As you go deeper and deeper into the forest, you start to feel like you’re in a special place…
Most visitors to Bandipur have come to spot tigers, as there are more than 170 of them in the reserve, but we always tell them that there’s much more to enjoy. The national park is at the edge of the Western Ghats, at the junction of Tamil Nadu, Karala and Karnataka, so you have different landscapes: the plateau in the north, rolling hills and plains covered in dense forest.
There’s so much wildlife that you’ll always see something – wild elephants, spotted deer, many kinds of birds – though it can take a while. One time, I was with some clients and we’d been the whole way around the forest and all we’d seen were peacocks and some wild dogs. We were actually on our way out when we noticed a huge boulder, and there was a leopard sitting on the top.
Some encounters are even more exciting. Once, we came across a single elephant deep in the forest, but no one was very interested because we’d already seen so many. But this one blocked our jeep, so we had to turn around and then he started to chase us, and suddenly it was a lot more interesting! And, of course, it’s always a thrill to see a tiger or, even better, a female with two cubs drinking at a pond, which is my best sighting so far.
As you go deeper and deeper into the forest, you start to feel like you’re in a special place, especially in the early morning when the air is fresh and all you can hear is the birds singing in the trees. It’s my favourite part about going to Bandipur: just being inside the park, experiencing the sounds and smells of nature, whether we see any animals or not.