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Tiger is the national animal of India. These aren’t spotted everywhere. You can find one in the zoo, but it won’t bring you that much joy as it will in its natural habitat. In the cage, he/she doesn’t look very happy. They are fed well, in most of the For that reason, we headed on a trip with Honda to visit some of the national parks in Madhya Pradesh. This will be through the National Parks of Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Panna. This is about 1200km drive from Nagpur and we were to end it in Kajuraho.
The thought of the trip made me excited. This would be an amazing road trip to discover nature, even closer. This will be epic! Now, if you haven’t been to Madhya Pradesh before sometime in January, then a warning! It is cold out there. Very cold. We recommend you pack some warm clothes and if possible do carry a hat to keep you warm. Carry thermals and try and avoid early morning Jungle Safaris, if you don’t like too much old. If you are planning for an adventure trip soon or for the coming days, this could be the story for you.
Our trip started with a flight from Mumbai to Nagpur. This is the closest and ideal airport to come to, if you are flying in and taking taxis ahead. If you are planning to rent and drive yourself, then prefer a car with good ground clearance. A hatchback will also do but clearance is important. Nagpur is a major hub and you can find multiple places to stay in. If in Nagpur at the right time, get the oranges, and also try some of the foods in Saoji sauce. Like chicken saoji or if you are a veggie, then there shall be more options. The route from Mumbai to Nagpur is about 1000kms and you can do it in a day’s time. Though it will take you a good 18 hours. There are some parts of the road which have broken tarmac. From Bengaluru it should be about similar time, once you enter Maharashtra. The roads might not be that good as in Karnataka.
Now, moving from Nagpur, the distance is a hardly 150 kilometres. The first leg, we drove the Honda BR-V. This is the only compact SUV that comes with seven-seats. The others are a five-seater only. Anyways, ours was a petrol and manual. I was glad to drive a large vehicle as wasn’t just comfortable but even ideal for a road trip like this. High ground clearance always means an advantage for a road trip. So, you should reach Pench in a maximum of 4 hours. If you have already made a stop before Nagpur and haven’t done too much to reach Nagpur, then it shall be ideal to drive down to Pench directly. One needs to book the safaris online and if you don’t know how to, the hotels could do it for you. These are generally in open top Gypsies. So, for those who feel cold, should carry enough warm clothes like hat, gloves and thick jackets to protect themselves from wind chill.
There are two Safaris in a day, one early in the morning at 6 am. This will freeze you and make you swear words that aren’t necessary. So, prefer going in the afternoon batch. In Pench, you shall spot a variety of animals. Be it of course the tiger, jackal, deers, lungoor, Boar (this one seems to be a delicacy for the Tiger) and many many more. The list is long and the time is perfect to spot most of them. We were glad to have see a baby tiger C1, this one was two and half years old. We had stopped our gypsies and everyone literally froze in their tigers. No moment or noise from any of the humans in 20 of the surrounding Gypsies. The tigress walked like a true princess with pride. Without any fear, between all the 20 vehicles with all human eyes on her and everyone was excited and scared in some part of their mind closely watching the tiger’s moments. What if she jumps on us? What if she is looking for food? The tigress crossed the road and went past into the trees and soon she disappeared.
Next day we were heading from Pench to Kanha. We had planned to move on to Bhandavgarh from there directly. Now, Kanha and Pench are about 200 kilometres away and these two National Parks share similar set of animals. We shall recommend head directly to Bhandavgarh else you wish to see all the National Parks around. The roads are really bad. For this leg, we got into the Amaze. This was the diesel was just perfect. The turbo spooled at 1800rpm giving sufficient grunt to cruise even on the smallest of the roads at 1800rpm. The roads are well horrible to Kanha. However as we did head out from Kanha, the roads become better and beautiful. Soon we reached a beautiful set of winding roads. They were marked and well laid out. This did make it an exciting driving experience. The Amaze did well on these roads. The light steering wheel meant less tiring but the rear was a bit too soft for my liking. Soon we reached our next destination. Was an all day drive and it was indeed a tiring journey.
The Bandhavgarh National Park is terribly cold. This is indeed one of the coldest places around. With a temperature of close to 5-8deg C in the night. We had an early morning Safari. Every one amongst us was freezing. Some of us were carrying blankets from their rooms. Open top gypsies are freezing. Now to many who aren’t aware, for this very National Park, the Court has shut most of it and about 15-20% of the park is only open. So, the part where majority of animals exist has been shut down. So, we recommend you should go to Kanha and Panna instead. The Bandhavgarh has the highest density of tigers amongst the four with Panna having the least (from what we learnt). However, Kanha and Pench will be two places we shall recommend to visit.
As we were shot on time, the plan was to skip Panna and head to Khajuraho directly as we were heading for a flight back. This time we had the Honda Brio, the smallest car from the Honda fleet. The super compact car is just what I love about the Brio. The power is adequate, space is perfect, features, well-could have been more, handling, ride, stability are just ideal for city and even highway.
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We shall soon come out with our video as well.