<<  Wayanad & Mudumulai, 26-Jan-2015  >>

Best safari ever!

Jungle book came alive. Ehm, almost. Ehm, no, not really. This was Indian jeep safari. This was epic… FAIL.

The Holy Book (Lonely Planet) said something about Jungle Book fantasies. About amazing landscapes. Wild elephants, hidden tigers, …

Let me give you a piece of advice. If you ever wanna do a “safari trip” in India then, first of all, SKIP IT, and in case you are stubborn enough to go anyway, do not do it during weekend, and absolutely don’t do it on a long weekend, with Monday being public holiday in India.
We underestimated what it means to come on long weekend, and as a result, despite waking up at 5:30 and being at the entrance at 6:40, there were already 20 people in front of us in the queue, all representing groups of 5 – 8 people. This “safari” is a typical Indian undertaking: put bunch of people in a rusty jeep, which follows a 10 km dirt road through national park, the jeep doesn’t stop anywhere and if you are lucky you will some animals. Lonely Planet claimed that Wayanad is one of the best ones, and we are almost guaranteed to see wild elephants, which live here by hundreds. Guaranteed that is, until it’s long weekend and getting your ride after almost 2 hours of waiting in the queue (dear Indian government, is there no really BETTER process for selling the tickets than the one where someone fills in by pen some long form and where the purchase of 1 ticket takes 10 minutes!?!?!) and after 20 loaded jeeps passed through the road and all the animals that might have been there are hiding somewhere else, because what the hell would they be doing around that high-way? Hitch-hiking there?
It was pretty pricey, but as a result of this amazing safari we have seen: a deer (wow!), 2 vultures (that was the highlight), and… wait for it… a PEACOCK!
Wooooow :-)
Oh wait, I almost forgot about one elephant that we saw. It had a chain on its leg and was standing next to the visitor center. True touch of wilderness!
I almost laughed my ass of at the end of this safari. What a piece of shit! :-)
By the way, there is no other way how to enter the national park than on this jeep safari.

Sure, I didn’t expect to see a tiger (unlike Irene, who kept her hopes high), but not seeing even a stupid monkey? There is more wildlife in Varanasi than here.

The only thing worse than that safari was the town where we stayed. We imagined some nice village surrounded by jungle and spice plantations, but what we got was a horrible, dirty, ugly and noise shithole town. Welcome to Sultan Batheri.

OK, this was an epic fail, but that’s also part of every Indian itinerary.

Because we didn’t have enough peacocks, we decided to give it one more try, bit more to the south in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, only because the safaris there were very cheap, and it was kind of along our way anyway.
This time we made no mistake and we were the first ones to arrive to the visitor center, at 6:00, to make sure to catch the first safari minibus at 7:00. And so we did. And what did we see, even when we were in the first car? Well, you know it: bunch of deer (at least this time they were very close), an Indian bison (that was the highlight here) and A PEACOCK!!!!
Two epic failures in row!

So much for the Jungle Book.

At least the monkeys messing around the visitor center (why should they be in jungle, when all they need is right there!) put on some good monkey show, one of them almost biting me (fuck, it has teeth bigger than tiger!) after I touched its tail (very silly idea!)

Finally, the highlight of the safari turned out to be army show (even better than the monkey show). As when we were in Mudumalai it was Republic Day (anniversary of Indian constitution, after breaking free from the British Empire) the local national park rangers, part of Indian army, made a little parade, including elephant riders. I have never seen such a disorganized army division, but well, as said, I think they were rangers, not soldiers.

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak