Monsoon wasn't the best time for Bandipur if the idea was to meet one of the predators. However, to us, a trip to Bandipur wasn't about tigers, leopards or dhole. Bumping along the familiar tracks was something we both enjoyed, even if it was wet weather. I decided a day off from school would not be a problem and we packed up and drove off.
9th August, 2013
The rains had been playing havoc with the highways and our usual route through Nilambur would have been risky. We had been reading about landslides all over Kerala and some had occurred on the road we usually took. It seemed, driving through Coimbatore, Satyamangalam and Chamarajanagar was safer though we would be traveling an extra 55 kilometers. An early start was in order since the four lane, widening work on the NH-47 had been revived. An hour's trip to Coimbatore now took twice as much time if you got the timing wrong. We decided to take the longer route through Velanthavalam off the Pollachi road. After breakfast in Coimbatore, we hit the Sathy road as the morning traffic was building up.
The stretch between Bannari and Hasanur goes through the Satyamangalam WLS. We had encountered gaur, elephants and sambar on some of our previous trips. We always slowed down on this part hoping for the unexpected. Nothing interrupted our drive except a grey francolin. These birds are found in small groups, foraging in gassy or scrub forests. I had been seeing a few of them the last few weeks but never managed a good shot of them.
We reached Bandipur Safari Lodge in time for lunch but an overcast sky wasn't particularly mood elevating. The garden lizard cocked an eye at me, bobbed its head up and down and posed for me, despite a light drizzle.
The evening safari was a wet affair. The terrapin in the muddy pool looked like it had no care in the world. It was obviously enjoying our discomfiture since it did not disappear into the water at the sight of us!