I wrote this in the Panna National Forest in India
The bed in our jungle “cottage”
I awakened to birdsong this morning in the middle of the jungle in India and when I opened the long drapes covering the huge picture window, all I could see was dense, lush forest. Tall candles flanking the small electric fire burned all night as we slumbered, tucked into crisp white bed linens.
Our patio gazebo in morning
It was safari day and we piled into rickety green jeeps with a handsome young naturalist and his spotter for a ride through the jungle. Down narrow dirt paths we bumped. Thick jungle provided a perfect example of natural camouflage. I thought of the way cammie is used in fashion today and it made me laugh—here, it’s a matter of survival to help conceal animals from predators.
Our tracker tries to spot a tiger in the jungle
Although we knew it was a long shot, we hoped to spot one of the 22 Bengal tigers known to live in Panna National Forest. It was an awesome thought.
Photograph in our room
This is our handsome naturalist talking about how we’ll look for the tiger. He’s definitely eye candy. Oh, and I loved it when he kept saying we were looking for “the moment of the tiger.” Until I realized he was saying “the MOVEMENT of the tiger.” Sigh.
Here’s what we saw:
Beautiful samba doe
Lots of these deer.
Not fawns. Spotted deer.
Are these parrots or parakeets? I forget. See below.
Flashes of green in the treetops
It was an unforgettable three hours. Did I mention the monkeys?
Here’s a video of our tracker talking about a bachelor group of monkeys:
I’m not sure he got my sense of humor.
My favorites. They were everywhere.
More monkey business.
This monkey stood guard for predators.
He had a job to do.
More video of monkey business.
The tigers? They remained hidden away. Close to sunset, we met up with several government workers also driving the paths in search of tigers. Their sole job was to protect the tigers from poachers and they tracked tigers night and day.
We noticed automatic weapons in their jeep. They told us a mother tiger was holed up with her three cubs, born a few months ago. A male that wasn’t their father was in the area and if he found the cubs, he’d kill them to assert his dominance. So the mother tiger, last seen the day before when she’d gone out to hunt for food for the cubs, was protecting her bus. As any good mother would do
After watching the sunset over a small lake, we headed home. It had been a peak life experience for me, just amazing and wonderful.
The tiger? She would’ve been a bonus sighting.
Still, it was hard to be disappointed when we’d seen so many other exotic animals. Here’s how the staff welcomed us and bid us goodbye. It looks kind of like the hokey pokey. Video: