Tadoba | Wildlife At It’s Best

It all began as just a board-game night at our home with a couple of close friends until we began discussing tigers. We had never seen a tiger in the wild! So we put out a story on our Instagram account asking for recommendations from friends and followers to suggest the best place to spot tigers. Apart from Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore and Pench a couple of people also suggested Tadoba. We hadn’t heard about Tadoba like the way we had about the other options but turned out that was exactly what we were looking for. It no longer remained as “just another game night” 🙂

 

We were looking a place with better accessibility from Bangalore: a direct flight from Bangalore and lesser travel time. We didn’t want to spend more time in travel but instead use that time to see more wildlife instead. Agree? Tadoba was also special because it was slightly off beat compared to Ranthambore and the other tiger reserves.

So we zeroed in on Tadoba! So thank you for suggesting this amazing place. With each tiger sighting, we felt so much more thankful for you guys 🙂

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There’s something special about a planning a holiday in the wild. Before you go any further, ponder about whether you’d be okay with your hair getting completely messed up and brown (thanks to the dust kick-up) after a heart-racing safari in the jungle while tracking animals. It’s NOT for you if you prefer waking up late in a swanky Bnb with hot breakfast laid out for you. It IS for you if you wouldn’t mind nibbling into a sandwich while sitting in your safari vehicle only to be interrupted by the alarm call of a Sambar deer signaling the presence of a Wild Cat in the vicinity or trotting through the rough terrains of the jungle or waiting patiently in your vehicle for possibly an hour or more in waiting for a sighting  Now that’s thrill ain’t it?

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From the three days that we spent in Tadoba, here’s what our schedule looked like:

Wake up at 5.30 am. Leave for Safari at 6 am sharp. Enter the National Park in the biting cold at 6.30 am. Get back from a very exciting morning safari by 11 am. Dust yourself, shower, rest, eat lunch and head off for our second safari of the day by 2.00 PM. Return by 6 pm for some nice pampering by the Glamping staff to Hot pakodas and chai. Play a few games of cards, chill and stare at the starry night after a scrumptious meal and hit the bed by 11 PM. “Ctrl +C” and “Ctrl +V”  for the next 3 days for 6 safaris. Pure Bliss!

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If you wish to go to Tadoba for a similar holiday, here’s how you plan it.

Step 1: When To Visit

Decide the season during which you’d want to plan. Our guide recommended that the summers are especially the best time to spot tigers since the blazing heat (45+ degree Celsius) brings these majestic Tigers out into the open since they like cooling off near water bodies within the national park which makes it easy to spot them. There is no chase, no alarm calls. Just spotting them while they chill. Quite straightforward 🙂

Even though during winters it is a lot harder to have a sighting when they are huddled deep inside the jungle, it’s pretty exciting to track them down, study pug marks with alarm calls and spot them finally when they show themselves out which is what happened with us! Such an absolute rush of excitement this gives!

The park is closed from June to September due to the monsoons .  You can plan a trip in the remaining 8 months 🙂

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Step 2: Getting The Permit

The forest which is open to the public is divided into Core and buffer zones. The core is where the most talked about tigers and other wild animals dwell. The buffer zone is the area closer to the village. You could book a safari in the buffer zone even a day or two in advance but to go on a safari in the core zones, you must pre-book to get permits. Here’s a good news. It’s seamless and so beautifully organized. You can select any national park in Maharashtra and book your safari tickets online through this website. Each safari ticket is close to Rs 1300 including Rs 50 for the permit for a camera with a lens bigger than 250 mm. We obviously selected Tadoba and booked our safari 3 months in advance. While booking this, you could choose which gate you’d want to enter from. Very simple and hassle-free. Read on…

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Spot the tiger!

Step 3: Deciding Gate of Entry

There are 5 gates to enter into the core zone. We entered through the “Kolara Gate“. This gate has lesser number of vehicles allowed per safari which makes it less crowded. Also, the territory of the famous Tigress, Maya is accessible from the Kolara gate. Mohurli gate is the most popular and more commercial which is about an hour’s drive from Kolara gate. There are more stay options in Mohurli compared to Kolara but we would strongly suggest Kolara gate as it has a lot of tigers whose territory belongs there. Once inside the core zone, a vehicle from one zone can access the reserve of another zone. Usually, it makes the most sense to stay near the gate you’d booked.. which bring us to the next point.

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The Famous Tigress, Maya

Step 4: Book your stay

We stayed at this amazing place called Maya Grasswalk. It’s basically 4 tents in a place very very close to Kolara gate. These tents are luxurious with the right amount. It’s comfortable and yet minimalistic. It’s the most Eco-friendly stay you can possibly get around Tadoba and it gives you the best feeling of being in the forest. We would strongly recommend these camps/glamps. It was exactly what was needed to complete the wildlife experience. Also, you must stay here for the food they prepare for you. It’s so tasty that we looked forward to coming and savor the delicious meals prepared specially for us by the staff! 🙂

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Step 5: Guide and Safari

If you need to go on a safari, you need a permit, a local guide and a safari vehicle (Gypsy). If you have the permit, your resort/hotel usually arranges for the guide and safari vehicle. It’s usually on rotation for every safari. You get a new guide, new gypsy with a driver. For every Safari we paid Rs 2,200 for the vehicle and Rs 350 for the guide. The lovely people at Maya grasswalk know all the guides and suggested the best person guide us into the forest. The guide determines how well your safari goes as it involves the application of skill and vigilance which makes it crucial. We recommend Amar. He knew every detail about the Kolara zone of the forest.  He was adept at reading tiger trails and could accurately predict its path. We cannot begin telling you how amazing Amar actually was and each time we had a sighting, he would later reason it out with us about how he actually went about tracking a tiger. Quite a genius this man is!

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We are going to give you a BIG reason on why you must plan a trip this summer! A lot of the well known tigresses have given birth to cubs and would be old enough to roam about the jungle this summer, which increases the chance of a sighting. You can thank us later 🙂

And do you know what’s the best part of this is? You can plan this trip with your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, friends, kids and it involves no big physical exertion compared to the likes of trekking, jungle walks etc. Who doesn’t love animals and even more, a chance to be alongside them in the wild?

Sightings in no specific order:  The mongoose, sambar deer, spotted deer, wild dogs, barking deer, 6 tigers across 12 sightings, Indian gaur, crocodiles, peacocks, egrets and a host of species in birds.

Three days in Tadoba literally changed us. The experience of being in the wilderness, the sounds of the forest, the eerie silence while waiting for the tiger, following Amar’s instructions carefully, the camaraderie shared by each of the safari guides, the roar which shook the forest, the stench of a kill….ah we could keep going on about this blissful experience! Glad that we’re part of a generation which is fortunate to experience and conserve this!

Important Links 

Online Permit Booking:              https://goo.gl/P3MkF4
Place Of Stay We Recommend: https://goo.gl/1rzQB2
The Gate We Recommend:        Kolara
The Guide We Recommend:   Amar from Kolara  (We can share his number upon request)
Nearest Airport: Nagpur
If you need transport from Nagpur to Tadoba: Contact Prakash : (+91) 9373907309 or (+91) 9423404693. He picked us from the airport and dropped us at the camp and picked us from the camp and dropped us back to the airport. Very efficient.

Don’t think any further guys, make this your Next Check-In!

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