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This is about June 2016 travel to Tadoba Tiger reserve from Hyderabad. In Jan-2016 I had traveled Chopta and Munsiyari in Uttarakand with another three new travelers met first time at Delhi. One of them Mr. Pandey is from Nagpur and he asked me to come down to Nagpur for visiting Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve and booked safari a couple of months before for 12th June 2016 . Till then I had no experience of any forest safary and I was excited to see many wild animals. Mean time our travel friends planned for Ladakh tour in the last week of June, 2016 (25-06-2016). It was one of the dream destination and I know it will be difficult and expensive if I go alone and said OK and booked flight/train to Delhi and back. Then started thinking it will be hectic for two tours in two weeks. But Pandey who is also coming for Ladakh trip did not agree and made me to visit Tadoba. Day 1 On 11th June we started at 5.00 Hrs in my car from Hyderabad. My wife and son were with me. We are two drivers and had a back seat to sleep if needed. We reached Nirmal by 8.00 Hrs entered town leaving NH44 and had breakfast at Hotel Mayuri. Breakfast was good but when we had lunch next year, it was very bad. We joined NH44 through old NH7 road. Reached Nagpur by 13.00 Hrs and Pandey's home by 13.30. Roads up to Adilabad were excellent. Four lane work and Underpass works at Hingenghat (about 30 Kms) not completed and have to change lanes and pass through the villages. Road at places in this section also not good. After that till Nagpur roads are good. One more travelmate Mr. Jagtap from Betul (MP) who is mine safety officer in Western Coal Fields (WCF) and a native of Nagpur was supposed to join us with his family in his car. But due to some fire accident in a coal mine he could not join us. Our plan was to reach WCF guest house at Murpar which is about 15 Kms away from Navegaon Gate of Tadoba Reserve and stay overnight and reach the gate early in the morning. We started from Nagpur at about 17.00 Hrs and reached Murpar by 19.45 Hrs. While entering Chandrapur district at Umred check-post, local police stopped our car for checking and found one whiskey bottle in our luggage which was kept by Pandey. The police told me that alcohol is banned in chandrapur district and we can not carry. I said I am from Hyderabad and I do not the local rules and never imagined that a particular district will have a ban. He looked at Pandey in the car and asked he is from Maharashtra and how come he do not know. I said he does not know about it and i brought it my self. Some how he took away the bottle and allowed us to proceed further. So those who are travelling to Tadoba please do not carry alcohol. By the time we reached Chimur which is a little bigger town close to Navegaon Gate, it started drizzling and when we took right turn at Khadsangi for Murpar, heavy downpour started and visibility was hardly 20 mtrs in head lights. Left turn at Khadsangi will lead to Navegaon gate. Mr. Jagtap booked the guest house at WCF mine area, Murpar. We found one Telugu cook in the guest house and when we told him about Umred check post incident, he said we are too lucky to be let off, otherwise they arrest and harras for carrying alcohol. When we asked about dinner he said other than non veg, he will prepare any thing. Non Veg has to be brought from Chimur some 12 Kms away and it is not possible at that time and that too in heavy rain. We ordered roti, dal and sabji with omlets. Mean time me and pandey went to Khadsangi in the rain and enquired about safari vehicles. we were told that there is no need to book in advance and Gypsy cars will be available at the gate as per the serial and as many as permitted for the day/session. We had dinner and had good sleep. Day 2 We got up early and reached Navegaon gate before 5.30 Hrs. We found only one car before us at the gate. We went to gate office and booked a safari car and engaged a Guide. Safari car is for Rs. 600 and Guide Rs.350 (That's what I remember). Sky is clear and we found water of previous night's rain on the roads pot holes. We entered the forest by 5.45. Our guide said it is always advantage of more sightings if your car is first and it proved correct. Myself with wife and kids of Pandey The first site before entering the core area Second sighting a glimpse of bear Then a Jackal There were lot of birds and I could not shoot them as I do not have a proper lens. The same bear came out of the forest and crossed our path. We were told that Tiger will come here but after waiting enough time he did not turned up. There are many deers and Neelgai Obviously not happy with our presence Canter from Moharli gate Now many jeeps arrived and waiting at a water hole for the arrival of the Big Cat. But it did not show up and the our morning session ended. Little disappointed and our guide was telling us that people make more than six safaris and go back without seeing a Tiger. We had a booking for afternoon safari also. With a little hope we returned to our guest house. On the way back from morning safari Padey with our Driver and Guide. Will continue with after noon Safari..
Whoever has said – hills are green when they are far way – I so want to meet and dispute and take the character to Thekaddy on a free vacation with me! What you are looking for – Jungle Safari? waterfalls? meadows? cultural festivity in daily life? Let me give you few more – tea gardens, spice gardens, vineyard, meadows and valleys? Still you need more – Alright! Let me add it- Elephant Safari, Boating and how about off-road driving??? Ladies and Gentlemen…. Read the list again – give yourself this gift - Taste Thekkady!!! Airways to Thekkady Cochin, Madurai are two airports very close to Thekkady. I decided to opt Flight to Madurai and book a cab from the airport straight to the mountains. Early morning flight, not only gives you the entire day, it also gives you leisure, time to explore your way to Thekkady and luxury of nature. The distance between Thekkady and Madurai Airport is under 250 KMs and in four hours you can reach your destination. The road is beautiful, runs through small villages, towns, medical colleges, canopy of trees, hills, windmills and vineyards. Stopping at some great locations for a click will not be a mistake and should not be missed. Try out windmills at your back or the seasonal waterfalls on your way. Our cab driver was great as a local guide throughout our journey. We had our breakfast (Typical Tamil style and it was delicious) at Hotel Gowri Krishna and recommended for a definite try. The restaurant is quite decent and can accommodate over 60 to 70 people at a time if not more and the efficiency in serving the orders is just amazing. On your way at Periyakulam, do click photographs and images that thrills you and seek your attention. Our stay for the next three days was at a very decent and customer oriented Hotel. The stay was too perfect at this place. From the variety of food offerings to cleanliness, complimentary breakfast, evening tea/coffee, snacks …with view of mysterious mountains and valleys, floating cloud rom your hanging deck just gives you peace of mind and true sense of luxury and vacation together. The resort has a great garden, activity area, swimming pool, spa and of course three different option for residence! We requested for the top most floor to enjoy the scenic beauty of nature from our balcony and room. Activities at Thekkady Kathakali and Marshall Arts You should and must have two hours available for this show. You can do the bookings online or you can go and buy the tickets from the booking counter for the show. Both are really rich in their own way and reflects a strong fiber of our tradition and culture. Spice Gardens There are many spice gardens in Thekkady and Periyar. There is no harm learning half an hour the kind of medicinal plants cultured around and the variety of spice available in the region. A lot of medical company do research and purchase these ayurvedic medicinal plants in building their medicines and brand. Try yourself with some herbal soaps, fresh spice, some great medicinal powder for cleansing life and diet. Gavi Forest Drive The forest just thrills you from the time you enter the main gate and runs till the time off board the jeep. My trip was in monsoon so I did enjoy the beauty of greenery, the fun of sitting in a jeep, sightseeing elephants like humans everywhere, deer all around, bison of massive size, brown bears against trees and birds all around. The forest is thick and green, surrounded with valleys and mountains. The guide takes you around, stops every possible place where you can spot a wild life! Gavi Forest is almost all-day program. It starts from your hotel at 5.30 AM and continues all day. This includes beautiful boat riding, hiking over valleys and mountains to spice plantation (rubber and cardamom), a small visit to a museum and lunch. This trip was really a lucky trip for me. Every time I had a guide, they always tried to make it little different. During boating, the guide took us to a beautiful seasonal waterfall which appeared from nowhere and surprised us for quite sometimes. The waterfall was huge and strong, we anchored our boat in between two rocks and walked down the slippery water and rocks towards the waterfall. The hiking over to different parts of the mountain and seeing different scenic points are way too beautiful and fascinating. Enjoy the mist and clouds floating by, sip a bottle of water or two, click some pictures and enjoy the vacation like a vacation. Ayurvedic Spa No trip is complete in Kerala without Ayurvedic massage. However, you should be careful enough to review and select the right place for the massage. I did go for three hours package and ensured I used strong influence of the local network I made during my stay to ensure I get the best spa treatment. Local Sight Seeing Thekkady has a lot of local places to visit . Please make most use of it when you are in Thekkady. Murrikaddi spice garden, Chellarkovil, chellarkovil view point, Pandikuzhi, Idduki District, Kumlily, Mullaperiyar dam , Vagamom are some of them that I could finish during my stay. I am highly indebted to the guide and Periyar cab team to help me with my most demanding requests on planning my day. The owner did not only gave us the most helpful and knowledgeable guide, he ensured calling me every day , take feedback, suggest next day plan and stay in touch anytime. When you visit Chellarkovil waterfall, ensure you cross the waterfall and go to the other side and climb up for having a stunning beauty of the valley below and mountains around. I wish I had luxury of time in my hand to sit all day long and see the clouds and day light pass by. Periyar Lake and Boating Bamboo boating or boating on a launch both are quite exciting on Periyar lake. The boat takes you around the forest . The boating has fixed timing and you can book your slot either online or buy tickets from the counter. However it is recommended to do the bookings online. Nature Walk, Trekking, Overnight Camping Though I didn’t opt for this one however I would still recommend if you are going in summer or winter, go for nature walk , trekking down the forest for almost 10 kms , cloud train, jungle trail, tiger trail and experience the stay at camp spots overnight inside the Periyar tiger reserve park. The arrangements can be done by your guide or online websites or probably through your hotel. I do have some idea how thrilling and beautiful the camping can be because the view of thick jungle, view from the mountains and safari through the jungle already injected the feeling in me. Off tracking This is all day event and is a great trill for those who are crazy for off road tracking. Though I could not experience since it was monsoon and the road trips were closed but it’s going to be a whole of an experience for sure Elephant Rides Definitely a great experience to interact and spend two to three hours with such a humble life. There are many elephant safari and ride programs across Thekkady. You can go for half an hour ride through plantation, elephant bathing, elephant training session and take a moment to greet the elephant and feed with your own hands Vineyards On our way to Madurai airport, we did visit a waterfall and a vineyard at Uttapalaiyam. Though the waterfall was not that exciting and over crowded, the visit to the vineyard was short and nice. You can talk and have a look at the way things work, hear how grapes are fermented, picked from the plantation and processed. The story will remain incomplete if I dont speak of the Kerala Lunch! Highly recommended - Visit this restaurant incase you dont know anything better. We were stuffed with rice, Malabar Paratha, beef, prawns, chicken, mutton, fish, some awesome veg curries , salad and chutneys/pickles for INR 600 per head. If you dispute, I dont mind because I already had my share that afternoon and didnt eat anything for dinner. I realized one thing for sure - Happiness is portable! Just carry it with you wherever you go! Give this place a try, it wont be disappointing.
A day to be remembered forever, 2016 is the year that I have joined in this beautiful group since then Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve was always on my bucket list. many attempts planned since then and nearly after two years, I got the chance to go. I don't want to stress more on the routes and other details as there are enough threads regarding the same. rather I would like to share my favourite photos that I have shot in my three days stay and safari at Pangdi and Madnapur gate. never the less I will share with you people some necessary information like stay, safari details, gates, and some knowledge of wildlife that I have gained. Started at 6:00 in the morning from Kompally and reached by 3:00 in the afternoon. remember that no one can help you with the routes. it's always better to contact someone at the resort and ask them to guide you in person. except for Jio, no other sim card is going to work. I stayed at Mahua Tola Resorts, I can say that it is the best in the place. a bit on the higher side, yet friendly staff, manager and good food. we were the only family the three days and never we felt insecure. Manager Shukla is a very nice person, he will come with us to the Safari and make it a very memorable and enjoyable one. Coming to the safari, it's always good to ask the resort people to book. because at the gate I have seen few facing some problems. if it's the resort people, its hassle free. this is personal opinion though. As people say, it's not so easy to spot a tiger. a tiger spotting depends on our luck. a tiger mainly sits just beside or few meters away from us inside the forest, yet not visible most of the time. it's just because of the bamboo trees. Tadoba is full of bamboo trees and that makes it very difficult to spot one even if it near us. you will be tempted by the pugmarks, but not always you'll see a tiger. I was really lucky to spot Tigress Junabai with her cubs on my last day safari with the resort manager Shukla at Madhapur gate. Ultimate sightings I can say. It is my father who spotted her while she was resting under a tree shade few meters away from us covered with bamboo trees. I'm not a pro, yet telling my experience with the camera focusing modes and how I got a perfect focus mode settings by experimenting and with the knowledge I have on focus modes which I have learnt studying few books, articles and discussing it in our WhatsApp group. The device, Sony Alpha A6000 with 55-210mm zoom lens. manual mode, shutter speed around 1/500 and above, ISO range 4000 (thanks to my cameras high ISO range ie, 25600), Aperture F:6.3 Focus Mode: Auto, Focus Area: Wide, Metering Mode: Multi This was the mode that I have shot at first only to get the defocused face of a tiger. Thought "this is over, I'm not going to get any more beautiful photos". thought of the focusing modes and settings I have learnt before and adjusted it again to try my luck. Focus Mode: Auto, Focus Area: Centre, Metering Mode: Spot And then I got some amazing pictures. Used Auto Focus Continues while the subject was moving and I can say that this is the camera for super fast autofocus. never missed a detail while shooting with this in AF-C mode. You can check out the langur monkey and male spotted deer jumping. shot in AF-C mode with shutter sped around 1/1000 or above. couldn't get a zoomed one because of the lens.