I just got back from a brilliant trip. One of my best jungle experiences so far. There was wildlife right from the word go & I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. Fantastic landscape, brilliant wildlife, awesome food, a 4X4 to drive around and lastly some excellent company; what better can a weekend be! Our trip started from the Forest Dept's rest house in Jeerahalli (Geerahalli), which is a small village about 30Km from Thalavadi and has around 80 families living there. There is small water hole that the forest dept has built right behind the rest house. We expected to see elephants there and it was a depressing start when I ended up with just 2 pictures. One of the Jeep we were traveling in and the other, a silhouette of the plant.
Early the next morning, we jeeped to a nearby village Kettavadi and started our trek to Thengumarada. We had some hot idlis for breakfast and this tiny petty shop in the vicinity caught my attention for a for minutes.
Six trekkers along with a few trackers and watchers from the Forest Dept set out on the 15Km walk to Thengumarada. The landscape in these areas is brilliant. There is an excellent prey base, many many animals. Overall an extremely healthy forest.
The feeling when you walk thru such forests is very hard to explain, almost like an ecstasy pill :-p!
A while later, we came across a herd of about 8 elephants that were resting in the shade in one of the slopes. Since the wind was against us (blowing from the elephants towards us) we knew it was safe to move in closer to the herd. Remember elephants have very very poor eyesight. They depend almost entirely on their sense of smell and since the wind was in the opposite direction, there is almost no chance that they spot us if we stay still. We soon sat on the ground and started observing the herd. I mounted my 500mm Manual lens and started firing at them. About 10-15 minutes later we herd a rustle in a nearby bush and out of nowhere a group of 3 elephants including a calf (from less than 40 feet away) starts walking towards us. We were taken by complete surprise and were not quite pleased with this. One of the watchers panicked and started to run. It was only now that the elephants realised we were there and the group of 3 quickly changed their path. We were very lucky that they decided not to charge.
To be continued...