The Indian safari model prohibits the entry of private vehicles into national game parks. Even highways cutting through the large parks are sealed from 6pm to 6am. While we spied several vehicles piled up at the barricades across the main road through Nagarhole National Park well past six, and are certain that a few of the drivers huddled around the rangers trying to buy their way across did get through, it was heartening to note that the rules are enforced to a large extent.
Morning and evening safaris are conducted on a set number of government vehicles staggered across several zones. The vehicles – allotted randomly to lodges depending on the number of people – sometimes arrive late, shaving off a precious quarter to half an hour from the three hour safaris, and resulting in a mad dash to hunt down big cats and elephants. Which is a pity. For the adage of the journey being the destination holds good as much for safaris as for any other kind of travel.
On our second visit to Kabini, we were acutely aware of what we were missing. Our day long safaris in Africa had honed our understanding and appreciation of the jungle landscape. And having sighted our first tiger on our first game drive of the trip, we were relaxed enough to take in the beauty of our surroundings. That more tigers crossed our paths over ensuing game drives was an exhilarating bonus.