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Published: April 16th 2017
Muthu is worried. We are off to a wildlife reserve but he keeps saying 'Keep expectations low Happy G, keep expectations low'! The hot weather and time of year means it's less likely we will spot the exciting animals listed for the Mudumali Wildlife Sanctuary, but this just eggs us on to demand tigers, elephants, bears, tigers and more tigers, oh and maybe a unicorn thrown in for good measure.
'Oh god, keep expectations low Happy-G!'
We have a jeep safari to look forward to later on in the afternoon once we've arrived at our lodges but we are all scanning the scrubby woodland on each side of the road as we drive through the reserve in our minibus in the hope that an elusive tiger will pop its face out from behind a bush.
Muthu warns us wild elephants can run at a speed of up to 40 km per hour so it's best to 'run like a snake'! I have visions of our group flopping to the floor slithering on their bellies as a tonne of angry grey elephant hurtles towards us, Muthu meantime running zig zag to freedom shaking his head 'Oh god Happy-G!'.
We also learn that tiger numbers are on the increase with 2,500 in India and 50 of these living in the Mudumali reserve. There are also panthers and cheetahs along with 2,200 elephants. So no going for a walk on our own. 'Make sure you are at least with someone who runs slower than you do!', jokes Muthu. The reserve is being expanded in size to accommodate all this productivity. The Indian Government pays 1 million rupees to local tribal people if they agree to leave. Actually there's probably no 'if' about it. I've a feeling it's compulsory.
Suddenly we stop by the side of the road. A bison has been spotted and not long after one of our group shouts 'elephants' and we back up to get a view of some elephants down by a stream. There are both adults and some youngsters. Wow, only a few minutes into the park and we're already spotting stuff. Things quieten down for a bit and we pass a sign saying Elephant Camp where we find out sick elephants are taken for some rest and recuperation at the equivalent of an elephant spa! A little further on we spot some people
down by the the river washing. Brave considering this is allegedly a tiger reserve!
Soon the wildlife is coming thick and fast. We see groups of longur monkeys and both spotted and samba varieties of deer. The national bird of India, the exotic peacock, makes an appearance. It seems that willing it to display its tail feathers doesn't work. We just get a snooty look over the shoulder.
We transfer to jeeps from the minibus as the tracks get narrow and bumpy from here until the lodges. We meet a cute, ginger three legged dog who seems to have a natural affinity to our ginger haired group member. Luckily she loves dogs and we almost have to stop her putting her new friend in the jeep with her! As the jeeps set off we realise they weren't kidding about the bumpy roads as we pick up bruises in places you don't expect to get bruises on our painful but hilarious journey to the lodges!
The lodges are great and there's even a tower that I plan a trip up next morning to see if I can spot a few birds in the nearby treetops.
to the jeep safari. It doesn't disappoint. No need to keep expectations low. We don't see a tiger but we do see loads of deer, wild boar, more peacocks, macaque and longur monkeys and right towards the end of the trip, as dusk is setting in, wow we spot a black sloth bear!
Expectations high Muthu, expectations high! A very happy Happy-G group returns to base.
PS: Confession time: We never did see a tiger so my photo is a cheat. It's actually a photo of a photo hung on the wall in our lodge 😉
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