21/22 May 2015
It was actually Raksha who came up with an idea that we go to Kabini on our return from Ooty. And I am glad that I went along with her because if not for her, I would not have made an effort to visit the place on my own.
The backwaters of the Kabini reservoir are be very popular for wildlife in summer. Raksha had done her research well and she had insisted that we book our stay in Kabini Jungle Lodges (www.junglelodges.com/kabini-river-lodge/). This resort is located on the southern fringes of the Nagarahole National Park (Rajiv Gandhi National Park) , this was a former hunting lodge of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore
Taking an early morning bus from Ooty, we reached Mysore by noon. From Mysore, we booked a cab and reached Kabini by 1.30 PM. May being peak summer time in India, it was scorching hot and entire drive from Mysore to the Jungle Lodges, Raksha and I kept cursing the hot weather. But as soon as we reached the Jungle Lodges, we felt the change in weather. The lush green trees surrounding the estate brought down the temperature considerably.
The Jungle Lodges, a huge estate set very close to the banks of the River Kabini is a beautiful place. It reminded me of so many riverside/lakeside cottage settings that I had read only in novels so far. It was exactly like what I had imagined a riverside cottage would look like!!
The view of the riverside from our cottage was so calm and serene. It was tempting to go and settle down in the hammock with a book.But lunch and the safari beckoned us !!
As we had not had a good breakfast, we were extremely hungry and set out for the Golghar for lunch. The spread of the food from Appetizers, Main Course and Deserts really surprised me. Delicious food spread and excellent hospitality by the staff impressed me a lot and I really loved the place. (It had nothing to do with the fact that Raksha and I had a huge fight with the hotel staff, we checked out in morning at Ooty. More on that later..:))
After lunch, we got back to our cottage for a catnap before we set out for the jungle safari in late afternoon.We lost track of time but then we still managed to reach Golghar and thankfully the Safari had not left us behind!! Raksha was pretty insistent that we seat in the front to get the best view for spotting and ‘snapping’ .
Finally after a lot of confusion on who seats where and in which jeep, we all started out on the safari!!.I was 100% sure that we would spot deers, Elephants and Peacocks. While, Raksha was very confident that we would see a leopard or a tiger. Unfortunately, my luck overpowered Raksha’s confidence and we neither spotted a leopard nor a tiger. Sorry, Raksha 😉
But we did end up seeing a few birds, Deer flocks , Elephants, Dancing peacocks. There were couple of wild dogs behind the bushes who had hunted down a deer and were feeding on it. It was well behind the bushes so , I was unable to click a good snap of it.
Though the guide tried very hard to show us some wild animals in their natural habitat, we could not spot any tiger. Instead, as a compensation, the guide gave us an experience that we will never forget. But this one, I will let Raksha explain in her Solopassport. (Yes Raksha, I still believe it was the guide who gifted that experience 😉). Hint: Look at the pic of the Elephant taking a mudbath and lets hear your guesses on this? Check out the details @ Solopassport here.
Disappointed with not being able to see a tiger, we all set out back to the resort hoping that we would have a better luck tomorrow morning. After some coffee and hot Pakoda’s (Veggies covered in spiced batter and deep fried in oil), Raksha and I set out for some photography sessions by the lake.
After some posing and clicking, we freshened up and sat at the Maharaja Cottage porch . We caught up on each other’s life happenings and planned future trips. Since we were well fed throughout the day, we were not too hungry for dinner. 😀 .We just had some deserts and went back to our cottage to wind up for the day. Because of the hectic day we went out like light !!
We were given an early morning wake up call at 5.30 AM!!. Since we both are late risers, we cursed the lodge staff for some time first. But then reminding ourselves , that we hoped to see the tiger today at least, we quickly freshened up to get our early morning coffee. The resort also offered an option of a coracle ride safari. Since we were quite persistent to catch a tiger on this morning safari, we negotiated with the staff to switch, who thankfully obliged. 🙂
This time we changed our strategy and decided to go back of the jeep safari as it would give a more 360 degree view for spotting animals. We were determined that we WOULD spot one tiger today. Unfortunately, we were not lucky this time as well. The guide who was with us today mentioned that the probability of seeing animals was higher in the evenings than in the mornings. We were disheartened at the expectations set before hand but still kept our fingers crossed.
By this time, we were fed up of spotting only deers and elephants, It seemed to me as normal as Bangalore traffic. You can’t miss it! Looking at all our downcast faces, the guide played a trick on us. While we were getting back to the resort, the guide said , he ‘saw’ a sloth bear cross the road and pressed the driver to go closer. Both the driver and the guide babbled and had a deep discussion how they saw a huge sloth bear and how swiftly it leaped across. I was very amused sensing it was a gimmick and kept my quiet. Did not want to disappoint the other co-passengers .. 😉
Over hot sumptuous breakfast, we cheered ourselves with an age old saying , “There is always a next time!!”. After breakfast, we went back to our cottage one final time to get ready and leave this wilderness . We were saddened that our holiday was coming to an end and promised to be back here once more..
Around half past 11, we checked out and set out to Mysore to catch our train to Bangalore.Since we were relying on public or private transport to Kabini, we ended up taking a quite roundabout and slightly more expensive route to reach Kabini. There are no buses from Bangalore (220 kms) / Mysore (95 kms) to Kabini Lodges directly. So it is advisable that you either hire a cab or my personal choice is drive down on your own from Bangalore or Mysore.