It’s an irony that once a tiger nation where the presence of tigers literally disturbed common life in many regions, now has become a nation where tiger sightings even in deep forests is a matter of luck. There has been improvement in the no. of tigers since last couple of years in India but the animal still enjoys the celebrity status to be found that easily. They say you got to be lucky!
My love for wild and search for tiger has taken me to almost every national park of India. I have taken all kinds of pains from getting up at 4.30 am in real cold for morning safaris to going into the forests in the burning afternoon heat in places where the temperature goes beyond 40 degrees just for that one glimpse of a tiger. Infact I literally pray every time the safari starts for that divine help which makes one lucky enough to see tigers and that too in good background settings. For photography sake ofcourse! ????
This April, I made a trip to Tadoba National Park in Maharashtra after many recommendations. And, in return for all my prayers across national parks, God finally fulfilled my wish…
At Pench national park too, I had a tiger sighting from a distance of 15-20 ft but that incident was a rare stroke of luck. I would recommend Tadoba, it is better for people like us with lot of passion for wildlife but average or below tiger luck.
Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve
Tadoba national park in Maharashtra is not as popular as Corbett or Kanha is since the jungle mostly consists of bamboo and is not as beautiful comparatively. It does give max ROI given that the area is only 625 sq km and the density of tigers is good. While speaking to local naturalists, I got to know that the best sightings happened b/w 2009 – 2013 in Tadoba. Tigers were found besides the road near water tanks, specifically a tiger group by the name of circuit gang. Since Project Tiger’s arrival, only 20% of the jungle is now open to public and you only have 10-15 tigers available in there, of which you only see the ones who are used to jeeps, people and cameras. You have two popular gates to enter the park – Moharli and Kolara. We chose Moharli for all our safaris. Moharli also has better stay options.
Tigers of Tadoba
As interesting are the tiger stories, their fight for territories and their royal affairs so are their names. We heard tiger names like Babbar, Madhuri, Sonam, Bajrang, Matkasur, Maya, Choti Tara and Pandu – all given by locals.
And then we saw Maya. She is used to of jeeps and human presence since her childhood days.
She used to run after jeeps for play sake. This time it was because of a hunt, that she was easy to spot. Tigers tend to stay near their kill till they finish it even if it means being confined to a place for a couple of days altogether.
We also saw Matkasur, Maya’s recent mate along with Maya, on our last day. This is Matkasur caught in the camera peeing (Sorry for the invasion of privacy but the distance was too far, there were tall grass and bamboo disturbing the angle of view from all ends making clicking difficult)
The best scene was to see the Tigress Choti Tara and her two cubs in the early morning safari.
That morning too, while I was praying, there were some jeeps ahead of us and some behind. As we were about to reach the water source in her territory, there was a call from a spotted deer to our left. The guide asked the driver to stop. Heard a few roars as well but too feeble for people like us to make out anything. The guide said probably there is a male tiger, then he said mother is on the left and the cubs are on the right based on calls. We waited for a while and then our guide made some sounds like the cubs. He said, now the mother will cross the road to get to her children. And after some good 20 min the same happened.
We waited a little more for the tigress to come on to the road with her cubs but instead she reached the water source with her cubs from the jungle inside (inaccessible for jeeps). All Jeeps followed to the spot and this is what we saw.
Why is it almost guaranteed to see Tigers in Tadoba?
The catchment area is relatively small. The region is extremely hot and there are designated water sources which fall under the territory of specific tigers and tigresses. In summer season, tigers are most likely to be found in and around these water resources either to drink water or to have some cooling effect. Besides, some of the tigers are so used to human presence that they don’t mind making themselves available for sightings.
Not just tiger, we also came across many beautiful animals and birds in Tadoba – who though are very shy. Here are some more pictures to enjoy:
Tadoba National Park – Useful Information
How to reach Tadoba: Nearest Railhead is the mining town of Chandrapur which is 45 kms from Tadoba. If you wish to fly, you can fly to Nagpur and then drive down to Tadoba. Tadoba is approx. 135 kms from Nagpur.
Where to stay in Tadoba: Tadoba is still not as commercialized as may be Ranthambore or Kanha is and hence there are not too many stay options. The best chosen by us and recommended by many is MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation’s Resort) inside the forest near the lake. VIPs suites are really nice, big, clean and very comfortable. There is MTDC website to make online hotel bookings. However, a word of caution, there is no proper coordination between online and offline bookings. If you were to make any change or upgrade, you don’t get the same discount that you get online. You literally get no phone signal within the resort, leave aside the wish to get online.
How to book the safari: Most jungle safaris in Maharashtra can be booked online. You pay the park entrance fee, camera fee etc. The vehicle charge and the guide fee has to be paid separately once you reach. Your resort should most likely be in a position to arrange for the vehicle once you show your online booking receipt. Use this link to book your safari well in advance using your valid ID proof. Please note: You do need to present the same ID proof at the time of safari entrance.
P.S.: You will love this. You can hire camera and lenses for wildlife photography just outside the safari entrance gate in Moharli, courtesy Rent for Adventure, who have partnered with Bookmylens.com. I was impressed by this, they are not only in Tadoba but have started their rent option in Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Ranthambore etc which means good savings and less baggage.
For any other query, please get in touch or write your comments below.