Kabini is one of the most popular wildlife destinations of Karnataka, probably because of its easy accessibility, lush green landscape surrounding a large picturesque lake, and fantastic sightings of large herds of elephants. It is 80 km away from Mysore and 205 km from Bangalore, and comprises the south-eastern part of Nagarole National Park. Situated on the banks of River Kabini, this forest reserve is spread over 55 acres of forestland, steep valleys, and water bodies. Once a private hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Mysore, Kabini was a popular shikar hotspot for British Viceroys and Indian royalty. Now it is considered to be one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka, famous for its spectacular wildlife and bird life.
The best thing about Kabini is the sense of tranquility and solitude that envelops the forest reserve. Big city life and traffic seem so far away as you surrender yourself to jungle sounds and smells. The elephant rules here and if you are lucky, you may come across herds of tuskers splashing in the river or crashing through the wilderness. Crocodiles glare balefully at the antics of these jumbos and grin wicked thoughts. The tiger and leopard are much more elusive, while sloth bear, gaur (Indian bison), antelope, sambar, wild boar and any number of monkeys live here.
Kabini shelters the osprey, brown-headed fishing eagle, racket tailed drongo, goldenbacked woodpecker, stork and peafowl among almost 250 species of bird life. Spend some time in the watchtower near the river and spy on the wildlife as they venture out to the river. Experts from the lodge will guide you along nature walks and safe paths to tread. Besides jeep safaris and elephant rides, another interesting way to explore the jungles is by coracle. These are circular bamboo boats lined with buffalo hide, on which you float down the river. If this seems too daring, try cruising on a motorboat, sailboat or paddleboat. You may meet some interesting river creatures on the way!
When the monsoons arrive, the rain-washed forest turns a brighter green. This is the time when the excited twitter of the avian population gives way to the exuberant lyrics of songbirds. Once the monsoons recede, the wildlife is at its most visible from November till May. So choose any time of the year to come here for a wildly refreshing break.
For bookings contact Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd, Shrungar Shopping Centre, MG Road, Bangalore. Tel 080-5597021-24-25. Fax 5586163
The nearest air head being Bangalore, you can drive down from there via Mysore which is about 3 hrs drive and then another 80 kms from Mysore to Kabini which takes about 2 hours. You could plan to spend a day in Mysore if you haven't been there, in particular, see the Main Palace as well as Jagamohan palace.
Food, sight-seeing and shopping :
Sightseeing is really wildlife sighting. Whilst we were there for 3 days, leopard sightings happened on 2 days, each day a group spotted a leopard. Other sightings for us were the wild boar, bison, wild dog, deer in plenty, elephants, crocodiles and a plethora of birds. You can also pick up some sports and trekking gear, camolflague jackets, baggies in forest shades, caps and sweatshirts at the jungle lodges outlet in Kabini and some souveiners as well.