...but finally what we did was... Bengaluru-Ranebennur Blackbuck sanctuary-Dandeli-Ganeshgudi-Yellapura-Jenukal gudda viewpoint-Magod falls-Sirsi-Yana-Agumbe-Lakkavalli-Muthodi-Basur Kaval-Bengaluru.
The news of rains was slowly dripping in as we made preparations for the trip ahead..., the rains being a cause for concern at homes and finally on the night of 1st Oct 2009 at around 9pm, me raja and nag left bangalore on another expedition with guru set to join us the on 3rd in dandeli. Rains started off as we started to move out of Bangalore and it poured, poured like never before and reaching Yeshwanthpur junction to pick up Nag and then crossing Nelamangala took the energy out of me and I was damn to tired all because of the stress, rains, traffic, jams and the clock showing as 1am! Somehow I could manage till Sira, then realizing needed a break with the rains still pouring heavily, we just parked on the roadside and slept!!! I woke up only a good 2 hours later, with the rains just subsiding, allowing us to proceed ahead. The highway roads halfway were good, some places bad, some worse and with the rains intermittently plying, this was a slow, cautious drive!
As we approached Ranebennur, signs of the repeating Blackbuck sanctuary singboards just ahead just ahead made us take a detour to get in a quick visit there. (For those who dont know, Ranebennur Blackbuck sanctuary is the largest Blackbuck reserve in Karnataka). Well we were greeted to locked gates at 10am... we just jumped inside as the bird life was very inviting and took a short walk down the alley.
1.Lots of Hoopoe 2.Jungle Babblers 3.Racket tailed drongo 4.Spotted Dove 5.Bay backed shrike 6.Sunbirds 7.Bay backed Shrike 8.Brahminy Starling 9.Bushchats kept us company all along ....with hungry people on board :), it was a sure stop at Ranebennur to refuel our stomachs as the sun was also up and the destination still far away. The journey started again and still the rain gods were reluctant to leave and as we were nearing dandeli, i was feeling the tiredness now...! Raja took over the seat, rains started pouring again, and finally we managed to reach Dandeli town by 1pm. 15+ hours of journey in my Alto and we were tired(without doing anything!!!).
Next we booked a room at "State Lodge" right opposite to the bus stand, that was quite famous on the net as the best option for lodging here(Well we spotted quite a few lodges around but didn't explore them), so not a problem finding accomodation at Dandeli is the end quote. Made enquiries about the safari, timber yard, and hotels around, made our plans for the next day morning, booked for a safari early next morning and then planned for a visit to the Timber Yard (timber depot or the Forest office) nearby. Rains were merciless, so stayed indoors after food and was shocked by the news on tv at the magnitude of devastation at Mantralayam, Raichur, Gulbarga, Bijapur and other places due to the floods.
3rd Oct 2009 - The weather was still playing traunt as we left for the safari at 6am. For the safari ride, all jeeps have to pay the entrance and register at Anshi office (by this we got a chance to see the Anshi camp - next time will be there!). The safari was a very wet ride because of the rains and we were taken to the viewpoint inside the sanctuary area, from where sunrise is visible!!! All mist, mist and rains, no signs of wildlife at all. After a 2.5 hour drive, we were back at Dandeli town to find Guru waiting for us there. Nice to see him join the gang!
Then breakfast time and we decided to see the Timber yard area as we didnt want to miss it, the rains had subdued a bit, but still overcast! Inside the campus, past the forest offices, we parked our car near the 4 road junction and started walking. Hornbills was our sole intention and still we got to see the Hill Mynah, Brahminy Kites, a lone unidentified raptor (should be a Crested Hawk Eagle), Yellow Wagtails and the Malabar Giant Squirrel but no signs of the Hornbill! After a long walk of about 90 minutes amongst the timber trees and wild bushes we were back to the car and ready to leave when just heard some noises above us to spot the hornbills fly above! Relief! Ran behind them chasing till they roosted on the trees - they were not at all comfortable with us in their sights and constantly moved around keeping a safe distance from us. Still we managed a few shots that made us happy amongst the dull weather and something to cheer from Dandeli. From here we moved to Ganeshgudi JLR Old Magazine camp where our booking for the next 2 days was done! Well thats in part 2 of our long trip... Read it here
Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!