Having been on many exciting and stunning safaris in various African countries, my first thought upon embarking for Kanha was, ‘Well, I can’t expect too much, this is probably going to be really tame compared to Africa’.

      How wrong I was. In fact, those four days in Kanha were overwhelming and filled with more adrenaline than four weeks in Africa. What I hadn’t bargained for, you see, was the thrill of chasing big cats in the middle of a dense teeming jungle - of the kind that only Kipling described in its full splendour. Open savannah is all very well, but lush greenery, mist-bathed meadows and oceans of towering bamboo clumps make an unparalleled backdrop for wildlife worship.

      The real thrill of an Indian safari is that pure primal hunger for chasing animals through an unyielding habitat, listening to alarm-calls in frozen heart-thumping silence, spotting and following elusive pug-marks, peering through dense shrubbery just to catch a glimpse of fleeting stripes. That is the magic. That is the experience. Those minutes when you are alone on a long meandering path, when the jungle comes to life around you and screams, ‘There! There is the tiger!! Be on your guard!’, and you become alert, more totally aware of your surroundings than you can ever feel in the urban jungle, more focused on your target than you ever are at work. That is the feeling you will never forget.

      Then of course, there is the jaw-dropping beauty of the big cats themselves. The tigers and leopards. They are the addiction, the perpetual goal, the elusive and fleeting gifts that nature gives. Spotting a receding tiger from faraway, alongside fifty other people is one thing, having a one-on-one encounter with an unflinching and brazen beast on a deserted mountain path is another entirely. Their beauty is of the majestic kind, though their faces and lumbering gait have a playfulness that is unique. Best of all is their utter indifference to human beings. So unlike leopards, who are painfully shy and utterly evasive. One might say an intimate encounter with one of these is an ever greater prize simply for its rarity. One such encounter I had during those four days is an experience I prize above all others as far as safaris go. A quiet serpentine path, a bare tree and a highly agitated leopard trapped on the tree due to a nearby tiger - an incredible scene ensued where the leopard, disgusted to be in human company for so long yet debilitated by the fear of a greater predator, moved (so sinuously!) from branch to branch, up and down, growling, mewing and expressing every emotion from bewilderment to rage; now peering child-like, now baring it’s teeth like a demon, giving us a performance of a lifetime. Oh, it was like a dream.

      It was an experience I will never forget. The shrieking of the monkeys, the languorous cooing of the brain-fever bird, the soft stillness of the meadows at dawn, fragments that linger in your memory forever. Sadly it is the immediacy of encounters with your favourite animals that is so fleeting, a delicious taste that you can never quite recapture with your memories alone. Something that needs to be experienced again and again, a hunger that will drive you back to Kipling’s jungle after even the briefest taste.

There is nothing more I can say except, go and see for yourself!!

Madhumita Shrotri [London] [Kanha Camper]


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16th April. I'm sure you won't forget this day either, Revati & Prajwal! If you believe in something that can possibly change one's life, this trip proved to be that life-changing experience for us. Honestly, we weren't as excited for this trip as we should've been.. But then, once we spent some time with that particular man because of whom we're so grateful today, we just kinda went with it! Kanha is a place you can't help yourself fall in love with. It's welcoming, homey, and uhh... What not!? But what truly got us "obsessed" about Kanha is Mangesh Desai! You gave us that view.. You made us see things we wouldn't have been able to see alone. We never actually got a chance to thank you & appreciate all that you did for us, but really... You are incredible! Right from the start, suggesting we take this particular camp, the dates, the train rides, tents, safaris, info sessions, night trail, photos AND ALL THE FUN! I swear, never once did we think about anything else other than the jungle life!! I could really go on thanking you, even for the extra food I specifically got! It's so great you mix with anyone so easily! You care about everyone & make sure they're constantly smiling Yet it's so enviable you spend your life in our dream-places!! What else would anyone crave for? Sigh. We really had the times of our lives in Kanha, and no exaggeration, but whatever good that happens to me ahead in life, I partly owe it to you, this trip indeed did change me.. Thanks a lot for the wildlife addiction We're eternally indebted to you.

- Ankita Sutar



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