Bandipur tiger reserve is one of the largest preserved and pristine forest areas in South India. Its part of the greater conservative forest area spans across Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala states. It’s one of the best routes to watch wild animals like elephants/bison/leopards etc. This is my experience of staying inside the forest cottage and next day’s jungle safari. It was literally staying inside forest because there were no other buildings / shops, nothing around at least for 10 kms. The cottages are managed by the Karnataka forest department and visitors are limited to a few numbers a day. The chances of sighting animals is high here because it is part of a wider forest area (1000+ square KMs) consisting of 4 reserved forests, Bandipur + Nagarhole national parks (Karnataka), Mudumalai national park (Tamilnadu) and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala). So animals are free to move across the area depending on climate, food and other natural conditions.
The terrain is greenish, serene , super calm and wild. It’s the first time we are getting a chance to be in the forest after 09 PM as there is a night travel ban on Bandipur forest road. The forest highway will be closed between 09 PM and 06 AM. We had booked a vanashree 1 cottage. It’s located near the campus restaurant. As the sun sets a lot of guests gather around the cottages. Yes, you can see hundreds of deers coming close to the rooms. You can see them in groups wherever you turn. They will run away if you go nearer so watch them from a distance. Also the direction is to stay inside after 07 PM.
Anyhow you can get a view of the surroundings through a balcony which is protected by metal grills. We went to the campus restaurant for dinner by 08 PM and it was good vegetarian food. It’s advised to close all the lights by 09 PM though you can be awake. We talked to the forest staff here and they told us that elephants also will come near the campus, they have even witnessed leopards. We could see only deers , wild pigs and some unfamiliar animal sounds from the balcony. It was a great experience to be inside the cottage and hearing all these wild noises. We woke up early in the morning and it was worth it to witness a herd of elephants near the restaurant, it was great to see elephants this close surrounded by 100s of deers. We spent some time here and rushed to the safari starting point by 06 AM.
The safari starting point is located around 5 KMs from the room. We had booked a bus and so the ride was a little delayed as we needed to wait for the quorum. The safari route is medium off-road. The riding through the forest highway itself is a great experience, two sides deep forests and picturesque cloudy mountains in the backdrop. We could see deers, bison, lion-tailed monkeys, wild dogs, mongoose, eagles , peacocks and a variety of birds on the route. We were not lucky to see elephants and leopards/tigers 🙁 though we could see elephants near vanashree cottage and on the sides of highways.
Which is the best season to visit Bandipur National park?
Bandipur national park is open throughout the year. However, for sightings, summers are considered to be the best as animals tend to move around in search of food, water or shade. The rainy season also has a charm as the rains bring out the forest’s beauty at its best!. Also chances of coming across wild animals/birds are high during early morning and evening rides + it mainly depends on your luck 🙂
Transportation and location
Bandipur is well connected by roads. It is located around 80 KMs from Mysore (karnataka), 70 KMs from Sulthan Bathery (Wayand, Kerala) and 30 KMs from Gudalur (Tamilnadu). Please refer below google maps location. It’s also connected by public buses though not a destination, you can ask the bus driver to drop you at Bandipur.
From Kerala side: You can get Mysore buses passing through Bandipur forest from Calicut / Wayand / Malappuram districts
From Tamilnadu side: You can get Mysore buses passing through Bandipur forest from Gudalur/ Ooty / Coimbatore
From Karnataka side: You can get Ooty buses passing through Bandipur forest from Mysore
Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/8rfDLHzvn9FP7Mru8
Please note there is a night travel ban, the national highway passing through Bandipur forest will be closed between 09 PM and 06 AM everyday.
Timings: Morning 6 AM to 10 AM and evening 2:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Gypsy (Max 5 people): 3500 RS
Camper (Max 8 people): 5000 RS
Bus: 300 RS per head
Guide Fee: 300 RS for Gypsy/Camper and 10 RS per head for bus
Park Entry Fee: 300 RS per head
I would recommend Gypsy/Camper as it gives you wider sight + better seating and 1.5 hrs ride compared to bus’s 1 hr. Also Gypsy is recommended if you want to take good photos. Private vehicles are not allowed
Rooms / individual cottages are named as Vanashree, Papeeha, Harini, Kokila, Myura etc and all are priced at 2000 RS (Max 2 people) and 4000 RS for 4 people capacity
All cottages are equipped with almost the same facilities. Except Vanashree all other cottages are individually located and closer to the forest. I would recommend non vanshree ones because they are close to forest and best to experience night sights of deers roaming around / elephants or tiger/leopard if you are lucky
Check in: before 7 PM
Checkout: by 11 AM
There is a restaurant inside run by the forest staff, offering good normal food at an affordable price. You need to book in advance by 6 PM, as they can’t go outside once the sun sets. Even you are instructed to stay inside the cottage after 7 PM though you can experience the surroundings from the balcony protected by metal grills. I would say, take dinner from this restaurant and for breakfast / lunch you have better options outside (Towards Mysore) near the safari campus.
How to book and where exactly is the location?
You can book online: https://www.bandipurtigerreserve.co.in (official website – no other options)
1 The fare details provided above are as of August 2022 and for Indian nationals. Foreigners its exact 2x
2 Book stay + safari together so that you can save park entry fee
3 The safari starting point is 5 KM away from the stay location (towards Mysore). So please plan accordingly
Feel free to contact me if you need any additional information – instagram ID @unaizarakkal