Done Jungle Safari as a BLIND person!

Done Jungle Safari as a BLIND person! Please read below about the experience and what did I learn-

It was a chilly winter morning in Bandhavgarh tiger reserve, MP, India and it had been drizzling all night. unfortunately the gypsy started off from resort with a hood (raincover) and the drizzle got converted into heavy downpour by the time we could reach the forest entry gate…I was sitting in the middle seat of a gypsy which is totally covered from all sides…it was dark inside and the attitude of rain assured that it’s not going to recede soon…My free soul was feeling caged in darkness of that gypsy and the reality of not being able to see anything around in-spite of being in forest shook me a bit! It was first time ever that I was feeling caged & blinded in the place that I love the most – Forest!

Before I surrender to the negativity around, suddenly a random thought popped up in my head – How would the forest feel to a blind personal? Can he or she also enjoy the jungle safari?

Now I was charged and thrilled to try this new experience. I immediately pulled my winter cap down…covered the eyes and my blind safari in Bandhavgarh national park started off…

Out of 5 prime senses 02 of my senses – Vision and Taste was cut off! The safari started with only one dominant sense – Sound! I started focusing on every possible sound that my ears could hear and brain could analyze in that moving gypsy. Struggled a lot initially…got confused between different sounds many a times but as time passed the focus and determination both improved and I could hear and analyse multiple sounds at a time.

After about half an hour the second sense suddenly got triggered when the gypsy was passing through a patch of soft sandy soil (I could guess that out from the typical sound that gypsy tyre made whenever it passed through a soft sandy soil). It was the sense of Smell. Smell of soil after it has been sprinkled by rain drops. Wow! What an experience it was to feel the essence of nature through my second sense!!

As we progressed I had already experienced 50+ unique things in nature so far, from calls of more than 35+ birds & mammals (Including Crested serpent eagle, Hawk eagle, Plum headed & Alexandrian & Rise ringed parakeets, Robins, Grey Hornbill, Peafowl, Brain fever, Langoors, Spotted deer males, Squirrel, Bulbuls, Drongos, Cuckoos and many other) along with a variety of sounds in the nature like rain drops hitting the gypsy metal or gypsy hood or tree leaves or soil etc, sound of the water streams and cracking of a tree branch, mixture of sounds that our gypsy made while passing through water streams, rocky surfaces, leaf clutter, hard soil, sand etc. Along with sounds THE different fragrances were putting up continuous smile on my face. Fragrance and smell of different grasses, shrubs, herbs, tree patches, soil, stones, rotten leaves, dead flesh, animal dung etc were complimenting for the complete forest exploration.

It must have been an hour by now and felt like the rain had relaxed a bit. My fellow travellers opened the gypsy hood and a new experience took me to the tip of ecstasy. It was my third sense triggered – the sense of touch upon feeling the love of mother nature on my face in form of the tiny droplets dripping from tree leaves atop…The tenderness of a tiny leaf could be well felt as it got stuck near my neck. I touched it, felt it and held in my hand upright only to let it go with the passing wind! I had given back freedom to the free soul of that tiny leaf…just the way these tiny experiences of nature had set my caged soul totally free once again in the place that I love the most – Forest!

It was one of the best safari among the thousands I have ever done in my wildlife and ecotourism career. It did answer to my fundamental question that yes, every blind person can enjoy the jungle safari experience and with some innovations in technology and Braille we can even make it a better experience where they can simultaneously feel the size, shape and texture of the entity they are experiencing. Would love to cater this experience sometime in my life to those who are ‘physically’ blind.
Moreover, this experiment taught me something bigger! It was the self realization that so many time we simply become ‘mentally’ blind in forest even after having all the senses intact. All we focus on is the joy “sighting”. What about the joy of enjoying forest as whole every single time you are in forest? Simply put if one isn’t exploring forest through at least 4 of the prime senses, that safari will be an injustice with himself / herself and the nature god as well.

Signing off today with a wish that in 2020 all of us would learn to explore and enjoy the forest and nature with all the senses active to make it a memorable experience every time we visit it.

Cheers!
Saurabh Thakekar
Co-founder and Wildlife Expert
Mumbai Travellers | Book My Safari | Go Travellism Pvt Ltd

 

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Tips for Tiger Watching in India

tiger safari in india

Hoping to see a tiger in the wild? Here are few tips to increase your chances of Tiger spotting on a tour to India

Pick the right park

It’s difficult for any safari operator to promise tiger sightings, but if you pick the right location you’ll definitely boost your chances. India is the best country to see tigers, but you’ll also find them in other Asian nations like China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, as well as Siberia in Russia.

India’s best national parks for spotting tigers are: Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, Tadoba, Kanha, Pench, Corbett, and Satpura. There are pretty good populations of tigers in the Sunderbans but they’re hard to see.

Get the timing right

Early in the season (November-January) is colder and the tigers will be much more active; however, remaining monsoon water means they have fewer reasons to be out in the open.

February-March is peak time– the vegetation is in national parks and temperatures are still tolerable. The tiger experts go later to try to spot them by watering holes, but even the most passionate fans will wilt in 40 °C+ heat.

Accept that you’ll pay more

Foreigners often pay multiple times more than Indian citizens to enter India’s tiger parks. Get over it. Tip your safari driver and guide properly; if they do a great job, perhaps Rs700 a day.

Consider your transport

Most trips in tiger parks are by larger canter trucks & gypsy jeep. Book an exclusive gypsy vehicle to yourself if you need more control of your safari. Elephant-back safaris are available in Bandhavgarh, Pench, and Kanha. 

Put your camera down

Tigers are all about witnessing: During your first tiger spotting, instead of rushing for photographs, see the majestic animal with eyes first and enjoy the moment.

Think beyond tigers

There’s a lot more to see in India’s wonderful parks, including wild cats, leopards, jackals, sloth bears, wolves. The birdlife, particularly in the warmer months, is fantastic.

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Types of Tiger spotting in order of excitement l0th as highest in terms of adrenalin rush

tiger safari in india

  1. Tiger in the bush. This is a very common Tiger sighting.
  2. Sleeping Tiger, Perhaps on the road, or on side of the road.
  3. A Tiger crossing the road, maybe he will give you a quick glance, and if you are quick enough you can take a shot or two. Considered a decent Tiger spotting.
  4. Tiger sitting on the track staring at you in a majestic posture is a wonderful Tiger sighting.
  5. Tiger walking ahead of your vehicle, away from you. He might walk a mile or more. When he strolls this much he would stop by, and do some territory marking on the trees, maybe scratch, etc. A lot of chances to take photos during such a Tiger sighting.
  6. A Tiger walking towards you on the road, and your safari driver reversing the vehicle for miles at times. This offers a big chance to photographers who can get the head-on shots of a Tiger. This required good skills from the safari driver.
  7. A Tigress with her cubs, either resting on the road or enjoying in water. Again something a lot of individuals would like to see, and it is a very satiating emotion once you find Tigress with cubs. The playfulness, the cuteness, the love of the mother, the perfect family moment to be witnessed together in such a Tiger sighting.
  8. A Tiger stalking prey. The whole incident can last from a few minutes to much longer. Our advice is that you must remain quiet during such a Tiger sighting. Disturbing a Tiger while stalking or doing anything else is not advisable. Would you want to see an angry Tiger? 
  9. A Tiger skilfully managing to pull down his prey and do a kill before your eyes. What a delight for photographers, and all visitors. It is one adrenalin-pumping Tiger spotting.
  10. Two fully grown Tigers fighting. This does not take place often in the open for travelers to see, but there have been incidents when people have seen this. When the fight is happening, it can be very frightening, as Tigers roar loudly which reechoes in the Jungle. It can turn bloody, and if the fight is over the territory dispute then it can last longer. Tigers have a tendency to move a lot while fighting. It is suggested to stay clear and away from them. An epitome of a Tiger spotting.

You may witness any one of the above Tiger sightings, so be ready, and be equipped with your cameras.

When you see Tigers in the National Parks of India, it is important for you to take some safety measures. I have mentioned the four most important for your benefit.

4 important precautions during a Tiger sighting

  1. Quietness is the biggest precaution that you must undertake during a Tiger sighting. It is recommended to keep the excitement under control, as it can go against you, cause if the Tiger gets irritated by your energy levels he can just choose to go away. Who is the loser in this case? So stay calm. The camera click is the only acceptable sound.
  2. Good distance from the Tiger is very crucial, maintain a safe distance for yourself. Keep in mind you are in the territory of the Tiger, so give him space and respect too. Stay away, stay safe.
  3. Pay attention to the guides and the safari drivers who go through this routine on a regular basis. so trust them. Do not enforce your decisions on them, let them decide what is good for you. Kindly do not try to lure them by tipping, to have a close look at Tiger. Don’t forget Tiger is an ultimate predator.
  4. NEVER, EVER, leave the vehicle in a national park during a Tiger safari. It is not allowed, and it is against the law. There are only some areas/ camps where the driver and the guide will ask you to leave the Jeep for a small break. Tiger sighting is definitely not a selfie moment; just remember you are in presence of an apex predator. Your safety is in your hands, and nobody else is accountable for the same. Neither can you take legal action against anyone at a later phase if you do not like what a Tiger does

Tiger Safari is a holiday for some, and a job for some, but not a picnic for anyone. Respect the Forest and the laws of the Forest in your own interest.

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