It is sometimes very nice to have everything arranged for you by someone else – this trip was one of those. The Skoda team had arranged everything – I only had to get to the airport. I did that with quite some time to spare too. I’d planned to meet up with my college senior who works for the government at the airport but his shift had yet to start. Coincidentally though, I met a former colleague from Infy and we whiled away our time talking.
I stayed overnight at a hotel near the airport and got to the airport again for the flight to Nagpur. We had a small press conference at the Nagpur dealership after which the expedition was flagged off. Packed lunch from the famous Haldiram’s and we were on our way to Kanha!
The ride was pretty good, except for the traffic. The car (Skoda Yeti) handled quite well in the ghat roads at the end and I loved the feature where the fog lights switch on automatically in the direction of the turn. We got to this retreat called The Baagh which was definitely the nicest place I’ve ever stayed at. The food was heavenly! And the facilities were amazing.
We took 3 safaris inside the core forest area of the national park over the next two days. The first, with renowned wildlife photographer Mr. Nayan Khanolkar – a very knowledgeable, down to earth and friendly person, second with Mr. Adwait – another awesome photographer and the last with Ankit, who worked with the company doing the event arrangements on this tour. The conversations on each safari was different and quite enriching. I would not have appreciated all the wildlife if not for the experts with us. But we were not able to spot the star of the story – the tiger, in any of the safaris and that was a dampener. The second night, we all left for a joyride after dinner in the buffer forest zone. After a long while, I was able to see stars shining bright in the sky without any light pollution around. Other than that, we saw very little wildlife on this safari. We’d even missed a turn somewhere and had got out of the forest some 20km from our stay. Some had started grumbling (the temps were pretty low there) and wondering whose idea (Mrinalini) this ride was in the first place. And then, lo and behold, we see a tigress walking along the main road! Like Mrinalini and Nayan had said many times – if you’re in luck, you’ll sight a tiger even on a road; who would’ve thought!
The next day we did our third safari and went to Bamhini Dadar which has an abandoned air strip and is a vantage point for some great views of the park from a height. We were also shot on video for the ad which will show up in two weeks (tv18 and star group channels). I also showed up in their advert in Hindustan Times Brunch yesterday. Here are some pictures from the trip. I am yet to upload the GPS log files to Tripnaksha though.