Friday, 27 June 2014

Wildlife Treat @ Jungle Retreat.

I'd like to thank my dear wife for organizing a wonderful journey to a lesser known place--Jungle Retreat, Thirunelli, Wayanad. "Brace yourself, am going to take you deep into the forest!"--my wife said. I was thrilled, started learning about this place over internet. Many nature lovers had put up good reviews about this place. Though we were told about good sightings @ Jungle Retreat prior to our visit, we were looking forward to sightings at Nagarhole National Park which is on the way. We started early in the morning and reached the entrance of the forest. It had rained for couple days, the forest looked fresh and exotic.

Blue Faced Malkoha.
Cruising through Nagarhole national park was not new to us. We have visited this place several times, we followed the guidelines by maintaining the speed at 30kmph, with absolutely no honks, and no getting down from the car to take shots. However, we both did not forget to look around for sightings. Our first sighting was a blue faced malkoha.

Malabar Giant Squirrel.
Lush green forest made us forget the fact that there were no major sightings till then. But there was movement on top of a fruiting tree. A giant squirrel was busy hunting down the fruits. It was cute and active.
Giant squirrels are commonly found in this region, they are shy.

Malabar Giant Squirrel.
We had crossed about 8 kms from the entrance gate, but there was no sign of Chitals yet. But soon after there were hundreds of spotted deer in our way. I completely lost hope about sighting a predator as there was no alarm calls, they looked relaxed.

Chital Adult--Male.
At Nagarhole forest office we stopped for a quick refreshment. The crowd had gathered for early morning safaris. Must say, the place was kept clean with no plastics or garbage. After waiting for sometime in a hope that something would turn, we left the place and continued our journey towards Tholpetty.

On the way to Jungle Retreat.
Tholpetty forest sanctuary comes under Kerala state govt. The roads are well laid and the stretch do not have any timings. Karnataka govt has done a good job by restricting the movements after 6 PM till 6AM at all forest junctions. This way, animals can come outside the forests freely.
Thirunelli is a small place near Tholpetty. From tholepetty forest entrance it is about 11kms and the place is famous for an ancient temple on top of the forest hill. Sign boards have been provided at regular intervals.

Jungle Retreat Entrance.
The experience was mindblowing, tall trees on either side of the road provided good shade. After sometime we reached Jungle Retreat. Entire set up looked rugged and woody.

Mother Elephant with Calf.
First impression is considered to be the best. It happened during this trip, we found the homestay extremely comfortable. Apart from comfort-ability, the place is fully covered by thick forests.
While we were about finish our lunch, we came to know that there is a mother elephant with its calf just outside the homestay gate.

Advancing towards the gate.
Both mother and calf were advancing towards the homestay gate for the sake of banana plantations. However, due to ongoing vehicles it got distracted and climbed up the hills.

Beautiful calf.
Time for some nutrition.
We relaxed for sometime, it was dusk. A perfect time to go to watch tower, many animals wait for this time to come to waterhole. I went upto the watch tower and could clearly see the man made water hole. Many spotted deer were grazing peacefully.

Wild Boar charging.
But their peace was ruined by a charging plumpy wild boar. Alarm calls started from everywhere and petrified chitals dispersed in a fraction of second.

Another Mother and Calf.
I was eagerly waiting for the next action. Sun was setting down the hill, it was about 6:45 PM. Another set of mother and calf appeared into the unused farm from nowhere..! They looked different from the set which came near the main gate. Moreover, these guys were accompanied by a giant male tusker which standing about 100 yards away.

Near the waterhole.
I left the place once gentle Giant Family left waterhole. It was a pleasant evening with some good action. But it was not over yet, the staff had organized night safari in an open jeep..! Of course with forest dept permission. They took us deep inside the forest, we saw fresh scent marking from a tiger on a tree. Whole safari took 2 hours and we ended up seeing a huge male tusker. No sign of a cat.. :-(

Orange Minivet-Male.
Following morning I woke up by 530, after listening to loud calls from Peafowls. Again I went to the watch tower expecting some actions. But apart from deer I did not find anything interesting.
We then took a small stroll near the homestay as a part of nature walk. There were Gaurs marks everywhere, and a leopard's pug mark. Thrilling it was..!
Now it was time for us to check out from the homestay. With an amazing wildlife experience we bid adieu to Jungle Retreat. Not to forget great hospitality by the staff, Anil who owns the homestay, Anish, Rajin and others are very courteous.
On the way to Bangalore we had few more interesting sightings...To be continued in the next part..!

Visit: Jungle Retreat, Thirunelli, Wayanad.
Trip Advisor ratings and feedback:
Distance from Bangalore: 260Kms.

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