Drive from Ooty to K Gudi Wilderness Camp
K Gudi Wilderness Camp was about 200 kms from our then location, Ooty. Having known that the Kalahatti ghat road cannot be used by tourist vehicles to descend, had no choice but to take the route which is via Pykara dam. But google map played us by suggesting a route which was not open for common public. One is required to reach the camp by 1300 hrs, but we were still in Ooty struggling with the route out of Ooty at 1230 hrs. After asking few locals and somehow fixing the route in google map, we eventually began our real journey to K Gudi Wilderness Camp.
Before I proceed further with the travel story and the camp experience, below are few details about the camp, that will help you plan your trip better.
K Gudi Wilderness Camp
K Gudi Wilderness Camp is a property run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts situated in the B.R.T. Tiger Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary. BRT stands for Biligiri Ranganatha Swamy Temple. The forest is covered with a variety of flora and fauna which includes many different plant life, including scrubs, dry and moist deciduous and a mix of grasslands. Making this place perfect for wildlife to thrive. The forest is unique and picturesque. It acts as the wildlife corridor between Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats of India.
To maintain the continuity of the story, have shifted the complete details about the property in the end. One can use the TOC having caption, “More Details about the Camp”, to jump to the section, if relevant.
Journey to K Gudi Wilderness Camp Continues
Continuing on our drive from Ooty where google map played us in the beginning by offering a route which was not open for common public, we were ready for another shot. The google map showed arrival time as 1430 hrs, which was late, though still enough time to catch evening safari which starts at 1545 hrs. I took a deep breath and did a quick prayer and said, please, I cannot miss the evening safari. While en-route, as usual, google had another surprise for us. It had offered a route which was less taken and probably less drivable, perhaps a shortcut, which I had no intention of taking. Very conveniently, google added another 45 minutes to the time required to reach our destination, after I ignored the short cut and continued on the highway.
As per our new timelines, we could only reach by 1515 hrs, leaving us hardly any time to settle down, forget about lunch. Took the challenge and prayed for no further surprises. With no break in between we continued the intense race with time. This worked in our favor though, it kept me alert having the two factors in mind, cut-off time and fear of missing out on Safari.
Entry at B.R.T. Tiger Reserve
Somehow, we were at the B.R.T. Tiger Reserve Forest Checkpoint at 1455 hrs. Google showed time to destination 1515 hrs. Quickly, we finished the basic formalities and soon we were back on race. The forest was extremely beautiful with huge trees looking heavy with enormous number of leaves.
We had only moved few hundred meters, we spotted a Serpent Eagle with a Snake Kill in the middle of the road. The snake had no skin on it anymore. I silently brought the vehicle to a halt trying not to disturb the bird. Afterall, the place belongs to them and we are visiting them. Soon the bird flew with the kill and the sight left us spell bound. My mind said, it’s a good omen.
Race with Time continues
It did not take me long to realize, the race with time is not over yet, but the incident boosted the spirit levels. Soon we found ourselves driving up B.R. Hills through the Tiger Reserve. We reached exactly at 1515 hrs in the camp. We had one of the Naturalists welcoming us from K. Gudi Wilderness Camp. The camp is situated at left immediately after exiting the hill road. The road straight takes you to the forest checkpoint for Wildlife Safari.
Since we were late, we had only one choice left, leave the luggage in the car and head straight to Gol Ghar for Lunch, which the JLR team were kind enough to hold for us. We had exactly ten minutes to finish our lunch and reach back to the very spot to catch the jeep for evening safari.
Encounter with Wild during Lunch
We did exactly the same. Headed straight out for lunch. Soon we saw ourselves on the dining table with our plates filled with whatever we could pick to quickly have our stomachs filled before the evening safari. We had not even started eating, from nowhere a monkey appeared. In no time, he jumped and grabbed Chapatis from Nutan’s plate. Before we could have reacted, his eyes collided with mine. I felt a little strange, as if he was trying to tell me something. Soon it became clear what he had in mind. He jumped and grabbed the chapatis from my plate as well and vanished in the woods. It felt, as if he wanted to say, “I am going to take the chapatis from your plate too”.
This incident surprised us a little, but instead of getting annoyed, it made us feel excited about what’s next is there in store for us at this wonderful place. Next, we found ourselves enjoying the yummy lunch that JLR had arranged for us.
A Visit to the Wild
After about non-stop 4 hrs drive from Ooty to K. Gudi Wilderness Camp and an adventurous lunch, we were all set for our very first Jeep Safari in the Jungles of B.R.T. Tiger Reserve. My mind was still wandering around the memories of Serpent Eagle that we sighted enroute with a kill, wondering, if we will be able to cross our paths again.
In no time, we were deep inside the forest through typical safari muddy hill-roads. We spotted a heard of Spotted Deers, followed by few Sambar Deers. It felt so good to have finally made it on time enough to catch the Jeep Safari.
While researching for the place, I had noticed many reporting of sightings of Brown Fish Owl. I wished, if I could spot one and update my bird list with this amazing specie of bird. There are about 200 plus species of birds in the jungles of B.R.T. Tiger reserve.
Soon, we came across the Serpent Eagle I had wished for before starting the safari. We stopped for a while and clicked few images and moved forward. Not even 200 meters from this spot, we came across another extremely beautiful bird of prey, Changeable Hawk Eagel (Crested) at a close proximity. Though, it was sitting in little dark, but gave us enough opportunity to photograph and shoot some videos of it.
Next in line, we had Brown Fish Owl waiting for us just round the corner, not very far from this place. It felt like a dream come true, as on multiple occasions this bird had eluded me. I was all click-click-click. Though, again the lighting was not as good as I would have liked, but getting one of the most awaited lifers was in itself huge.
It is impossible not to think about big cats whenever you are out in Safari. Being a Tiger reserve, I was wondering, if my jinx of not spotting a Tiger will be broken, once and for all. In all my safaris, so far, though the count is less, I had never come across any big cat, apart from one instance of spotting a Leopard for a very brief moment, once in Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. Back then, I was not into Wildlife or even into Bird Photography. We in fact, have a Video from that travel, which was even shared by NatGeo India on their social platforms back then, which was huge for us, as getting their attention is not easy. That too for a YouTube video. Check the Video here: Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
Coming back to this safari, we saw other Safari jeeps waiting for something. There was a strange silence in the air. It did not take long for us to read that they had spotted a tiger and were eagerly waiting for it to come out again. It was a male Tiger that they had spotted. One of the guests had managed to click some pictures of it.
Our Naturalist and driver, Mr. Shafiq, told us that he is very shy. They have spotted him multiple times in recent visits. And every time, he has rewarded the patience by giving a royal walk in the end. Though, other few guests were doubtful, but our naturalist was certain, if given time, he will show up. This was all coming from past experiences from the encounters. But today was different. It was already dark and the clock was ticking fast leaving us with no time to stay back further. We were forced to leave, with a hope to catch him the next day.
An Eagle with a Kill
The next morning was not so exciting in terms of Safari. Though, the sighting started with a Grey-headed fish eagle (that’s what I’m zeroing in to, but open for correction, if applicable) with a kill, but not so close in the range at a water body. In between it was even drizzling, though soon the forest was shining bright with a clear blue sky. In no time, we were at the same spot, were one of the Safari Jeeps had reported the tiger sighting last evening. But, there were no trace of him. We scanned the place but had no luck. We eventually moved ahead with disappointed faces in the Jeep.
Soon we were back at the waterbody were we had spotted the Eagle earlier. We spotted a Greater Cormorant sunbathing. We spent sometime photographing it and were back in the camp to have a sumptuous breakfast at Gol-Ghar.
Birding in the Camp
We spent the day after the morning safari, exploring the camp area. Spotted woodpeckers, Asian Fairy woodpecker, a flycatcher and few other birds. Walked to a pond just next to the camp area.
Soon it was time for lunch and took some rest before the evening Safari. But, the evening safari was unlike any Safari that we had done. Full of excitement, drama, suspense and action. Have covered the experience in my earlier blog. Click here to read it: Tales of K Gudi Wilderness Camp – PankajSinghPhotographie
After the evening Safari, we were back at our cottages. Nights in the jungles are very different. You can hear the sound of the jungle. It’s a totally different experience all together. After our dinner, I was trying to click the crystal-clear moon and I heard the call of a Sambar Deer. That reminded me of something that one of the camp officials had shared earlier. A leopard is a permanent resident of the camp. He has been sighted multiple times in multiple occasions. That thought was sufficient enough to make me rush back to my cottage without any delay.
Last Safari – Luck on our side
It was a beautiful morning. Indian cuckoo filled the camp with its unique melodious calls. Something which is so unique that will make you go awe. Their calls add a special feel to this magical land. The Jeep Safari in the morning starts at 06:15 AM, so one needs to be ready real early. It gave me an opportunity to experience the jungle morning in its purest form. Took out my cam and tried to capture the call of the Indian Cuckoo coming from all the directions, along with the calls of Asian Koel and many other small birds joining the party with their melodious chirping. It felt, as if there was a competition to prove who sounds more melodious.
I was standing in the balcony area of our cottage and was enjoying the beautiful view of the forest, it offered. I was looking at the moon shining bright through a picturesque tree in front our cottage. A small tree bird appeared and gave a beautiful silhouette view with the moon in the backdrop. Though, I tried to capture the moment, but was not completely successful.
A failed Start
To catch the Jeep Safari, we are required to head to the pickup area. The guests from previous evening were catching up over morning Tea / Coffee before heading out for the final round of Safari. The energy from the last dramatic evening safari was clearly noticeable. We were all excited and soon took seats in our respective Jeeps. Two Jeeps initiated the drive, and now it was our turn. Our “Star” from the last evening, Mr. Narayan, gave the Ignition of the Jeep a start, but it did not budge. He tried again, it failed and in the third attempt it was up and running.
I was trying to read the omens and thought, what is this failed start trying to signal. Soon we were out of the camp and approaching the entrance of the forest. To enter the forest, we leave the main road and take the muddy path on the right. But, our driver noticed a private car approaching from the other side of the main road coming from the Jungle side. He stopped and waited for them to reach us. I had no clue what the driver had in mind. The private car stopped and informed us that they had spotted a herd of Indian Bison on the main road and also spotted a pack of Wild Dogs. Immediately, I recalled, we could have missed the vehicle by seconds and so the opportunity of spotting Indian Bison and Wild Dogs, had the engine started in one go.
Sighting of Indian Bison / Gaurs
After this little intel we got, we did not waste any time and headed straight in the direction of the sightings of the Wild animals. Soon we came across a herd of Indian Bisons, most of them appeared to be male. They must be around 7 to 8 in number. There was a young Bull who was getting special attention from another bull who was huge and looked all muscled up. Most of them looked similar in the build. I had never come across such a herd before. It was a beautiful sighting, a wonderful way to start the morning.
Later, upon digging the internet for the behavior info, I came to know, “In January and February, gaur live in small herds of eight to 11 individuals, one of which is a bull. In April or May, more bulls may join the herd for mating, and individual bulls may move from herd to herd, each mating with many cows. In May or June, they leave the herd and may form herds of bulls only or live alone. Herds wander 2–5 km (1–3 mi) each day. Each herd has a nonexclusive home range, and sometimes herds may join in groups of 50 or more.”
While we were photographing the Bulls, we heard the call of another Bull at a distant. The strongest male bull got anxious. He started showing his power by crushing the branches and making a whistle sound. Our driver knew, the Gaur Bulls may charge if provoked or feel threatened, so he silently moved the vehicle aside giving them more space.
If we talk about India, up in the north, the Gaurs are very shy and they run away in the bushes, despite of their massive power, upon the sight of humans. However, in the south, it’s little different, they are used to of human presence and usually don’t run or react. However, if provoked, they don’t shy away from making a charge. They can get extremely dangerous, and one must take caution when sighted in the wild or roads through the jungles. Thumb rule to always follow upon encounter of any wild animal, give enough space, do not provoke and don’t make any sudden movements. Always allow them to pass first.
Sighting of Wild Dogs
Once we were done with our Photographs and watching their behavior, we moved forward with a hope to catch the Indian Dhole / Wild Dogs. In no time, we spotted two of them sitting peacefully on the roadside. They were sitting on the patch of a road which was little dark, giving us not enough opportunity to get a good picture. Soon we spotted more dogs joining them. We spent about 20 minutes filming them. It was such a beautiful sight; the morning golden glory made their fur shine like jewelry. I was thinking, even though, we are yet to enter the forest, but still here we are filming Wild dogs after witnessing massive Indian Bison bulls.
Our naturalist felt, though, we had moved past them to keep enough distance, we were obstructing their path. In no-time, he decided to back-up and giving them more space. The curious ones gave us a chase in playful manner. Their energy level boosted our spirits. Another private vehicle approached, which made them go deep in the bushes.
Into the Jungle
We entered the jungle and scouted the place where we had spotted the Tiger cubs previous evening, but no luck. We could see Elephant droppings in the path, and it made me recall our last encounter. What a thrilling evening it was. We saw a Serpent Eagle, the Brown Fish Owl, Sambar Deer, Spotted Deers and other birds during the jeep safari in the woods. We hit our paths with another Jeep in the woods, and we exchanged our sightings. It turned out, we were the only ones to have spotted the Indian Bison and the Wild dogs in the morning. Almost missed mentioning the sighting of a sloth bear. It was for a very brief moment.
Back to the camp and checkout
We were back at the camp and headed straight for our final breakfast in the camp. We were served Omlet, Puri and Potato Sabji with yummy south Indian Chutney and Sambar. In sweet, took Keshari bath, which happens to be my favorite. Keshari Bath derives its name from Kesar meaning Safron and Bath meaning mixture. It is a blend of Suji or Rawa, prepared with lots of Ghee and dry fruit a perfect dessert. There were other items available to choose to.
After the delicious breakfast, we had tea. It is an experience in itself to have the breakfast at Gol-Ghar surrounded by huge trees of the forest. We had to go back to our rooms and do the packing to start our journey soon back home.
Made two new friends, Mr. Nirmalya Chakroborty and Mr. Ayan Bhattacharya, at the camp who are into wildlife photography. They go crazy about big cats and have good experience in photographing them. Nirmalya Chakroborty invited me to attend his Calendar launch showcasing big cats. Have linked their profiles, feel free to check their work 🙂
More Details about the Camp
Continuing with the details about the camp, have broken down the information for an easier readability. Hope this helps 🙂
Types of Stay
K Gudi Wilderness camp has multiple package options giving different stay experiences:
- Loghut Package
- Tent Package
- Maharaja Package
- Room Package
The booking for the camp can be made via their website K Gudi wilderness camp | Jungle Lodges
We chose the Loghut package. For our earlier stays at other JLR properties, we had chosen Tent package. So, this time, we wanted a more comfortable stay. Having said that, all the packages offer a good comfortable stay, with some minor differences in experiences like space, view, etc.
How to Reach
- By Road – Just about 190 Km from Bangalore, can be reached by a private cab / vehicle / self-drive Cars. Offers some scenic views enroute. The route becomes extremely beautiful once in the reserve.
- By Rail – Nearest railway station is Mysore Junction which connects to major cities. From the station, one can easily get a cab to the camp. Camp is hardly 90 Kms from the junction, which is about 2 hrs drive.
- Nearest Airport – Kempe Gowda International Airport, Bangalore.
Tariff for the stay depends on the package chosen. Tariffs are per person per night on twin-sharing basis.
- Loghut Package – 8260/-
- Tent Package – 7080/-
- Maharaja Package – 7080/-
- Room Package – 5900/-
Please note that the Tariff above is excluding the Taxes and Forest entry charges. Camera charges will be additional, which is charged by Forest Dept., which is applicable only to lenses which are 400 mm or larger. Each such gear is charged at Rs. 590/- per Safari.
What’s included in the package
The package covers for Stay, all 3 meals – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, including Morning Tea and Evening Tea with Snacks. In short, you wouldn’t be required to spend a single dime once you at the camp, other than the camera charges. The package even includes 2 Jeep Safaris in the jungles of B.R.T. Tiger Reserve.
Check-In and Check-Out Time
Check-in Time : 1300 hrs
Check-out Time: 1030 hrs
The food is served in the typical JLR style at Gol Ghar. Plenty of options to choose from, applicable to both Vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians. Tasty and hygienic, yet light enough to easily digest. Though, you may want to watch out that you don’t end up overeating. 😀
Full marks when it comes to hospitality. All staffs are eager to give a helping hand in whatever way they can during your stay. A good experience is guaranteed.
Things to do
They have a perfectly planned itinerary which will keep you engaged. However, if you are staying for two or plus nights, you will have some free time to explore the camp area, which is huge. Lots of birds you can spot in the camp area. You may find spotted dears right next to your cottage. Monkeys, Wild boars are other companions that you can find in the camp. Listing few of the activities below for easy readability:
- Wildlife Safari – Part of the package
- Nature Walk
- Bird Watching
Note: Each cottage is provided with a Hammock Swing. A peaceful relaxing time can be spent in the woods.
Stay tuned to catch our Ooty experience. We stayed for two nights and explored some beautiful locations. Watch out for this space for a detailed blog post on Ooty.
Sony Fe 200-600Mm F/5.6-6.3 G OSS Telephoto Zoom Lens (White)
Sigma Sports 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras (Black)
Iphone 11 Pro and Iphone 13 for wide shots
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Check out our Travel experience to another JLR property, Kali Adventure Camp || Dandeli by my travel partner Nutan Singh.