Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just jump on a train and go to see a real Bengal tiger in the wild? That is what Rudolph Furtado (RF) can do. He lives in Mumbai, India, which is on the east coast about half way up and he went to see a tiger in the famous Bandhavgarh National Park – a tiger reserve. The park is in the middle of India.
The Google map shows the journey as it would be by road. It gives a nice idea of the location and distance.
The train journey did take 17 hours, though! But it was air-conditioned. It was a pleasant journey, Rudolph says. Note to Rudolph: Have I calculated the duration of the journey correctly? It seemed a long one.
The train took RF to Jabalpur station. From there it was a four hour journey by road in an air-conditioned car to the tiger reserve.
This was a long journey overall but India is a big place. The distances are formidable. However, RF can jump on a train to go and see a wild tiger in the wild, which is something that no one in the West can do.
You are going to need air-conditioning in India as it is bloody hot! I’ve been there, done it, got the T-shirt. When you leave air-conditioned rooms to go outside it is like walking into a oven.
Although RF can get to a place where there are tigers roaming around in the forest fairly easily, the biggest obstacle is not getting there for RF but seeing a tiger. Bengal tigers in the wild are rare. There are only about 3,000 left in the world.
The Bandhavgarh National Park is about 800 square miles in size on my calculation and how many tigers are in it? Well there are 40 tigers in the park based on my research but it is difficult to count tigers. That tells you right away that you’ll be lucky to see one even if you go to the correct place in the park.
Unfortunately RF had to be content with being driven in safari jeeps around two of the four zones where there was much less of chance of seeing a tiger. Also there had been rain leaving muddy pools of water which removes the need for a tiger to go to a watering hole – a pond. Ponds are places where the jeeps park up and tourists wait for a glimpse of a tiger.
“we were allotted the common and less preferred Khitauli zone (Gate -3) and the Magdhi zone (Gate-2), where spotting a tiger was akin to winning on a total ‘OUTSIDER HORSE’….”
RF says the Tala Zone is the best. You enter it at Gate 1. Bad luck Rudolph. He says that:
My google research on the park indicated that 99% daily tiger sightings were only in the “Tala Zone (Gate 1)” – (comment: tourists should take heed of RF’s good advice)
However, RF did get to see:
“common chital, langurs, macaques and Nilgai’s. Among birds we spotted the peacocks, common jungle fowl, hornbills, the exotically coloured Hoopoe bird and the rare Indian Pitta, this bird having 9 different colours in its plumage….”
RF stayed in a jungle lodge, the Nature Heritage Resort in Tala Zone of Bandhavgarh National Park. It was air-conditioned (of course) and very comfortable. It appears to have been quite luxurious. RF ate well. Early starts at 04:30 were the order of the day, which was no problem for RF as he is an early riser.
You can read and see more by visiting Rudolph’s blog.