It was Feb 2017. My parents were here in Bangalore for a visit and I was looking for a venue for a weekend outing.
Finalised Bandipur after looking at few other options. Bandipur National Forest is 250 km from Bangalore on the Bangalore – Ooty route. A 4-5 hours journey from Bangalore, which would not be too much of a stretch for my parents.
The road was really good. Straight through highways. We started early morning from Bangalore and reached in the afternoon. We had booked our accommodation in MC Resorts, a nice rustic place, with individual huts.
We had initially asked the resort regarding safari options. They said it was priced at Rs. 1200 per head, they would take us in a van for 1 hour inside the forest. We found that a bit too costly. We were sure that there would be some options available from the government, but could not find any details online.
Once in Bandipur, we did a bit of asking around and found this: From government, there are 2 options:
- Open Jeeps – There are only a few available though. Around 5 – 8 jeeps. And a whole jeep costed us Rs. 1800. Jeep safari is for 1 hour
- Bus – Bus tickets are priced at Rs. 200 per person. They take around 20-25 people in a bus. Bus safari goes on for one and half hours
These jeeps and buses start from 6:30 in the morning. Whereas all resorts have their own conveniences, which start the resorts, the government bus and jeep start from a point which is around 4 km inside Bandipur Forest. (There is a gate which marks the beginning of the forest, by 4 km inside, I meant 4kms from this gate)
When we had gone, these gates would close at night. It’ll only open at 6am. Hence in the morning, there would be a huge pile-up of cars, near the gate, waiting to enter the forest around 6. We had also joined this pile, the next day morning. When the gates opened, we drove to the safari starting point and luckily got ourselves a jeep.
The jungle was surprisingly dry. All trees were barren, devoid of a single leaf. All waterholes were dry. Though it was mesmerizing to see the sunrise from inside the forest and see the thin morning mist lift as the sun rose in the sky, the sheer barrenness of the forest left us a bit disappointed.
According to the jeep driver, during this time, sightings in Bandipur are rare. Water bodies are more near Kabini (Nagarhole National Park), hence most big cats migrate there, during this season.
Other than a few peacocks & deer, the jungle did not have anything else to offer.
We went for a second safari in the afternoon. This time we went on a bus, and believe me this is not how you want to do a safari. The crowd in the bus was super noisy and all the charm of the forest quickly went out of the window. We came back again without any luck, spotting some peacocks, deer and a group of elephants. The elephants looked starved and extremely tired. The group who had gone for the trip before we got lucky and got a good sighting of a tiger.
It was overall a good weekend trip. Some quiet time spent with family away from the humdrum of the city. When it comes to Bandipur, you have to be extremely lucky to sight a tiger. Though you know that, a forest safari in India always feels incomplete without a sighting of those majestic beasts!
Do drop me a comment in case you need any further information about Bandipur.