Ironically monsoon in India is usually a dry spell for wildlife travel enthusiasts like me. But this year would be different. I had made my decision and there were several factors that helped me make up my mind – I was not going to sit the monsoon out, the drive to explore Karnataka in monsoon and seeing tigers of South India, bright orange against lush green backdrops as opposed to lighter orange against orange backgrounds of Central India.

All this led me to opt for a trip to Kabini Wild Life Sanctuary as they are functional all through monsoon.

I began all the preps for booking and then all the apprehensions began. Where to book, how to book, what type of safari, will I get what I paid for? And also the rains – after several calls to friends in Bangalore, Mysore and forest department, I decided to take the plunge !

I will cut straight to the much awaited morning safari and leave out how I reached Bangalore and then from Bangalore to Kabini.. That’s a story for another time..

Although the sky remained overcast I prayed that it would not rain. Experience had taught me that sightings in rain are quite poor. Well, my prayers weren’t answered and it began to rain as we entered the forest.

But to my surprise, happiness and excitement blossomed in my heart like spider lilies in monsoon. It was true what poets said about rains in the forest. You can hear them coming from miles away. My mind registered some new sounds that day – the rain hitting hard on the canopies, the water trickling down the trees even after the rain had stopped and the constant relay of drip-drop from one leaf to the other and finally onto the ground.

The rain seemed to have washed out the air and my vision. I felt like I was watching everything in HD. The trees and plans were greener, the deer oranger (for want of a better term). I saw wild animal behaviour that I had never seen before- the rock python sitting in a puddle, the Changeable Hawk Eagle, drenched and perching so as to avoid the rain while the elephants frolicked as water tricked down their trunks. I even spotted a tuskar with tusks almost a meter long ! What enchanting sights were these !

While I enjoyed the forest and the rain from under the tarp of the gypsy, now fully drenched and equipment carefully stashed away, the rain takes a pause.

And she comes out from a lantana thicket to mark her territory. Perfect orange with perfect black stripes against the perfect green. Perfect sighting ! Yes it was a tigress. She had come out to mark her territory as the rain had washed out the scent of her previous markings.

I could not imagine my luck, her territory was along the gypsy path and she allowed us to follow her for 40 minutes straight till she had finished all her marking. 40 minutes !

Travel in monsoon – tick
Safari in monsoon – tick
Safari in Kabini – tick
Elephants in wild – tick
Tigers of South India – tick
Longest tiger sighting – tick !

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