Journeysmatter

A blog on journeys, great destinations and fantastic travel experiences

The Pench National Park

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An antlered spotted deer watching out attentively

We explored the intimate settings of the Jamtara wilderness camp in our previous blog. The camp hosts visitors who would like to enjoy a safari or two at the #Pench National Park in #MadhyaPradesh. The Pench national park is India’s 19th project #Tiger reserve and is spread over 758 sq km of area, out of which 299 sq km is considered to be the core region. At last count, it is said to house over 1200 species of flora and fauna.

Considering the number of visitors lining up for safaris, it is advisable to book your rides in advance via the property where you plan to stay. The three gates namely Karmajhiri, Jamtara and Turia from where safaris commence, have numerous hotels dotting them with Turia having more than 30 of them across various budgets. The hotels ask for a copy of your public ID which they use to book your safaris. Carry the same ID’s on you during your travel as they have to be produced at the time of entering the park for your first ride.

The morning rides commence from 630 AM until 11 AM. Afternoon rides commence at 3 PM and one has to exit the gates by 545 PM. The park is closed during the monsoon months of July, August and September. For the morning rides, the hotels equip the vehicles with a hearty breakfast which is enjoyed at a common point called Alikatta which has well maintained toilets. During winters, the safari vehicles are equipped with a hot water bag and a warm blanket to stay warm. Good to be well equipped. The safari vehicles start from their respective hotels with a naturalist usually at the wheels and are joined by a guide at the entry point. The guide is mandatory and are well aware of the park layout and the calls of various species. A tip of Rs 150 – 200 towards the end of the ride should serve as a good encouragement.

Winters bring in a lot of birds and summers draw out the animals to the water holes. All seasons are equally enjoyable and having an open mind helps. If one goes out just for sighting a Tiger, chances are that one may end up returning disappointed despite hearing a few sambhar warning calls or long growls of the tiger. Important to follow the park etiquettes and avoid noise while patiently waiting for a species. Children, until they are over 10 might find the long rides troublesome and might lead the vehicle to an earlier than expected exit from the park.

We stayed at the Jamtara Wilderness Camp during our travel and visited the park from the Karmajhiri gate. The ride from the camp to the gate took us close to 20 minutes and passed by a very well organized village whose residents were all from the Gond community. Presenting oneself at the gate on time is helpful to complete formalities before entering the park.

We sighted many species and not only sighting them but also watched them go about their activities which proved to be an experience in itself. Pictures were shot using a Sony a7III and a Sony G Master 100-400 mm.

The Common langur with its newborn
The common langur with its newborn maybe a day or two old as its head is still red in colour. The newborn was the center of attention in the flock and was being cared for by all the ladies
A tracking elephant with his mahout
The tracking elephant is used by forest guards to track Tigers within the park. The elephant is also used to herd deer if the park wants to shift some of them to another zone or even another park. The mahout gently taps the head of the elephant to steer him in the right direction
A gaur watches intently
The Gaur, a majestic herbivore and bovine appears in the afternoon along with its family and silently goes about its grazing but also acknowledging the visitors with a steely gaze
Picture collage of owls - Indian scops owl and jungle owlet
A couple of Indian scops owl are happy at not being detected while another one wants to be visible. A Jungle owlet awaits the descent of darkness
A Jackal walks around unmindful of hordes of visitors
A Jackal walks around unmindful of hordes of visitors
A Ruddy shelduck also called Brahminy duck
The Ruddy Shelduck also known as the Brahminy duck is a winter visitor to India and arrives from beyond the Himalayas. They are said to attain heights of over 6,800 meters as they migrate.
A white throated kingfisher
Widely present across Asia, this white throated Kingfisher is a picture of serenity with a small frown or focus however one may call it
An Indian roller
An extremely colourful bird found across many states in India. Roadside trees, open grassland and scrub forestland all offer excellent habitats for the roller
A group of male plum headed parakeets
A group of male plum headed parakeets found extensively acros India. Females have a grayish blue head
Red and Yellow wattled lapwings
A red wattled lapwing inhabits marshy areas near waterbodies where as the yellow wattled lapwing is seen only on dry scrubland.
Backside of a peacock readying to spread its feathers
A peacock readying to turn around and showcase its spreadout feathers
A peacock with its fully opened feathers
A peacock with its fully opened feathers towards sunset
An Indian grey hornbill
The Indian Grey Hornbill is a fairly common hornbill species found only in the Indian subcontinent. They play an essential role in the ecosystem as prime dispersers of seeds. In cities, we may find them feeding on fig trees like banyan, Goolar (a variety of fig), usually choosing old tall dense trees for nesting.

A wonderful trip to the Pench sanctuary came to a conclusion and left us with fantastic memories. Keeping aside the constant chatter of visitors in their jeeps asking a one dimensional question if we sighted the Tiger, the park is a delight and offers immense joy during moments of silence when one parks the jeep and pauses to listen to the sounds; the sound of a teak tree leaf falling too has its distinct impact.

Plan your travel in advance, choose a good place to stay and insist on a good naturalist to accompany you. Reach out to response@narmadaholidays.com for any questions.

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