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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Kabini Tiger Reserve: Karnataka’s Most Popular Wildlife Getaway

Beautiful otters come out to play at Kabini Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, India

Massive congregations of wild elephants, leopards sitting on tree branches, the elusive black panther and the tiger, large packs of wild dogs and a stunning array of bird life…A wildlife holiday doesn’t get any better than that. Kabini Tiger Reserve’s jungle experience is so amazingly rich that it the one of the most popular weekend getaways from Bangalore and definitely one of the top wildlife holiday destinations of India.

Elephant and dry Kabini lake bed

I absolutely love the jungle safaris inside the Kabini Tiger Reserve. With the exception of the black panther, I have spotted more or less all the animal and bird species living in this forest. All these sightings were not during a single visit, but rather on multiple visits. After all, you need to be lucky to spot the animals in the wild. The good thing is that your chances are much better in Karnataka’s Kabini.

Silhouette of Indian darter bird shining in the morning sun at Kabini National Park

Recently, I got another chance to indulge in the wild riches of Kabini when the luxurious Golden Chariot train stopped here for a pit stop. This visit just lasted a couple of days (which is much lower than the standard 4 to 5 days that I usually spend), but nonetheless, it allowed me the opportunity to go on one jeep safari and one boat safari.

Gaur and spotted deer grazing at Kabini Tiger Reserve, India

While I didn’t see any of the big cats (tiger, leopard, panther) or the wild dogs, I did get to see a whole group of otters playing out in the open. This was a first for me as I had never seen otters playing out in the open. On my previous visits, I would always just be able to see their heads bobbing up and down in the water.

Sunrise over the Kabini Reservoir as seen during a morning boat safari

The morning boat safari is when I spotted the group of otters. These morning boat safaris are a great way to catch a glimpse of the sun rising through the morning mist, while seeing busy action in the kingdom of birds. Cormorants and darters seem to be preening and drying themselves after an early morning breakfast dip in the Kabini reservoir. And then, there are the pipits, sandpiper, stilts, fishing eagles, river terns and many other colorful birdlife that is usually on full display in the early morning hours.

Seeing many otters at one shot - a rare occurence at Kabini Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, India

Even though the boat safaris are fun, I personally prefer the jeep safaris that take you deep into the jungle. These jeeps are able to cover more ground and hence giving you a much better chance of spotting the elusive species. Kabini holds iconic status in South India for its elephants and hence it is a given that you will definitely spot elephants on your safaris. If you are going during the summer months, you might be lucky to spot an entire herd.

Spotted Deer grazing on the dry reservoir bed, Kabini Tiger Reserve, Karnataka

And not just that, but almost always you end up seeing a beautiful display of gaur, spotted deer, sambar deer, wild boar, peacocks and others during the jungle safari. As we haven’t had much rain the past few years, Kabini reservoir is almost dry and hence most of the animals can be spotted on the dry lake bed.

Male and female gaurs graze at Kabini Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, India

In addition to the grazers, I spotted malabar giant squirrels, macaques, grey langurs, the very colorful and beautiful Indian Pitta, the majestic greater racket tailed drongo, the angelic paradise flycatcher and many more.

Spotted deer, peafowl, wild boar, gaur and elephant graze together at Kabini Tiger Reserve, India

If you are looking for a top wildlife getaway from Bangalore this summer, I would recommend Kabini Tiger Reserve for a wholesome and fantastic wildlife experience. And when you are there, do keep an eye out for that massive congregation of wild elephants. You never know you might just get super lucky.



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