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.
IN THE FIELD UPDATE
Mar 2012 - Satpura, TOFT’s Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2010, continues to be great for two or three hour walking trips and sightings have included leopard, sloth bear, mugger crocodiles and wild dog whilst on foot safaris. Game drives can go further and visit stunning landscapes and gorges, with elephant back rides (no tiger shows allowed) being very good too. There have been some great sloth bear sightings on the walks and even close approaches to tigers and leopards. Birds also remain excellent, with lots of water-birds on the Tewa reservoir. They can now be spotted from kayaks that are allowed on the lake and up the scenic creeks. Mugger crocodiles are commonly seen basking on the shoreline.
Satpura has no afternoon closure and full day safaris are available from 6:30 am to 5 pm. A professional photographer’s hide has been donated to the park which is a great addition to for anyone wanting to spend a few hours peacefully trying to photographs animals and birds without disturbing them.
Feb 2011 - Satpura continues to be great for walking trips of two
to three hours and sightings have included leopard, sloth bear, muggers and wild
dog whilst on foot safaris. Game drives can go further and visit lovely landscapes
and gorges, with elephant back rides (no tiger shows allowed) being very good too.
Birds also remain excellent, with lots of waterbirds on the Tewa reservoir. They
can now be spotted from Kayaks that are allowed on the lake and up the scenic creeks.
A wild dog ambush has been witnesses whilst some visitors were kayaking. Mugger
crocodiles are commonly seen basking on the shoreline.
Please note: Two new lodges have passed PUG audits with flying
colours and are providing a very good template to show how responsible tourism can