Eyes open to darkness just a couple of minutes before the alarm rings, in a flurry of movement layers are donned and sunscreen applied, so begins the day! Checking on the preparation of the breakfast basket and then greeting the guests good morning. A naturalist sets off towards the office on the other side of River Denwa; Satpura Tiger Reserve.
Another set of eyes crack open just as someone has left for safari, this one is excited to go search for some new migrants that might have flown in this week! As the sun rises, so do the small. Feathered bundles that have flown thousands of miles to come to their wintering grounds start to chirp and call. A naturalist follows this chirping and churring, they lead to a small bird that has just arrived from the sub-arctic forests, a red-breasted flycatcher is flitting in the underbrush. A grey-blue blur flies in the treetops, someone has their binoculars trained on it, hoping that it’s the verditer flycatcher, and it is!
Meanwhile, the Gypsy is slowly tracking some pug marks and listening for any disturbance in the forest sounds. The birds in the undergrowth suddenly let out startled alarming sounds, some peacocks rush out on the road. A leopard peeks out at the vehicle stalking it. Its rosettes perfectly blending into the lichen and miss patterns in the rocks, the thick underbrush providing it with the perfect dappled light to disappear. The naturalist tracks the blur of movement and the well-fed cat finally stops on a sun-drenched rock to clean its paws and rest.
The sun is rising and as the mist starts to dissipate, the beautiful verdant rolling hills of the Satpura range start to become distinct shapes. It is time to look for butterflies and dragonflies, the bright spots of color drift and dash on their delicate wings, flying distinctly different from the gossamer-winged dragonflies that move with purpose. Their colors start to shimmer as the sun rays hit them.
The waters of the Sonbhadra sparkle a clean green and show fish swimming just under the surface, the guests are enjoying breakfast and a hot cup of coffee or tea while they warm their hands. It’s time to go looking for a bear! The fruits are not ripe yet; the bears are looking for termites and shuffling through grasses, trudging up small slopes and into valleys with their noses to the ground. The naturalist looks for signs of a bear, listening closely for any shuffling in the underbrush, any loud inhales or exhales. Suddenly a loud tearing sound is heard a few feet away; a bear is tearing into one of the fallen trees full of termite goodness! The black shiny coat shakes as the powerful claws rip the wood apart, the safari-goers are all mesmerized.
As the sun gets hotter, its time to get back to the lodge, wait for the safari-goers to come back and hear all about the adventures of their morning. After a filling brunch made by the talented Krishna and his team of local boys, its time to squeeze in a small nap before eating out for the afternoon.
Tea and coffee and cake and it’s time for a boat ride into the small creeks and rivers that lead into the core. A chance to observe the different animals that are resting near the water. A monitor lizard basks next to a small hole in the ground; a sambar browses for succulent fresh leaves a couple of feet away. Kingfishers make the most of the evening light and the osprey glides over the water in search of a meal. But wait! What was that? A small black-bellied tern flies next to the boat, a critically endangered bird that calls this beautiful forest home. As the sun slides down, the sky turns pink, the calm mirror-like waters of the Denwa reflect this incredible sight. The boat gurgles along, cutting through the water, the spray catching the last rays and turning into bring golden orbs before crashing back into the mirror lake.
Drinks and a warm crackling fire await at the lodge, slowly the last light of the day disappears, the stars appear. A few at a time and then suddenly there are thousands upon thousands; gazing up into the sky looking at the arm of the galaxy it is a time to reminisce. Soft chatter about the day, about the guests, travels around the world and the adventures everyone has had is only interrupted by laughter and some refills. Food and talks fill out every piece of your soul.
With bellies full, and hearts excited for what the next day will bring, the warm beds beckon everyone.