SATPURA – The one tiger reserve that allows you the exhilaration of exploring tiger country on foot and in your own time.
Satpura National Park
- Delhi/Bombay – Pench – Kanha – Jabalpur (overnight at Jacksons with an evening at Marble Rocks) – Forsyth’s Satpura – Bhopal (seeing the world Heritage Bhimbetka rock caves en route) – Mandu – Ahilya Fort – Delhi/Bombay
- Delhi – Agra – Bandhavgarh – Khajuraho – Bhopal – Satpura – Delhi/Bombay
- Bandhavgarh/Kanha – Pench – Pachmarhi – Satpura – Bhopal
- Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – Udaipur – Ahmedabad – Indore – Maheshwar (Ahilya Fort)/Mandu – Bhopal – Satpura – Delhi/Bombay
Spread across the highest stretch of the rugged Satpura mountains, the Satpura Tiger Reserve is classic tiger country, supporting an astonishing array of prey species that include gaur, sambar, chital, wild boar, chausingha, nilgai antelope and their predators – tiger, leopard, wild dog, wolf and sloth bear in such numbers that every foray into the jungle becomes a high octane adventure. The bird life is matchless; the scenery composed of the vast sparkling waters of the Tawa Dam reflecting densely forested hills rising in a series of forested plateaus, meadows and precipitous slopes to over 4000 feet – the most spectacular of any tiger reserve in central India. Virtually free of tourists, one has the privilege of exploring this matchless wilderness in a way unknown in any other tiger reserve – on foot, by canoe and kayak, by elephant, by jeep and through long silent vigils in carefully sited hides.
Forsyth’s Satpura is a stylish environmentally friendly lodge that is engaged with the park management and the local community in a pioneering effort to create an unprecedented jungle experience in one of the most exciting tiger habitats in the world. This is an effort to create an exceptional wilderness experience for those who truly revel in wild places far from the jeep borne hordes that have defaced so many other parks. SOFT OPENING MID MARCH 2009, will be Fully functional by October onwards.
The Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve is a conservation area in the Satpura Range of Madhya Pradesh state, India. It was created on March 3, 1999 by the Indian Government, and covers parts of Hoshangabad, Betul, and Chhindwara districts.
The Biosphere reserve’s total area is 4926.28 km². It includes three wildlife conservation units, the Bori Sanctuary (518.00 km²), Satpura National Park (524.37 km²), and Pachmarhi Sanctuary (461.37 km²). Satpura National Park is designated as the core zone, and the remaining area of 4501.91 km², including the Bori and Pachmarhi sanctuaries, constitutes the buffer zone.
The reserve is mostly covered in forest, part of the Eastern highlands moist deciduous forests ecoregion. It is an important transition zone between the forests of western and eastern India; the forests are dominated by Teak (Tectona grandis), but include the westernmost groves of Sal (Shorea robusta), which is the dominant tree of eastern India’s forests. Large mammal species include tiger, leopard, sloth bear, wild dog, wolf, hyena, wild boar, muntjac deer, gaur (Bos gaurus), chital deer (Axis axis), sambar (Cervus unicolor), nilgai antelope, chausingha, and Rhesus Macaques. Interestingly it is the only place in Central India to harbour Malabar Giant squirrels and mouse deer. A range of smaller mammals include the Indian civet, palm civet, Indian porcupine, Bengal Fox, Black-naped hare, Jungle Cat and the rare rusty-spotted cat.
The bird life is magnificent as well and includes such exciting species as Black eagle, Rufous bellied eagle, Malabar pied hornbills, Shahin falcons, Bonnelli’s eagle, various species of harriers and an exciting range of smaller birds. The waters of the Tawa Dam are suitable habitat for a range of waterfowl like Ruddy Shelduck and Bar-headed Geese along with terns and kingfishers. As the waters recede the mud flats and shallow areas provide a happy hunting ground to waders and in the summer the lake is a resting and collection spot for vast quantities of waders and terns on their way north.
Along with the unique assemblages of flora the reserve also supports an astonishing and colourful array of butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies spiders and other insects.
Location and Travel Suggestion:
Forsyth’s Satpura is located near the village of Sarangpur opposite the Madai entrance to Satpura Tiger Reserve at the northern edge of the reserve with Pachmarhi being at the southern end. Madai has to be approached by boat across the Tawa Dam.
It is 180 kms (3 ½ hrs) southeast of Bhopal with the road passing through Hoshangabad which is the district as well as park headquarters. Bhopal is well connected with Delhi, Bombay, Hyderabad, Nagpur and Jabalpur by air. It is extremely well- connected to by train to every part of the country. The Delhi – Bhopal Shatabdi Express connects Bhopal with Delhi, Agra, Gwalior and Jhansi. Jabalpur is to the east and Pench Tiger Reserve is to the south east about 6 – 7 hours away.
The fast Jan Shatabdi Express departs Jabalpur at 06.00 AM and reaches Pipariya station at 9.30 AM. From Pipariya to Forsyth’s is a 1 ½ hour drive.
Itarsi junction which is 1 ½ hours from Forsyth’s also allows easy access by train from any direction as all the major trains pass through this junction and stop there.
Satpura can be approached from Pench along a very beautiful road from Seoni via Chhindwara, past the spectacular Tamia ridge and then ending either at Pachmarhi – where you can spend a night or two – or directly to Forsyth’s.
Pachmarhi – the beautiful Raj era hill-station – the only one in central India – is 2 hours away by the main road. It can also be approached over a 5 hour drive through the park.
Game drives remain one of the best ways of seeing wildlife simply because wildlife gets habituated to vehicles and you can cover a large amount of territory in a relatively short time, tracking wildlife through calls, checking favoured resting and feeding spots and traversing a range of habitats. While a vehicle takes you one step away from the immediacy and excitement of exploring the jungle on foot, a wee conducted game drive is a joyous experience. Our vehicles are small, quite petrol engined jeeps with modified forward facing seating for easy viewing and photography. The drivers are specially trained both to handle vehicles in this rough terrain and to treat wildlife with respect while always being conscious of the needs and comfort of the passengers. Every vehicle is accompanied by a well trained naturalist-guide. Game drives can be for 3 – 4 hours in the morning with a packed breakfast and about 3 hours in the afternoon. For exploring the further reaches of the park, a full day excursion can also be organised.
Walking in the wilderness
This is a unique experience offered only in Satpura. To truly understand the secret ways of the jungle, to appreciate the workings of its innermost recesses, to see and learn the signs and tracks that wildlife leaves through the forest and to learn to interpret these, to savour the smell, sounds and sense of wilderness you have to take to your feet. Get off the vehicle tracks and strike out across the forest and allow the wild to envelop you. This is a thrill in any wild place but doubly so in tiger country. Walking isn’t the most effective way of actually seeing wildlife simply because you can’t cover very much ground and wildlife is always wary of humans on foot. But if you are properly guided, and the trail is through prime habitat, wildlife encounters on foot are by far the most memorable, added to the wonderful opportunity to learn about wildlife in a way that is impossible from jeeps. Satpura is unique amongst tiger reserves in permitting this kind of walking. The walking groups are small – typically of 4 people and guided by an expert who knows exactly how to respond and to treat wildlife while being conscious of the guests comfort and safety. A half-day walk is between 3 – 4 hours. Full day walks are about 6 hours. You need to be reasonably fit for this. The walking isn’t brisk but across hilly terrain.
The Satpura Hills are seamed with an intricate network of streams and rivers and the corrugated landscape punctuated by waterholes. With an abundance of water it would under normal circumstances be difficult to site a good wildlife hide where you could wait for wildlife. Yet – due to an abundance of wildlife and limited resting areas there are some excellent areas where animals gravitate to or congregate. A few small hides allow people to savour the peace and rhythm of the jungle with no intrusion at al and view wildlife on it’s own terms with minimal disturbance. Great for photographers. The hides can house only 6 people at a time.
On Elephant back
As with other tiger reserves in central India, Satpura supports a small herd of riding elephants that are used to track tigers and then put on a ‘Tiger Show’ where visitors can drive up to the closest road point to the tiger, climb aboard an elephant and be ferried out to where the tiger is located. It is as good a way as any to see and photograph tigers. However, at Satpura it is possible to hire elephants for an hour or two and just head out into the jungle seeing what you may see. Unparalleled ‘4 Wheel Drive’ experience especially for those who love elephants.