I had read about Nagzira reserve forest while surfing internet sometime back. My interest sparked when i heard about leopard spotting from car last week by a sir. We made a group of 5 and decided to test our luck for spotting a leopard in the wild.
Nagzira- Navegaon Tiger reserves are spread around the national highway-6 and are connected to Tadoba in the south. Chances of spotting a tiger or a leopard, though meagre was there. We had planned to stay in the Ecotourism resort of Maharashtra forest department inside the core area of the reserve. Yes !! you read it right !!! It’s in the core area. I had previously stayed in a remote forest rest house in Odisha during my childhood.
We started on Saturday afternoon hoping to reach by 3 pm to catch the evening safari. Unfortunately we were late and reached the reserve gate at 5 pm. We registered our car and hired a guide for entering the jungle to reach the rest house. You always need to be accompanied by forest guards inside the sanctuary. In next 20 km we spotted Bison, Sambar and Spotted deer’s in the fading light. We reached the forest information centre and subsequently to our Log huts for the night stay. The guard strictly instructed us not to venture out of the rooms alone. It was pitch dark outside from the balcony and we could see the Orion constellation.
It was time for stargazing and chilling in the spacious balcony attached to our hut. There were occasional alarm calls which made us excited in the dark. After dinner we stayed out there for hours before dozing off.
The next day, our clocks buzzed at 5.30 am. We got ready to reach the park gate at the earliest to enter the jungle. At 6.30 am we entered the jungle hoping to sight the elusive leopard. Driving through the narrow mud roads, our driver spotted a fresh pug mark. There were occasional alarm calls and we stood still waiting for the king of the jungle. After 3 hours of ride we returned back empty handed, had our breakfast and reached our resort. Since we had booking for one day we had to pack up and leave. I kept clicking around the beautiful lake next to the hut as we headed out.
After having brunch in one of the eateries outside the buffer zone I explored the adjacent Pitezari village. The narrow alleys, colourful mud houses and curious children and an angry dog entertained me for the next hour. We had to register again at 1 pm to enter the park and boarded the safari jeep this time to try our luck. We explored every nits and bits of the Nagzira reserve and enjoyed the landscape, the gang of deer’s, the ruined houses and herd bison. After 4 hours of expedition we came out, boarded our car and started our long journey back home. Although we could not sight leopard, the experience of staying inside the core area was amazing and memorable. I would love to come back again.
FDCM Nagzira Ecotourism Resort– situated inside the core area of Nagzira reserve forest (can be booked online). It is close to the Pitezari gate of the park (10 km).
Forest opening time- 6am to 10 am and 2 am to 6 pm. You can only enter the park during this time even if you have a booking in the resort inside the park area. For exiting the park same rule applies.
You need to be accompanied by a guide at all times inside the forest. Guide charges per safari is Rs 300.
Entry fees as per forest rules.
Safari gypsy charges- Rs 2000 per safari as on December 2018.
A sighting by my sir, Dr Alok a week earlier: