Nagarhole Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Mysuru - Karnataka)

Nagarhole Rajiv Gandhi National Park comes under Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and Niligiri Sub Cluster of Western Ghats of India which are protected under UNESCO as Biodiversity Hotspot! Check out the whole map of Western Ghats under UNESCO here. Btw, image heavy post ahead, alert!!!

One of the very primary reason to visit Kabini is to go inside Nagarhole National Park and try our luck in spotting a big cat! According to the present rules and regulations, jeep safari is organized twice a day by the government and I chose to go one in the evening and another 2 days later, in the morning of birthday! Did I spot a big cat? Read on to find out.
The jeeps are loaded at Kabini River Lodges (more about in the Tips section at the end of the post), which is about 2 km from the entrance of the national park. Every jeep has a naturalist in it and my first one was with Mr.Chirag and 2nd with Mr.Sharath, both of Orange County Resorts. The main road that actually goes into the park is SH33 and is used by several vehicles. Off SH33, a road goes into the jungle - a bumpy dirt track. 
It has 2 zones, A & B and I managed to take both the routes on my 2 trips. In one of the trips, soon after I started in a tiny water hole, I spotted a Sambar Deer. 


Then I spotted several several Spotted Deers and Langurs. Next up we went closer to the backwaters and spotted a herd of elephants along with Spotted Deers (Chintals) and Wild Boars!

Back into the forest we spotted several types birds, mountain squirrels, peacocks etc and as the day wrapped up, almost near the exit again another waterhole with filled with gorgeous Elephants including a mom & calf!!! Though I got to spot a lot, big cat was still elusive!

2 days later, on my Birthday, early morning, we set out again in the early morning safari at 6 AM. Soon after we entered the forest, there, on the road, comfortably seated was the Leopard!!!!! My Birthday, began with seeing a LEOPARD!!!
Soon after we came, the fellow seemed disturbed, and chose to walk away into the forest! Yup, so we got to see its catwalk too!!!

The number of birds I saw was oh so many - Peafowl, White Breasted Kingfisher, Hoopee, Yellow Footed Green Pigeon, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Golden Flameback Woodpecker, Racket Tailed Drongo, Green Bee Eaters and ofcourse Pond Herons, Sparrows, Red Vented & Whiskered Bulbuls, Jungle Babblers, Cowcal, Koel and so many more! 


In the main backwaters, I got to spot Cormorants, Darters, Egrets etc. This time one of the Malabar Giant Squirrel also managed to pose for me sitting on a branch right atop our jeep.

Soon after that, our naturalist spotted the footprints of a tiger! We followed it and reached a waterhole where langurs where yelling at the top of their voice - the alarm sound. We waited long at that spot to see if she would come out, but unfortunately that did not happen! At another waterhole we spotted 3 Sambar deers, and a Barking deer! 

A Birthday with Leopard, Barking Deer, Sambar deer, Racket Tailed Drongo, Asian Paradise Flycatcher in the wild????? What more could I ask for?!!!!! I could ask for Tigers too! I'm yet to see one in the wild!!!! But for this Birthday, I'm just more than happy!!!!!

Here's a tip:
Till early 2016, taking your own vehicle inside the national park was allowed. However now, with more and more awareness about the conservation and giving more importance to the animals, than the tourists, drive-thru & drop-in safari has now come to an end. As of now, you HAVE to stay in one of the 6 resorts here (Orange County Resorts, Kabini River Lodge of Jungle Lodges, The Bison, Kaav, Serai and Waterwoods) in order to take up the Jeep safari. Also when the river is brimming, there's a boat safari as well about which I can't comment on much, coz I didn't get to do it. 
The cheapest accommodation (tented cottage) in Jungle Lodges (the cheapest of the 6 resorts) is Rs.8000 (per person in a twin sharing basis) including Jeep Safari. Yes, the prices are steep, but that's to curb too many tourists. Safari is organized only by Jungle Lodges of Karnataka Government and there are 2 safaris a day with 10 vehicles in the early morning and 11 vehicles in the afternoon which is a couple of 18 seaters, and the rest are 10 seaters. The other 5 resorts have a tie-up with Jungle Lodges to take their guests in. So only about a total of 200 tourists are allowed in everyday. So you have to book early!

Guests at Orange County Resorts, Kabini are given to option to go on the safari as soon as they check in and if interested, a seat is booked for you in the safari of selected date & time. This is at an extra cost of Rs.1720 for Indians and Rs.2720 for Foreign nationals.
Phones are to be put in airplane mode and no food or drinks (except water) is allowed inside the sanctuary. Cameras with more than 300mm zoom lens, need a separate camera ticket as well. Half of the jeeps take zone A and half, zone B. Even those within the same zone do not go in a convoy and take different direction as soon as they enter the forest. The drivers of these jeeps are in contact with each other and as soon as they spot a big cat or elephant they inform others and the rest reach the spot asap.

To get there:
The Safari begins at Kabini River Lodges of Jungle Lodges.
From Orange County Resorts, Kabini: Across the River, taken by boat!
From Mysore: 76km
From Bangalore: 228km via Mysuru

Dedicated to Venkat

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

33 comments:

  1. Okay this is a SERIOUS bucket list trip!! I am dying to go on a safari! And I LOVE that you saw so many cool animals on your birthday- I mean, does it get any better?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, you have been so lucky to spot such amazing variety of wildlife. I have been hearing a lot of good things about Kabini. I may soon plan a long trip along with a wildlife photographer friend of mine.

    ReplyDelete
  3. On this page you've shown your wildlife photography skills whilst shooting in Nagarhole Rajiv Gandhi National Park. Is the park is also a UNESCO site? My favourite image you took are the elephants in the distance under the sun, but the most unique image is the Leopard image, you were so lucky to see a Leopard! What a birthday present!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Time well spent.
    You are lucky to have sighted so many in their natural habitat. You got excellent captures too. Long since I have been any such natural environ.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am a sucker for wildlife, truly truly. Love safaris, not for seeing or spotting just a tiger or a leopard, but for the serenity of the forest and the calm. I adore the malabar giant squirrel, its one of my fav animals! :)
    Your pictures are fabulous! I can imagine the thrill of a leopard sighting!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I did not expect that this safari is located in India. The leopard is a bit shy but you got lucky on your birthday. I'd also like to join this safari adventure someday.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, that leopard looks huge! Does it move faster than the lion and tiger? This birthday was well spent. Seeing all these animals in a national park must be thrilling.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a nice way to start your birthday by seeing a leopard. That is so awesome. I was planning to book a stay at the Serai or Kabini during Christmas but then decided against it since the nephew was too small to take on a Safari. Maybe when he is older, we will revisit. I was here more than 8-9 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lovely! This sounds like you had a great time on your birthday. You have got some wonderful pics. Thanks for the very helpful tips. Nagarhole national park is on my bucket list for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have always wanted to go on a trip like this. This is an amazing experience, great way to celebrate your birthday! I would also love to do the Jeep Safari and Boat Safari.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow. What a great way to spend your birthday. The animal pictures looks so amazing. I especially like the Sambar deer. Too bad you did not get to see a tiger, but at least you saw a lot of other animals.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Must be a truly magical birthday with the best gift, to see a Leopard! Something I've dreamed about since I was little. Really jealous haha.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow NAGARHOLE RAJIV GANDHI NATIONAL PARK looks just magical. I would love to see all these animals in their natural environment. It's just fascinating. I will definitely put it on my bucket list.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Is there an animal you DIDN'T see?! Super lucky! I went to a tiger reserve on the KA-KL border but I can't remember what it's called. It was nowhere near as populated with wildlife as Nagarhole National Park and we didn't see any tigers but it was my first time seeing wild elephants so I was happy enough :D

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, it's really rare to experience seeing a variety of wildlife animal and I guess this Park offers more than a visitor can expect. I admire your sense of celebrating your birthday in a different way. I must say that you love animals that much. Belated Happy birthday by the way, I'm sure that you really had a great time while ambling around this park.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What an amazing way to spend your birthday! A safari has been on my bucketlist forever now and am so jealous you got to go. All that wildlife from monkeys (so adorable) to Leopards which are just gorgeous to even tiger footprints! Where do I sign up? haha

    ReplyDelete
  17. We love tracking down UNESCO spots and this one is even better because of all the different animals! What a fun place to spend a birthday! I want to see those monkeys and leopards!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'd like to try out a safari adventure here. It would really nice to see the animals in their natural habitat.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It's nice to know that people are paying more attention and effort on conserving the nature. Destruction of the wildlife creates a chain reaction that ends up to us humans. It's very nice of you to promote nature and showcase what we might loss if we keep on damaging our environment.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You weren't kidding when you said this was an image heavy post! But I love all your pictures. I would be so excited to see a leopard on safari! This really looks like a Must Do experience.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I haven't been to a legit safari trip so this post excites me. I think wildlife viewing is the best part about visiting national parks too! I like that you were able to spot a wide variety of animals during this safari trip!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Absolutely Beautiful snaps ... thanks for share the experience ! Kabini forest covered in mist surely does remind me of a magical land like in the movie "the chronicles of Narnia" :)
    Thanks for the beautiful virtual trip through the forest. Keep posting..

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have always wanted to go on a safria and i am super envious of you. Love the pictures of the elephants and must be so surreal seeing them in the wild :-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is such a great place for a safari-themed birthday vacation. I still remember the name of Rajiv Gandhi and this is a worthy project to attach his name to. I noted the strict regulations at the end, like additional ticket for extra zoom cameras. Did they explain why?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wow!! You saw a leopard...lucky you! I have been to South Africa and to Kenya and have never seen that cat. The places seems to have plenty to keep a wildlife lover happy!

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a fun and fascinating trip. I was hoping you would get to see the big cats too but we understand. That monkey with her baby is so adorable... a mother would hold on so dearly.

    ReplyDelete
  27. First of all, wish you a very happy belated birthday! I've been to two Safari tours but never seen big cats unless they were caged in a zoo! Exploring wildlife in their natural habitat must be an experience in itself!

    ReplyDelete
  28. You have covered Nagarhole Rajiv Gandhi National Park - one of the lesser known National Parks of India - so well! I love safaris and can so imagine how exciting that leopard sighting would have been. Nature's perfect gift for your birthday :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. It was good experience in the forests.

    ReplyDelete
  30. So desperate to do a safari, this looks incredible! And your photos are awesome, you got to see so many different animals. So lucky you got to see a leopard too!! A trip to remember for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I was just telling someone that though Kabini is a smaller place, the density of the striped beasts is decent enough to get one spotting in the first two trips itself. I have been lucky to see a leopard too....loved your pics and description. Brought back a lot of nostalgia

    ReplyDelete
  32. Wow, I'm surprised you've actually managed to catch the monkeys in action and so clearly! If it's me, they will most probably be blurred! Interesting how it has "GANDHI" in the name~

    ReplyDelete
  33. You're really lucky that you got to capture so many animals. Whenever I go on safari I hardly get to capture anything other than langurs.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting...!
Why not leave a comment.?
And tell your friends..!!!

cookieassistant.com