Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve once used to be hunting Reserve for Maharajas of Kingdom of Mysore. Now the entire region is spread across 3 states, Bandipur National Park in Karnataka, Madumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu and Wayanad National Park in Kerala. All National parks together Reserve the endangered species and flora of Nilgiri Biosphere. During my trip to Karnataka, I visited the Bandipur National Park and paid an evening visit to the Madumalai National Park.
Bandipur National Park is very close to Mysore (80 km approx) and you take about 3-4 hours to reach. It also comes on your way to one of the major tourist destinations, Ooty in Tamil Nadu. The road is open from morning to early evening to ensure that wildlife doesn't get affected by moving vehicles. However, speeding of vehicle and sudden movement of animals on the road lead to wildlife fatalities.
|Bandipur National Park, Karnataka|
The park has been established as a Tiger Reserve under the Project Tiger initiative by the Karnataka Government. Bandipur National Park aka Bandipur Tiger Reserve has managed to save tigers from the extinction and if you are lucky enough, you will be able to spot them in their natural habitant during of the jeep / bus safaris.
Similar to any other national park across India, Bandipur National Park also conducts the safaris in the morning and also in the evening. One can either opt for Jeep safari (a little expensive) or go with the economical safari in the bus. These safaris are managed by the forest department in a very professional manner. We opted for the morning safari in the Jeep, hoping to get atleast one Tiger sighting.
Tiger sighting in the park is not very rare and the probability is around 70%. The driver of our Jeep shared that they have one of the oldest Tiger in the park who is mostly seen by the tourist and he has become one of the friendly ones after getting so much of attention. The Jeep drives across national Park to find not just the tiger, but also sloth bear, deer, cheetahs and other wildlife.
Our first encounter in the safari was with Sloth Bear, however, he was a quick one to ignore being spotted and I managed to get blur glimpse of him.
Unlike any other safaris, you will find plenty of Deer sighting in the park.
|Sloth Bear running away and I managed to get blurry glimpse of him|
|Bunch of deers|
We also found one Mongoose running across the forest, however, clicking his picture was difficult as he was constantly moving.
|I shall walk on my own path - Deer|
We waited near the pond in the hopes of thirsty Tiger, still no trace. We managed to see his footprints leading away, only to find endless forest and the stillness of the morning.
|Mangoose running away from being photographed|
Karnataka is also known for their Elephants and we came across a family heading inside the forest.
|Waiting near the pond for thirsty Tiger|
There are also many species of birds in the forest, though, it becomes difficult to spot them or even capture on camera with a basic zoom lens. My camera only managed to capture Eagle resting on the branch of the tree.
|Daddy and Mommy Elephant walking with their two baby Elephants|
|Managed to get glimpse of Eagle|
The park is also the residence of India's national bird, Peacock. You will find them roaming around and if you are lucky, you might see their dance during monsoon season.
|Peacock heading to wild|
Overall, the entire experience in Jeep Safari was exciting and at times boring when you don't see anything. The weather was chilly and sitting in an open Jeep makes is colder.
Bandipur National Park two categories of accommodation, either expensive or very basic. Most of the resorts are super luxurious one cost approximately 15-21,000 per night including all meals. The basic accommodation will cost around 5000 per night. I managed to find something in between and yet expensive, Country Club Bandipur. Country Club Hotels are spread across India and also in international locations. The membership of Country Club can avail to stay in their hotel against the inventory they get per year. For those who are not members, like me, have to look for their deal online. Some of the rooms of Country Club Bandipur are sold online at approximately 7000 per night including breakfast.
The resort is well located near the park. It is a huge property with facilities like swimming pool, game zone, safari booking and so on. The staff is very friendly and help you with your requirement. Considering the location of the hotel, Country Club provides decent services and cleanliness. During the night, you will see deer roaming around the property or next to your way towards the room. The only down point of the hotel is network. There is no network in the hotel or even in some part of the park. On my first day, hotel wifi was not working making it a completely offline trip to nature. Food in the resort is also good quality with hygiene maintained. Breakfast is not lavish one, but it does offer 2-3 dishes with options like toast and cereal.
|Restaurant inside Country Club Bandipur|
There is no stand alone restaurant in the Bandipur National Park. Almost all the hotels offer stay with all the meals, so you don't have to drive all the way to the outskirt of the park to find food. The explicit location and high standard maintained by the Karnataka Forest Department, you stay in the Bandipur National Park will bring closer to the nature with luxury of the beautiful resorts. If you are choosy, I strongly advise you to carry snacks and ready to eat food packets.
2 nights stay at Bandipur National Park will give you a good option to explore the place well.
Category: Wildlife and Photography
Location: Bandipur National Park is 80 km away from Mysore and 230 km from Bangalore (closest airport). You can also enter from Tamil Nadu, however, Mysore makes much more sense and less time consuming.
Time: It is only 2-3 hours away from Mysore. One can also visit Bandipur National Park from Coorg, however, the road is quite long, approximately 4-5 hour journey. 1-2 day stay in the national park is enough.
Carry: For morning safaris in monsoon and winter season can be cold, hence, carry jacket and cap. For afternoon safaris, cap and glares will be enough. Also, be ready with your camera as you will see wildlife at any point of time!
Few more pictures:
|Squirrel heading up and up|
|Elephant with her babay Elephant leading the way|
|Early morning sun in the forest|