04.11.2017 - 04.11.2017
Before we left home, our agent in India contacted me and said the lodge were really concerned about the lack of English speaking guides in Tadoba. I assured him that as long as the guide could find us the birds and animals, we are not too worried about the amount of English he speaks.
I am therefore very surprised when our allocated guide greets us in English at the park gate this morning. In fact, he speaks a lot of (what I assume is) English, most of which I can't understand. He is enthusiastic and gregarious, chattering away non-stop.
There is a queue at the gate as usual
I am interested to see that there is an equipment hire place right by the gate. What a great idea!
Soon after we get inside the park, we see a number of vehicles parked up, looking across a pond to the bank the other side. Apparently we just missed a tigress with her two cubs. A girl in one of the other cars shows me the preview on her camera. What a shame, just a couple of minutes too late.
We do see our first crocodile on this trip, however.
The lake is home to lots of birds too:
We move on to another pond.
Open Billed Stork
Pond heron - I love the reflections in the lake
Something spooked this chital.
Our guide, whose name I didn't manage to catch despite asking three times, tells us there is a 50% change the mother and cub will come here to drink, so we sit and wait.
So are a few other vehicles.
While we wait (some more), we watch a Pied Kingfisher in the far, far distance, doing what kingfishers do best: fishing.
Red Wattled Lapwing
When a group of chital turn up to drink, there is a fairly sure thing that there isn't a tiger in the vicinity – the early warning system is pretty good in these parts. So we move on.
Tadoba is very different to the other two parks we have visited on this trip, in that the main road leading through the park is actually tarmaced. I know it means you can travel faster, with less dust, but I can't help but to feel that it somewhat detracts from the 'jungle experience'.
This road used to be the main thoroughfare to Nagpur from Tadoba and was used by the local king in the 17th century, who constructed a number of pillars to show the way.
I am not complaining though; we see a few vehicles gathered on the side of the road, and just as we pull up, a young tiger appears in a clearing in the forest.
Then we spot another one behind. These are two youngsters, probably brother and sister, around two years old.
They stand there, looking at us for a while; and it does appear that they are going to be coming across the open plains and hopefully cross the road in front of us.
Unfortunately, the children in the next vehicle get a little overexcited and noisy, and the tigers turn around and disappear into the forest from whence they came.
We can see the occasional orange flash moving around behind the trees, but they do not come out again.
We move on.
Brown Fish Owl
We see a gypsy ahead with everyone pointing their weapons (cameras) into the bush. It is unusual to see a sambar this close to the road. He seems quite unperturbed by our presence, even briefly looking up from his breakfast.
Yet again it is time to leave the park and head back to camp.
Irai Safari Retreat welcomes us back with a full buffet breakfast: puri and sambal, mashed potato, spicy beans and a masala omelette with chilli.
Time to chill for a few hours before this afternoon's safari.