Dogs, Bears and Leopard

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March 1st 2016
Published: March 3rd 2016
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We'd been told we had a long drive to get from Kanha to Satpura but not quite how long! We left around 8am and bumped around in the big bus for 3.5 hours to get to Jabalpur, the nearest big city where we were met by Deepak from the agency and had some lunch in a South Indian restaurant left over from empire times called the Coffee House. The afternoon was significantly longer and it was about 6.30pm by the time we reached the beautiful Reni Pani Lodge in Satpura National Park. Our itinerary had us set up for a night safari that night but it was already much later than they would normally go out and we were all exhausted and hungry so decided to pass . Even more irritating was the discovery that the following day the park was closed in the afternoon so we were not able to do either the walking/boat or elephant safari that were supposed to be on offer. We were beginning to realise that our agent had really not done their homework.

The lodge though was wonderful with each of us staying in a beautiful cottage in the grounds with an upstairs terrace.

So, in the end we got to do 2 early morning game drives and one night drive. The park was very different from the others in terms of landscape and mornings started with a drive to the river which we crossed in a small boat then onto jeeps on the other side. The park is much more open than Kanha and Bandhavgarh with more hills, rivers and water holes. Deepti, our naturalist guide, was very good and listened to find out what we were interested in. She's the only woman guide we had in all the parks and has clearly had to fight against the cultural norms that would not normally allow her to leave home to work and run the travel business that she knows what she wants and has lots of future plans. She also knew her stuff and we saw lots of birds and animals while out with her. There are tigers in Satpura but they are much more difficult to see than elsewhere so we weren't so disappointed when we didn't see any. But, we did spend a good while watching some Indian wild dogs who appeared to be planning an attack on some spotted deer and a mother and cub sloth bear digging around for termites - so cute! There were also lots of beautiful birds, mugger crocodiles, some huge gaurs and plenty of deer. The night drive produced very little apart from 4 very cold and uncomfortable people in an awful jeep - the only one which was available, though we did catch a glimpse of a couple of palm civets right at the end and saw a number of cows that a tiger had brought down the previous night. On the last morning drive we were incredibly lucky to see a leopard asleep on a rock above a waterhole - he didn't move much and was some distance away but was stunningly beautiful.

We were all very sad to leave Satpura - the lodge was beautiful, the staff lovely and the park very special but we had one last park to get to....

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