Sounds crazy right? It didn’t to me when I planned my summer holiday to Pench National Park. Its was 1st week of May. Yes its true! Peak summer season with temperatures soaring to 40 degrees plus.
Pench is 2 hours drive from Nagpur airport. It was a comfortable drive. Checked-in at the Taj bordering the park. One thing good about Taj is the hospitality – they really make you comfortable.
We did a 3 nights stay and booked 4 Safaris, 3 morning and 1 afternoon. It is important to note this if you want to travel in summer. We arrived at the hotel in the afternoon in scorching heat but we didn’t really care. We went to the room to relax and came out in the evening when it was much cooler.
Next day we went for our early morning safari. Got up at 5am and reached the reception at 5.30am. Taj had arranged tea and coffee with biscuits for us. There are 2 options for Safari. You could either book the Canter with some 20 people or book a private jeep. We opted for the private vehicle as it was part of the package. Also Taj had package our breakfast and kept in the jeep. This was a real surprise element and I shall tell you why a little later.
Time to get on get on the jeep. Weather was awesome at 6 in the morning. We entered the park and it looked like we entered somebody else’s home. Calm, serene, birds chirping, monkeys communicating in their own language. Everything was just wonderful. We roamed around for 1.5 hours spotting deers, birds, jackals among other animals.
Now it was breakfast time. Our private vehicle was parked under a tree, a little away from the common breakfast area of the park. The jeep had a carrier where breakfast could be served. We could stand and eat the same. Absolutely magical experience in middle of the jungle. We drove for another 1.5 hours before heading back to the hotel. We could not spot the tiger but were not disappointed. What we experienced in the jungle was out of the world.
The next 3 safaris were went without spotting the tiger. But I would like to talk about my experience with in the afternoon safari on Day 2. Many may not like the idea but it wasn’t difficult – it started at 3 and ended at 6pm. The jungle has lot of trees and when you are in a Jeep which is constantly moving, you may not feel the heat as much.
I experienced something anybody would pay for and still not get it. We spotted a deer near a pond drinking water and suddenly we saw 6 hungry Jackals wanting to eat the deer. I thought the deer would be gone but no that’s not what happened. The deer was smart. It went in the middle of the pond and waited. The jackal because of their height could not go in the pond. They stood at the edge of the pond waiting for the deer to come out. But the deer didn’t. Finally after waiting for an hour, the Jackals left and so did the deer.
When you are visiting the jungle, few things to keep in mind:
- To spot an animal, you have to be patient. You don’t know where they will come from
- You are constantly looking for cues to spot the animal. The pug marks of the tiger are a great cue. Another cue is monkey making noise when they spot a tiger.
- Your chances of spotting the animal near a pond or a water body are very high
Now back to the question on why you should visit a national park in summer, here were my reasons:
- Chances of spotting animals are higher. Because of the heat, they need to drink water and chances of they coming out in the open are more.
- Summers is off season so you get good deals. I got a Stay 3, Pay 2 deal from Taj with 4 Safaris as part of the package. The same thing winter would cost be close to double. You will get good discounts from almost every hotel.
- There is no network in most places. This was important for me to get a good break
So want to experience something different???