As I wrote my recent article on 5 wildlife destinations in South India for the Lonely Planet, I found myself recollecting my own tryst with nature and wildlife at Kabini. It has been quite sometime since that trip but given that today is a Throwback Thursday, what best but to share my long weekend at Kabini.
Kabini is a wildlife reserve near Mysore and is a part of the Nagarhole forests. It used to be the private hunting grounds of the Royal family of Mysuru, where the Wadiyars were known to have hunted scores of elephants and tigers. If you recall my earlier post on the Bangalore Palace, you will note that some of the relics from their hunting expeditions were kept as trophies in their palaces. Thankfully, when the Wadiyars gave this up, the forest was released and it became a part of the protected Tiger reserve and the Rajiv Gandhi National Park.
Kabini is a smaller area of this park, so named after the Kabini river that flows through it. It is this river that attracts the wildlife, where you can spot mammoth elephants, the prancing deer, the dancing peacocks and tons and tons of colorful birds. It is around here that the mighty Tigers prowl and the fleet footed leopards hunt their prey. The same river has the huge Mahseer fish and given its fresh water, attracts tons of exotic birds to it.
I had heard a lot about this place and one long weekend was all it took for me to get there and explore it. Packed into 2 cars with 3 crazy kids and 4 adults, on a beautiful day, we head to the diverse wildlife reserve of Kabini from Bengaluru. We had booked a stay at the Kabini Waterwoods, a resort that was right on the banks of Kabini river. The drive to Kabini took us around 5 hours, with a short halt enroute at the Kamat Lokaruchi. Once we had passed Mysore and entered into the forest zone, there was a visible drop in the temperatures. At some point, we had to take a diversion and encounter 45 minutes of bad road. Eventually, we reached our resort and checked in.
The first thing I noted was the numerous birds that were flying around the Kabini river, some of which did not even need the binoculars to spot them. The resort had an outdoor dining shed and we had the pleasure of having lunch in the company of these birds. It is a different experience to have a meal amidst the squirrels and birds – a huge change from the fine dines and restaurants of the urban city. The cool breeze blowing around and the sights and sounds of nature to keep you company can be such a refreshing change.
We spend that evening at the resort using all the facilities that they had – cycling around, flying a kite, playing some outdoor games like football and witnessing the beautiful sunset over the river Kabini. We ended that day with a dinner around a bonfire, meeting our fellow guests who had just come back from a safari. We learnt that they had managed to spot a leopardess and her cubs in the forest.
The next day, post our breakfast, we headed out on a Boat safari around the river Kabini. We spotted some interesting bird life on the driftwoods in the river, but no such luck with animals. They say that if you are lucky, you can spot several along the banks of the river. 🙁
We finally landed at the village of Beemankoli. Beemankoli was an interesting village, one with a 12th century temple and Banyan Trees which were over centuries old. We did visit the temple but it was the Banyan Tree that became a highlight. Not just the kids, but we adults too, had a go at their hanging branches to try out our possible skills at being Tarzan and Jane.:-)
It was a fun experience for the kids, something that they had never seen before. Swinging on the branches was not easy but at the end of it, they mastered it and were unwilling to let go till we threatened to abandon them.
Along the way, we found some unusual boulders, smooth and perfectly rounded. There was no explanation as to why they were there. They felt like the “Roc’s egg” from Sindbad’s adventure. I had myself thinking of the story and remember sharing it with the kids.
Once back at the resort, we had a quick lunch and waited for the evening Safari to start. We boarded the closed Jungle Safari bus and entered the red world of Nagarhole. As we neared the Kabini river, here are some sights that we saw.
The best sight were the elephant’s having a fight. Could not get close for obvious reasons 😉
The kids kept pestering us for the leopard that we had heard of, but instead of that, we managed to see this 😀
We returned back to the resort after the lovely safari. The one thing that I have to draw your attention to is the fact that I used the word “red” when describing the world of Nagarhole. The forest has red sand all around that flew onto our hair and faces. It was quite funny for from dark hair beauties, we had become red haired ones 😉
That night, we sat on the swings and stared up at the starry night sky, sharing stories of the constellations and milky way with our kids. There was a calm and peaceful feeling within – something that I cannot explain, something that I have never felt even when I have been at home. Maybe it was seeing those animals in their homes, maybe it was being in the pure and natural space or maybe it was just a beautiful night.
The next morning, before we left, we had fun feeding the same flock of birds that we had seen on day one, climbing a few trees, playing with the resident dogs and just posing on the quad bikes 😉 We reluctantly piled back into our cars and headed back to the concrete jungle. Though it has been some time since I did this trip, it remains as fresh and recent as ever.
That weekend at Kabini was one of the most relaxing and fun weekends I had, one that I will definitely be heading back to and one that I recommend for all of you. Till then, here is a happy pin 🙂
Getting to Kabini:
- Kabini is around 80 kms from Mysore and 210 kms from Bengaluru. Bengaluru is the nearest airport while Mysore is the nearest railway station.
- One needs to hire a vehicle to reach Kabini as there are no public buses to this place.
- Kabini is best visited between October to May. The chances of spotting wildlife during this time is quite high.
- There are plenty of resorts and hotels in Kabini for a good stay. Some suggested names – Orange county, The Serai, Jungle Lodge, Waterwoods, Red Earth and The Bison. I have personally, stayed at Waterwoods and definitely recommend the same. Of the others, I have heard some good reviews.
- Dress sober and comfortably when heading for a Safari. Please keep your voices low and avoid scaring the wildlife.
- The Karnataka State Tourism offers a boat or a jeep safari between 6.30 am to 9.30 am & 3.30 pm to 6.00 pm. Your resort will be able to help you in booking the same. The same is generally, a part of the package offered by the resort.
- You can even do Kayaking and a few other adventure activities in Kabini. These are offered by the individual resorts.
- There is an Elephant camp accessible at a distance of 2 hours from Kabini. The same is in Kerala and can be reached by road from Kabini
- This is a wildlife reserve area and there are no commercial shops or restaurants here. Hence, you will need to partake all your meals at the resort or hotel that you are staying in. Also, note that you will need to depend on them for all your essentials. Hence, it is advisable to pack well before you reach Kabini