Exploring Karnataka's wild side

23 Mar 2011
Posted by Kiran
Nagarahole Wildlife Reserve
Nagarahole Wildlife Reserve

Recently, I got the opportunity to visit two of Karnataka's well known Wildlife destinations: first, as a birthday present to me, my wife planned a day visit to the Dubare Elephant camp; second, we decided to take a break from the work schedules and head off to the Nagarahole Wildlife Reserve.

Both outings were planned spontaneously via Jungle Lodges & Resorts (JLR) and turned out to be extremely enjoyable; we came back thoroughly refreshed and elated.

This blog post is to share our experience as well as some of the pictures I managed to click on these trips.

Dubare Elephant Camp

If you like being close to elephants, this is the place to be. Even though the elephants you will be getting close to are domesticated ones, it can still be a fairly intimidating, but exciting, experience.

At Dubare, you can either stay the night or limit your stay to only a day. In either case Dubare will allow you to interact with elephants and learn about them. If you choose to stay the night, there are a few more activities that you can take part in such as a jeep safari into the Dubare forest as well as a dinner-time campfire.

The highlight of your visit will be the Elephant Activities (or elephant interaction, as it is sometimes called). This needs to be booked separately and isn't included in the fees charged for the day-visit itself. However, I highly recommend that you buy this as part of your package. The interaction comprises of getting up close and personal with the elephants as they bathe in the river Cauvery. You can also try your hand in giving the elephants a scrub! To participate in these activities, you will be asked to arrive at Dubare early in the morning — at around 8 AM.

Having never been to Dubare before and not finding it marked on Google Maps (I added it to Google Maps after my visit), we had a tough time finding the place. As a result, we arrived there only by 9 AM and were worried that we had missed the best part. However, we soon realized that the Elephant Activities only start around 9:30 AM as the elephants started to laze into the waters.

After the elephants finish their bath, they are fed with a special preparation comprising of Ragi and Jaggery, and then head off into the forest for their daily chores.

A day visit to Dubare also includes an elephant ride and a guided stroll through the forest. However, we found that this stroll can be quite tiring after the heavy lunch, especially if you are traveling with kids.

All in all the visit to Dubare turned out to be a very refreshing and enjoyable experience. Here are a few pictures I clicked that day.

Gentle Giant
Elephant Activities
Enjoying a cool bath
Elephants enjoying their bath
Give me some food!
Give me some food!
River Cauvery
The cool waters of the river Cauvery

You can view the rest of pictures I took at Dubare here.

Nagarahole Wildlife Reserve

I don't think the Nagarahole Wildlife Reserve in Karnataka needs any introduction. It is one of the most famous Tiger reserves in India. And that is why I've wondered why it took me so long to visit it, especially since I live only a 1½ hour's drive away from it.

We finally made it to Nagarahole this month. I needed a break from work and hence took a week off and booked our stay at Kabini River Lodge (again through Jungle Lodges & Resorts). The road from Mysore to Kabini River Lodge was surprisingly good as we drove at an average speed of 70-80kmph.

JLR have setup a very nice and comfortable resort on the banks of the river Kabini and offer various types of tents and cottages for your stay. You can choose to stay in a tent, a cottage, or a Maharaja cottage! Since we were travelling with a 3½ year old, we decided to go for the best cottage available — we booked the Maharaja cottage. However, I can tell you that the other types of cottages too looked very comfortable and we weren't able to spot many differences between a cottage or a Maharaj cottage — at least not from the outside!

You need to check-in at Kabini River Lodge between 11 AM and 12 noon and can expect to be greeted at the reception by friendly staff who will provide you with an overview of the program, which includes two safaris, a wildlife documentary, sumptuous meals as well as plenty of time to rest and relax. You are then led to your cottages/tents to settle in.

After lunch, you will set out on the first jeep safari, at around 3:30 PM, accompanied by experienced forest staff and drivers. These safaris can be extremely exciting if you are lucky to spot animals and also extremely boring if you don't come across much wildlife. However, the forest staff are surely experts at spotting wildlife and seem to be able to spot animals even through the thicket.

We were quite lucky in our safaris — we spotted deer, langurs, a leopard, a herd of elephants as well as a lone tusker, Gaur, and some very colorful birds.

For photography enthusiasts, such wildlife reserves provide umpteen opportunities to click interesting photographs. These safaris can also be a test of patience.

Here are some of the pictures I got at Nagarahole and you can view the rest in the picture gallery.

Leopard crossing
Leopard crossing
Deer duel
Deer duel
Majestic bird
Majestic bird
Black-faced Langur
Black-faced Langur: Am I being watched?
Lone Tusker
Lone Tusker
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

A few words about Jungle Lodges & Resorts

I don't think this post can be complete without talking about Jungle Lodges & Resorts themselves. I have only good words to say about them.

Their staff are always polite, friendly and ever helpful. They do not hesitate to go out of their way to help. Our stay at both these places was made extra comfortable thanks to the personal attention that the staff afforded us. The accomodation is top class and the food is delicious. Simple, yet delicious!

The only complaint I ever saw anyone make is that they charge quite high prices for Foreigners. That is too bad since I believe more and more Foreigners should come to places such as these; but I don't think that charging high prices to foreigners is anything unique to JLR — I have noticed it in almost all tourist destinations within India. I don't understand the reasons behind it and do feel that it is a policy that the Indian Tourism department needs to have a hard look at.

Nevertheless, I would highly recommend that you visit these destinations if you haven't already.