Going to jungle safari for first time. Read on. This blog will give you a quick glimpse of what you can expect.
You have been doing your planning for months. Assuming you have booked safari, setup travel logistics and lodging in advance with help of expert then the only thing you should be looking forward to is the thrill of unkown. Now all you need is some information on what you can expect and how to enjoy the safari to fullest.
For first timers going on jungle safari is full of excitement and bit anxiety. For me every safari is still with anxiety because I have experienced nature has its own strange unpredictable ways. For me every safari is different experience. So lets phase it and see what happens to you as safarist.
*Phase 0: Planning and preparation- The built up phase *
Here youbstart reading about the park. Tell everyone about your plans. What’s important is ths All parks in India has set of guidelines to be followed. For example jungle entry and exit within time slot and list of Do’s and don’ts. Make sure you know about them. For example, Tadoba doesn’t allow mobile devices inside and if you carry DSLR camera you will be charged seperately for that. So prepare according to jungle.
Most jungles won’t have ATM or medicine shops so ensure you carry sufficient cash and neccessary medicine.
*Phase 1 – Pre-Safari*
Let us assume you reach resort by noon. After check in, you will have quick lunch and head to entry gate for which you have permit. Keep yourself hydrated enough so fatigue doesn’t set in and ensure your bladder is empty before safari start time so that you don’t have to take washroom breaks. Washroom break is loss of jungle time.
Every jungle has different entry gates and zones. Depending on permit you will be allowed to enter and exit from same gate or access only that zone. Always wear earth colors and keep your body protected from heat and dust. Carry goggles,hat, etc to protect yourself from extreme weather. In winters temperatures can be spine chilling and summers skin tanning is a big issue. So carry sunscreens etc.
If its morning safari, you day may start as early as 5:30am in summers and as late as 6:30am in winter depending on time the gates open. Keep yourself warm, even in summers the first few hours in jungle can be cold. Also I always recommend to board the first gypsy. This is because you can read all signs of tigers like pug marks before been distorted by other gypsy tyre treads. So be on time.
Phase 2 – Start of safari
You are all set to go. Your ids will be verified against permits. Any variations may lead to cancellation of permit. Carrying original id is must for verification. Once you enter gate you will be dependent on your mentor/naturalist, guide and driver to give you jungle experience. Driver/Guide can make or break your safari experience.
Ensure they are best one. Honestly setting up your select guide/ driver is not possible since guides and drivers are now allocated on rotation baisis by FD. However in certain parks you can get particular driver or guide at additional cost. Choose wisely and tell them your objective. It’s natural setting, animals move on their free will. No one can gurantee sighting of any animal. You have to be patient with animals. At times you need to stay at same place for hours. During one my excursions at Corbett, I stay put at one place to see tiger for 2.5hours and then i got see him cross road for few seconds. That was it.
As for tigers you can have two outcomes of safari:
1. You get to see a tiger. When you see tiger only two things can happen. Either you will be awestruck with their charisma and fall in love with them or looking at muscle size and aura you will be scared to hell and wanna run away. Anyways your adrenaline will pump up and you will enjoy sighting of tiger. You will also hear lot of noise, see lot commotion from tourists, the excitement is natural. Everyone wants to see king. Dont bother, enjoy the chaos!
2. You don’t see a tiger. You will be disheartened for sure especially when you come to know someone else saw a tiger while you didn’t. Seeing tiger is also about been at right time and at right place. Never mind, enjoy forest, it has lots to offer. Never give up, you might have bumper sighting next safari. If not, may be the next and so on. Hope is biggest thing that jungles have taught me. I know of people who have seen tiger in every safari and I know of people who haven’t seen one in 18 safaris.
For me If I see tiger, i’m thrilled and I want more. My hunger to see tiger is insatiable. If I dont see I hope, I wish, I pray that I see tiger in next safari. Till then I enjoy what jungle has to offer, It works. This is the reason why i recommend minimum 4 jungle safaris anyone who has only tiger on mind. This increases probability of sighting. In jungles where sighting is compartively less, I recommend atleast 6 to 8 safari. After all most of us want to see tiger when we to jungle safari 🙂
Phase 3 – Post safari – The soaking period
You will move out of gate before time permitted time is over and your guide will report sighting to officials at gate. Then you head back to resort to freshen up and overnight stay. Depending on ageda, If it’s photo tour your mentor will guide you on images clicked and upgrade your skills before dinner. When at reosrt if you have co-travelers and friends entire evening is spent on discussions, why sighting happned and why it did not happen. Everyone around will share your experience and stories. The cycle continues as long as you are in jungle.
These discussions have no solid conclusion just patterns. This I believe is the real lesson of life. You can only explore the mysteries of jungle. They can never be solved. Just like life, you go through it and you have to live it. All you go take back from jungle is happy memories!
Whatever happens you will realize the spirit of wild is natural, mysterious and lives on cycle of hope and despair, teaching lessons of life. Wild spirits teaches us to Expect the unexpected.