As I arrived at the entrance of the Pench Tree Lodge (Pungdundee Safari), I was pleasantly surprised. There were more trees than construction around me. There was a huge Mahua tree right behind the reception. In the hot month of June water bowls were kept for birds at various places. The entrance gate is lightly constructed. Other than the reception there is a dining hall and then there are 6 tree houses. Other than that there is Jungle around. I loved the setting from the word go. It was so light on construction and big on trees!
To reach Pench, I landed at Nagpur Airport and then it was a road transfer of 3 hours to Madhya Pradesh. Seoni, spelled Seeonee in Jungle Book is in Pench.
After lunch, we started for Sukhtara Village as it was the day of the local haat (market). We were probably the only tourists around the whole haat, it was a lot of fun!
We did birding all the way to Sukhtara and back. It was possible because there hardly any traffic on the road!
Our tree house was built next to a Mahua tree, the branches came right into the veranda. Squirrels and birds were fond of the tree too. The tree house was comfortable.
It had twin bed, I was sharing the room with fellow blogger Neelima Vallangi. The bathroom was large and comfortable. The best part of the tree house was if we raised the curtains the Jungle came closer to our room! It is prohibited to bring eating items in the tree house as it attracts rodents and you would not like to share the room with them. Similarly one should not leave the doors open or monkeys and other creatures would come in.
The food at the Pench Tree Lodge is excellent. I enjoyed all my breakfasts. They served both Indian and Intercontinental cuisine, however I was partial to the Indian cuisine. I will remember the local drink made of Mahua for a long time. I stopped at one, which is all I could handle of the hot stuff! The staff at Pench Tree lodge was courteous. I particularly remember Mukundi and Negi ji for feeding us with care. As we were in the Jungle the Airtel net connection was not too good. I would not mind it at all but I had some work which could not wait. Make sure you do not end up in the same position as me.
However, the star of the show were the safaris to the Pench National Park. We did an evening Safari and a morning Safari and it rained tigers! In the evening we spotted the collarwali tigress with her cub! I was ecstatic as this was my second sighting of her! Little did we know that the morning would be even better!
We were birding mostly thinking that our tiger quota was exhausted the day before! We came to a spot and realized that there were tigers around. We were the latecomers but then due to some quirk of fate our jeep became the first in the queue, we were directly following Collarwali and her two cubs!
The Forest Office asked us to stop and let others have a view after a while. My then I had anyway watched them to my heart’s content. It was the best tiger sighting of my life at least till date!
I know there is much more to the Jungle than the tigers, like spotting wild dogs. The pack was actually bigger than what I managed to capture.
Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh is stunningly beautiful on its own. With fading light and a peacock it looked dazzling.
As I said, We spotted wild dogs, peacocks, Indian Pita, spotted deer and much more but this time with the Pench Tree Lodge we were extremely lucky with the tigers too!
A big thank you to the Pugdundee Safaris team at the Pench Tree Lodge from my side. It was a truly memorable trip!
— Mridula Dwivedi (@mridulablog) June 16, 2016
Before I close this post, here is a video from the Pench National park’s Collarwali and her cubs!
PS. I was invited by Pugdundee Safari to visit the Pench Tree Lodge.
When you go to a tiger reserve in India, you of course wish to sight the tiger. But remember it is a wild animals, it has a free will of its own. The only place where a tiger sighting is guaranteed is the zoo. In the jungle you have to do tapasya to see it. These were the words of Anish Andheria who runs the NGO Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT). I wholeheartedly agree with him. However, if you care there is more to the jungle than just tiger. This was a #saveourtigers with Aircel.
1. Clean Air and Beautiful Tress
Dhonk Trees are quite prominent at Ranthambore. They give such a soft look when they have dropped their leaves. There were many other beauties like Jamun, banyan and peepal. Also if you pay attention you will realize you can breathe easily on lungful of air without feeling choked. If you are visiting from a big city in India, chances are such clean air is not available for love or money!
2. Small Things
I love birds, this was my first sighting of the plum headed parakeet. It was sitting on the flame of forest flowers was a bonus. If you get obsessed and upset about tiger sightings, chances are you will not even notice beauties like these. So, the next time the guide or the jeep driver points out a bird, do take a look. I also managed to spot my first Paradise Flycatcher but it was such a fleeting glimpse, there was no chance of clicking a picture.
3. Wildlife at the Lodge
Most of the jungle lodges are situated in peaceful environments. The lodge I stayed at Ranthambore was buzzing with butterflies. Same goes for the birds. Some of them get visited by leopards too! Now I certainly do not wish for a leopard sighting at the lodge but I am quite happy with the birds and the butterflies I get to see right there! Anish made an interesting statement about butterflies. He said men like to identify with big things, like tiger, hardly any male would admit that they love butterflies! Go figure.
4. A Philosophical Langoor
What to do, you get to see the langoors in such numbers in any forest they hold no special charm. Now if only they were elusive as the tigers, I am sure we would value them more. I have often enjoyed watching them in herds with little ones. A languor was also of invaluable help to us this time as it was his alarm call that finally gave the tiger away!
5. Sambar Deer on Morning Walk
When I saw the deer on their morning walk, my heart stopped for a while. It was such a beautiful sight to see them crossing the road in line! The early morning clean air, the open spaces and the joy of being in jungle is in itself exquisite. The backdrop of the mountains and deer crossing made it made it extra special. I rarely ever click from a moving vehicle as I can hardly hold the camera still even when we are stationary. But to me this sight was so extraordinary that I did. And I glad the picture came out as half way decent.
6. Spotted Deer
My daughter calls them dot deer and kisses their picture in a book. They are one of the weakest in the food chain, one of the cutest in the animal kingdom. Once again Anish said “if you wish to curse someone, tell them they would be born as deer in Ranthambore.” These pretty creatures are always skittish not knowing when they will become tiger food! Not a pretty thought, I know but such is the animal world or should I say the world?
7. Water, Peacock, Flowers, Mountains
Water, peacock, flowering trees and mountains- when they all of them come together it can be magic. I was fortunate that at this point we were allowed to get out of our vehicles. Otherwise you are strictly required to remain in your vehicle within a national park in India.
8. Water Snake
If it were not for the trained eyes of the driver and the guide we city slickers would have never spotted the water snake. I am no fan of snakes but from a distance they make for a pretty picture.
9. A Young Crocodile
Crocodiles are damn good at camouflage, but then so is the most of the animal kingdom. There have been times when crocodiles have been pretty indistinguishable from the rocks they choose to sun on. I am not sure why this young crocodile made itself so conspicuous!
10. The Selfie of a Peacock
If a peacock was able to take a selfie I wonder if it would be similar to this? I would like to think that it would resemble my picture but then I guess the bird itself would put on display its magnificent feathers too.
So the next time when you go to jungle, I know it would be thrilling to spot a tiger. But even if you do not, don’t worry the supporting cast is alluring too, but if only you would take an interest. After all there is more to the jungle than just tiger.
Chhavi and I recently went to Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. This is the first daughter-mother trip of 2014. I hope we are going to do many more trips this year. We had a good time. This post is a collection of birds from the area.
We stayed at the Tiger Den which is a RTDC hotel. Right at the hotel there were so many birds. Tiger Den is a budget hotel. It is also the Rajasthan Government hotel, it is right next to the park.
While I was clicking this
Brown Long Tailed Shrike with my camera, Chhavi was clicking the same picture with my cell phone. We both would click a picture and then take a stop closer to get a better shot. I have to give her some credit, she was quiet as a mouse and didn’t alarm the bird at all. This picture was also taken at the hotel.
Peacocks are so common at Sariska. A few would roam around the hotel itself. That was a great source of fun for Chhavi. She would try to strike a conversation with them!
The spotted owls were pointed out to us by our young guide Ajay, deep inside the forest. I think all the owls wanted was to sleep and not a jeep full of gawking people. But we were quite a distance away and after a sleepy look they couldn’t be bothered less!
The tigers at Sariska are collared. So there is a point where all the jeeps converge to hear about the wireless reports. The treepies at that spot are so used to human being. Along with bulbuls and jungle babblers they demand food and besiege every new jeep on arrival.
So, some people feed the treepies with their hands. Chhavi gave them wafers but from a distance. I was happier with the camera than trying my hand at feeding them!
Finally this bird was also trying to fly in the hotel corridor. I am wondering where to take her next!