera bag at the cottage and went to the Dining hall for the snack and tea. Anil greets me "Welcome back home" and a wide smile. Jungle Retreat surely feels like to me at least. As we discuss, I see something moving in the farm. I move out to the open space, I spot a young tusker. Anil confirms the same and gets his infrared camera out to show the young beast to the other guests.

A campfire was arranged a few kms away from the resort. The tribal guy (Chattan) prepared a nice chilly chutney near the stream. A nice soup was served along with cooked Tapioca and freshly made chutney. A good hour spent, everyone heads back to the resort. Mano spots a mouse deer on the way back.

A sumptuous dinner ensured I hit the bed for a must deserved rest.

Last edited by nkrishnap : 24th May 2017 at 09:00.
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Old 24th May 2017, 09:15   #3
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Day 2: 15th May 2017

Around 12.30 am or so, the rain gods decided it was time for a downpour and it rained pretty heavily for a couple of hours. I wake around 4.40 am thanks to the continuous alarm calls, it went on for a good 20 odd mins. I refreshed myself and Mano got tea for me as I was heading back for a safari. Another guest wanted to join for the safari too and he decides to take his Duster out. We reach the safari gate and get to know that the rains all night ensured the morning safari is cancelled as the trails will be slippery and would risk the vehicle getting stuck. Though the JLR vehicle is 4 wheel drive, the department does not allow JLR vehicles. A quick discussion among ourselves, we decide to simply drive via the forests towards Veeranahosahalli and then back towards the resort via Bavali.

The weather was brilliant with a bit of chillness in the air. Did not bother to get the camera out of the bag, just enjoyed the drive with the soothing weather. Though we spotted a good amount of animals/birds, I simply enjoyed the drive and keeping the task of taking pics for another day. The list of animals spotted

1. Male Sambar Deer on the road
2. Two young spotted deer stag having a mock fight
3. Crested Serpent Eagle
4. Dholes (pack of 6) crossing the road
5. A herd of elephants (5 in number) and one elephant taking a mud bath
6. Indian Roller
7. Another couple of elephants near Moorkal
8. Racket Tailed Drongo

We reach the other gate and drive towards Veeranahosahalli. I meet Basil (from JLR) and briefly discuss about the safaris. We continue towards HD Kote and took the Bavali route. Not many sightings on this route apart from a Tusker. We turn towards Tholpetty at Kattikulam. A few kilometers post the check-post, a couple of dholes are stalking a calf close to the road side. The woman who was herding the cows and the calf had no clue about the dholes around. We could not wait as the bus behind started honking

Reached the resort around 9.40 am, a nice breakfast was waiting for us. Post breakfast, I decided to skip the walk around the farm as my ankle was injured and could not risk a twist again. The other guests who I went along with decide to go for a walk with Mano. They spot a tiger barely 15 feet away. Mano describes that the tigress who was sleeping lifted its head, gave a small growl and disappeared in to the bushes on the other side. The other guests were so stunned at the tiger, they did not want to go back from the resort post that experience.

Had lunch at 2 pm and headed out for the afternoon Safari at Nagarahole.

With the usual routes we took, found the loads of spotted deer, a few birds. In one of the waterholes the elephants were taking a mud bath.

Langur

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Crested Serpent Eagle

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Mud Peddling Butterflies

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Elephant Mud Bath

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Finally a drink before moving on.

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A colorful butterfly

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Spotted Deer

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Painted Stark

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Monitor Lizard

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We come back to the water hole where the elephants were present earlier. The forests had a weird calm all around, very few spotted deer. While going slowly, I spotted 4 spotted deer a bit alert and giving calls. Immediately asked the driver to switch off. I zoom the camera in the direction of the bush where the deer was looking towards and giving calls. Voila, there is a leopard. Apart from me and the driver no one else got to see the leopard, thanks to the problems associated with a noisy safari crowd.

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To give a perspective of the habitat where its camouflaged

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A wild boar on the way back.

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Happy that the spotting was done, headed back to the resort to chill out for the evening. Post dinner Mano, Myself and one more guest just headed out towards Thirunelly temple to see if can spot any wildlife. We do spot a couple of mouse deer and a huge male guar by the road. We come back around 11 pm and it was time to snooze off for the day.

Last edited by nkrishnap : 24th May 2017 at 12:00.
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Old 24th May 2017, 12:10   #4
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Day 3: 16th May 2017

There were no safaris planned for the rest of the stay as the Elephant census was in progress. Did nothing during the day apart from relaxing in the watch tower with birds chirping away. A few spotted deer and a few Guars in the farm. A perfect setting for the evening.

Day 4: 17th May 2017

I had planned to check out by 9 am and drive to Damankatte to meet someone in the forest department office. When I finished breakfast and was packing the bags, heard loud alarm calls very close to the farm (near the road side). I ran out to the road and the calls died down. The kill had surely happened. Mano later went for a walk and checked out what it was and our suspicion was spot on. Spotted deer kill by the resident tigress. There were fresh pug marks all around.

I reached Damankatte office and met the person. I left for Bandipur via Begur around 11.30 am. Reached Bandipur at 1 pm and had a good lunch at the Pug Mark Restaurant. I had booked a safari seat with JLR through MC resorts for the afternoon safari. While the Nagarahole forest is dense and green, the Bandipur has turned into a Lantana forest. Not much sighting in this safari apart from spotted deer and a few birds.

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Post the safari, had tea and left Bandipur towards home. Traffic was moderate and Good progress was made. Reached home at 11.30 pm after spending a little over 3 days in the forests. Little did I know that I would go back to Nagarahole/Kabini in 2 days time again.
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Old 24th May 2017, 16:31   #5
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Default re: Jungle Retreat Wayanad and Nagarahole

Thread moved here from Assembly line. Thanks for sharing
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Old 24th May 2017, 17:54   #6
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Default Re: Jungle Retreat Wayanad and Nagarahole

Nice to see the forest looking green again. The summer months and even earlier were extremely dry and brown in the forest is NOT a good colour. I'm a bit surprised that you didn't have good cat sightings. FB and Prasanna's reports are full of posts of tigers, leopards and even blackie being sighted regularly during that week. Recently too.

I know what you mean about Bandipur being a lantana forest. That weed ought to be banned! Obstructs sightings so much, you feel like getting down and setting fire to it.
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Old 24th May 2017, 19:11   #7
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Default Re: Jungle Retreat Wayanad and Nagarahole

Nice pics. Best is the Mud Peddling Butterflies.

I visited bandipur beginning of this month on a day trip from bangalore and still could got a sighting of big cat in a very close range. Here is the pic.

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Old 26th May 2017, 14:58   #8
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Originally Posted by Stryker View Post
Nice to see the forest looking green again. The summer months and even earlier were extremely dry and brown in the forest is NOT a good colour. I'm a bit surprised that you didn't have good cat sightings. FB and Prasanna's reports are full of posts of tigers, leopards and even blackie being sighted regularly during that week. Recently too.

I know what you mean about Bandipur being a lantana forest. That weed ought to be banned! Obstructs sightings so much, you feel like getting down and setting fire to it.
Yes, the forests are lush green thanks to the intermittent rains over the past week. It feels so much fresher.

I did not go to Kabini JLR safari so the sightings are entirely different. I will come to the FB and Prasanna updates in a separate thread which is coming up for Kabini JLR travelogue/picture log.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmsithan View Post
Nice pics. Best is the Mud Peddling Butterflies.

I visited Bandipur beginning of this month on a day trip from Bangalore and still could got a sighting of big cat in a very close range. Here is the pic.
Thanks for the appreciation mate. Bandipur is way different now compared to 2003-2007 time frame. A lot trees have disappeared. Too many vehicles being let into the forest, what not. Totally commercialized and the forest is taking a beating thanks to this.

Lovely tiger picture there. Sightings are pure luck and a matter of being at the right place at the right time. So I have no regrets of not spotting any cats.
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Old 26th May 2017, 17:41   #9
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Default Re: Jungle Retreat Wayanad and Nagarahole

Excellent snaps and narration, feeling sorry that I could not join you for the trip.

Leopard peeping through the grass is not easy to spot and the noisy crowd makes things tougher for both you and the leopard.

Listening to Anil's stories having lovely food made by Chaatan at the moonlit river bank and spotting of the resident tigress are my font memories out of the last trip to Jungle Retreat

BTW have JLR stopped having a naturalist along with the driver in their Safaris, we couldn't find one in the last few occasions. I feel driver doubling as the naturalist is not the ideal choice.
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Old 29th May 2017, 11:30   #10
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Default Re: Jungle Retreat Wayanad and Nagarahole

Excellent pictures and thanks for sharing! The picture of "A colorful butterfly" is brilliant. It is a pity to see the elephants in such poor condition.

On a side note, since we have been planning for a long time to visit Nagarahole, it will be great if you can share some details on the road conditions approaching the park. I am always skeptical about the road conditions in the last 10% of the journey.
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Old 1st June 2017, 10:08   #11
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Originally Posted by gadadhar View Post
Excellent snaps and narration, feeling sorry that I could not join you for the trip.
There is always next time.

Quote:
Leopard peeping through the grass is not easy to spot and the noisy crowd makes things tougher for both you and the leopard.
Absolutely. The crowd was more interested in discussing what they would be doing on the return journey to Bangalore.

Quote:
BTW have JLR stopped having a naturalist along with the driver in their Safaris, we couldn't find one in the last few occasions. I feel driver doubling as the naturalist is not the ideal choice.
Sometimes even with naturalist, the safari is not natural if you understood what I meant

Quote:
Originally Posted by feluda86 View Post
Excellent pictures and thanks for sharing! The picture of "A colorful butterfly" is brilliant. It is a pity to see the elephants in such poor condition.

On a side note, since we have been planning for a long time to visit Nagarahole, it will be great if you can share some details on the road conditions approaching the park. I am always skeptical about the road conditions in the last 10% of the journey.
The roads are excellent throughout barring a few humps and rough patches near the villages.

If you are traveling from Bangalore you can take this route.

Bangalore - Srirangapatna - Ilivala - Hunsur - Veeranahosahalli - Nagarahole

Google maps - https://goo.gl/maps/UpTvo2ahPwr
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Old 1st June 2017, 10:51   #12
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There is always next time.



Absolutely. The crowd was more interested in discussing what they would be doing on the return journey to Bangalore.



Sometimes even with naturalist, the safari is not natural if you understood what I meant

I wonder why these folks come to the forest, there are enough options available outside.

BTW check if want to try https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...ECK_RATES_CONT
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Old 1st June 2017, 16:34   #13
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The crowd was more interested in discussing what they would be doing on the return journey to Bangalore.
This is one of the main reasons I go with Toehold for my Kabini visits. Everyone in the van are like minded and photographers first. Some of them are really knowledgeable about the fauna, a few of them with the flora too. There is a lot one can learn from people like them, while improving one's photography skills.
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Old 1st July 2017, 12:29   #14
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Default Re: Jungle Retreat Wayanad and Nagarahole

Dear nkrishnap.
First of all, THANK you for such a lovely travelogue

I'm neither a wildlife enthusiast nor an amateur photographer. But your travelogue inspired me to make my first trip to Nagarhole last weekend.
I read all your travelogues on Kabini and Nagarhole. I wanted to go after the monsoon set in. Pitched the idea to wifey who was not convinced at first. Showing snaps from your travelogue did the trick - both wifey and daughter bought the idea immediately.
I wasn't sure if we could make it to the Safaris. Even if we couldn't do the safari, we just thought we will drive through the Rajiv Gandhi National Park to enjoy the flora during monsoon.


25th June (Day-1)
Bangalore -> Mysore Ring Road -> Handpost junction -> Antharasanthe -> Damankatte -> Bavali -> Kattikulam (had lunch here) -> Kutta -> Veerahosanahalli -> Hunsur -> Mysuru (stayed at Hotel Kalyani at Ring Road, near Bharat Cancer hospital)

Views were stunning and enjoyed the drive through the forest. With mild to heavy rain accompanying us most of the way.


26th June (Day-2)
Me and wifey wanted to go to Nanjangud temple. But daughter wanted to go back to forest once more. So again we did: Hotel Kalyani -> Handpost junction -> Bavali -> Mysuru ring road -> Malavalli -> Kanakapura -> Bangalore.

We had an amazing first trip to Nagarhole. I'm sure I'll return again soon - hopefully take the safari. All thanks to your wonderful travelogues and pictures. ( On our 2nd day, wifey was even suggesting that we buy a DSLR camera before our next visit to Nagarhole )

Some snaps from the trip. Sorry for the mediocre-quality (taken from wifey's Moto-G2)

Safari timings at Damanakatte Forest Post
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Timings for tickets at Veerahosanahalli entrance
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Our vaahan & companion - Zest Revotron XMS
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Old 1st July 2017, 13:26   #15
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Default Re: Jungle Retreat Wayanad and Nagarahole

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Originally Posted by srvm View Post
Dear nkrishnap.
First of all, THANK you for such a lovely travelogue

I'm neither a wildlife enthusiast nor an amateur photographer. But your travelogue inspired me to make my first trip to Nagarhole last weekend.
I read all your travelogues on Kabini and Nagarhole. I wanted to go after the monsoon set in. Pitched the idea to wifey who was not convinced at first. Showing snaps from your travelogue did the trick - both wifey and daughter bought the idea immediately.
Thanks for the appreciation mate. Wildlife thing is more than photographing it. So do not bother if you do not have a camera, go experience the forests.

I made yet another trip to Jungle Retreat Wayanad. No narration, sharing a few pics taken during the trip.

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