Where the Big Cat Thrives – Tadoba – Part 1

I recently did a quick summer trip to Tadoba National Park in Maharashtra. This is place I’ve heard about for years, but I’ve never really been able to go to. With help from a few amazing fellow nature lovers, I was made part of a summer trip, and there I was.

Known to many as the real land of the tiger, Tadoba had already created an impression in my mind as one of the best places to sight the orange cat. I thought about this at the end of my trip, only to realize that the former statement is true to its very skeleton.

With 8 game drives spread over 4 days, I was able to see different parts of the forest, each zone unique in its own way. My first ride started with a fleeting leopard at a distance, and i thought to myself, “Boy, this is going to be good!”. I was wrong; I didn’t see much that day! Nevertheless, a couple of bird sightings kept my satisfied, and I looked forward to a good night’s rest before the impending morning drive.

Day 2: We set out to explore Kolsa, a region about an hour away from where we stayed, which meant we had to wake up really early and get to the gate by 6AM – and we did! Halfway through the ride we had figured out that tigers were out and about, thanks to incessant alarm calls from langurs. After a two hour wait, we caught a glimpse of 3 cubs who seemed to be waiting for their mother to come back. We watched them for about 10 minutes and realized it was time for us to leave the jungle. I did manage to get a record shot of two of the three cubs though.

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We were scheduled to come back to Kolsa next morning, and since the cubs were waiting for their mom, we were assured that they won’t wander too far from this spot. We headed back for lunch and got some rest before our evening drive.

In the evening, we explored the same buffer zone I’d been to on day one. Some strong alarm calls almost gave us hope of catching a glimpse of a leopard, but we didn’t see much. That said, this zone was just ethereal. Beautiful streams, patches of green, and a huge prey base for tigers. The herbivores entertained us for the day, and we headed back in anticipation of Kolara, which would be our destination for the last 4 drives.

Day 3: Kolara was our gateway to the home of the famous core tigers of Tadoba like Maya, one of the most photographed tigers in the world! We entered the zone and in just 30 minutes, we saw Maya lazing under the shade of some trees, in one of the more popular waterholes. What a start!

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Vehicles lined up to observe the queen in all her glory. We watched her for a good 30 minutes before she got up, crossed the road, and headed into another part of the jungle. We were thrilled. We tried positioning ourselves according to where we could expect her to come out from. She didn’t. We then decided to move on and check out who else is on the move, and to our luck, found a big male tiger entering a nearby waterhole. This guy is called Matkasur, and he’s a young male who’s growing really big! Boy, he was quite a sight.

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Matkasur dipped himself in the water for a good 30 minutes before he took off to mark his scent and inspect the nearby island.

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What a beautiful safari! With our hearts content, we headed out for a good night’s rest with the biggest smiles on our faces.

 

 

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