Flying back from Delhi in November 2014, I thumbed through the Jet Airways “in flight” magazine. Normally, a cursory 2 minutes later, the magazine is put away for the rest of the flight. Not this time. In the middle of the magazine, there was a 5-page article about “game viewing” in Nagarahole National Park, Karnataka.
Being interested in both wildlife and birdlife, I read the piece and became increasingly intrigued. Africa, not India is where I thought that you should go to see wild dog, elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, and leopard as well as many species of birds. This warranted further investigation and alerting my wife.
Last year we decided to return to India and were going to meet up with friends in Jaipur to explore Rajasthan. Why not take a “punt” and spend a bit of time in Southern India and visit Nagarahole, before our rendezvous? Charlotte, at Steppes, was hugely supportive of the idea and said that she knew just the place for us to stay near the Park.
We started our trip in Kerala and while we were staying on a coconut farm, heard the sad news that a tiger had injured two villagers and killed a third on the edge of Nagarahole National Park. Just where we were heading to.
The one disadvantage of the area is getting there. We took a 4-hour train trip from Cochi to Calicut, followed by a 5-hour drive to get to our lodge. The last 50 minutes were on the roughest of roads. We felt pretty creased on arrival and pitied the 25 Americans who arrived the next day on a bus.
But what a place Evolve Back Kabini turned out to be.
Plastic-free to such an extent that you sign in with a pencil rather than a biro. Set on the edge of the Kabini lake, the setting is stunning. The staff were delightful, nothing was too much trouble and the food was fabulous. Bird walks first thing, trips into the park, boat trips on the lake, evening lectures, star gazing, a superb infinity pool and yoga sessions, kept us busy. We wished that we had spent more time there as there is so much going on.
Nagarahole National Park is one of a number of parks that are contiguous with each other, creating an enormous protected wildlife area north of the Nilgiri Hills. Access to the Park is strictly controlled by the government. Only 1/10th is open to vehicles and only 9 vehicles are allowed in for 3 hours in the morning and evening. In Nagarahole, ‘anti poaching’ camps were numerous and there is a passion and pride amongst the guides and park staff that is encouraging of the future of the wildlife.
One evening was spent cruising on the lake and was where we saw a herd of elephants coming down to drink, numerous deer and monkeys, an osprey fishing and many other species of bird. It was thoroughly relaxing watching the sunset, after our bumpy arrival. Another evening we went on a safari into the Nagarhole National Park in a Landcruiser. There is a lot of young teak forest growing and we had 30 minutes watching a pack of wild dogs resting and bonding. Not another vehicle in sight. Although we did not see tiger, many sightings are reported on an almost daily basis.
The highlight for us, however, were the early morning bird walks from the lodge. Lakeshore, farm tracks, open fields and small stands of trees provide many different habitats. The sightings were numerous and expertly identified by the charming and hugely passionate lodge guides.
As well as the luxury of a comfortable lodge, to encounter such dedication to responsible and knowledgeable guiding, conservation and wildlife certainly indicate that there is hope for the future.
To find out more about Nagarahole National Park, get in touch with one of our travel experts today and start to plan your next adventure.