The woods are lovely, dark and deep...

The woods are lovely, dark and deep...

Weekend getaway

The woods are lovely, dark and deep...

After travelling around the world for the last 25 years (that I remember), I can safely say I am a jungle girl. What it means is that I am happiest roaming in jungles, where the silence is so loud with the chirping crickets, the rustling leaves and the occasional call of the wild. So when I had the prospect of a long weekend last winter, I chose to visit Kabini from Bengaluru for a rejuvenating experience.

Kabini is technically a river that borders the southern-most zone of Nagarhole National Park. Nagarhole is known to have one of the highest tiger populations in India, making it a good area for animal spotting. Kabini Forest Reserve was originally a private hunting ground for the Maharaja of Mysore and is now well-known for its large mammals and predators as well as the diverse bird population.

Our trip to Kabini certainly surpassed all expectations by adding the perfect ingredients of a good weekend trip — smooth and not very tiring travel, a gorgeous resort and a beautiful jungle. The myriad wild animals just made it more thrilling.

How did we go?
Our love for self-drive meant that we drove ourselves for about 200 km. Given that it was a long weekend and we knew that all of Bengaluru will be heading out, we left at a leisurely pace at around 10 am. From Bengaluru, we took NICE Road followed by Mysore Road; both are in great condition but crowded. Post that, we took Mananthavaadi Road and followed Google Maps for directions. While the road quality is excellent, it is a narrow road without dividers. The last 7 km is through a village mud road and hence, a tough drive but given the rest of the road, it is not too much of a deterrent. We reached around 2.30 pm after having stopped for lunch at Kamat Lokaruchi.

What did we do?
While we reached too late on the first day for a safari, we walked down to the Kabini River and experienced the sunset. Post dusk, our resort, Red Earth, arranged for a local tribal performance, which we enjoyed with some lovely cocktails. The next morning we set off early at 5 am for a jungle safari in an open bus. The safari point at Domankatte gate was 7 km from the resort and we drove to the entry point in our vehicle. Although the morning was foggy, we hit luck and saw spotted and barking deer, sambar, wild boars, a herd of elephants and an elusive tiger sauntering away with grace and poise from the waterhole to the bushes. After returning, the rest of the day was spent in the resort with different activities such as nature walk, cycling, boat ride in the river, lounging by the pool and a soothing spa treatment.

On our last day, we again started early for yet another jungle safari, but this time we opted for the Jungle Lodge Resort operated boat safari, starting 20 km from the resort.

The boat safari was exciting due to being on a boat mid-river. However, dense fog prevented significant sightings, limited to water birds — migratory and resident. After returning, we finished breakfast and drove out to head back to Bengaluru.

Our trip lasted three days and two nights. Kabini turned out to be the perfect long weekend getaway for a wildlife lover like me. The good roads made the drive enjoyable and the vast array of wildlife was just staggering. A definite recommendation for all wildlife lovers.

Total distance: 215 km one way from Bengaluru.
Accommodation: We stayed at Red Earth, Kabini. The luxury cottages start from Rs 10,000 for room only for two people for a night. One can also stay at the government run Jungle Lodge Resort, given its location and better chance with safaris.
Accommodation: Kamat Lokaruchi on Mysore Road and Hotel Annapoorna in Mandya.

Ishira Bhattacharya
(The author can be contacted at ishirabhattacharya@gmail.com)

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