MY FIRST TIGER SAFARI: BUDGET TRIP TO BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK, MADHYA PRADESH INCREDIBLE INDIA!

MY FIRST TIGER SAFARI: BUDGET TRIP TO BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK, MADHYA PRADESH INCREDIBLE INDIA!

This blog is about my first successful Tiger safari in Bandhavgarh National Park in Budget. It is situated in Madhya Pradesh, Incredible India.

We approached Bandhavgarh National Park late night from a short cab drive from Jabalpur. After making Dhaba stops at interesting places, we entered the pitch dark pathways of the forest. Deers ran past swiftly, their eyes shining when met with the headlights of the car. Suddenly the car gets stuck on a large stone. I came out of the car, secretly scared that a Tiger will snatch me and drag me to the dense dark jungle. None of that drama happened. We crashed into our bed, shivering thanks to the extreme North Indian winters.

 

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The spotted deer we saw in night. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

THE NEXT MORNING AT BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK:

The uncanny silence had cast its spell on the dense forest of Bandhavgarh. As we sat like statues in the safari jeep, holding our breaths alongwith other creatures of the jungle, a faint grumble made us skip a heart beat. I suspected it was a tiger roar. Just as I was anticipating my first Tiger sighting in the wild, Joanna, the Polish co- traveler who accompanied us suddenly blurted, “Guys, chill, it’s the tummy of one of us!” Laughing out loud would have been a mistake. We settled for constipated smiles and concentrated on hearing a real roar.

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The sub adult tiger I saw. This was clicked by a local guide. We saw the tiger’s back. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

The guide was unperturbed by our tomfoolery. He focused on each sound the jungle made. A peacock call! A monkey haphazardly jumping over branches. With every movement of a tiger, the inhabitants of the forest unite. The different species communicate with each other and their own kind about the looming presence of the predator.

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The spotted deer. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

After waiting for sometime in futile, the guide moved the jeep to another spot. He told us that the probability of seeing a tiger is high on that spot. We waved to other weary and grumpy wildlife enthusiasts on another jeep. They looked disappointed as they punished themselves in the chilly North Indian winter morning just for a glimpse of the elusive tiger.

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Alex and Joanna. It was their 3rd and last attempt at Tiger spotting. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

As we stopped behind a slew of safari jeeps, populated with anxious travelers, we were told that a Tiger roar was heard sometimes back. A half-hearted roar welcomed us minutes after parking ourselves. A real one! We were told that a tigress and three sub adults were lazing behind a bush! Is it this bush? Or that corner? Goosebumps ran through our hands as we realized that we are very close to 4 tigers. We waited patiently, almost forgetting to keep breathing!

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Tiger pug marks we saw. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

A sudden commotion disturbed our meditative search for tiger. Here it was! A sub adult tiger suddenly walking in the middle of the dirt track! Unfortunately we faced the other direction. We turned our backs in a jiffy. Unperturbed by the human presence and all the unsolicited attention, the Tiger moved arrogantly in a self important way. He walked without making any eye contact, with a swagger fit only for the King Of The Jungle. Within few seconds, he disappeared in the thick forest, leaving us with lasting memories. It will be always special to me he was the first Tiger I spotted in the wild.

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Happy after seeing the tiger. (L to R) Alex, Joana, Mayuri, me. Pic by: Sudeep Sen. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

Making the effort to travel all the way from Mumbai, waking up on a freezing winter morning in the middle of the jungle, skipping breakfast; all made sense now.

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Do pick some cool tiger merchandise at one of the shops. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

My maiden Tiger was successful maybe due to the beginner’s luck. I did more safaris after this in other National Parks and missed the tigers by few minutes. The famous Bandhavgarh National Park is famous not only for its celebrity tigers but also for its heritage sites and rich history. I had planned to visit the fort in the forest. However, it was closed thanks to an annual religious fair where Kabirpanthi congregated and made music!

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Don’t worry about the breakfast. They serve it at a designated place for a small fee. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

As our Tiger obsession met its satiating end, we made sure we appreciate the other gems Bandhavagarh has to offer. An Asian paradise flycatcher showed up and vanished instantly, as if it never appeared. This is one of the most beautiful birds I have seen in India. A long and bright tail and a crown perched on its head gives it the aura of ‘Queen of the jungle.’

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Sambar deer and the spotted deer. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

We came across an open grassland. Monkeys and spotted deers had huddled around a mahua tree. It was a symbiotic relationship. Deers and monkeys are always found near each other. They alert each other of the presence of a predator. The monkeys drop fruits as they feed or jump over the branches. This helps the deers gain access to the fruits on tall tree. This strategic arrangement amused me with the ways of the jungle. We also spotted the spotted deers, monkeys, swamp deer, peacocks etc.

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One of the best aaloo ka paratha I have had was in a small shop outside the park. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India


FACT FILE

Best time to go to Bandhavgarh National Park: The Bandhavgarh National Park is open for wildlife safari from October to June every year.

How to reach Bandhavgarh National Park on a budget:

I arrived at Jabalpur from Mumbai via train. It is also connected with other metro cities like New Delhi and small cities. I stayed overnight in Jabalpur. I made a stop in Jabalpur to see Chausath Yogini Temple and Bhedaghat. I stayed at the home of my friend Mayuri and Sudeep Sen. From Jabalpur I took a cab in the evening. I stayed overnight in a guest house. The next morning we did the safari and returned for Jabalpur in noon. Easy!

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Tiger merchandise and more. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

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Me outside the entry to Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Incredible India

 

54 thoughts on “MY FIRST TIGER SAFARI: BUDGET TRIP TO BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK, MADHYA PRADESH INCREDIBLE INDIA!”

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  11. I’ve only ever been on Safari in South Africa but I would love to head to Bandhavgarh National Park to see the tigers! So glad you got to witness the king of the jungle in person. What a memorable experience. Plus, that paratha looks delicious (I’d travel just for that)!

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  14. The first tiger spotted will always be special. Mine was in Bandipur. It sure was a thrill. Any clue what was the name of this guy? It is interesting to know the stories of these guys from the rangers.

  15. Sighting of a tiger is definitely an experience that is going to stay with you for a long time. A wildlife safari always has this element of thrill and every small sound is sure to send the adrenaline coursing through the veins. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your tiger story.

  16. I have to gather all my courage if I ever have real experience like yours. It’s just wonderful that you see a TIGER with your own eyes. And witnessing other wild animals is undoubtedly a great memory.

  17. I have to gather all my courage if I ever have real experience like yours. It’s just wonderful that you see a TIGER with your own eyes. And witnessing other wild animals is undoubtedly a great memory.

  18. Heard a lot about this place and about its wonderful experiences from many people. I have never been here or to any wildlife Sanctuary before. But to see tiger in wild i mean i cant imagine how I will feel then but really want to go now. You seem to be very excited. I am sure it’s one of the best travel memories you have

  19. I too had been to such Tiger safaris and I know how much fun it is chase after a Tiger’s hints.
    The post is beautiful and loved every bit of it

  20. What????????? You managed to spot the striped beauty in your first ever tiger safari??? I envy you. I’m yet to spot one and I’ve already been on a couple of safaris. Your local guide did get a stunning shot of the tiger. Wrapping up the tiger spotting with the aloo paratha is just perfect.

  21. Seems like you had a great experience! Congrats on seeing a tiger on your first tiger safari, what luck. Never heard of aaloo ka paratha before, but now I want some, it looks so good!

  22. I would love to see Tigers in the wild that would be truly amazing experience to see. This tiger safari is a once in a lifetime experience for sure and I will definitely be adding it to my bucketlist for the future. Glad to know that the best time to go is October to June as well

  23. Lovely place and to observe wildlife so closely must be very adventurous and thrilling. You have captured nice shots of tiger and deers. I lived in Jabalpur for few months and had been to Bedaghat but never been to Bandhavgarh due to lack of time for which now i am regretting.

  24. Wonderful post and especially love your story-telling method and how you incorporate everything into it, from the safari to the food and information on how to travel to Bandhavgarh. Off late it has been one place where most people are lucky enough to stop the tiger, but as I have learnt from my travels, there’s so much more the jungle than just the tiger and it’s great to see you have captured other animals too. Especially loved the night shot of the deer.

  25. What an awesome way to spend the day! Definitely worth an early morning start. Seeing wild animals in their natural habitat is the only way that I want to see them, even if it means I might have to wait a few hours.

  26. I got a real chill when reading your post. This tiger safari is a once in a lifetime experience and I hope I get to see it one day. Your photos capture the excitement of the safari!

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