You are in a jungle and see a massive Tusker in your path, with thumping footsteps it is coming in your direction and when you try to move away from its path, the car makes too much noise because it has no silencer. The Tusker gets aggressive, starts trumpeting, you realize all the safe zones are taken by other safaris and it is still walking in your direction. What will you do? The people around me started screaming, freaking out the safari driver even more and he in turn took a wrong turn, we were nearly face to face with the Tusker. Fortunately after five minutes of skipped heartbeats and screaming from a few of us, the Tusker decided to be nice and went back into the woods.
Jim Corbett happens to be the oldest national park in India, it was named after hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett, he played a major role in establishing the park. Spread over 520.8 km2. area of hills, river belts, marshy depressions, grass lands and large lake, Corbett is home to 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species. The endangered Bengal tiger of India resides here.
We decided to go Jim Corbett in March, it was surprisingly hot there for that time of the year, after a long wait for a safari we got an open jeep with no silencer, in the beginning the idea of going in a car with no silencer seemed exciting. Then our driver told us, the sound of the jeep would attract a lot of animals towards us, that made it even more thrilling although a little scary as well.
For the initial one hour nothing much happened, we spotted nothing except peacocks. The guide kept on telling us to be patient and we kept on losing it. When on a safari, passengers are requested to be extremely calm and talk only when necessary, they cannot get down anywhere in the middle. But there came a point where there was a huge tree house with the most amazing view from the top. We got down there and throughout I was hoping to come across a tiger there but to my disappointment we came across none.
After two hours of coming across only monkeys, langoors, one spotted deer, one elephant hidden in bushes and numerous peacocks we took a lunch break. We were disappointed but still hopeful to spot a tiger. Just as we finished the lunch a family of three came in screaming ecstatically, they had spotted two tigers at a point we had left sometime back. We were now even more desperate to sight a tiger and furious for missing out on it by a mere 5-10 minutes.
We were moving on like before, urging the guide to take us in the direction where tigers lurk the most. He like before was asking us to be patient, suddenly the road forked in two directions. One seemed longer and other shorter, the driver took the shorter turn but then one of my friends asked him to take the other turn, which was not a very smooth path. And that is where our safari took a u-turn and got thrilling. After five minutes on that path we came across a male and a female deer. The male deer was magnificent with its antlers. The guide told us, the antlers are velvety until the mating season, as soon as the mating period begins the deer starts rubbing and scratching them against hard surfaces to make them coarse and rough.
Suddenly someone pointed to our left and to our astonishment we saw a tiger chasing a deer at the speed of lightning. They zipped past us even before we could realize what was happening. It is now a proven fact, road not taken is always the most exciting, adventurous and thrilling path. Hail, Robert Frost.
Just when the safari was about to end we came across our Tusker, the one that gave us goosebumps and made the ride worth every minute we spent on it. By the time we left that place the weather was pleasant and the ride on the open jeep with no silencer made it just perfect. There is something amazing in traveling in open vehicles. Here are some more pictures: