Six months ago, “Weekend getaways from Hyderabad” urged us to visit Tadoba, a wonderful place to see wildlife and particularly tigers in the wild. We still approached the trip with little faith since everything we had heard so far suggested long waits and loads of luck to be able to see wild animals. The friend I went with is also a bit of nature freak and in fifteen trips to Indian nature reserves had only notched up two tiger viewings.
What we saw in Tadoba was beyond our wildest imaginations. My memories tend to playback in glorious technicolour often glossing over the patchy bits but for these, I am sure they are right. For fifteen minutes in the late evening, we followed a tigress in plain sight in an open gypsy. At times, she was as close as five-six feet from us and we could hardly believe the nonchalance with which she strode towards us. She was in no hurry, methodically smelling each tree and then marking her scent always ensuring beforehand that she wasn’t intruding on other tiger terriroty. Her manner did not suggest fear of her followers, in fact it felt like she couldnt really be bothered by the intruders.This was the same tigress we had caught basking in the waterhole in the mid morning trying to avoid the scorching Indian summer. This was the same tigress who in an attempt to hunt an Indian gaur gave us a set of photographs that could probably make a dozen nature magazines.
In two and a half days in Tadoba, we had no less than eight tiger viewings of four different tigers. We also saw wild dogs, bears, herds of gaur, wild boars, monkeys galore, atleast five different kinds of deer and several species of birds. The birds ranged from jet black jungle crows to breasted and black shoulder hawks, owls and pretty kingfishers and paradise birds. The deer were aplenty with sambhar, spotted deer, barking deer, chaursingha (antelope), neelgaai (different kind of antelope).
We were ofcourse lucky but the fact that we had pretty much three guides with us made a huge difference. The tracking, spotting and hustling abilities of the guys with us was invaluable for the trip. I am sure that I will visit Tadoba again and when I do, it will be with the same people.
PS: I’m far from a wildlife expert so I might have misquoted or misspelled some of the animals.
PPS: If you are interested in visiting tadoba, drop me a line and I can put you in touch with the people who made it possible for us. There isnt much information about Tadoba available and the infrastructure is stunningly inadequate (deliberate perhaps?) for such a brilliant place.