Think of safari and our minds immediately wander to the African plains, to thundering wildebeest, towering giraffes and frolicking zebra. Yet, tracking animals in the wild takes on a whole new meaning in India says Asia expert, Cherylle, after a recent trip spent exploring its wildlife rich national parks.
For me, a trip to Central India has always been the dream holiday. I am a huge nature lover and seeing a tiger in the wild had long been on my bucket list. I have been to India many times, spending significant time in the north, Rajastahan and the south, so a trip to visit the centre of the country would only add to my knowledge and passion for India.
On this trip I would be visiting four fantastic national parks across central India including Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Pench and Satpura. All parks in India are completely unique and offer totally different experiences, and I was excited to see what they had to offer.
My first jeep safari was in Bandhavgarh where the day would start at 5am, allowing time for a cup of tea and to be able to reach the gate in time for its opening at 5.45am. In the first two hours of our safari, the naturalist and tracker found fresh foot prints and detected warning calls from the sambar deer, leading us first to a sloth bear and then to a huge tigress! The experience was completely mind blowing, the adrenaline when searching for these mammals is simply unforgettable.
Throughout the course of various safaris, I spotted so many incredible animals, wild dogs, antelopes, leopards, reptiles, as well as fantastic birdlife to name but a few. I really enjoyed the thrill of the jeep safaris, as, in India, nothing is guaranteed. Searching for a tiger or a leopard is not as easy as I first thought, so a sighting in the wild is simply the best experience I have ever had. In India, no phones or walkie talkies are used, meaning good old fashioned searching is the only way to seek out the animals. Other highlights for me were canoeing in the rivers, beautiful morning and sunset walks, and learning about the behavioural patterns of the animals I had spotted. India is so unpredictable, you just don’t know what you are going to see around the next corner- nothing is obvious!
I stayed in a variety of accommodation, some tented, some boutique and some gorgeous colonial properties. The four national parks are all home to tribal villages, so to interact with people at local markets was a huge part of the trip.
I enjoyed my wildlife adventure in central India so much I am heading back for more in November. This was truly a trip of a lifetime that has left an everlasting impression on me!