Didn't cross the river? Don't worry, here's a day in the buffer zone


Guest Blog

Nestled 150 km from Bhopal is the Satpura Tiger Reserve lying in the Satpura mountain range. It isn't known to a lot of people but that is changing slowly. More and more people are flocking to this reserve to experience the varied flora and fauna. I'm going to talk about my experience.

                                                                                On the way to the resort

In December 2017, it was my third time in the reserve - the first in 2015 before the tourist season began, the second on the first day of the season and the third on the 28th and 29th. Out of these three times, I only got to cross the river once but each time was an experience in itself. From spending time with family to living in a luxurious lodge (Reni Pani Jungle Lodge) in the arms of all things lavish to staying in the Madhya Pradesh Tourism's Bison Lodge, each time was special.

                                                                               Morning view from the room

There are morning and evening safaris that are offered at the reserve where you can explore both the core and buffer zones taking your own sweet time. The minimum duration of a safari is 3 hours and it's quite cheap compared to Kanha, Bandhavgarh or even Jim Corbett. The best part is that there are no 'jacks'; you need to book everything online and there are no middlemen. I suggest you book one well in advance since there are less than 15 slots available for each safari, morning and evening. Also, try your best to get an elephant safari if you want to go into the core of the core area. Here's my third journey and the best so far.

                                                                               Here's the first glimpse

Our day began in Bhopal where my family and I packed up for our one-day adventure trip. We were to travel 150 km to MP Tourism's Bison Lodge in Madhai. We started at 0830hrs and made two stops on the way out of which one is a must - samosas and mawa batti in Obedullaganj. This is an absolute must since they serve the best in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The second stop was for chai which is again an Indian staple. No driver can drive for more than 100 km without having a kulhad of chai. Once we reached our destination, I was, again, taken aback by the beauty of this place. Like I said, it's an experience, not a destination. Our lodge was nice and spacious with balconies overlooking the river. The beds were neat and clean but unfortunately there was a TV in the room and fortunately, there was no cellular network. The silence of the phone is sure a bliss and it offered a respite from every mail from work.

                                                                                A kingfisher perched on a tree

We proceeded to our rooms to relax before lunch and our evening safari in the buffer zone. Mind you, I was traveling with a bunch of photographers, my father and sister, and to them, everything was a subject from the flowers to the birds and at times, us. Take an American Plan, it sorts your meals when staying overnight and is a cheaper option as well compared to a la carte. We were served a variety of things and it was quite delicious considering our experience with MPT before; that's a story for another time. After lunch, we had about half an hour to pass before the safari began. The window for registration opened at 1430 hrs and we flocked to it to be assigned a Maruti Gypsy. Once done, we left for the buffer zone of Parsapani. With our fingers crossed we hoped to catch a glimpse of a leopard since they are found in abundance in the region.

                                                                                 Entering the buffer zone

At the beginning, we only saw wild boars, also known as Honey Singh in the region. There were no deer to be seen, only boars and peacocks. We couldn't stop laughing at the fact that the boars are called Honey Singh because of the original Singh's hairstyle is similar to a boar's. We caught a couple of kingfishers and owls on film but nothing much and by the end of the second hour my granny started complaining and saying that Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal is the best place to catch a glimpse of a leopard and even tigers. What she didn't know was that in the buffer zone there was a tiger ready to greet her and us, lurking in the tall grass, hidden from view unless someone has as sharp a eyesight like my father. Before the naturalist could spot it, my father did and he says " I could feel it in the air that the tiger was close by and that the silence was so deafening that he could hear the tiger breathing". Fun, right? Oh, it was! We followed the tiger for a good 100 m and the bumpy ride only added to the experience and the best part was that out of 13 vehicles that had entered the zone, we were the only one to see it to tell the tale.


Meghna Vivek Mishra