Tales of K Gudi Wilderness Camp
Jeep Safari in the Jungles of B.R.T. Tiger Reserve
After running dry for an hour in the jungles of B.R.T. Tiger reserve, with just a few minimal sightings, our Naturalist Mr. Narayan jumped in a flash and drove straight in a direction determined to reach and confirm what he just saw was true. We were sitting at the back seat of the Jeep, so for us it was not possible to make out the words he uttered about the sighting, but the gesture and the level of alertness he showed, it got us equally thrilled and left us guessing the unheard exclamation. My heart skipped a bit, with all the drama that I was witnessing unfold. Just a while ago, I was consoling myself after an hour of no activity drive in the Reserve, things change in jungles faster than one could apprehend.
The Drama unfolds
We reached at the spot and started scanning the thick bushes. Mr. Narayan whispered with extreme excitement that there are two tiger cubs hiding inside the bushes. Within moments, I could notice some movements in the thickets. The stripes well camouflaged with the surroundings, but yet clear enough to give you goosebumps. I jumped from my seat, and how would you not, when it’s your first ever Tiger sighting in the wild. By this moment, everyone in the jeep had shifted to the left side to get that one glimpse of the beautiful Tiger Cubs. Photographing them in the bushes was not possible because soon they went deep inside after noticing our presence.
The location was a typical solid mud path meant for Jeep Safaris and thick forest on both the sides with layer of bushes making a wall. To add to the uniqueness, this patch of road was actually a hill road having the slope downwards to our left where we spotted the Tigers. Our Naturalist drove the vehicle a little bit back to give the Cubs and the possible presence of mother Tigress some space. Immediately our focus shifted to the time, we had exactly one hour before the darkness takes over and we will be forced to leave the place.
We took a breath of relief with the thought, we have ample time to wait for the Cubs and the Tigress to come out in the open for us to cherish the ultimate beauty, the reason we were there in the first place. The light was perfect, golden hour of the evening exactly what one would need to get the picture of lifetime. I could only imagine the mother Tigress with the two cubs walking on the pathway in that beautiful golden light in the picture-perfect condition.
The Game of Patience
Twenty-five minutes had passed already, and our imaginations were going all around. I was thinking, what if other safari jeeps come and scare away the Tiger cubs or what if the Cubs are already gone. I was not even finished thinking about it that the very moment another vehicle started approaching the location from the other side. We signaled them frantically to stop and backup. But the vehicle was on a curve, and it took the other driver sometime before he could notice our gestures. He immediately obeyed the instructions passed on by our Naturalist and backed up the vehicle slowly without making any sudden movements. In no time, the other vehicle stopped at a decent distance with its engine killed. Soon the sound of forest engulfed our ears back again and the waiting game was back on.
It was almost dark, but there were no signs of the Tigers. We were left with no choice but to move forward and try our luck. Everyone in the vehicle shifted to the left with their gears on to catch whatever one could. Most of us had tele lenses and it was dark. Framing the tiger with such a Lense in the given light conditions and proximity were near to impossible. In one hand I had my giant Sony 200-600mm set at 200 mm and in the other my iPhone 13, both shooting videos simultaneously with the hope to fit the Tiger Cubs in the frame.
The next move
We slowly moved forward with everyone in sync to capture whatever one could in their frames. And to our surprise, all this time while we were waiting for the Tiger Cubs to come out on the road, one of the Tiger cubs was already sitting out in the open since that long but was not visible to us or the other vehicle due to tall grasses surrounding the cub. Our eyes collided for a brief moment, and I felt the chill in the spines. That look, that moment, got frozen in my memories. Soon it ran in the opposite direction and jumped inside the bushes.
I still couldn’t believe what I just saw. It took me some time to come back to the moment and gather myself. I guess all in the vehicle felt frozen by the event. Soon I realized, I was videoing in two of my devices. With my heartbeat racing high I started scanning the video shot on mobile to see if I had got the Tiger Cub in my frame. Well, was not completely disappointed, I had a record clip of the sighting capturing the moment when our eyes collided and the moment when it ran and vanished into the bushes, though not that stable the way I would have wanted.
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The Game was not over yet
Soon we started to leave the place with a heavy heart, knowing that none of us were able to get the picture-perfect shot we all dreamed of. But the excitement of having sighted one of the beautiful tiger cubs and a record clip of the cub made me feel content. Well, we did not know another drama was waiting to unfold not very far from here.
It was almost dark, and we were still on the hill road and the path was blocked by a herd of Wild Elephants. No one was going anywhere, even if wanted to. This was true even for the Elephants, as the path was narrow leaving no place for anyone. Both the drivers backed up the vehicles in sync to give the mighty elephants some space and respect. The confidence and calmness with which both the drivers responded, instead of reacting to the heat of the moment, could only come with years of experience and respect for the wild.
Call of the Elephants
I think there were about 7 to 8 Elephants in the heard including a calf. The naturalists immediately understood, this can soon turn into a dangerous situation if not responded responsibly. Our driver instructed to stay watchful and not to make any kind of sudden movements or noise. We all obliged without any hesitation. Soon I could sense tension in the air.
One of the Elephants, a giant one, tried to give a false charge on the vehicle ahead of us. He respectfully backed up slowly giving the elephants enough space. After watching us for about 5 minutes, the elephants allowed one of the vehicles to pass. Now it was our turn to make an exit. But, the elephants blocked the way again.
The giant elephant did another mock charge, this time it was our Jeep. Our naturalist backed up further giving the elephants more space. Once the herd made sure, we were not a threat, they allowed us to pass through. The driver pressed hard on the accelerator and in no time, we were out of the way from the elephants’ path. We all took a shy of relief.
Back at the camp
Soon we were back at the camp and all the guests, though strangers, became friends in no time. We all shared our experiences from the event over Coffee / Tea and Onion Pakoras. I realized I was the only one who had got the tiger cub filmed from the evening. Soon that clip became the center of attraction and talk of the day. I still remember, when Nutan and I were boarding the Jeep, one Gentleman Mr. Chakraborty who was going to share the Jeep with us, asked jokingly, have you brought luck? And I was like, oh! yes, for all of us. What a thrilling day it turned out in to.
The other guests shared a picture of the pug marks they had photographed from the place earlier. We learned that there were two tiger cubs, and the female tigress was not around with them. Perhaps, during our first encounter, one of the Tiger Cubs had already left, while the other one sat enjoying the golden hour hidden in the high grasses. With the given size, he must have been around 8 to 9 months old.
To be Continued
After the end of the exciting evening safari, we all headed back to our rooms. This was our Day 2 at the camp and 3rd Safari of the trip. Stay tuned for the story from the next morning Safari to experience the excitement that the beautiful forest had in store for us.
About the 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 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. One of the most beautiful forests I have ever seen. The forest acts as the wildlife corridor between Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats of India.
Best Time to Visit
Owing to the fact that sanctuary has a pleasant climate throughout the year, any season is ideal for a visit. Plenty of wildlife, which not only includes Tigers, Elephants, Gaurs, Deers, Wild Dogs, Sloth Bear and other mammals, but also is home to over 200 species of birds. One is welcomed by Chital at the very camp. The melodious song of the Indian cuckoo fills the camp every morning. I could go on and on and on writing about the camp and the experiences, but I guess, I should end the blog here with a promise to cover more in the next post soon. Till then stay tuned and don’t forget to Subscribe to my blog, if you would like to get notified in your inbox for the next part.
Do give a visit to my other blog to catch another story from the wilds which was from our stay at another Jungle Lodges property – Gopinatham Mystery Trails.
Watch out for this space for a link to a dedicated video by Nutan Singh (TheGenteelMind) covering the visual story from this event soon. Perhaps you can catch her other Videos that she did from our trip to Anejhari Butterfly Camp in the meanwhile.
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Amazing work 🙏