An account of the last day of our Karnataka darshan.
Forgive me if I am repeating myself here, but I have to establish again that we are out and out budget travelers! With kids without kids, whether in Europe or in Asia. My dear husband (who is a lawyer and has justification for just about everything) justifies this trait saying ” people who travel as much as we do cannot afford to do anything but budget!”. I don’t mind, as long as I get to travel. Cant say the same for my Kids who I am sure will soon catch up with the ways of the world. My poor darlings don’t yet know there are airlines that serve food for free!
That said, we traveled around Karnataka staying in government guest houses for 300 to 600 Rs per night. Arrangements were made in advance as we had more or less planned where we would be each night. The plan was to be spent the last night in Kabini. Unfortunately, the most popular resort in Kabini, the jungle lodges resorts, was fully booked as it was Christmas eve. Undeterred we decided to go ahead as planned, and take things as they come, worst case scene would be to drive onward into Kerala (40 km) and find accommodation there.
From Mysore we reached Kabini quite early. We drove into the resort and asked if by chance there were any free rooms for that night. (this is something we often do, walk into a hotel and ask for a room. It has its advantages and disadvantages, we can debate that at a later time).
The Jungle Lodges and resorts have excellent reviews and it is listed somewhere as one of the 100 best resorts in the world. The kind folk at the reception who looked like forest rangers asked us to wait a moment and then came back to tell us excitedly that there has just been a cancellation and there is one cottage available.
Well, anyone would call us blessed or lucky for getting a room in one of the top resorts in India at check in time on Christmas eve, but the harsh truth is that the only room available was a fancy cottage which during high season went for a whopping Rs. 6999 per person. We painfully parted with Rs. 12600 (Discount of 10%), more money than what we totally spent on food, room and diesel for the past one week. Sigh!
The rate includes three meals and two safaris, which was a consolation. The meals were lavish and of pretty decent quality, I found the rooms to be quite ordinary but service was excellent. We opted for the jeep safari in the afternoon during which we saw some elephants, deer, few gaurs and a my favorite sighting, a Malabar squirrel. I was seeing one of those furry cuties for the first time.
Nearing the end of the safari our guide saw some fresh pug marks and heard call signs indicating that a tiger is near, he quickly gave directions to the driver to take us to another location. Just behind the tree cover from were we parked we heard hoof sounds, grunting and roaring all of it so clearly that it was like watching a light and sound show. I could easily imagine what went on so close to us. A tiger chasing the deer, which ran towards a herd of gaur (we had sighted them near the watering hole), the gaur turned on to the tiger and chased it away. One person in our group even saw the tiger fleetingly. Well, hearing is not the same as seeing! Deep sigh!
Next morning we joined the boat safari, leaving early enough to witness the sun rise over the calm waters. It was a birdwatchers dream come true, so many different kinds of birds, I had never even heard some of the names. We also sighted some otters bobbing up and down in the water along with some ducklings. On the shore we caught some entertainment from watching a pack of wild dogs fighting with some wild hogs over a carcass.
I would rate this experience at The Jungle lodges and Resorts, Kabini only 6 out of 10. Four years ago we had a fantastic stay at their resort in Devbagh. I have such fond memories of those 24 hrs that I dream of the day I can go back with my whole family. The whole time I was in Kabini, the figure $250 dangled just an inch away from my nose, a constant nag. After nearly a month I am now sure, it wasn’t my stinginess acting up, $250 was way too much a price to pay for the Kabini experience. Deepest Sigh!