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Old 16th July 2019, 18:33   #1
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Default Into the Wild – Road trip to Dudhwa National Park & Tiger Reserve

Where - Dudhwa National Park, Lakhimpur Kheri , Uttar Pradesh

When – February 2018

Vehicle – Maruti Suzuki Ritz ZXi.

Dudhwa National Park is located at the Indo-Nepal border in the district of Lakhimpur Kheri. Together with Kishanpur and Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary it constitutes the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. It encompasses the swampy grasslands of the terai area and huge swathes of teak forests housing a large variety of flora and fauna. Apart from tigers and leopards, it also has the Indian rhino and wild elephants among the large mammals. A bird lover’s paradise, Dudhwa is famous for the migratory as well as native bird species as it is blessed with large wetlands.

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Entry gate into the reserve forest from the accommodation compound.

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Cheetal running on the tracks inside the forest.

We started at 6 am from Lucknow and took the Lucknow-Sitapur four lane highway. About 6km before Sitapur, the highway branches off to Lakhimpur. It takes about 2 hours to reach Lakhimpur from where it is another 2 hours to Dudhwa. The road is now four lane up to Lakhimpur after which it becomes single lane upto Pallia where we crossed the mighty Sharda river (Mahakali form Uttarakhand/Nepal). An old rail cum road bridge is the means of crossing it. The road surface deteriorates after Pallia and is a narrow single lane with deep ruts on the side which you have to be very careful while getting off to give pass to oncoming vehicles. I read some time back that the government was going to remake the road, so it may have been completed by now. We reached the tourist accommodation area by 10:30am and after the entry of person and car we made our way to our accommodation.

This was my second trip to Dudhwa, the first one being in 2003. The accommodation had completely changed from thatch huts and intermittent electricity to air conditioned cottages with electric fencing around the campus. Cottages can be booked online through upecotourism website and cost 3000 per night for double occupancy. Dormitories are also available. For the ones who would like to stay inside the forest, there are forest rest houses which can be booked through the DFO office at Lakhimpur or from Lucknow but one needs to keep the safari car and guide along with raw food material with them. A word of caution as the monkey menace is quite serious and any food in the hand is immediately snatched. A man is permanently stationed with stick and sling shot but there are times when the monkeys get lucky.

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Our cottage. The deer sometimes walk upto the doors.

One can take their own car with the guide, but only two out of three routes are open for private cars, which have to be seven seater. Smaller cars are not allowed. 4 wheel drive is not compulsory and even the modified tata xenons doing duty as safari vehicles are rear wheel drive. So practically an Ertiga can also go in but higher ground clearance vehicles are advisable. Booking a full xenon costs around 2000 per trip inside the various routes, Kishanganj costs more with additional charges. Safari times are from 6am to 9am and 3pm to 6pm.

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The Tata Xenon modified as 9 seater safari vehicle. Much more comfortable than the modified Gypsies and since one sits higher up so better from photography point of view.

We booked our vehicle and guide and wen't on one of the routes. Dudhwa has dense undergrowth and towering teak forests which form beautiful canopies over the tracks.

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We wen't over the Suheli river which still has the old wooden bridge I remember from my previous visit. One can spot magar (crocodiles) basking by the river.

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After enjoying the sights and sounds of the forest on route no.1 we called it a day and came back by sunset. The meals are provided at the mess located within the campus and provides simple vegetarian fare. We wen't to sleep early as we intended to be up early next morning for the safari.

We wen't to Kishanpur side of the reserve as we had heard that tiger sightings are more in that area. After stopping at the wetlands to enjoy the views from the machan, we continued to on the tracks hoping for a glimpse of a male tiger which had been spotted recently. A couple of times our guide stopped the car after hearing the call of Kakur. Every call led to a rise in our excitement and heartbeats. After spending a good one hour we called it a day and headed back.

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Watching out for the tiger

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The famous terai wetlands

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A jungle fowl leading us the way.

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Tiger claw marks.

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The wild boar grazing in the grasslands

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A beautiful Crested serpent eagle looking out for prey

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The Roufous Treepies

After enjoying our morning safari we headed back to base. After a hearty breakfast we rested for some time and lazed around in the sun. Soon it was lunch time and time for the afternoon safari. We took the route to Sathiana range for the next safari. This route has a dense patch of woods and after crossing the Suheli river one enters a large area of grasslands. We spotted many beautiful birds and stopped for tea and some refreshments in the canteen this side of the forest.

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A deer fawn

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Our guide Mr Ramas looking out for wildlife next to the Suheli river.

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A Darter drying its wings on the banks of the Suheli river.

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A Fish Eagle looking out for prey.

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A beautiful Green Bee Eater in the grasslands.

After the short break we were on the way again. This area also has a good population of tigers and the family of the staff had spotted a male tiger a day before only. With excitement in the air, we moved slowly through the grasslands. Suddenly at a tri-section of tracks our guide whispered "tiger !". We all looked in the direction he was pointing with beating hearts. I zoomed in with my camera and my cousin whispered "I think it is a leopard" We slowly moved towards the animal which was sitting in the middle of the track on its hind legs watching us. As we approached it moved into the brown undergowth. It was a large male leopard and it posed for us in the grasslands.

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A leopard sighting is even rare than tiger sighting in Dudhwa as they are very shy animals and rarely show themselves in the day time. We were happy and excited at the sighting and moved on once the leopard walked away into the undergrowth .

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Mr Langur chilling in his perch.

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Finally the setting sun signaled us to return. Excited at our leopard sighting and the beautiful birds during the day we moved back to our accommodation.

Last edited by Udai.Sharma : 17th July 2019 at 15:21.
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Old 17th July 2019, 14:04   #2
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Default re: Into the Wild – Road trip to Dudhwa National Park & Tiger Reserve

We woke up to a foggy morning and after grabbing a quick bite we got ready for an elephant safari into the rhino area.

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We had booked for the elephant safari into the Rhino enclosure. The rhinos had been poached to extinction and were rehabilitated from Kaziranga. Their current population stands at about 33 and they are housed in a special area with electric fencing.

A half hour drive takes one to the Sonaripur range where the elephants for patrolling and safari purposes are kept. The elephant safari took us through a patch of dense woods into the grasslands where we saw a male and two female one horned rhino grazing. This area is also good for bird spotting as there are small streams flowing through it and dense woods on the fringes.

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Getting ready for the safari

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The Indian one horn rhino

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A Darter in flight

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A Koucal in flight

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The Red Wattled Lapwing which were numerous in the Rhino enclosure

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A Lesser Adjutant Stork

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The Pied Hornbill. Three varieties of horn bills are found in Dudhwa.

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Looking into the eyes of a Serpent Eagle

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A Rose ringed parakeet

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A seemingly successful peacock putting up its show.

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My favourite bird photo - The White throated kingfisher with a fish it had just caught .

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An emerald dove posing for us on the track.

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A Black hooded oriole

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Black necked stork taking off

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Returning to our accommodation the last time.

Finally after an amazing three days at Dudhwa, it was time to say good bye to the beautiful forest and its animals. Hope it stays protected for our future generation to come and appreciate the hard work of the people who have nurtured it and protect it.

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Last edited by Udai.Sharma : 17th July 2019 at 15:16.
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Old 18th July 2019, 07:26   #3
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Default re: Into the Wild – Road trip to Dudhwa National Park & Tiger Reserve

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 18th July 2019, 12:34   #4
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Default Re: Into the Wild – Road trip to Dudhwa National Park & Tiger Reserve

Beautiful picture...
What is the best time to visit the park and cost of elephant safari?
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Old 18th July 2019, 16:00   #5
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Originally Posted by Who_are_you View Post
Beautiful picture...
What is the best time to visit the park and cost of elephant safari?
Thank you for the appreciation. Best time actually depends on what you are interested in. For example if you wan't to go in fabourable weather as the safari vehicles are open, then February and March first half and November till December are good times. Animal spotting will be difficult in extreme cold.
Best chances of spotting tigers is in May when it is quite hot ans they frequent the water holes but it will be quite uncomfortable in the safari. The park closes in monsoon and opens in November.

It was about INR 100 per adult but since it starts from Sonaripur range which is about 30 minutes drive inside the forest, the safari vehicle has to be booked to take you inside and bring back. One can book it only for to and fro to Sonaripur or for the whole safari duration for continuing the vehicle safari after the elephant safari ends.

Last edited by GTO : 19th July 2019 at 16:54. Reason: Merging back to back posts
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Old 18th July 2019, 18:34   #6
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Default Re: Into the Wild – Road trip to Dudhwa National Park & Tiger Reserve

A very well narrated travelogue. Amazing photographs. I never knew that Dudhwa National Park is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 18th July 2019, 21:58   #7
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Default Re: Into the Wild – Road trip to Dudhwa National Park & Tiger Reserve

Udai, very nice pictures. Especially liked that you got the Emerald Dove also, as it is a very elusive and shy bird. Could the bird with the fish be a Common kingfisher?
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Old 19th July 2019, 09:51   #8
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Default Re: Into the Wild – Road trip to Dudhwa National Park & Tiger Reserve

Quote:
Originally Posted by Udai.Sharma View Post
Where - Dudhwa National Park, Lakhimpur Kheri , Uttar Pradesh
Dudhwa National Park is located at the Indo-Nepal border in the district of Lakhimpur Kheri. Together with Kishanpur and Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary it constitutes the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. It encompasses the swampy grasslands of the terai area and huge swathes of teak forests housing a large variety of flora and fauna. Apart from tigers and leopards, it also has the Indian rhino and wild elephants among the large mammals. A bird lover’s paradise, Dudhwa is famous for the migratory as well as native bird species as it is blessed with large wetlands.
Nice write up Udai. The narrative has been well complimented with fabulous photographs. Visiting forest reserves and national parks is always an awe inspiring experience as one gets to see the wild life in its pristine glory which is hard to find in the present era of rapid urbanization. Finding the tiger claw marks on the tree must have been thrilling and intriguing. The photographs of the rare birds are a treat to the eyes. Encounter with the leopard is the sight to behold as these big felines are quite rare to spot due to their solitary nature. The photograph of kingfisher with the catch held in its beak stands apart. Not to forget the Rhinos who too add to the fascination of the place. Thanks a lot for a beautiful virtual ride in the forest which gives quite an insight to the nature’s bounty.
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Old 19th July 2019, 11:37   #9
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Default Re: Into the Wild – Road trip to Dudhwa National Park & Tiger Reserve

Indeed sighting a leopard and that too in full day time is rare and you are lucky. Lovely narration thanks.
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Old 19th July 2019, 13:05   #10
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Default Re: Into the Wild – Road trip to Dudhwa National Park & Tiger Reserve

Nice travelogue Udai. Loved the pictures you've posted. You've also given a good deal of information that will help fellow BHPians plan their trips.

Like many of India's forests, Dudhwa appears to be home to a vast number of species. It's unfortunate that you didn't get to see a tiger, but still, the number of other animals you saw seems to have made you trip worthwhile. Leopards can be shy and elusive. Spotting one in the dense grassland is special. How well-camouflaged the animal is!

As you have mentioned, the rhino has rallied from the brink of extinction. I hope it survives so that our future generations are lucky enough to see them in their natural habitat.
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Old 19th July 2019, 15:26   #11
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Originally Posted by Prav_Panther View Post
A very well narrated travelogue. Amazing photographs. I never knew that Dudhwa National Park is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Prav_Panther. Dudhwa is still untouched to quite an extent unlike many other National parks and i hope it remains like that for times to come.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gatsby_great View Post
Udai, very nice pictures. Especially liked that you got the Emerald Dove also, as it is a very elusive and shy bird. Could the bird with the fish be a Common kingfisher?
Thank you gatsby_great. The emerald dove showed up on the track and quickly disappeared. And I stand corrected, that is a Common Kingfisher and not a White Throated Kingfisher. Thanks for pointing it out.

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Originally Posted by ssambyal1980 View Post
Nice write up Udai. The narrative has been well complimented with fabulous photographs. Visiting forest reserves and national parks is always an awe inspiring experience as one gets to....
Thank you ssambyal1980 for the appreciation. Visiting national parks is a highly rejuvenating experince as you rightly said and we must all contribute to preserve these lands for the future generations to appreciate and enjoy.
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Old 19th July 2019, 15:40   #12
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Default Re: Into the Wild – Road trip to Dudhwa National Park & Tiger Reserve

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Indeed sighting a leopard and that too in full day time is rare and you are lucky. Lovely narration thanks.
Thank you sudev. It is wonderful to read about your Suzuki Vitara

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
Nice travelogue Udai. Loved the pictures you've posted. You've also given a good deal of information that will help fellow BHPians plan their trips.

Like many of India's forests, Dudhwa appears to be home to a vast number of species. It's unfortunate that you didn't....
Thank you Aditya. It was a bit disappointing that we were not able to spot a tiger. However we had a tigress with two cubs walking in front of our vehicle during a morning safari and when we returned about 10 mins later their pug marks were over our Xenon's tyre marks ! I am happy that the dense undergrowth and dense teak forests allow the tigers to quickly camouflage themselves and the still shy nature of tigers in Dudhwa who are not exposed to the hordes like in the other parks. Spotting a leopard was an amazing experience as they are rarely seen in the daytime as you and sudev rightly said. It was nature's camouflage at its best

The healthy Rhino population bears testimony to the conservation efforts of the park administration and I hope they continue with their efforts in the future.
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