”The Longest Journey is the journey inward”

Jungle safari season for 2019-20 starts in 2 days. I was wondering how do I persuade my urban denizens to join me in the life-changing experience of wild. So I came up with the idea of this blog. It was a conversation I had a few days ago with a friend of mine.

On idle Sunday my friend asked me, ”What do you do when you can’t go to the jungle? My reply was simple, ”Read about wildlife and photography, write blogs and keep myself updated, think and plan safaris. I collect so-called jungle intelligence across all parks and then plan my visits”

”So how is this season looking? What is it gonna be this season” My friend asked.

”I don’t think I have a head start. Some situation in family so no safari bookings done yet. Plus a lot of parks in central India are opening late cause of heavy rainfall, nonetheless, looks like Tadoba buffers in Oct. Followed by Kanha-Bandhavgarh in December. Followed by Pench Ranthabore and Corbett in summers.”

My answer was elaborate and quite futuristic.His perplexity was obvious on his face. He shot next question. ”So why only these parks he asked?”

”Answer is simple. I’m tiger infatuated and people who come to the jungle want to see a tiger. So my primary focus is on jungles with high tiger density and number of sub-adult cubs who are on the mark of becoming independent and not too young for mom to hide them in bushes.

Sub adult hiding from everyone in absence of his mumma. Ranthambore Oct 2018
tree hug tiger.jpg
Young sub adult male cub on prowl, marking his territory after becoming independent. Bandhavgarh November 2017

Kanha is undoubtedly most beautiful forest in India. Not very popular for regular tiger sighting because of geographical size. However this time round Mukki zone has 3 females with cubs and I have never seen ”ghost of Mukki”. That is what makes it interesting. Park is opening late this year.

kanha morning bhoorsingh seating
Misty morning from Kanha! December 2019

Bandhavgarh. Tiger capital of India is smaller than Kanha but has good number of tigers. Best part is every zone has cubs. Unique forest and maybe most popular across globe for tiger sighting. Surely you don’t wanna miss Bandhavgarh this time round.

Late Jr Kankatti from Bandhavgarh June 2015

Tadoba is unlike both Kanha or Bandhavgarh. It has huge bamboo teak forest areas and smaller patches of meadows. What makes it unique is that this tiger habitat has perennial water bodies and good prey base. Tadoba also known as Taru land never disappoints.

Leopard from Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve June 2019

Ranthambore is another league. Ranthambore is very popular with foreign guests and highly commercial. Getting safari permit is difficult and expensive. Ranthambore too has decent tiger number but less cubs. What I like about Ranthambore is the combination of forts ruins lakes and tigers. Park is opening late.”

Ruins of forts, palaces and temples make Ranthambore unique tiger destination. October 2019


So what are your dates?

1. Tadoba – October/Nov 2019 – 8 safaris

2. Bandhavgarh/Kanha- December 2019 – 8 safaris

3. Ranthambore – Feb 2020 – 6 safaris

4. Pench – March 2020 – 6 safaris

5. Corbett (Dhikala zone) – May 2020 – 8 safari

How do you manage logistics and it’s costing?

I have my own jungle fraternity. I’m one stop solution for myself and anyone who joins me. I give package which includes safari charges, luxury lodging and food. I can support with logistics or travel arrangement if need be.

I have heard jungle safari are expensive? What are package cost for all above plans?

Wildlife is expensive hobby. And mix it with photography is doubly expensive. Depending on service provider prices will change. It is always subjective. Most of costs are fixed and goes to government in the form of permits, guide fees, vehicle charges etc. Costing ultimately depends on the park, number of safaris, nights of stay, place of stay, services expected and number of people. I can customize packages to requirements. When you are in wild, you are completely disconnected with the modern day luxuries. My preference is comfort and hassle free experience in jungle with minimal luxuries. I have my own competitive markup since I put all my expertise to use. My costs are per person on double occupancy basis. Total 4 people will be their in gypsy for safari other than me. Refer my website www.spiritsofwild.com for further details.

Luxury stay
Luxury stay with jungle view from tree house
Stay at homestay minimalistic cost approach
Budget stay at government rest houses

Anything I should know when I’m going for jungle safari?

All forest entry permits rules regulations everything is controlled by forest department and Tiger reserves operate as per NTCA guidelines. Most parks have similar do’s and don’t yet you will find some tweaks based on geography, season and forest department rules. Example: In Tadoba tiger reserve guests are not allowed to carry mobile during safaris. It is punishable offence. However you can carry DSLR camera at some additional cost. This cost depends on equipment and lens you are carrying. Similarly in Kanha every vehicle has GPS tracker to ensure guests do not venture into unauthorised areas and don’t cross speed limits. 

All dressed up for safari at Kanha national park, Khatia entry gate. You can’t cross these gates without permits. Kanha, December 2019

How much before should I start planning?

Booking opens 120 days before in most cases. Popular parks with good animal movement and tiger sighting get booked as quickly as tatkal tickets of Indian railways. So planning has to be done much in advance. That is why you will see my plans are all long term. After all after all spending so much you don’t want to ruin the experience.

How about booking dates with you?

I generally have cutoff date to register for every plan. 50% non-refundable has to be paid by that date for registration. Remaining 50% amount to confirm the booking and retain seat has to be paid at-least 14 days before for start date of trip. No amount is refunded in case of cancellation once the booking is confirmed.

Cool, While packing for trip, what should I to carry?

Since you will be in remote areas I have quick mandatory checklist to ensure memorable experience. The list is as follows:

1. ID cards in original. The one that was used to book permits.

2. Essential medications

3. Cash – No ATM available in jungle

4. Earth color clothing (green, brown- No bright colors)

5. Clothing depending on weather (cotton in summers, wollen in winters)

6. Goggles

7. Cap/Hat

8. Sunscreen

9. Face mask to protect from dust

10. Binocular

11. Mosquito repellent

12. Camera

Sounds interesting, but I still have one last question. I have seen the pricing of many service providers, it is sometimes similar to 3 night trip to Singapore or Dubai, why should I spend it on the jungle safari and not on foreign country?

This is a common question especially from those who have never experienced luxury of living in wild. In my honest opinion the both can’t be compared and shouldn’t be. Going to jungle is different experience altogether because you live in lap of mother nature just like our ancestors did. Everything is natural, raw and savage. No manmade or artificial world can give the jungle experience. Staying in jungle with minimum modern needs is experience in itself . The thrill of tracking tiger or any another animal like detective is an experience no place can offer. 

butterfly on cap
Have you even see butterfly in city? Did you notice the butterfly siting on cap??  It is so peaceful and calm that nature starts talking to you and your inward journey starts. Image captured at Tadoba, August 2016

The Wilds will touch all your senses. Experience the wild and your spirit will be alive. After all it is only in tranquillity of wild one can hear himself. The purity of air that you breathe in jungle rejuvenate’s every cell in body, the green hues of trees and grass distress your mind, calm winds touching your skin ensures you are living the moment and the warm rays from sun will boost your energy. After all going to jungles is not just about seeing wild flora and fauna, it is also about living on wild side and finding yourself.

Your journey inward will start the day you step in the wild and accompanied by spirits of wild. 

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