Holiday review by Mr Guy Hewitt
Name: Mr Guy Hewitt
Date of trip: 17/02/2013
Number of people: 2
You may not always see tigers, we had been warned...If we came all this way and avoided hitting all those cows in the road, surely we had to be successful. On day One in Bandhavgarh the truck rocked with excitement as the practised listening of Vijay the park guide and Binoo our driver heard the give-away clues. Binoo slammed the truck into reverse, potholes ignored and a rapid 3 point turn to bring us up to the rear of a cluster of other trucks stopped ahead. Up on the left ridge with the sun behind them three unmistakeable head shapes peering down towards us. But would they just drift away out of sight? They must have been well payed for their performance because they came down the slope and cavorted in the bushes and around the logs in front of us, chased across the track behind us so we had the front row seats then chased eachother up the other side. THree cubs, tow male one female, and mum was a short way behind. Camera shake was qulled enough to get some fine shots , not with the machine gun technology being employed with long lenses by the other truck\'s occupants. We wanted to see tigers go about their business and ive their lives, showing off their power, grace and majesty as much as be photogenic, but when they were this close the pictures came pretty easily. Back at the park entrance, high 5s all round and a huge feeling of satisfaction back at the hotel later that the effort had indeed been worthwhile. And we accumulated a further nine sightings in Bandhavgarh, three on the last morning being the onlty repeats of our trip but they did a wonderful parade along a ridge in morning sunlight with the mountain and hill fort as a backdrop. Stunning!
We feared it would be tough, travelling a lot between the places, and at the destinations, but the organisation kept those stresses to a minimum while the experiences were harvested and what a succes it all was. Titled Taj Mahal and Tigers the point was to see the famed Taj
The booking side of things was efficient and trustworthy - the piles of information mostly helpful but tipping practices/norms could have been better explained. Also it turned ut to be a lot colder than we expected.
In Agra Sarfraz was excellent: local man who explained his city and its treasures perfectly, acting like a companion while also knowing that when we wanted to explore on our own we wouldn\'t be getting into too much trouble.
In the parks it depended mostly on the drivers, we learned. Binoo in Bandhavgarh was excellent and yet hewas always best if the park guide was interested and communicative. WE were lucky with Vijay whose reputation had spread to Kanha. WE wanted to see birdlife too and generally the drivers we had were good at that. Some park guides (random;y allocated) seemed disinterested or unforthcoming, and those drives had a feeling of mild futility.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
The tiger trail is itself a case: only recently reopened I would lke to think that the patronage as a whole shows the community the desirability of keeping a homeland for tigers. Individual tales of poaching, poisoning and accidental death still show there is a way to go.