India is so vibrant and full of life! I was lucky enough to go there for work in February 2019 and extended my trip to do some exploring. I spent some time in Mysore, and a few days at the wonderful Waterwoods Lodge Kabini near the Nagarhole National Park– home to hundreds of wild tigers!
As luck would have it, I flew 14 hours to India, took a 4 hour drive through the country, and woke up at 5 am for a safari to see 0 tigers. There were plenty of other beautiful animals in the park though – like elephants, peacocks, wild dogs, and guinea fowl.
Embarking on these safaris was unreal. While we were safe from animals in our safari truck and on the boat, we were not safe from the monsoons.
Even though it wasn’t monsoon season, the two nights I spent at the safari lodge were crazy. On night one, the storm was so sudden and strong that the plastic sidewalls were ripped from the dining area. We and the other guests hid in the catering kitchen to wait out the storm, as it was the most secure place on property.
On the second day during the water safari, we almost didn’t make it back to land. Our guide expertly drove us through the sudden storm back to the dock, but we couldn’t get off the boat because it was rocking so much we couldn’t safely get out onto the dock. As the side of the boat slammed over and over into the dock and water splashed over all the passengers, my travel partner turned to the others on board and asked if they knew how to swim. We were the only international travelers on board, and it turns out we were also the only ones who knew how to swim.
We mentally prepared for making sure the 6 children on board got to the shore safe, but luckily it wasn’t needed. Our chauffeur from our amazing safari lodge ran down the hill to the waters edge, took a rope, and tied our boat to the dock. He helped the passengers get off and gave us umbrellas to get back to the car. By this point we were completely soaked, but the gesture was appreciated.
Lodging: Waterwoods Lodge Kabini
This fun and eco-friendly lodge was so close to the National Park, that the lake you see in the back of the pool photo is part of the park. The staff can organize water and land safaris for you, and they provide a number of options for each meal. Note that the meal service times are not a suggestion – if you’re not at breakfast when you’re supposed to be, they will call your room to make sure you eat.
We hired a driver who took us from Bangalore to Kabini with a stop in Mysore. While the drive was 4 hours each way, it was so interesting being able to watch life go by in both a major city and in rural towns along the way. And WOW were there cows everywhere!
I’m so glad I did this, because I’m not sure this opportunity will come up again for me. I spent so many hours traveling to both India and this National Park, and my time in the wilderness of Southern India is not something I’ll ever forget.