A trip to Bandipur forest was long time due, and we finally planned one. We started early morning from Bangalore (6:00 AM) for the Bandipur forest. 1st halt was at Mysore for breakfast at around 8:00 AM. As we approached Bandipur forest we noticed the drop in temperature. We crossed the Bandipur National Reserve at around 10:00 AM and were greeted by a herd of deers and lot of peacocks and few wild tuskers. It is a beautiful drive through these forest reserve areas as the weather is pleasant even at noon and roads are super smooth. Soon enough we were are the Karnataka-Tamilnadu border and we entered the Mudumalai forest reserve [It’s the same forest reserve across Karnataka (Bandipur), Tamilnadu (Mudumalai) and Kerala (Nagarhole)].
We passed through Masinagudi town as we had booked a place called Jungle Retreat. Their website talked about a lot of flora and fauna and we were surely not to be disappointed. The only disappointment was food (food was pretty good but overpriced – around 450 rupees per person per meal) as one cannot bring food from outside to the resort. The reason they gave is that food in rooms attracts rodents, rats and so on which was very valid reason. We reached the resort at around 1:00 PM and came across a Blue faced malkoha and Tickell’s blue flycatcher. That was indeed a good welcome: D. We had booked a double tree house and surely that was one awesome experience. Anyone planning a trip to jungle retreat should stay at the treehouse for a day. It’s a completely different experience. We had our lunch and as we made our way to the treehouse, this time we were greeted with a hail storm followed by heavy rains which further cooled down the weather.
So 1st on the list was the safari – we hired a Jeep safari organized by Jungle retreat wherein they drove us through village roads in the evening. We managed to see few species of birds and as we were returning we saw wild dogs and a sloth bear. During dinner, the Jungle retreat guys gave a presentation on different flora and fauna in the area which was pretty good. Next on the list was a bird watching walk which started early morning at 6:30 on next day. Some of the birds we saw were Malabar Parakeet, Brown fish owl, Plum headed parakeet, long tailed shrike, Hoopoe, Shama and few more. As the walk ended we came across a beautiful Malabar giant squirrel.
We were lucky to have Mr Rajkumar as our guide who is an ornithologist himself. Immediately after the walk he took us on a safari to identify more birds where we saw spotted owlet. We had booked the treehouse only for a day and then we moved into a cottage in resort itself. We again went on a jeep safari but this time on the main road. We saw Indian bison, sambar deer, woodpeckers, crested hawk eagle and few more. We would also like to mention about Jungle retreat staff for being helpful and knowledgeable. All in all it was a lovely stay at Jungle retreat. We tried to get a jeep safari at Bandipur (Rupees 1350 per person) but it was unavailable. If anyone is planning for a Bandipur Jeep safari, see if you can book the same in advance. However, there is Bandipur safari in a canter which is available for 300 rupees per person.
Next day early morning we started for Ooty, as we wanted to go to Avalanche Lake. We reached at around 10 and came to know the Avalanche catchment area safari was full. So we decided to go to the lake and spend some time there. The Emerald lake and Avalanche lakes are a must visit if you happen to go to Ooty.
Finally the trip ended as we drove from Ooty via Coonor to Tirupur. All in all, a wonderful trip to the Nilgiris. Thanks to Alton and Shyam for planning and sticking to the “sure plan” :D.