About the park
Famous for its significant tiger and elephant population and protected sandalwood trees, Bandipur National Park is one of India's most delightful wildlife sanctuaries. Its proximity to big cities like Bangalore and Mysore make it an ideal weekend getaway for numerous wildlife enthusiasts. Part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, it is located in the Chamarajanagar district and stretches over 874 sqkm. Together with the adjoining Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and Nagarhole and Mudumalai National Parks, it forms the largest protected area in Southern India, totalling 2,183 sqkm.
The Reserve was once the erstwhile Mysore Maharaja Voodiyar's private hunting ground till 1941 when it became part of a larger National Park called 'Venugopal Wildlife Park'. In 1973, it was recognised as Bandipur National Park and it became one of 15 sanctuaries brought under the umbrella of Project Tiger. The wildlife here has flourished with the help of conservationists and it offers a variety of flora and fauna on view, apart from the beautiful landscapes.
The dirt roads through these forests are winding, rocky and narrow making it difficult to drive. Since no outside vehicles are allowed here, the drivers that take visitors around are especially skilled to drive in this terrain, even in the dark. Another option for wildlife viewing is going on an elephant safari. From the comfort of the elephant’s back you would have more chances of seeing those animals that usually prefer the cover of shrubs, such as wild hogs and sambar. The slow and steady pace of the magnificent animal also gives you time to appreciate other aspects of the forest that you might miss out in the swiftness of a motorized vehicle.
Another feature of this Park is the Gopalaswamy hill towering at about 1,454.5 m. It is one of the highest peaks in the area while Kannegals at 680 m is the lowest. The Nugu in the centre, Moyar towards the south and the Kabini between Bandipur and Nagarahole are the rivers that feed this area perennially with gushing water. Numerous natural and artificial pools are found in Bandipur. Aquatic weeds flourish as water is released from the Kabini reservoir in summer.
Winter: Morning: 6.45 am to 9.45 am | Evening: 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm
Summer: Morning: 6.30 am to 9.30 am | Evening: 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm
Present Price for Safaris
Bolero Jeep ride: INR 2,600 (US$ 43) for Indian Nationals
INR 5,500 (US$ 91) for Foreign Nationals
Gypsy ride: INR 4,000 (US$ 66) for Indian Nationals
INR 6,500 (US$ 108) for Foreign Nationals
Van safari: INR 75 (US$ 1.5) per person for 30 minute safari in 25 seater bus.
How to book jeep safaris: http://www.bandipurtigerreserve.in/
Any restrictions and rules: No additional fees for photography and videography for non-commercial purpose.
Latest information on tourism zones: No zone system in Bandipur.
IN THE FIELD UPDATE
Sightings have been on the rise with the dominant male tiger, Prince, still holding on to his territory despite being nearly 11 years old now. A female with cubs is also seen at regular intervals. However, an early onset of summer and the diminishing water in the park have made life difficult for the herbivores.
The cost of safaris has increased this year slightly. Three new vehicles, Bolero Campers are also now used as open safari vehicles, but the ongoing stranglehold of the Forest Department in running all services ensures a very standardised game drive experience and poor nature education. Take and expert with you if you want to make the most of Bandipur or stick with Mudumalai itself where large herds of elephant can be seen.
Road connectivity to Bandipur has improved and the road from Mysore though still incomplete has become smoother. Unfortunately, the wider and better roads come at the cost of loss of habitat for bats and other fauna as countless trees have been cut in the process.
Dhole’s Den (Quality PUG Eco Rating)
New in 2016: For bird watchers visiting this year, the lodge has added a new item to its itinerary — a visit to the Huliamma Temple (Tiger Goddess) on the edge of the village with an adjacent waterhole in the early mornings or evenings. Equipped with naturalist, professional bird telescope and binoculars and with delicious nibbles, this little foray promises to be rather different from the regular safari that Bandipur offers. Other animals including elephants can be seen here too occasionally.
Another new offering is an excursion to the Elephant Camp in Mudumalai, home to some amazing tuskers, some of whom have retired and some of whom are still active workers. They are fed by the Forest Department staff twice daily. This offers guests the opportunity to see these impressive animals at close range without forcing the gentle giants to be part of a tourist show. The feeding ends at 6 pm, allowing for a drive back to the lodge after sunset through the Mudumalai and Bandipur forests. This journey sometimes brings sightings of elephants, sloth bears and the occasional leopard although this is a main road.
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