Satpura National Park is one of India’s finest Tiger reserves, and was the
winner in 2010 of the TOFT Wildlife Tourism Award for ‘most visitor friendly’
wildlife destinations. Located south of Hoshangabad it is part of India’s
Central Highlands, and gets its name from the Satpura Hill ranges, or Mahadeo hills.
These Highlands were one of the last places to be ‘uncovered’ by the
English Raj’s authorities in the early 1860’s, but also, due to the
rapid Teak deforestation at the time, one of the first reserves in the world, Bori
Sanctuary, to be formally declared. Satpura National Park, today covers an area
of 524 km, and along with the adjoining Bori and Panchmarhi Sanctuaries to form
the Satpura Tiger reserve, provides a total 1427 km² of unique Central Indian
Highland ecosystem stuffed with wildlife.
The striking terrain of the national park is what gives it its beauty, from extremely
rugged hills and mountains with sandstone peaks, narrow water filled gorges, deep
ravines, dense Sal and mixed forests, and thanks to the Tewa lake bordering the
park, some delightful coves and bays, which you can explore by kayak. The altitude
ranges from 300 m on the plains of Marai and Churna to Dhoopgarh peak as high as
4500 feet (1400 m).
National Park, being part of a rich Central Indian forest ecosystem, is rich in
biodiversity. The wildlife comprises tiger, leopard, sambar deer, chital deer, nilgai,
four-horned and chinkara antelope, Gaur (wild cow), wild boar, packs of wild dog,
good sloth bear sightings, fox, porcupine, flying squirrel, mouse deer, and the
colourful Indian Giant squirrel. Mugger crocodiles bask in the many coves. There
are a huge variety of birds including lots of waterbirds, hornbill and peacocks
aplenty. The flora consists of mainly of Sal and famous Bori Teak forests, but also
includes Tendu, Mahua and Bel trees, a variety of bamboo species, and a variety
of grasses and medicinal plants.
Satpura is a little visited park in Madhya Pradesh, but it’s
one distinguishing feature is the ability to walk within its boundaries, accompanied
by local guides, something not possible to do in most Tiger reserves in India. Do
not visit Satpura if you are only after Tigers, but do come here if you want to
see just what else Central India has to offer in both wildlife and birdlife.
The nearest town to the national park is the old Raj hill station of Pachmarhi.
The nearest railhead is Piparia at a distance of 55 km and the state capital, Bhopal
is situated at a distance of 210 km or 4 hour’s drive away.
Winter: Morning: 6 am to 10 pm | Evening: 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm
Summer: Morning: 5:45 am to 9:30 am | Evening: 3 pm to 6.30 pm
Present prices for safaris
INR 3,800 (US$ 63) for Indians | INR 5,800 (US$ 96) for Foreign Nationals
How to book jeep safaris:
Booking counter is located on the bank on Denwa river along the Madhai entrance gate. Booking can also be made through lodge owners and travel tour operators.
Any restrictions and rules:
Non-commercial photography and videography is free.
Latest information on tourism zones:
Satpuda has only 1 zone where 12 vehicles are allowed in the morning and evening.
Any new activities allowed:
Elephant safari in buffer zone- Rs 600 (US$ 10) per person.
Canoeing in Denwa river to Tawa reservoir – INR 1000 (US$ 16.5) per person
Night safaris in the buffer zone are arranged by local resorts. These are great for leopard sightings
IN THE FIELD UPDATE
Sloth bear sightings continue to thrill tourists visiting the park. One record evening safari in November yielded seven different individual bear sightings. Three bears seem very comfortable with the jeeps and make for good sightings. Of these, two are females, one with two cubs and another with one cub.
As summer approaches, even leopard sighting are going up dramatically. Last season’s popular leopard siblings Neelu and Peelu have branched off to forge their own paths, but leopard sightings remain amazing. Satpura’s tourism area has two females with cubs — one has three cubs and the other has two.
Tiger sightings are rising. A tiger was even sighted during a night safari at Talab on the Sera Road. In mid-December, two cows were killed by a tiger resulting in an amazing congregation of vultures. A tigress (referred to by some as the Ampani Tigress) and a big male are sighted nearly every week or fortnight.
Wild dogs have been denning in the Reech Pahari area (walking safari area) for a few weeks and hence walks and elephant safaris have been very thrilling for guests with sightings of the pack from time to time. One wild dog pack in the tourism area has six pups and the pack is seen quite regularly.
Satpura is the only park in Central India with a healthy population of Indian Giant Squirrels and as the dry season approaches, some good sightings are expected.
All the activities offered in Satpura including canoe trips, walking, elephant safaris, boating and buffer drives are popular with tourists. The Satpura Tiger Reserve is contemplating cycling safaris in the buffer zone forest. Camping, walking and trekking through the park are also being heavily promoted making it an unique experience.
Forsyth's Lodge (Outstanding PUG Eco Rating)
Under new ownership since last year, the lodge has employed a watchman for the island that surfaces on the Denwa river as the water recedes. This island is a nesting spot for hundreds of terns (river, little, and black-bellied) as well as Indian skimmers. Villagers have been stealing eggs and bringing their buffaloes to graze on this island as it gets fresh green grass with all the silt deposit. The animals crush the eggs and the chicks. This year, the lodge has tried to include other lodges in the area to chip in so two watchmen can be employed in shifts to guard the island.
New in 2016: Although the exteriors have not been touched, Forsyth Lodge has upgraded its interiors. The bathrooms were the focus of this upgrade and they are now more spacious and luxurious. In addition, the cottages now have bigger and more comfortable verandas with softer furnishing and comfortable seating areas.
Vineeth M and Ashwin H.P. have joined the lodge’s team of naturalists. Contact Mr. Rishi at email@example.com
Reni Pani Jungle Lodge (Outstanding PUG Eco Rating)
With one of the nicest wild swimming pools in India.
New in 2016: This year, the lodge has started the Satpura Under Canvas Program, a one-of-a-kind mobile camping and walking expedition. Guests will have the unique opportunity to traverse classic Central Indian habitat with customised itineraries. The best part about the Satpura Under Canvas Program is that the campsites are movable and walking as the mode of exploration is an eco-friendly initiative. The Satpura Under Canvas Program only employs people from the local community. Reni Pani has trained four individuals from a self-help group based in Matkuli, who participate in setting up camp.
Contact Mr. Saleem Qureshi at firstname.lastname@example.org
Denwa Backwaters Escape walking safaris
Enjoy the wilds of Central india on a 4 night lodge and walking safari through one of India’s finest wild landscapes of Satpura tiger reserve. Arrive by boat at the lodge, before enjoying the lodge itself and then next day set off on your mobile safari. Its limited to ten persons only, using Meru style walk-in tents and camp cots and fully staffed with delicious food in the middle of the jungle.
Moderate fitness is required with up to 7 hours walking each day with numerous stops and opportunities to study the landscape and its wildlife. Operates from November to March only and you get no phone connectivity throughout!