The first time we went to Kabini was back in 2013. Having just moved back from the United States after 11 years, we were excited to explore Karnataka, the state we would be calling 'home'. We would pack our bags every long weekend and head out, to discover what this beautiful state had to offer. It was on one of these trips that we found ourselves in Kabini.
Our first ever jungle safari turned out to be unforgettable - we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the majestic leopard. During the early morning boat safari, we saw elephant herds peacefully bathing on the banks of the Kabini or the Kapila as it is otherwise called. We packed our day with activities and before we knew, it was time to head home. Over the years, the images faded to the background but I was left with a lingering, yet strong, feeling. It was a feeling of absolute calm and of being one with nature. I knew, without doubt, that I would succumb to it and go back.
Fast forward five years later. The call of the Kapila was still alive and we decided to pay heed. We packed our bags and set off. I am, by nature, a restless traveller. My idea of a vacation is scourging the web to find out hidden gems. By the time we leave for our destination, I am armed with a list of things to see and do.
We reached the resort by the banks of the river and I walked over to the water’s edge. Small, gentle waves welcomed me. Does a river carry with it a stream of consciousness? Does it have memories of those who touched its shores? It had been five years but the same feeling of bliss washed over me. The list of things to do floated down the river. The Kabini would decide that for us. We lingered by the shore, unable to escape its soothing, motherly hug. The sun began to set and cast an orange glow all around. We sat there, soaking up the last rays of the day.
The next day, we ventured into the forest. We rode through the jungle scanning the environment for the golden stripes of a tiger. Unfortunately, it was not to be. However, we spotted a herd of elephants, numerous deer, and eagles, vultures, blue jays and peacocks; each more graceful than the other. We came out a tad disappointed but nothing could take away the feeling of mystique and anticipation we had felt for those hours.
We decided to take a boat ride to the Big Banyan tree the next day. We were amazed to see how the Kabini opened up. The Kabini has much to offer – sunsets that fire up the sky with shades of crimson, magnificent beasts that make your hair stand up, and brightly coloured avian creatures that give you but a glimpse of the magic that has gone into creating them. But in the midst of all these wonders, don’t forget about the river. She is the sustainer of life – of the little villages that line the shore, of the tigress that leads her cubs to the water’s edge; of the herd of elephants that come to bathe and frolic in the waters.
It was time to head back. I knew, deep down, that the Kapila would call for me again. After all, we still had more memories to make – the Kapila and I.
Getting there: Kabini is about a 4.5-5 hour journey from Bengaluru by road if you take the NH 275 and SH 33. Kabini is well connected by KSRTC buses. The nearest railway station is Mysore, which is about 80 km away.
Stay:There are a number of luxury accommodation options available. Some of the popular resorts include Evolve Back (formerly Orange County), The Serai, The Bison and Waterwoods.
Best time to visit: Summer months are considered best for spotting wildlife.
Insider tip: If your primary objective is wildlife spotting, then the government-run Jungle Lodges (contact: 8228264402/03/05) is your best option for accommodation. Guests get to explore the jungle in open-top jeeps while others do so in mini-buses.