My First Indian Safari

*Knock, Knock*

“Good Morning, this is your wake-up call, safari time.”

I sat on the edge of my seat in the Gypsy, trying to focus my camera on a leopard in the distance, when the flash of an Indian Roller swooped passed my lens. Next to me sat Neel Gogate, Naturalist and General Manager of Jamtara Wilderness Camp, guiding our crews morning drive through the forest. We were in Pench National Park, about 3 hours northeast from Nagpur, in the region of Madhya Pradesh, India.

I was on a self-guided project in Central India focusing on two subdivisions of ecotourism, nature-based tourism, and educational tourism. The project led me to intern at Jamtara Wilderness Camp, although I technically chose India, a part of me likes to think India chose me.

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Safaris have this thing about them that makes you feel alive; you wake up ready to take on the unknown. You can be on the brink of something remarkable or nothing at all and both seem intriguing. You could have a rare tiger sighting, or learn why the leaves look so transparent on the forest floor. Both are equally captivating.

At the ridiculous hour of 5:00 AM I noticed the guest we’re buzzing with excitement, ready to take on the day. I too had jitter-bugs (no pun intended). After coffee and tea, we hopped in our designated Gypsy’s and sped off racing toward the Indian sunrise.

Pench National Park spans its 1,179-square kilometer in the southeast corner of Madhya Pradesh, flowing its elegant roots, touching the upper region of Maharashtra. There are approximately 38 tigers in PNP, 325 species of birds, and 1,200 flora species.

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The fragrance of adventure was in the air, I could sense it deep within the jungle.

As we entered the park I could feel the beady eyes of the langur monkeys from high in the teak trees. Watching these curious fellas, has come to be one of my favorite pass times by the pool at Jamtara.

The first day I learned about male vs female pug marks, 4 different types of trees, the meaning of animal markings and saw 6 new birds I had never seen before. We saw a cute fluffy pack of wild dog, surprisingly the third predator in the ecosystem. Also, chital, sambar, and barking deer, whom can be found throughout Madhya Pradesh. Not hard to miss was a family of gaur, grazing on a path, who seemed very uninterested in us, these guys are the largest wild cattle in the world and can weigh up to one ton! It was one for the books.

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The days subsequently after my first safari were more focused on the big guys, aka the cats. One afternoon gazing out on an open plain my Naturalist, Avijit Dutta spotted a male tiger. “Kara 11 o’clock, just between the two teak and those massive boulders, do you see him?”

“Yes, he is there.. I see him.” This was my first sighting of India’s National Animal, the Tiger. A memory I will never forget.

Even though there were twelve other jeeps speeding behind me to get a glimpse, I felt as if I had the sight of my first tiger in the wild all to myself. I could feel it’s menacing glance, as he stood tall on the rock. The biggest cat in the world, right before my eyes; with my lens, I captured the moment I would remember forever… *Click.*

Another unforgettable sighting in Pench was my first upclose and personal spotting of two leopards (no pun intended, again, but they’re called rosettes). We arrived on scene just as the two sisters were playing tag! Chasing each other and climbing up trees. Wow! It was love at first sight and couldn’t take my eyes away from theirs, I was mesmerized in a trance for a whole 45 minutes. To be honest I envied the leopards, with their aqua blue eyes, exotic look and extreme cleverness.

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I remember leaving the park that day, promising myself to be a better citizen to the world. God’s creatures are too beautiful to live a world so stricken by pollution, deforestation and poaching.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be living in India and being immersed in an area of study I would have never thought for myself. Guest come and they go, but when they go they leave with a better understanding of the world around them, and knowledge about nature… naturally.

It has been truly incredible. Encounters about safari adventures are the main topic around the banyan tree, with a blazing fire pit, and the night sky full of magic that will have you thinking anything can happen tomorrow.

Waking up at an ungodly hour for an Indian safari well worth it. Just watch.

Central India offers many diverse adventures for all types of travelers, whether you’re looking for adventure, romance, or wildlife – Jamtara Wilderness Camp is a great place to start. Your journey begins. . . dive, swoop, or pounce into this beautiful region. And be amazed.

Transportation – Fly from Delhi to Nagpur; Jamtara will arrange the three-hour transfer through rural India to the camp.

Temps- 50 – 86 F / 35- 40 C mid-day in March (Peak season) (18-20 C in night)

Eat – Cuisine can be spicy or ‘not so much,’ depending on your taste buds.

Contact the team today –

Email: info@jamtarawilderness.com

206 Rakeshdeep, 11 Commercial Complex,

Gulmohar Enclave, Green Park,

Delhi – 110 049

India

Web: jamtarawildernesscamp.com Call: 91-98106095411

**Gypsy – This is a safari truck I always say car and have to correct myself, it is by all means a Gypsy. **

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Everyday at 3PM sharp the langur monkeys groom each other and sip from their personal watering hole. So curious! I love watching them!!!

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Nature walks provided by Jamtara!

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Nature walks provided by Jamtara!

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