Drive to Singinawa Jungle Lodge set in the Mukki area of Kanha Tiger Reserve from Raipur/Nagpur/Jabalpur.
Singinawa Jungle Lodge is set in 110 acres of pristine mixed deciduous forests in the buffer zone of Kanha Tiger Reserve, one of the last strongholds of virgin wilderness and wildlife in the Central Indian Region. The grounds of the lodge are a mix of old Sal trees interspersed with deciduous forests, scrub, water holes and seasonal streams with cottages, a spa, a pool and many a luxurious dining options hidden perfectly amongst this wilderness. The lodge as such is situated at the banks of the Tannaur, a sleepy river that dries up partially in the summers exposing sandy spits, fertile banks and large boulders. The Tannaur flows further to join with the larger Banjar River that borders Kanha Tiger Reserve which in turn eventually meets with the Narmada, the largest river of the region. This beautiful hidden wilderness is the first sight that will welcome you on entering the Kanha Wilderness.
On arrival, you will receive freshly squeezed lemon drink and cold towels to beat the heat before you are walked on hidden trails towards the designated cottages.We meet again at the Waterhole, our lovely bar that overlooks the Singinawa canopy, where you can meet with the team of naturalists over a glass of cold beer or your favourite cocktail or just a pot of earl grey.Your naturalists will be your companions in all activities related to the wilderness for the next three days.Briefing by Manager and Naturalists followed by explanation of the habitat, bird species and how and where we will be looking for them. ( This is also the time to throw in your targets so that special plans can be made if necessary)PS: The briefing may take longer if special bird species decide to listen to our naturalists in the branches overlooking the bar.Drinks and Dinner
Wake up at five and meet with your naturalist at the terrace of the main building for a cup of morning tea/coffee and some lazy birding. The means may be lazy but the setting of the terrace can be perfect for viewing from specials like the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Lesser Golden Backed Woodpecker, Brown-headed Barbets, White-naped Woodpeckers, Black-naped Monarch Flycatcher and the vociferous Jungle Babblers who you would’ve heard right from the time of waking up.
Once all charged up, we pick up our packed breakfasts and head out for a long walk that crosses the lodge grounds heading towards the Tannaur. This patch is all woodland where we will be looking for specials like the Spangled Drongos, the Shikra (a small hawk), the Common Hawk Cuckoo or the brain fever bird, a few lapwings in the grassland patches, Large Grey Babblers, Pygmy Woodpeckers, Tree Pipits, Grey Hornbills and many such hidden treasures that dot the woodland and low bushes interspersed in between. On meeting the Tannaur, we reach a patch of scrub, which is interestingly one of the best places to see the White-browed Bulbul, small populations of which were recently recorded in Central India. After this we walk along the banks crossing small riverine islands that are home to egrets, sandpipers, herons, wagtails, ibis and plovers, a forest department nursery with special flycatchers like the grey-headed canary, spotted fantail and if we are lucky, the majestic Indian Paradise Flycatcher too and finally, we reach a bund built by the local village authorities to hold the river flow and ensure water availability through the year. The reeds here provide ideal cover for our target birds, the two Bittern species, Cinnamon and Black, the sightings of which are very sporadic owing to the scale of the habitat and the small population of these birds here. We will stop here for breakfast on the banks of the deep water bund and take in the flocks of cormorants, kingfishers and if we are lucky, maybe even a Grey-headed Fish Eagle could come and perch on the dead trees that line the river bed. After breakfast, we start walking back through the fallow fields, a habitat of dry scrub and open spaces, looking for partridges, soaring eagles and well camouflaged pipits, chats and larks.
After noon – Jeep Safari into the mukki gate of Kanha Tiger Reserve where we will be looking for Sal and Bamboo forest specials like the Malabar Pied Hornbills, Rufous-bellied Eagles, Brown-cheelked Fulvettas, Scimitar and Puff-throated Babblers amongst others. The water holes built for animals to cool off and quench their thirst also attract good populations of storks including the European Black, Woolly necked and Open Bills amongst other waders and ducks. The Cotton Pygmy Goose, the smallest goose in the world, is another special that we can look for in the water bodies. All this, while tracking the majestic Bengal Tiger, hidden amongst the undergrowth of the Sal Forest and the state animal of Madhya Pradesh, Barasingha or Hard-ground Swamp Deer that feed among the Swamps and Grasslands.
Return back to the lodge after safari by driving through the buffer of the Reserve. A nightjar or Owl at this point would be a lucky bonus.
Drinks, dinner and lights out
Morning Safari into Kanha Zone ( zone optional) driving once again through the various magical microscapes of Kanha Tiger Reserve, hopefully more tigers, but more importantly and surely, more birds. Lookout for the Crested Hawk Eagles and Serpent Eagles that are waiting amongst the canopy to swoop down on unsuspecting prey like Red-Jungle Fowl or small rodents. One special raptor that is occasionally seen perching for the sun are the Jerdon’s Bazas. We can be sure that our stars are lining up if one of these handsome raptors show up.
Another element of birding in the park is the wealth of grasslands, short and tall. The munias like white-rumped, scaly breasted and maybe even the gaudy Red Avadavat may grace us on these morning outings. The shy and well-hidden yellow-wattled lapwings are another bird to look out for in the grasslands.
Evening Safari into the park. Followed by an evening property walk for Nocturnal Flying Squirrels, Owls especially the Scops Owls and the Brown Hawk Eagles and Nightjars.
Leave the lodge early again ( the curse for birders) , and drive past the lowland buffer forests of Kanha and head straight towards the ascent to the higher plateaus popularly known locally as the Garhi Road. The ascent runs from 300m asl to 750m asl at the highest point and then flattens out at a plateau that averages 600m asl.
Stretch 1 : the ascent : the thick bamboo and Sal forests that cover the hill slopes are home to some of the biggest bird populations in the region. Mixed flocks here comprise scimitar babblers, white-rumped shamas, tickell’s flycatchers, small and scarlet minivets (maybe the rare long-tailed minivet too), yellow-crowned woodpeckers, flowerpeckers, sunbirds and many more beautiful denizens that cover the forests from bottom to the canopy. The hill slopes also provide ideal roosts for raptors like black eagles and other ambush predators who like to take prominent perches from where they survey the buffet line below. The special target birds in this area would be the Brown Wood Owl, a lone individual that prefers to stay hidden amongst a small grove of mango trees half way up and the beautiful but again, sadly elusive, Rufous Woodpeckers.
Stretch 2 : Once we reach the summit of the plateau we drive through small villages, fields and scattered woodlands to the entrance of Phen WLS. We can do breakfast on the way.
A later start, 7, ( can’t be later than that) and we head to Bimodi Talab, one of the larger fishing lakes of the region where we bring out the birding scopes and look for waders and other wetland specials that this microhabitat has to offer. The deep water regions are ideal for Pochards, especially the extremely beautiful Red-crested Pochard. Great Crested Grebes are also sighted here often amongst other ducks. The banks and the reeds are ideal sites for Snipes like the Common, Pintailed and the special one, the Greater Painted Snipe. Breakfast will be setup at the banks overlooking the lake. As the sun comes out, the Ospreys and other raptors that hide amongst the forested surroundings start to emerge. We can stay back for all of this and munch through our breakfast till we are satisfied with the morning’s outing. Both the breakfast and the birds will be in plenty here.
Return and Check out.
Visit the Kanha Museum of Life & Art – Nestled within the premises of Singinawa, is an ode to the various art forms of the various Tribal communities all over India. Embark on a guided tour of the museum, and participate in a live Gond Art workshop with an artist.Meet The Tribal Potters of Baihar – Participate in live pottery experience with the tribal potters of Baihar, as they demonstrate their skills with earthenware. Bake the pots in a kiln and carry them home as your personal souvenir.