Guest blogger Christine Pemberton shares her experiences and photographs of Pench National Park with us.
Universal reaction to the announcement that we were off to the jungles of Madhya Pradesh in the summer was disbelief, followed by a slightly concerned, “You DO know how hot it gets there, right ?”
Yes, we did.
And yes, it does.
But for an avid wildlife lover, summer is prime visiting time. Since the water levels are at their lowest, you have more chance of spotting animals at the few remaining watering-holes and since the vegetation is sparse and dry, visibility in the forest is that much better. No thick, lush, post-monsoon greenery, in other words.
This was our logic in heading off in the blazing summer heat to the charming Pench National Park, and with sightings of tiger, dhole (Indian wild dog – a first) and 4 jackals on a kill, we were not disappointed.
Getting to Pench is easy. Fly to Nagpur (which looked charming and neat and very well organized, as we zipped through it) and it’s a little over a 2 hour drive to Pench, on an excellent, well-maintained, not too busy road. There are a number of lodges close to the main Seoni Gate, all of them just a few minutes’ drive away.
Even in the height of summer, it is astonishingly cool in the pre-dawn darkness, when you wake up for your first game-drive. The Park gates open at 6.00, and that first hour is magical, with the jungle waking up, and the forest still cool. Even as the morning heats up, it is never too unbearably hot, simply because your open-topped vehicle is moving, albeit slowly.
The park closes for 3 hours between 12-3 (lunch time – for the employees, one imagines, not the animals) and that is the time when you get to enjoy your hotel pool, or have an afternoon siesta.
Leaving your cool air-conditioned room in the afternoon heat is tough, it must be said, and the first hour of the afternoon drive is possibly a little too hot and too bright and sunny for comfort, but as the sun slowly sets, the jungle weaves its magic again. The hour between about 4.30-5.30 is perfect. Perfect temperature. Perfect photographic light.
Give me the jungle in the summer any day – with fewer visitors than in the peak winter months, you have a much better, more solitary wilderness experience. There were 2 whole days when we didn’t have another vehicle on any sighting – and that included a long, lazy tiger sighting.
Wear your hat. Wear sunblock. Drink lots of water. And prepare to enjoy the jungle at its most unspoilt.
About the guest blogger: Christine Pemberton is a British writer, photographer & blogger, now based permanently in New Delhi, India, after a life of ex-pat wandering with her (Indian) husband. Christine has published 3 travel books, edited a 4th and runs three blogs including the Delhi Diary which can be found at christinepemberton.me
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