Satpura National Park, MP – A Tiger reserve, off the tourist grid
The dry twigs crumbled under our feet as we walked deeper in the forest. The evening sun was still bright, gradually inching towards the horizon. Behind us, the gentle breeze created ripples in backwaters of Satpura national park, where we alighted from our boat. We gradually moved far from our boat and closer to nature. The Langoors laid their eyes on us and birds chirped cheerfully. Many other eyes were rapt with attention, scanning us as we entered their ecosystem. Some eyes were curious, others afraid. But, in the multi-layered labyrinth of flora & fauna, we found ourselves ecstatic with joy, enthralled by the sheer & untouched beauty that Satpura National Park contained.
Our guide and Surya, our naturalist from Forsyth Lodge, kept their eyes attentive and senses sharp as we continued with our walking tour in the core forest area. Gradually, we were amidst the dense forest, far away from our boat. The ‘sound’ of forest captured our senses. In distance, subtle layers of forest & fading sun rays, bouncing off the green leaves, conjured up a magical world! I slowly transmuted in a phase of solitude, thinking about our normal lives. How far have we come from nature?! The concrete forests & sky high ambitions have engulfed our souls and made us crave for lamentable & selfish motives.
But then, not all the humans have forgotten the state of just ‘being’. In a forest, you are not rich or poor, fair or dark, famous or forgotten. But, you are nature, one with the curious Langoors or the arduous ants. Part of a Leopard’s territory or a Bear’s habitat. Your keen sight follows a bright yellow butterfly or spots a brilliantly beautiful spider! Your mind revels in nature’s myriad patterns. Be it a polished trunk of tree used by an antelope, trying to shed it’s antlers’ skin, or a dug up hole by a bear, to discover termites. You will be amazed how many secrets lay concealed in Forest. Satpura National park is one such forest reserve which will coerce you to transform in the state of ‘being’!
My train of thoughts was interrupted by a loud sound. A Langoor coughed loudly, warning a carnivore, either a leopard or tiger, that it was spotted. The guides and naturalists can swear by these ‘calls’ and guess presence of a carnivore in vicinity. So, when our guide signaled us, we abruptly halted and started scanning the forest.
These calls have a very interesting purpose. When a carnivore is planning for a hunt, it needs to be concealed behind nature. Camouflage is the biggest strength for carnivores. If it is spotted by a potential prey, the battle is half lost. Many times, the carnivore will retreat and not attack it’s prey after listening to the call, because the prey has now spotted it’s hunter and can easily escape. These calls also warn the other potential preys in proximity. Giving calls is part of the defense mechanism by herbivores and epitomizes co-existence in the ecology.
The Langoor’s call suddenly became intense. Other creatures joined in the symphony of calls and the atmosphere became electric! This was a clear indication that a carnivore was very, very close! We positioned ourselves on a perched rock, overlooking the valley below, laden with trees, in hope to catch a glimpse of the leopard or Tiger. We waited patiently, not moving a muscle as the Langoor’s call became more and more intense. But, eventually, the call stopped. The leopard had disappeared somewhere behind the dense forest. No kill had been made. But, we got a chance to experience an interesting phenomenon closely!
Our walk in the forest had now reached it’s completion. We started our way back to the backwaters, where our boat swayed along the wind.
I visited Satpura National park towards the end of 2015. I had an amazing experience there and the naturalists at Forsyth Lodge made sure that we enjoy wildlife. The biggest learning for me was that wildlife is not always about tigers or leopards. It is much more than that!
What makes Satpura National park unique?
Satpura national park is lesser known compared to the famous tiger reserves of Kanha or Bandhavgarh. There are no long queues of Jeeps, ardently seeking tigers. In fact, ours was the only Jeep at times when we took the morning Jeep Safari.
Satpura national park can be experienced in three ways. The 1st mode is a Jeep safari in which you can traverse through wilderness for 5 hours, unlike only 3 hours in major national parks. The 2nd way to experience wildlife is by walking in the core area of forest. Not only is it very exciting, but also a great way to experience wildlife up close. Satpura national park is one of the only two forest reserves in India, where you can walk in the core forest area. The other one is Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala. Canoe ride is the 3rd experience of witnessing the beauty of Satpura national park. The canoe ride is best done during early morning as you get to witness the magnificent sun transforming from gentle orange to bright yellow.
Jeep Safari trail which is not very crowded: In majority of national parks, you will find a lot of Jeeps, lined up to spot wildlife. But, in Satpura national par, there were very few Jeeps, scanning the forest. At times, our Jeep was the only one amidst pure nature!
The Jeep safari took us in the interiors of the core forest and I were enthralled by how peaceful this safari was! Devoid of tourists, Satpura national park displayed interesting landscapes. We spotted Langoors, Deer, Gaur and various birds, including an elegant Eagle and an Owl! We also searched for a leopard and followed multiple calls. But, we were not able to see any leopards.
Our Forest trail during the Jeep Safari (Satpura National Park) A beautiful lake which we spotted during our Jeep safari (Satpura National park)We spotted some Gaur while exploring Satpura National Park
Canoe ride: The canoe ride was amazingly beautiful and the morning sun was oh, so marvelous! The enchanting blanket of mist covered the lake’s surface which gradually disappeared with the Sun rising higher in sky. We spotted some rare birds and had a chance to get really close! Admiring these birds closely was an unforgettable experience! It felt like the birds of Satpura National Park had accepted us as their own.
During the Jeep and Canoe safari, Forsyth Lodge had arranged breakfast for us, amidst the beautiful forest. I was jubilant to not find a single piece of garbage at these spots. Having breakfast at these beautiful spots, with views to admire endlessly was a unique experience!
Our breakfast spot during the Canoe ride Our breakfast spot during the Jeep SafariAdmiring the beautiful lake, or you can say, posing 🙂 (Courtesy: Pratap J)
About Forsyth Lodge, where I stayed in Satpura National park
There are many resorts in Satpura national park and Forsyth lodge is one of the best properties here. I was invited by Forsyth Lodge to spend a weekend with some other blogger friends and I was utterly charmed by their hospitality and ambiance.
Located in a sprawling area, Forsyth Lodge has everything that you can expect from a wildlife stay and more! They have some brilliant naturalists, who are passionate about wildlife. During our stay, we participated in many experiences, apart from wildlife, like star gazing, butterfly walk etc. I was personally amazed by the knowledge bestowed upon us by the naturalists at Forsyth Lodge.
In absence of city lights, Forsyth Lodge has a unique charm at night. The dimly lit lamps soothes your senses and the cozy rooms will lift your spirits. They also have a wide repository of interesting books on wildlife. I was really impressed by their swimming pool which shimmered due to the afternoon sun as the trees around stood tall, dancing away in a carefree manner to the forest breeze!
Here are some property pictures!
How to reach Satpura National park?
This Tiger reserve is located at a distance of 180 KMs from Bhopal. But, a closer railway station to Satpura national park is Itarsi Junction, located at a distance of 90 KMs.
If you are traveling from Delhi, there are direct flights to Bhopal.
From Bangalore, there are no direct flights. So, you will have to take a halt at Mumbai to catch a connecting flight.
However, An overnight train from Mumbai to Bhopal is also an option. To reach Bhopal, it takes approximately 14 hours by train. But, I suggest you to end your train journey at Itarsi (12 hours), because after that, the train moves away from Satpura National park.
If you end the train journey at Itarsi and not Bhopal, you will reach Satpura national park 4 hours in advance. You will save the 2 hours that the train will take to reach Bhopal and also the two hours by road when you start from Bhopal to Satpura national park.
1) Forsyth Lodge is a brilliant property! You can get all the details by visiting their website. They have passionate and knowledgeable naturalists who would change the way you look towards wildlife!
2) Best season to visit here is Summers for sighting and winters for a cozy and pleasant stay
3) There are elephant safaris here as well, provided the elephants are available. Do inquire.
4) There are different rates here for the Jeep safari duration. You can opt for a normal safari in which you can enter in Satpura national park at 6:30 am and stay till 11:00 am. You can also extend this safari till 12:30 pm by paying extra. There is also an option to book a full day safari in which you can stay as late as 5 pm. The costs for each safari varies and you have to decide which safari you would like to opt for before booking it. You cannot extend the safari once the permit is issued. For updated information, you can visit the official site.
5) As of now, you cannot book a safari online. You can either book it through your resort or yourself visit the ticket counter near the safari entrance and buy yourself a permit. Valid identity proof will be required to obtain permit.
6) To reach the Satpura national park, you will have the cross the backwaters by a boat. So, make sure you are not wearing slippery footwear which can result in you plunging in the cold water!
7) Please don’t do touristy things at Satpura National park. The beauty of this tiger reserve is still intact due to less tourists and hence, less touristy behavior. If you are visiting Satpura national park, please make sure that you act responsibly.
I hope you liked this blog post and found it informative. Kindly leave comments if you have experienced Satpura national park before. If not, start planning soon!