Tadoba - The land of real tiger (A trip report)

#1 Feb 2nd, 2018, 10:48
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#1
I would like to apologize for putting up this trip report after nearly a year and a half after the actual trip.

The background:
Tadoba has always been very close to my heart because that that is where i saw my first tiger in the wild in 2013.
We sighted 5 different tigers in 4 safaris. With the last sighting lasting more than 2 hours.
Our 2nd trip to Tadoba was during Dec 2014 was relatively less action packed where we had a sighting of a leopard
which was perched on top of a tree but was at quite some distance.
It was time to make up for that disappointment and hence we planned a trip to my favourite Tiger reserve during June 2016

The plan:
We decided to stay on the Kolara side. We booked our stay at Chava Kolara resort (an excellent place to stay for the price you pay). Plan was to do 4 back to back safaris but we could get tickets for only 3 and hence the last ride was planned for the buffer zone (Alizanza). I got the gypsy arranged with a local contact in Kolara for my rides.

We took a flight from Pune to Nagpur and were picked up by the cab (arranged by the resort) at the airport.
After a 3 hour drive, we reached the resort around 12.30pm. After checking-into the rooms, we quickly freshened up
and went straight for the lunch. Post lunch we all were eagerly waiting in anticipation of our sojourn into the
beautiful forests of Tadoba

1st Safari (Kolara Gate, Afternoon)
We quickly completed all the formalaties at the gate and off we went towards Jamni chowk. The sun was blazing away and the heat was almost unbearable. But the anticipation of the seeing the majestic beast in stripes got the better of everything else. After checking for any movements near Jamni chowk,
we headed straight to Panderpauni lake. There were a few jeeps already waiting in anticipation of seeing Maya, the undisputed queen of the lake. While there were no alarm calls or tiger movement, we could spot a group of Gaur coming in for a drink. We spent close to 2 hours waiting for the tiger to move, but it didnt.
Eventually we left the place. We had hardly moved about a couple of kms only to chance upon a sloth bear. This was my first sighting of a sloth bear in the open (previously i had seen a bear in Ranthambore with 2 cubs which was at quite a distance and almost hidden behind dense trees). I was surprised to see that the bear was not shy even upon seeing so many vehicles (there were atleast 8-10 of them). We were lucky to spot a few birds as well. The Indian Pitta and Savannah Nightjar in particular. We returned back to our resort extremely happy.
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#2 Feb 2nd, 2018, 10:53
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#2
Nice report & photos . Waiting for more
#3 Feb 2nd, 2018, 10:54
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The Savannah Night Jar
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#4 Feb 3rd, 2018, 02:41
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Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to more. We'll be in Tadoba end of March...can't wait!
#5 Feb 3rd, 2018, 09:32
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2nd Safari (Kolara Gate, Morning)
I hardly slept in anticpation of seeing Maya and her cubs. I didnt even need the alarm to wake up. We were ready by 5.30 and had our morning tea. Our gypsy arrived and we were first at the gate. Completed all the formalities and off we started on our 2nd safari. As usual, we first looked for any movements near Jamni chowk and headed towards Panderpauni. Our guide suggested that we do not waste any more time and head towards Navegaon road in search of Maya.
In 10 minutes, his experience paid off and we noticed a convoy of gypsy. This only means Tiger. And lo behold, there she was. The undisputed queen of Tadoba. She was walking along the side of the road with her 2 sub-adult cubs. The guide mentioned that they were about 13 months old. After positioning our gypsy at strategic point, i clicked a few shots. I hoped that she would walk on the road but that was not to happen. Nevertheless i managed to get some decent shots of the queen. Our day was made, expectations were exceeded. The sighting lasted a good 15 mins. We then made our way to Tadoba lake. We were lucky to see another Sloth Bear near the lake though it was at quite a distance. We then headed towards Telia lake. On the way, i asked the driver to go towards Jamun Zoora as my 6th sense told me that we might end up getting a big cat.
This area is known for its leopard sightings. But this time, we couldnt sight any.
We then headed towards Telia lake only to realise that we had missed Sonam (the queen of Telia area) by a few minutes.
Eventually my decision to check Jamun Zoora proved costly. Sonam had already crossed the road and into the bushes. We eventually managed to sight one of her cubs but couldnt take any shots as it was quite far. But this didnt disappoint me as we had the good fortune of seeing Maya and could get some decent shots
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#6 Feb 3rd, 2018, 09:42
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Beautiful! What lens did you use?
#7 Feb 3rd, 2018, 21:01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pani Puri View Post Beautiful! What lens did you use?
Thanks. My gear was Nikon D750 and 500mm prime lens and i used my kit lens (18-105) for wide angle shots
#8 Feb 4th, 2018, 03:27
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3nd Safari (Kolara Gate, Afternoon)
Our appetite was thoroughly satiated after seeing Maya and her cubs in the morning drive. It kind of relieved the pressure that usually starts building up when you miss a tiger drive after drive. But i am personally used to not seeing a Tiger and hence try to enjoy the other aspects of the forests. Since i am a keen birder, i had some lifers like The Savannah Nightjar, Indian Pitta, White Eyed Buzzard etc. We completed all the formalities at the gate and setoff into our 3rd drive into the jungles of Tadoba. The heat was blistering but we kept our cool in the hope of seeing the majestic beast. As we were heading towards Jamni chowk, we saw a pair of Dhole (Indian wild dog). While the first one ran
way quickly into the bushes, the 2nd one was a bit more bold. I was able to get some shots of this. Dholes are usually seen in packs of 7-8. They are very skilled hunters and bring down prey as large as Sambar. There are stories of how a pack of Dholes had killed Maya's cubs from the previous litter. To avenge the loss, it is said that Maya had wiped off an entire family of Dholes. These were told to me by a guide. Due to lack of strength in their jaws, they usually start eating their prey alive. As a result it is a "death by thousand
cuts" for the victim. It is an extremely gory sight to witness such a kill.

We then moved on to Panderpauni lake for any movements. Due to the extreme heat, there were no movements and we moved on to scan other areas like Tadoba lake, Panchadhaara etc. I usually find a Brown Fish Owl in Panchadhaara area but were unluckly not to see it this time. Without much luck, we moved towards Kosikanar area hoping to spot Choti Tara (one of the only tigers
to be collared in Tadoba). By the time we reached the main chowk, we saw a few gypsys waiting there and they informed us that they had sighted Choti Tara and that she had gone inside the bushes. We spent the next 1 hour waiting for her to come out but she didnt. As it was almost time for close, our driver sped towards Kolara gate to ensure we dont miss the 6.30 deadline.
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#9 Feb 4th, 2018, 04:20
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#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramnath_77 View Post 3nd Safari (Kolara Gate, Afternoon)
It kind of relieved the pressure that usually starts building up when you miss a tiger drive after drive.
I know this feeling! We have 5 drives - my daughter's first time in a Tiger Reserve -and I really hope we see a tiger.
#10 Feb 4th, 2018, 09:53
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pani Puri View Post I know this feeling! We have 5 drives - my daughter's first time in a Tiger Reserve -and I really hope we see a tiger.
Am sure your daughter will prove lucky for you. Wish you lots of tiger sightings during your 5 drives.
#11 Feb 5th, 2018, 01:40
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#11
Lovely pictures & nice trip report. Waiting for more.

Ronak.
#12 Feb 5th, 2018, 09:40
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4th Safari (Kolara Gate, Morning)
It started raining in Tadoba by around 6.30pm and got very heavy in 30 mins. Since we did not have a safari ticket for the 4th safari in the Core zone, we were planning to do the buffer (i.e Alizanza zone). Our driver had assured us that
we should be able to get on the spot tickets for the same. But due to the rains, i thought the sighting might not be that good in the buffer zone. I made a quick call to my driver in the evening and he too was not very positive about it.
My wife and daughter were not very keen to do the morning drive. While we were discussing these possibilities sitting in the restaurant of the resort, a gentleman Mr. Vibhav Chitrao sitting adjacent to our table overheard our conversation. He then very kindly offered me the option of joining him for the morning drive. They were a group of 3 people and had a confirmed
ticket to the core zone via Kolara gate. Those were the times, when there was option of Add-on available. One had to pay an additional Rs. 1000 and get added to an existing ticket (subject to not exceeding 6 visitors in the gypsy).
I readily agreed and thanked Vibhav for the kind gesture. I got ready by 5.30am and joined Vibhav and his friends for the last ride of the trip. Got the formalities done at the gate and we started our journey towards Panderpauni. As we were nearing Panderpauni, we see a Sloth Bear digging a termite mound for its favourite snack. After clicking him to our heart's content, we left him him to enjoy his morning meal. We then drove to Panderpauni lake and scanned for any movements. But there was absolute silence and no movement or alarm calls
whatsoever. I had seen documentaries on Nat Geo that post heavy rains, the big cats come out to re-establish its territory by scent marking. I was hoping that it would come true this day but it never had to be. Nature always has a surprise. After spending some time, we drove towards Tadoba lake to see a Sambhar going deeper and deeper into the lake to get fresh weed for a snack oblivous to the danger of mugger crocodiles lying in wait in the lake.
We then scanned some of the other areas like Jamunbodi, Yenbodi, Kosikanar (Choti Tara's area) but without luck. We then went back to Panderpauni to check if there was any activity. We found around 10 gypsys waiting near the lake.
A man in the adjacent gypsy told us that there were alarm calls let out by a Sambhar. While we were waiting at the lake, i noticed a Honey Buzzard on the ground trying to get to a small puddle of water to quench its thirst. I wanted to get an eye level shot of this beautiful bird. I requested the guide to swap seats with me and i went to the front side of the jeep. After bending down in the seat, i was able to get the angle right to get decent eye level shots of the bird.
After waiting for close to an hour, we left the place and headed towards Tadoba lake. On the way we noticed a group of Spotted deer literally flying across the road. We suddenly stopped and saw a pack of Wild dogs chasing them.
But because they had gone deep into the bushes, we could not see anything. After waiting at the place for 10 mins, we saw the pack of Dholes returning back confirming that the attempted hunt was a failed one. But the mere sight of a chase, set the adrenaline flowing. The dogs were extremely comfortable in the presence of gypsys and spent some time on the main road, giving us
photo opportunities to click them. It was time for us to head to the gate bringing to end, an extremely productive trip to Tadoba. I thanked my stars for the variety of sighting i had in this trip i.e Tiger, Sloth Bear, Wild Dogs and a variety of birds. I cherish every moment that i get to spend in the jungle, hearing and seeing the majestic creations of mother nature. This acts as a tonic and recharges my battery to fight out the battle in the corporate jungle
I hope to do a trip very soon in 2018. Maybe Mohurli gate this time.

A note of appreciation for Alok Pande (the owner of Chava Kolara resort) and his staff for the excellent service they provide at the resort. No request is turned down and they always keep a smile on their face.
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#13 Feb 6th, 2018, 08:20
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#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by shahronakm View Post Lovely pictures & nice trip report. Waiting for more.

Ronak.
Thanks Ronak
#14 Feb 6th, 2018, 11:33
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#14
beautiful photos and crisp writing

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