Kanha National Park: Field report
The Kanha National Park is located about 180 kilometres southeast of Jabalpur in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the largest in the country with an area of around 2,000 square kilometres. Nevertheless, the probability of seeing a tiger in the wild here is particularly great. Since I had not always been lucky with animal sightings on my previous trips, I was curious how it would go here.
Below is my experience report. Information about the park I summarized at the end of the article.
After a short flight from Delhi, we are already expected at the airport in Jabalpur by the driver who has sent our hotel. For four hours we drive over narrow roads and bumpy roads to the Kanha Jungle Lodge. There we are the next two nights accommodated. We receive a friendly welcome and familiarize with the course of the safaris. The staff of the lodge already booked everything for us months ago. This is also important because the number of vehicles allowed into the National Park per day is strictly limited.
The alarm goes off at 4:45 am the next morning. But getting up is not difficult, because the anticipation is great. After a small snack and coffee and tea, we sit at 5:30 in the jeep and drive the few miles to the park. Besides the driver, we are accompanied by a guide from the lodge. He tells us a lot about the flora and fauna on both days and keeps his eyes open. We would have overlooked many things. Also, a guide will be added later, which is employed at the National Park. By the way, Kanha National Park is the only one in the country where there are also female guides, a commendable approach to open up further careers for women in India.
At 6:00 clock is inlet. Slowly it gets light, and after only a few kilometres we see the first animals. Some deer and deer graze along the way, birds look down from the trees, a few peacocks cross the road. Meanwhile, the sun rises and sets the park in an almost magical light. I’m already looking forward to being here.
A little later we see the first larger groups of monkeys and some wild boar. However, we usually continue fast. There will be time for these animals later, we learn, because now it’s time to look for tigers that are particularly active in the early morning.
Shortly thereafter, it will be exciting. We slow down and see some fresh tracks in the sand. Our guides identify them as tiger prints. Also, the monkeys’ warning calls are heard at the top of the trees. We behave very quietly and stare into the forest. We hear Geraschel, but there is nothing to see. More jeeps stop next to us.
After a long time there was no more to hear, it goes to a place where a tiger was seen yesterday. On the way we meet again and again on other vehicles. The inmates stand on the seats and look through their binoculars, but here too no success story.
It goes on like this for a while, but we do not see a tiger this morning – but lots of other animals, a group of wild boars cross the road in front of us, colourful birds sitting in the treetops. And again deer, deer, cattle. As we escape the midday heat and drive back to the lodge, the mood is positive.
At 15 o’clock it starts again, this time in another part of the park, in higher regions. Here I get an impression of how huge the Kanha National Park is. Green as far as the eye can see.
Also impressive are the many unknown sounds that can be heard from the woods. As in the morning, it’s great fun again. We see many animals – but no tiger.
On the way back we drive past a vantage point for the last time, where we already lay in wait in the morning. There is a wide swath through the forest. Also, some other jeeps have already positioned themselves. Again, the warning calls of the monkeys are heard.
And then it happens. About 50 meters away, a tiger comes out of the forest and lies down in the grass. Only for half a minute before trudging off to the other side, a murmur is heard. The people in the vehicles are taken me too.
Shortly thereafter, most jeeps leave, as the park closes soon. Only we have a little moment and drive a bit along the way, turn off the engine and listen. We hear him in the undergrowth. He is very close. Will he cross the street before us?
No, because shortly afterwards it is quiet. Did he sit down? We cannot wait anymore. For delays, drivers and guides receive high penalties from the park administration. That was it for today.
I’m about to pack the camera away as we drive around the next corner and have to brake hard. In front of us on the street is a bear! I’m lost for words.
Slowly he gets up and trots ahead of us along the road. We have it all to ourselves. It is fantastic. However, for the reasons mentioned above, we cannot lose much time here either and set out on our way to the exit. The 50 monkeys on the way to a water hole, we do not true. Very happy we come back to the lodge.
4:45 the next morning, the same game, the same anticipation. This time we treat ourselves to the premium zone of the national park. Here is the entrance a little higher. And the journey is a little longer because it goes much further into the park along the way the same impressive pictures as the day before.
The landscape in the Premium Zone is even more beautiful, the inhabitants in about the same. Again we lie in wait, hear sounds, and see branches that move. The tension increases, but the tiger does not show up. Here at this point, he ate a monkey yesterday.
We continue to search and return later to the same place. Ten jeeps are standing here; all inmates are looking at a spot. The tiger is about 80 meters away in the shade under a tree. Currently, he is not visible. We wait, but nothing happens. When we want to continue, he suddenly raises his head. Again a murmur from the jeeps can be heard. And a disappointed “oh,” as he lowers him again after half a minute. We will not see him again either.
On the way back, two jackals pass very close to our vehicle. We also see two eagles. Then it goes back to the lodge.
It was gorgeous. Too bad we only booked three safaris. But they certainly were not the last ones. The Kanha National Park made a very good impression on me. Precisely because there are strict rules for the protection of animals, and these are also monitored.
If you get here, despite the good odds, you should not stare at seeing a tiger unconditionally. Otherwise, you cannot properly appreciate the many other great impressions waiting for you. If the tiger is 15 meters in front of you in the tall grass, you will not see it although you are so close. So just enjoy every minute you can spend in this great nature.
Facts and figures
The prices depend, among other things, on the zone in which you want to go. We paid about 200, – Euro for two persons and a total of three safaris, one of them in the Kanha Premium Zone. You should clarify when booking, with how many people you sit in the jeep.
The park is divided into five zones, four of which are open to visitors. The Kanha Jungle Lodge I’ve stayed in is at the entrance to the Mukki Zone and from this entrance you can reach the Kisli, Sarhi and Kanha (Premium) Zone. Only one zone can be visited per safari.
Park opening hours
Kanha National Park is closed from July to mid-October. In the other months, two safaris per day are possible. The first to the sunrise, this goes until about 11/12 clock. The second is in the afternoon from about 15/16 clock to the sunset.
Important: Only 140 vehicles are allowed in the park per day, 70 each in the morning and afternoon. Therefore, you should book early, preferably 90 days before your arrival.
I stayed at the Kanha Young Lodge and wrote a review. In the neighbourhood, there are a few more accommodations.