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Old 11th November 2019, 12:38   #1
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Default My 1st visit to Kabini - Amidst the Wilderness

I had heard about Kabini since many years but always postponed visiting it thus far. Here on Team-BHP as well we have seen it covered extensively by many of the visitors. Finally this year in April we decided to visit Kabini. This is a travelogue of our Kabini visit.

Trip Planning:
Was looking for some place to visit for the May Day time period and felt this place would be ideal. We have a toddler who is 2.5 years old and so we have been avoiding the longer drives since he gets impatient sitting belted up in the Baby Seat. So Kabini seemed like a good place which was not too far away and we could also halt in between as needed given that from Bangalore one has to go via Mysore to reach Kabini.

The trip was planned from 27.Apr.2019 to 01.May.2019. We decided to stay a night in Srirangapatna at the Mayura River View and then proceed along to Kabini from there. The plan was to spend 2 nights in Kabini (28th and 29th) and then head back to Mysore on 30th Apr. Stay a night in Mysore and then head back to Bangalore on May Day. The breaks were added to ensure my son does not feel the drives to be too long.

Booking The Stay:
Initially I went thru some online reviews and booked Red Earth at Kabini for a night and also booked another night at Kabini Lake View Resort. Finally after reading about the exclusive access that Govt. Of Karnataka owned Jungle Lodges has on the Jeep Safari here on Team-BHP, I cancelled my Red Earth booking and booked a night at the Jungle Lodges facility in Kabini, The Kabini River Lodge. The pricing for the Kabini is on the higher side and it costed Rs.21,000 approx. per couple for a night. My son was not charged additional as he is below 5 years of age. I have to admit that this is possibly the highest I have paid for a single night stay anywhere in India and so was hoping it would be worth it. To keep budgets under control, the second night at Kabini was booked at the Kabini Lake View Resort which worked out at around Rs.7,000.

What's Included: The charges for the Kabini River Lodge included stay in a room in the East Bungalow, Food which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner and also the charges for 1 Boat Safari and 1 Jeep Safari.

My Photography Experience:
Thought I will cover this aspect as well more as a disclaimer, I am not much of a photographer and have remained a wanna-be photographer for a long time now. I do not own a D-SLR but a Mirrorless Camera – the Panasonic Lumix GX85. I have 3 lenses at my disposal, the 12-32mm Stock Lens, a 45-175mm Zoom lens and a 25 mm F1.7 Prime lens. The 45-175mm Zoom ( equivalent to 90-350mm in 35mm format) I felt should help me take some wildlife photography shots though I know that this has its own limitations.

The advantage though was that the camera itself comes with 5 axis In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) and the lens too has its own IS which when combined provides an excellent still shot which Panasonic calls the Dual-IS Mode. So, all the photos that I would share as part my post would be from the configuration that I called out here. There are of course some pictures that were taken using my Mobile Phone - these do have the watermark on them to indicate that the picture was shot on Mobile.

And the Trip Starts - Day 01: Bengaluru to Mayura River View, Srirangapatna

We started lazily in the afternoon on Saturday. The destination was to reach Mayura River View which is a nice resort located on the banks of the river Cauvery with access the river bank from within the resort. We had gone here once already before but we had planned to visit again as we enjoyed the calm atmosphere a lot. On the way to the Resort we stopped at a Highway Restaurant called "Ruchi Mane" and finished Lunch there. Post lunch we reached the Mayura River View Resort close to 4 PM.

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Access to the River Bank from within the Resort

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Coracle Rides can be taken from within the Resort itself

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View of the River Cauvery - the sound of the water flowing is peaceful and serene

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Landscaping & Greenery at the Resort

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Some Birds at the Resort

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More Landscaping

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Lush Green Lawns

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My Son running about on the Lawns

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Restaurant with View of the River

The restaurant and its placement is a highlight of the Resort. They have built this at a height with an excellent view of the river. One can be seated with a good view of the river and have food seeing the river flowing and also hearing the sound of the flowing stream.

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Walkway from the Restaurant

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Lighting at the Resort in the Night

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Addl. View: Lighting at the Resort in the Night

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Restaurant with Lantern Type of Lighting

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Close Up of the Lights

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Restaurant Entry Sign

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Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangapatna Consecrated in 984 AD

Just 2 kms away from the Resort is the famous Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. This temple is part of the "Pancharanga Kshetrams" and is the first one of the five also called as the "Adi Ranga". The name of Srirangapatna for the town comes from this temple. We decided to visit the temple in the evening. There was not much crowd and we had a good visit to the temple.

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Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangapatna - Addl. View

After returning back to the resort we had dinner at resort and ended the day with a walk nearby.

Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 19:26. Reason: Picture spacing.
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Old 11th November 2019, 19:04   #2
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Day 02: Srirangapatna to Kabini River Lodge, Kabini

Day 2 morning, we had breakfast at the Resort. I must add that the food is about average but the ambience of having food in the restaurant close by to the river is excellent. We spent more time in the resort and checked out at around 11 AM and started our journey towards Kabini.

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Srirangapatna to Kabini

The journey from Srirangapatna to Kabini is a short one of about 100 kms approximately. The roads have been improved greatly now but still the journey takes about 2 hours. Some key things to keep in mind are that the Petrol Bunks and ATMs dry up as you move away towards Kabini. I would recommend people to withdraw cash at H.D.Kote (Heggadadevana kote) as beyond that point I did not notice any more ATMs. H.D.Kote is about 45 mins away from Kabini. The cellular connectivity for Credit Card swipes at Kabini is a hit or miss and I would advise people to carry cash as needed.

While we had planned on reaching Kabini early, given the laziness of the vacation atmosphere we got delayed and reached about on time at around 1-45 PM.

Kabini River Lodge

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Entrance Gate to the Kabini River Lodge

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Reception Area

At the reception we were given an itinerary of the plan for the 1 Night Stay. They told us that Lunch was ready and we could check into the room and then head for Lunch. Post lunch we had the option of choosing either the Jeep Safari or the Boat Safari. We decided to do the Boat Safari in the afternoon and planned to do the Jeep Safari on the next day morning.

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Pictures on Display at Reception Area

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Lunch Area

By the time we went for Lunch, people had already started. The spread was about average - nothing too exotic. But the quality of the items felt good.

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Villa Type Accomodation

On the way back from Lunch, we noticed the different types of accommodations available at the Kabini River Lodge.

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Villa Type Accomodation - Addl. View

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Entrance to the East Bungalow

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East Bungalow - Row of Rooms

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East Bungalow - Additional View

Finally we reached our accommodation, the Room in the East Bungalow. The East Bungalow has multiple rooms one next to another. There is lush greenery all around within the River Lodge and the overall ambiance is extremely calm, serene and beautiful. The facility is definitely not in any glossy condition but given the age of the property it seems to have been well maintained. It provides a feeling of the vintage British Colonial Era and most of these buildings appear to be built long ago.

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Safari Bus Parked near the Bungalow

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Way to the Boat Safari

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Boat Safari - Starting Point

Next we boarded the boat onto the Boat Safari! Let the Safari start...

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Bird 01

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Bird 02

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Bird 03

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Bird 04

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Bird 05

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Bird 06

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Bird 07

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Bird 08

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Bird 09

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Bird 10

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Bird 11

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Bird 12

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Bird 13

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Bird 14

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Bird 15

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Bird 16

Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 19:26. Reason: Picture spacing.
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Old 11th November 2019, 23:13   #3
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Day 02 Continued: Ford Endeavour 4x4 Vehicles in Slush

In the midst of the Boat Safari while we were enjoying seeing the different types of birds, there was action going on in the river bank. There were two Ford Endevors stuck in slush and people were trying to get them out. I guess when a BHPian is around this type of action needs to be present. Here are some pictures of the vehicles being pulled out. It looks like they got a Tractor to do the rescue work and the Tractor got trapped in the slush as well.

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Not sure how it ended but we moved on further on our River Safari. With that short automobile break, let us now get back to wildlife...

The Elephants

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Old 12th November 2019, 11:41   #4
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Day 02 Continued - The Croc

Now that we had crossed the herd of Elephants we now came across the lone Crocodile. Must appreciate the alertness and the sharp eye of the boatman who saw the Croc and ensured all of us saw it.

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More Elephants

After the Croc sighting, we were met with more and more Elephants. The area seems to have a huge elephant population for sure.

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The Boat Safari was a good 3 hour long one and very satisfying. We returned back the room hapyy with the whole experience. It would be good to carry a torch for the night since the lighting is dim and the whole area is taken over by the sounds of the insects in the forest. The ambiance of staying in he wilderness is just amazing

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East Bungalow at Night

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The Viceroy Bungalow

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Dimly Lit walkway

We had dinner and called it a day. The Boat Safari had turned out to be a really enjoyable one.

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Old 12th November 2019, 12:13   #5
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Day 03 - Jeep Safari

Day 03 was the time for the famed Jeep Safari. All other resorts in the area have access to only the Bus or the Canter based Safari and this Jeep Safari is exclusive to Jungle Lodges and Resorts.

The Lodge folks gave a wake up call also at around 5-15 AM and asked us to be near the Dining area around 5-45 AM. They had hot tea and some snacks available early in the morning itself since this was going to be another 3 hour affair. They traversed various paths covered in the thick jungle areas. Some of the terrain looked like the Canter or Bus cannot traverse thru so the places that the Jeep Safari can take you the Bus Safari cannot.

Also, the Forest Officials accompanying us in the Jeep were extremely alert and really work hard to ensure that there are sightings provided to the people. They are constantly on walkie-talkie conversing with members of the other Jeep and sharing what is the sightings that have happened to people on the other Jeep. In case information of any interesting animal is heard they immediately change route and go near the spot where the sighting has happened.

Despite all efforts, we did not come across any of the big cats but we did see a lot of animals and some pug marks as well. Photologue of the same follows below:

The Gang of Vultures

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An Enthusiastic Wild Monkey

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The Indian Roller - State Bird of Karnataka

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Indian Roller

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Indian Roller

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The Pugmark

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Back at the Bungalow

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Old 12th November 2019, 12:36   #6
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Day 04 - The Canter Safari, and Conclusion

After the Jeep Safari, we rested a while at the River Lodge and then starting driving towards the Kabini LakeView Resort. This resort has no amenities to justify the price charged but they are charging what they are as it is the nearest location to the point from where the Canter/Bus Safari starts. We halted here and in the evening there were heavy rains. So we knew there would be lot of slush in the morning. Also there was no advance booking at all for the Bus Safari and we were asked to be in the queue next morning by 5-00 AM.

Managed to get the ticket by standing in the queue and boarded the bus. The Bus experience is no where near to the Jeep experience. One is limited to seeing only on one side of the window. Moreover while boarding the bus it was more like a running race with everyone trying to grab hold of the window seat.

Here are the captures from the last day and Round two of the Safari - this time from the Bus:

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The Wild Boars

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Jungle Lodges Bus Stuck in Slush

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The Forest Tracks had become slushy due to rains

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There had been a Tiger and her cubs sighting at this place the previous Day

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Safari Booking Office in Kabini

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Packed Up and Starting Back!

Conclusion:

It was a very enjoyable trip. Although there was slight disappointment that we did not see any of the big cats - the overall experience of Kabini is one that we will remember for a long time to come. We started from Kabini and headed to Mysore, stayed for a night as planned and then returned to Bangalore. I would recommend a trip to Kabini to whoever is thinking about it. Do ensure you book at the Kabini River Lodge since the experience of the Jeep and Boat Safaris that they offer is unmatched in experience

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Old 12th November 2019, 19:43   #7
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Note from Support: Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 13th November 2019, 08:43   #8
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Lovely little trip. Thanks for sharing. Kabini has been on my to-do list for long but somehow didn't manage it yet. The prices of Jungle lodges are exorbitant across karnataka. Even our very own Bannerghata national park jungle lodge cost me around 16k for a cottage(twin occupancy) way back in 2011. 21k for Kabini sounds outrageous

Are there any other resorts around which can help enjoy the place similarly without being so exorbitant? How were the road conditions? Guess you did it on the City? Any issues with low GC?

Cat spotting is pure luck. In my 2 visits to Bandipur/Madhumalai , I was lucky to spot a cat only once & the feeling was amazing to see them in natural habitat. Way better than seeing them in closed confines of Bannerghata national park. Marvelous creatures

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Old 13th November 2019, 11:53   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsrivatsa View Post
The pricing for the Kabini is on the higher side and it costed Rs.21,000 approx. per couple for a night.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoumenD View Post
Even our very own Bannerghata national park jungle lodge cost me around 16k for a cottage(twin occupancy) way back in 2011.
WOW! Those are insane rates! And I believe these places are full almost every weekend? Who says the economy is in trouble?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoumenD View Post
Are there any other resorts around which can help enjoy the place similarly without being so exorbitant?
Always possible. And always a trade-off between time and money. If one has the time, head there on a weekday, book a safari directly by standing in line at the forest department booking counter. Not sure of the safari costs, but will be waaay cheaper than what the resorts charge you. Sometimes jeeps are available on weekdays for non-resort visitors, otherwise it's the canter for direct booking.

For stay, if one has their own transport, then there are sure to be several small lodges in the towns around Kabini within 10-20km.

It's the same with any tiger reserve really. Not so long ago, when I had more time than money, used to take a bus to reach Bandhavgarh from Jabalpur, just show up without any reservation or booking, get a safari ticket and hire a gypsy and driver and go on safaris. Getting accommodation was also not an issue, used to ask the gypsy drivers and forest guards to point me to local hotels and lodges. The fancy resorts take care of everything and you can book in advance, but overcharge a ton.

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Old 13th November 2019, 21:42   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoumenD
21k for Kabini sounds outrageous
Are there any other resorts around which can help enjoy the place similarly without being so exorbitant?
Kabini has been very expensive since a long time. I remember I had checked almost 7-8 years back and still 16K for a couple even then. The next option close by is the Kabini LakeView Resort which costs approx. 7K.


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How were the road conditions? Guess you did it on the City? Any issues with low GC?
Road Conditions are good. Although it does become single track with two-way traffic. I have so far not faced any issue with respect to GC on the 4th Gen City so far in my ownership itself - I am running on the upsized 195/60R15 Michelin tyres since Day 1.


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For stay, if one has their own transport, then there are sure to be several small lodges in the towns around Kabini within 10-20km.
Not aware of much options close by but beyond 20 kms (approx 25 kms away), HD Kote is another rural town which is about 45 mins drive from Kabini and has some cheaper options in the range of 4K to 5.5K. Also I had seen this article long time back which had listed an approach to explore Kabini while not spending much: URL

However, it looks like the folks at JLR realized the above approach and completely cancelled the Jeep Safari for people on day visit - so if one does not stay in an expensive resort then the only option now is the Mini Bus or the Canter:

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While this blog got very popular number of people asking for this soared and it was not liked by the higher ups and jeep safari on a day visit has been cancelled since beginning of 2016
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Old 14th November 2019, 13:20   #11
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Default Re: My 1st visit to Kabini - Amidst the Wilderness

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However, it looks like the folks at JLR realized the above approach and completely cancelled the Jeep Safari for people on day visit - so if one does not stay in an expensive resort then the only option now is the Mini Bus or the Canter:
That is unfortunate. But that's the way things are becoming.The government wants only 'high value' tourists in wildlife zones these days.

On one hand, it does help restrict the number of people who will visit a tiger reserve. But the sad part is a lot of the locals will not get a chance to see what's right in their backyard. And of course the backpacker/independent/budget/student traveller is totally out of the wildlife equation these days. Mainly for high-end family/guided photography tours and travellers. Pity.
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Old 16th November 2019, 19:48   #12
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Default Re: My 1st visit to Kabini - Amidst the Wilderness

Ah one more member falls into the Kabini trap!! Nice travelogue, vsrivatsa.

You are indeed lucky to have spotted both the Red Headed Vultures and Indian Vultures together. I have not seen them very often out there. It is also really wonderful that the elephants are making a comeback in the Kabini/Bandipur/Wayanad region. The big herds have been absent for many years now, but this year I have seen huge herds numbering 30 or more.
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Old 21st November 2019, 15:21   #13
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Ah one more member falls into the Kabini trap!! Nice travelogue, vsrivatsa.

You are indeed lucky to have spotted both the Red Headed Vultures and Indian Vultures together. I have not seen them very often out there.
Thanks! In fact, I changed my booking from Red Earth to JLR Kabini River Lodge based on the advice I received on your Kabini thread here: > (Kabini never disappoints! Four safaris, seven sightings)
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Old 21st November 2019, 19:48   #14
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Default Re: My 1st visit to Kabini - Amidst the Wilderness

Very nice travelogue.
I was in Kabini from 3rd to 5th May - my first visit there.

The problem with Kabini is that the safaris get a bit intense. The morning one takes almost 4 hours and the evening one 3 hours. The sum and substance is that one hardly gets time to relax in the resort. Voluntarily skipping safari would be a heart wrenching emotion given the amount one had already paid.

One the positive side, we did finally get to see the elusive tiger and a leopard grandly sitting on a tree. This is after umpteen number of visits over the last decade.
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Old 22nd November 2019, 13:31   #15
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The morning one takes almost 4 hours and the evening one 3 hours. The sum and substance is that one hardly gets time to relax in the resort. Voluntarily skipping safari would be a heart wrenching emotion given the amount one had already paid.

One the positive side, we did finally get to see the elusive tiger and a leopard grandly sitting on a tree. This is after umpteen number of visits over the last decade.
Agree with your thoughts on the duration of the Safari but I guess Kabini provides the most sightings mainly due to that. After check-out we put all our luggage in the car and roamed around in the resort for an additional hour or so as we also felt we had not spent much time in the resort itself.

Good to hear that you managed to see some of the big cats
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