Trip to Bandipur National Park
Bandipur was on our “go to” list for a long time and I finally grabbed the opportunity when a local photography group (Photomama) decided to organize two day photography tour to bandipur over a weekend. Me and my classmate (Animesh), both of us photography enthusiasts used the opportunity to wipe the dust off our lenses. The fee was 3500/- INR including food, accommodation and jungle safari charge. We did not have a car of our own, so renting a car plus fuel cost us extra.
Reaching Bandipur from Bangalore
Bandipur is located about 220km from Bangalore (about 80 kms from Mysore) and can be reached in about 5 Hrs via the Mysore road (add time spent in Bangalore traffic to that).
We rented a car from “Justride” and pushed off from sarjapura road at 10:45 p.m and immediately found the infamous bangalore traffic at silk board signal; to add to the troubles the fuel tank had only 2 liters of petrol and we traveled nearly 20 kms to fill the tank since most of the in-city fuel bunkers shut down in the night. Found nearly 10 fuel bunkers using google maps and all of them were closed. Finally post locating the 24×7 fuel bunker (which we were quite lucky to find) ,we pushed off to bandipur at 12.45 a.m via NICE road leading to Mysore road.
We reached the entrance to bandipur forest at about 5 a.m and we waited until 6 a.m when the gates open for vehicles to come through. As soon as we reached the location of the office of the bandipur forest (also the location of car parking and the government lodges), we found deers and monkeys right next to the road and location of the car parking.
The safari buses were too were located there.We located our photography group, all of them were already present before time.
We boarded the bus at 6.30 a.m and we entered the forest. As such the ‘aim’ was to locate the most famous tiger of bandipur , “Prince”. However BNF is also home to a variety of other birds and animals. The morning safari lasted for about 2 hours and while we could not locate the tiger, we did locate many other animal species, especially birds which I had never see before.
The morning safari ended by 9 a.m or so and we proceeded to have breakfast at the canteen located within the premises.
It is a decent enough and despite the fact it is located within the forest, there is lot of variety of items on the menu. We had the regular south Indian breakfast (Masala Dosa + Tea) and proceeded to wait for our rooms to be allocated to us which we were told would be given to us by 12 p.m. The wait was boring to be honest since the since the sun was up and there was nothing much to do. In addition, all of us were quite tired after the night long drive. There wasn’t much to shoot either apart from the monkeys within the camp.
At about 12 p.m , we were allocated our cottages ; The cottage “papiha” was given to us. (FYI, The room rent was 1000 INR / night at the time of the blog).
The cottages are quite decent for the price. Very spacious and maintained quite well in terms of cleanliness.
Extremely tired, we just crashed on to the bed and slept for about 90 mins or so and it was lunch time already. Typical south Indian lunch. During our stay it was mentioned that beyond the designated lunch timings, food would not be served. You will find a lot of monkeys around the canteen and we even spotted an elephant within the camp while having our lunch. Now that’s something you don’t see everyday for sure.
The evening safari was scheduled to start at 3.30 p.m or so ; this time we reached early and got seats of our choice near the window (Unlike the morning safari :)). Again the aim was to locate “Prince” the tiger. We toured for two hours or so; located many species of birds and animals but unfortunately no tiger (or any other big cat). The highlight of the safari was though when at a point an elephant suddenly charged at the safari bus from the bushes. Unfortunately it disappeared into the bushes again before I could get a shot. Regardless, the safari was a lot of fun since the group managed to spot and capture many animals and birds which one doesn’t due to life in the city.
We returned to the camp by 6:15 p.m or so. There is a small shop selling some nice hot bajjis, tea and condiments ; and monkeys trying to snatch your purchase,,like this one.
Well, I managed to eat some snacks safe from the monkeys and we returned to our cottage to go through the captured images. Before sunset, we sat on the rocks within the camp and slowly noticed the herds of deers coming in. The deers prefer resting within the camp for the night as a method of taking refuge from the predators..and there were so many of them; at least 300.
Along with the deers, there were boars, langurs etc as well. We were advised to enter the rooms post sunset since elephants and even leopards are known to enter the camps during late evenings/nights. We did.
In our rooms, we started going through the captured photos and started discussing the next day plan. As such we had registered and paid for a 2 day jungle safari tour but based on our discussion, we realized that it would be difficult to get a shot of any predator(Tiger, Leopard) at all because it was the rainy season (It had rained that night) and predators don’t need to come into the open to drink water in the ponds (which is most probable way to get a shot). Water would be available within the dense forest itself. So make the day productive, we decided to visit Ranganthittu bird sanctuary on the next day post the morning safari and skip the the evening safari altogether.
It was dinner time and menu was the same as that of lunch. Post a hearty dinner, we dozed off.
It was a rather early start to the day again since we were asked to reach the boarding point of the safari buses by 6.30 am. Same routine; 2 hours of morning safari to try and spot the tiger. We were again lucky to spot many varieties of birds and animals but as fate would have it, no tiger. We enjoyed the safari nonetheless.
We quickly finished the breakfast at 10 a.m (Dosa, Idli, Tea) , packed our luggage and pushed off to ranganthittu bird sanctuary which was about 2 hours away.