A lovely surprise awaits us in Tadoba
03.11.2017 - 03.11.2017
This morning we are treated to a breakfast fit for a king, with cereal, fruit, watermelon juice; followed by egg, vegetable sausage, tomatoes. Then they bring out the kedgeree. I walk away from there absolutely stuffed.
Sorry, no photos.
Pench - Tadoba
We are having an easy day today, just driving between Pench National park and our next – and final – tiger reserve: Tadoba National Park.
There is not much to say about the first part of the journey, until we start seeing signs for Tadoba, so I will just leave you with a few photos from the road trip.
Yet another bullock cart photo
Rakesh stops the car for us to get out and take some pictures as well as a stretch of legs.
After quite a few miles of rural lanes, we venture on to the highway of sorts. It's a little disconcerting when you are faced with a long line of trucks coming towards you, on both sides of the road with no obvious space for it to pull in.
The same goes for those trucks driving the same direction as us – this one only narrowly misses the red car coming the other way.
For the last six days we have been in the state of Madhya Pradesh, and today we are crossing over the border to Maharashtra State.
It doesn't affect us in any way, but trucks have to have a special licence for each of the states and are required to pass through border control.
I love the beautifully decorated trucks that you find in India. You can see on this one that he has a sign saying: “All India permit”, meaning he is allowed to travel to other states too.
They do like to overfill their trucks here though.
The large, overfilled trucks play havoc with the road surface, leaving huge potholes and slowing down our journey considerably.
Although the fact that we are slowing right down, means I have more of a chance to photograph the street scenes, such as these two men sitting at the road-side.
We see signs for Tadoba, and turn off the main road. I have the name of the village where the lodge is located and the closest gate. The road scenes are getting much more rural again now.
We see signs for the gate, and soon afterwards stop and ask the way to the hotel.
We ask again.
We know we are getting close to a park when we see this sign.
The fourth time Rakesh stops to ask for directions, we are sent in the opposite direction. Groan. Here we go again.
It seems the whole village of Bhamdeli (where the lodge is located) is gated, as we have to wake up the guard to let us through. Rakesh shows him the piece of paper with the lodge name and address, and he points in the general direction we are heading.
After passing a few cotton fields, we find ourselves driving through this linear village, lined with hotels, lodges and camps either side. This is obviously where the bulk of the accommodation for the park is found.
Suddenly we see a unassuming looking sign at the side of the road, and turn into a side track. The first impression from the sign is a little worrying, this is the only hotel on this trip I didn't choose (I left it to our tour operator), and I don't know what to expect.
My expectations rise considerably when I see the entrance gate to the lodge, however.
Irai Safari Retreat
We get a warm welcome at the reception from the very friendly manager who not only has a great sense of humour, but also speaks excellent English. He scans our passports – or rather, tries, to, as a power cut interrupts the action. Fear not, his mobile phone does the job just as well.
The bar and reception area
The comfortable lounge
After a briefing about the hotel and its facilities, we are shown to our rooms. From the website I wasn't sure what to expect, but I am very pleasantly surprised.
Paved paths lead to the accommodation
Rooms are located in cottages spread around the well kept gardens, and each cottage houses two rooms. Other than our immediate neighbours who are in a room within the same building (in this case it is our friends Lyn and Chris, of course), we are far enough away from the other cottages for it to feel very private and exclusive.
Our side of the cottage - steps on the left of the photo lead to the roof terrace - more about that later
Each of the rooms has a covered seating area outside the front door, making for quite a romantic little niche.
There is also a sunny balcony with a hammock for a relaxing afternoon siesta. There's even a BBQ in the corner – not that I am thinking of doing any cooking while I am here!
The bedroom is spacious, with a separate cosy seating area.
The bathroom features double basins and a proper bath tub. Personally I prefer a walk-in shower, but I know Lyn likes to have a bath.
The lodge is owned by a member of the local royal family, and most of the furniture and ornaments are from his personal collection. I particularly like these horse-shaped door handles on the wardrobe.
The lodge also has a very inviting-looking pool, so we get changed and head over there while it is still sunny.
Just as I am about to get undressed, I discover a series of tiny little blisters on my shin, plus one that is quite large. They cover an area about the size of a mobile phone, in the exact spot that I had cellulitis earlier in the year. If this is a sunburn, it is rather worrying, as I have only been outside in the sun for around 15 minutes, and a large proportion of that was walking in the shade. After much deliberation I decide it is probably best not to go in the pool after all.
Instead I climb to the roof terrace with my camera equipment and wait for the sunset.
The sky is a dreamy pink, later to turn a glowing orange; and I can see the lake from which the lodge takes its name from up here.
Being situated in the buffer zone of the national park, there are naturally a number of birds in the vicinity, many of which are coming back to roost for the night. They fly around a bit before descending into the surrounding trees, rustling the leaves as they land, making quite a noise.
On closer inspection, most of the birds are cormorants.
With a few storks.
And a Red Vented Bulbul thrown in for good measure.
Plus a Rufous Treepie.
Although the evening started off with a beautiful pink sky; as the sun gets lower, the mist wins the battle and colours the sky a dirty brown. The sun holds its own for a while as a golden globe sinking slowly to earth.
Once the sun has gone down, I go in and have a shower (without getting my poorly leg wet – quite a feat and requiring me to be a bit of a contortionist) before dinner.
Dinner tonight is buffet and very good it is too. We have dhal fry (a nice spicy lentil dish), vegetable keema (minced vegetable curry), jeera rice (rice with cumin seeds), methi mattar makhani (a buttery curry with fenugreek and peas).
It is all very tasty and I go to bed a happy bunny, ready for another day in another safari park tomorrow.