If I have one criticism of our time in Bandhavgarh, it is that often the search for Tigers was almost exclusive. This on some occasions prevented us from seeing the bigger picture of what made the reserve so interesting. I understand fully why this happens and this is purely a personal view.
Many visitors to the tiger preserves in India often only stay for two or three nights, venturing into the parks for three or four drives. On average it can can take five to six outings to ensure a tiger sighting. This is combined with the fact that some visitors’ interest in other wildlife can be limited, puts overwhelming pressure on the guides to find and see a tiger.
This is a shame as quite a lot of what makes up the ecology of the park and the surrounding area goes unnoticed. The behaviour and social interaction of the common species of the park can be ignored. Fortunately we had a full week in the park and 13 drives. This gave us an opportunity to see beyond Tigers. Having now had good views of the tiger the pressure was off. Over the next few days we tried to look at some other aspects of the reserve, the surrounding area and some of the other inhabitants of the park, both big and small.
The Buffer Zone
Each Wednesday the parks are only open in the morning which gave us a bit of time to spend at the lodge. We took a walk into the buffer zone and to a local village. Here we were able to see something of village life.
The week was coming to an end when we had the third of our tiger sightings. This time a it was a female . However, it was late one evening at the end of our drive. In Bandhavgarh it is essential that each jeep reaches the gate before closing time. The penalty for not being out of the park is that the guides/drivers are banned for the season. They can therefore lose their livelihood. This often resulted in very fast drives along the tracks. So we had little time to get any good shots of the tiger as she walked away from a water hole. As the sunset we had to leave her.
Our final day in the park consisted of an early morning drive, then back to the lodge for lunch and packing. We then had the two hour drive to Katni Junction Station. Followed by an overnight train to Agra and a very crowded Taj Mahal. Then on to the River Chambal and Bharatpur.