How to Plan a Wildlife Safari Trip in South India?
This article talks about how to plan a Wildlife Safari Trip in South India keeping in mind the safari quality, the sightings, and the ease of doing one.
Parks in South India
Usually, Bangalore (with an international airport, the 3rd busiest airport in India, after Delhi & Mumbai, is seen as the starting point for your Wildlife Safari trip in South India. These are the parks most sought after (in the order of priority)
Nagarhole Kabini – Approx 240 kms south of Bangalore [takes approx 5 hours] & 70 kms south of Mysore [Approx. 1 hour] and good roads. Famous for big cats – tigers, leopards, and also known for its black panther sightings. Also elephants, dholes (wild dogs), sloth bears, all kinds of deer, mongoose, etc
Bandipur – approx 230 kms south of Bangalore [takes approx 5 hours] & 70 kms south of Mysore [Approx. 1 hour] and good roads.. Again famous for big cats – tigers, leopards. Also elephants, dholes (wild dogs), sloth bears, all kinds of deer, mongoose, etc. This is, in fact, adjacent to Kabini.
Nagarhole Coorg – the same Nagarhole park but it’s the northern part while the southern part is called Kabini. It’s approx the same distance from Bangalore [240 kms] or Mysore [70 kms], and roads are good. Get to see the same kinds of animals and birds as in say, Kabini or Bandipur [sans the Black Panther]. They are tigers, leopards. Also elephants, dholes (wild dogs), sloth bears, all kinds of deer, mongoose, etc.
Bhadra is approx 280 kms north-west of Bangalore (approx. 4.5 hours) and very good roads. Bhadra park is a dense forest on the river Bhadra and is a mixture of deciduous and evergreen forests. Bhadra has a similar kind of animals mainly tigers, leopards. Also elephants, dholes (wild dogs), sloth bears, all kinds of deer, mongoose, etc. But it is famous for lots of different kinds of birds and mainly river terns
BR Hills or what is called Biligiri Ranga Hills Tiger Reserve. This is approx 200 kms south of Bangalore (4 hours drive) and approx. 90 kms from Mysore. Similar kind of animals and birds you get to see here, tigers, leopards. Also elephants, dholes (wild dogs), sloth bears, all kinds of deer, mongoose, etc.
Rangantittu Bird Sanctuary: it’s a beautiful bird sanctuary that is situated on the way to say Bandipur or Nagarhole or Kabini from Bangalore and is approx. 160 kms or 3 hours from Bangalore and roads are very good (approx. 15 kms from Mysore and less than ½ hour) and you just need to do a boat ride in the backwaters to see all those birds and even muggers (crocodile type you see in this part of the world).
Roughly 170 bird species have been recorded here. Of these, the painted stork, Asian openbill stork, common spoonbill, woolly-necked stork, black-headed ibis, lesser whistling duck, Indian shag, Stork-billed Kingfisher, egret, cormorant, Oriental Darter, spot-billed pelican, and heron breed here regularly. The great stone plover and river tern also nest here. The park is home to a large flock of Streak-throated swallows. During the months of January and February, more than 30 species of birds are found and the season of the sanctuary is from November to June. About 50 pelicans have made Ranganathittu as their permanent home
Anshi National Park: This park is pretty far from Bangalore and is approx. 500 kms away and takes 9 to 10 hours of travel but can be covered from Goa which is approx 140 kms (or 3 hours). This can be skipped per se but if someone is critical about seeing a dense forest, a habitat that is part of the Western Ghats, this is the park one needs to visit.
The black panther and tigers live in the park but are rarely seen. Other large mammals here are Indian Elephants, Indian bison (gaurs), sloth bear, Indian wild boar, bonnet macaque, northern plains gray langur, gray slender loris, several deer including barking deer (muntjac), mouse deer (chevrotain), sambar deer and spotted deer (chital or axis deer). Wild dog, jackal, jungle cat, leopard cat, small Indian civet, Indian gray mongoose, flying squirrel, porcupine, Malabar civet, Indian giant squirrel, and pangolin also make their home in the forests here.
Reptiles in the park include the king cobra, spectacled cobra, Russell’s viper, saw-scaled viper, common krait, Indian rock python, rat snake, vine snake, green or bamboo pit viper, and monitor lizards.
Interesting birds include the Ceylon frogmouth, great hornbill, Malabar pied hornbill, Malabar grey hornbill, Indian grey hornbill, and Asian fairy bluebird. Around 200 species of birds are recorded in the park. These include the distinctive adjutant stork, Ashy Woodswallow, black-crested bulbul, blue-headed pitta, Brahminy kite, broad-billed roller, crested serpent eagle, great hornbill, golden-backed woodpecker, Malabar pied hornbill, Sri Lanka frogmouth, and yellow-footed green pigeon.
Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary: is located in Ballari district in Karnataka. It is spread over 82.72 km2 (31.94 sq mi). The sanctuary was created exclusively for the preservation of the sloth bear. It is about 50 km from Ballari and about 15 km from the World Heritage Site Hampi. It is approx. 350 kms north of Bangalore (approx. 7 hours). If you are serious about sighting and photographing sloth bears, it’s a sure shot sighting here.
How to Plan the Itinerary?
Ideally, Kabini should be a must in your itinerary because of the richness of the forest and the versatility of, birds and reptiles that live there and also best place for the sighting tigers and leopards and if you are lucky, the black panther. Unless you are a professional/hobbyist wildlife photographer, 2 nights there is more than enough which gets you 4 safaris. [If you are a professional/hobbyist wildlife photographer, please contact us separately as the number of days all depends on what you want to photograph]. But please note that Kabini is the most expensive forest to visit, as all-inclusive costs start from $200 per person per night based on dual occupancy.
If you have more nights to spare, adding Bandipur for a night or two is good as it gives a different kind of habitat and chances of seeing tigers and leopards are high here (as in Kabini) and by any chance, if you had missed sighting and photographing them in Kabini, hopefully, you can get to see them here. Also in Kabini, you get to see the leopards mostly on tree branches but in Bandipur chances of seeing it walking on the road is much higher. BTW Bandipur is also expensive but slightly lesser than Kabini.
If you like birds (sighting/photographing), you should visit Rangantittu bird sanctuary and it won’t take an extra day but just a few hours on the way to Kabini or Bandipur
If you are tight on the budget better to do BR Hills instead of Kabini or Bandipur and you get to see the same animals/birds but sighting of big cats is less compared to Kabini/Bandipur. Nagarhole Coorg is most suited for people who are budget conscious and/or interested to Coorg as a NatureStay and then add a day or 2 for Wildlife.
Bhadra has a different kind of forest and a different habitat. You probably get to see the same animals but you get to see a lot of birds and many river terns. As far as river terns are concerned, during summer [March, April, May], a grand spectacle unfolds on the Bhadra Reservoir. As the water level recedes and exposes submerged rocks, thousands of River Terns and Pratincoles flock here to nest. It is chaos on the rocks as the birds struggle for space to breed and raise their young ones. Little one takes baby steps on the rock even as the parents fly in with little fish in their beaks for feeding. Whether summer or not, watching birds during a boat safari in Bhadra is a spectacle by itself. If this is something you like to see, Bhadra is a must. 2 nights there with 2 jeep safaris and 2 boat safaris are ideal.
Again if you are interested in seeing a totally different habitat of western ghats, you must add a day to travel to Anshi and 2 nights over there. The birds and reptiles you get to see there are numerous and very different.
Also, if you want a sure shot of seeing and photographing sloth bears, Daroji is a must place and one night there is enough. Also if are having the world famous Hampi as a place to visit, you can visit Daroji from there – just a few hours drive.
Anyways, irrespective of what you like and how many nights you can afford to spend, do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to design a perfect south Indian wildlife itinerary for you completely customized to your likes and budget.
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