We were in Kanha national park over the weekend and went to the forest in 3 safaris. After every safari, everyone (hotel staff, resort driver, other residents at the resort) would ask us if we spotted a tiger. We would smile and shake our heads and people would sympathetically say “It’s ok. Maybe on the next safari”.
I didn’t know how to explain to people that I don’t care. I loved being in the forest and driven around for hours. Bandhavgarh is where am going to have a 100% tiger spotting. I wasn’t in Kanha for the tigers specifically.
A jungle safari is very different from a tiger safari. The latter is quite boring and it’s worth it only if you are rewarded with a tiger spotting. Else, it is an absolute waste of time. Last year in Bandhavgarh, we waited for hours in the blazing sun for the tiger to make an appearance. In the summers when the grass is dry, the forest is barren, the visibility is improved and spotting a tiger becomes easier. A water hole is the best place to spot them. But in any other season, it is hard to notice a tiger in the dense forest. It could be standing few steps from you in the bushes and you still wouldn’t know.
In Bandhavgarh, on our last safari the tiger was hidden behind the bushes. We waited for 3 hours for it to move out so we could spot it but it didn’t. Instead of enjoying the jungle and spotting other animals, we spent all that time waiting silently.
Compare that to driving around in the jungle in an open gypsy with the mist floating on the water, a deer which decided to exhibit it’s grace by jumping 6 feet high in front of us, a bison which was spotted, a few jackals, an owl, an eagle, a herd of 50 spotted deer running, a barking deer, barasingha.
There is more to a Safari than a tiger spotting and I wish more people understood that.