It was going to be our first trip to Madhya Pradesh. The monsoon season had just ended a few weeks prior and we wanted to take to the opportunity to visit family in Madhya Pradesh and also do a bit of sightseeing. We had very limited time on our hands and our main place of interest was Pachmarhi, a popular hill station in Madhya Pradesh. But, being a tiger chaser, I could not help the urge to not include Satpura National Park as part of the itinerary. So, we decided to spend a day near the Satpura National Park Madhai gate.
We decided to spend a night at the MPT Bison Resort which is located right next to the Tawa Reservoir. The location is absolutely stunning. You can sit by the water and just watch the day go by. The rooms are neat and clean and the food menu is simple and follows the MP Tourism Food menu. The staff were very helpful and ensured our needs were taken care of.
We arrived in the afternoon, around 4pm and checked into our rooms. While checking in, we were told we could sign up for an evening safari in the buffer zone. Honestly, we had not done too much research other than booking the hotel. So, based on their recommendation, we booked a jeep for the evening buffer zone safari and a morning safari within the core zone for the next morning.
We started our safari around 5 pm. It had just been a few days since tourists were allowed to enter the park and the buffer zone. So, the jeep tracks were very rough and the ride was quite bumpy. But, as we traversed the buffer zone, it slowly became dark and the jungle became quiet. We looked up at the beautiful night sky. Thousands of stars staring back at us. It was magical! In the middle of the safari, the guide stopped at a lookout point where you could get off the jeep and climb a ladder to a lookout deck to look into the jungle from high above. It was beautiful. Later, the jeep stopped briefly at a rest stop where there were a few deer lurking around. Around 8:30pm we called it a night and returned back to the resort.
The next morning, we started off at 5:15am for the jeep safari in the core zone. In order to start the safari, we first had to cross the Tawa reservoir by boat. Once on the other side, we got into the jeep and began our safari. During the safari we came across many deer, Indian gaur (bison), fox, etc. We noticed fresh pugmarks but unfortunately no tiger sightings. Since it was after the monsoon, the forest was full of life and there was plenty of thick greenery around. It was not surprising that the animals had plenty of places to hide and stay out of sight. At one point during the safari, our guide stopped by the river so we could explore the rocks nearby. We noticed a few crocodiles in the river and on the banks enjoying the morning sun. After spending some time traversing the core zone of the Satpura National Park Madhai, we returned back to the resort to enjoy a good breakfast and relax for a bit. Around noon we headed to our next stop.
- You have to book your jeep safari tickets ahead of time on the https://forest.mponline.gov.in/ website. And the website is open only between 11am and 5pm currently. We were lucky that a few jeeps were still available and they allowed us to book the evening and next morning safari after we got there (but we still had to do it before 5pm when booking closed). There was a possibility that we could not have gone on a jeep safari.
- The place you pick to stay in might be a nice place – try to stay for at least two nights. There is absolutely no need to rush.
- In the beginning of the tourist season (i.e. October), the roads used to travel inside the jungle are rough and bumpy compared to at the end of the season (i.e. April, May). So, if anyone in your group cannot handle bumpy rides, please be aware. Unfortunately, the weather is much more pleasant in October than April or May.
- Food choices are minimal in the area. So, you will pretty much eat at the place where you stay. Be okay with eating the same dishes a couple of times.
- Animal sightings in the jungle are a blessing. But, the jungle itself is absolutely beautiful and breath taking. Enjoy the trees and untouched grass all around. Lots of wonderful tree energy to absorb. You will miss it when you get back to the concrete jungle!