This is the third time I have been to India alone, the last one was at the end of November 2018. As usual when I go to the same country, of course I go to places I have never been to before. So I decided to go on a safari to Madhya Pradesh, a province right in the middle of India – hence the nickname “Heart of India”. Uh, safari in India? Can it be like in Africa? Can! Please note, the safari is an expedition to observe animals that live in their natural habitat. So it’s not a zoo or a “safari park” where the animals are kept in cages.

Madhya Pradesh is the province with the largest forest in India. No wonder there are the most national parks in India, which are nine. That’s why this province is the most appropriate visit for lovers of flora and fauna, especially to see the Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris, or in English called the Royal Bengal Tiger ). Currently, the tiger population in India is around 3,500 which are categorized as endangered ( endangered species ). Currently India is the country that has the most wild tigers in the world, and most of them live in the 6 Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh.

During the week I went on a safari organized by Pugdundee Safari in 3 National Parks. According to Indian regulations, only 20% of the forest is cleared for tourists which is also surrounded by a buffer zone , and even then the number of cars and tourists entering is limited per zone. That ‘s why bookings must be made well in advance and passports must always be taken to be checked according to registration.

The first starts from Bandhavgarh National Park, which is taken by flying from Delhi to Jabalpur for 1.5 hours and then driving for 4 hours. It turned out that I was in a group with 9 other people from various countries as fellow ATTA delegates which were divided into 4 cars so it was quite comfortable. We all stayed at Kings Lodge which was very eco-friendly .

Safaris are held every morning starting at 5.30. November is winter in northern India. Even though the temperature reaches 28°C in the afternoon, in the early morning the temperature drops to 8°C. While we were having coffee by the bonfire, the staff prepared an open 4×4 jeep and provided thick blankets and hot water bottles. In addition to the driver and naturalist guide , one car is filled with 3-4 passengers who sit based on passports registered in the National Park. In contrast to safaris in Africa, where the landscape is very wide and open, India is densely forested.

Bandhavgarh National Park covers an area of ​​1150 sq km which is divided into 3 zones. The morning mist covered the forest dominated by Sal trees where the sun’s rays slowly penetrated. The guide points to the ground that there are tiger footprints. “He just passed two hours ago!” he said. Wow, it’s great to know that! I’m so nervous! We kept driving looking for him. “Well, this is a tiger’s claw,” explained the guide, pointing to a tree trunk whose skin had long claws from top to bottom. “That’s a territorial marker,” he said again. Guidealso pointed to various animals such as spotted deer, Sambar deer, and Langgur monkeys – they are the ones who will give an “alarm call”, which is a sound that indicates a tiger is near them as a sign of danger so that the herd will run away immediately. But during the two day safari, we haven’t been lucky to meet a single tiger.

From Bandhavgarh, we moved to Kanha National Park by driving for 5 hours. We stayed at Kanha Earth Lodge which was very beautiful. Kanha National Park covers an area of ​​1,949 sq km. This is where the book called The Jungle Book by British author Rudyard Kippling came from. Afraid of being disappointed not to meet a tiger, that morning I just focused on enjoying the scenery. Kanha has lots of sal and bamboo trees, as well as bushland. The mist that enveloped Kanha was magical. The sunrise also looks spectacular. Every Tiger Reserve there are not only tigers, but we can bird watch such as owls, eagles, peacocks, woodpeckers , and hornbills. Mammals besides various deer and monkeys, there are also wild boar, gaur (Indian bison), and jackal . Every now and then we meet elephants that the rangers use for patrols.


Suddenly we heard a very loud “alarm call” shouted by deer and monkeys. Our car hastily approached the direction of the sound, followed by a dozen other cars. We all stopped lined up in the middle of the bush, looking up at the sound. Suddenly, everyone shouted, “TIGER!” I was sitting sleepy immediately stood on the seat. And a tiger gallantly walked slowly from behind the bush. It was the first time I saw a wild tiger in nature! It’s huge and intimidating in appearance. It weighs about 130 kg with a length of 2.5 meters. His face is like a giant cat with a yellow-black striped pattern of body fur that shines in the morning sun, and occasionally he growls, “Ggrowwll!”. From behind the viewfindermy camera looks he is getting bigger. Apparently he walked right up to my car! My hands were shaking. Out of a dozen cars, he chose to walk right in front of me! Regardless of the circumstances, he crossed the road and entered the bush again. “ Neelam is going to pick up her 3 cubs . Let’s move!” said the guide . Oh, he knew the tiger was a female named Neelam from the unique tiger fur pattern like human fingerprints. He even knows his habit of picking up his children. Cub is the name for a tiger cub in English. Eh, there are 3 too he said! Wow!


We all moved to the opposite side which was covered with trees. Not long to wait, seen from a distance 3 other tigers peeking from behind the bush. Neelam came from the right, crossed the road, and again chose to walk right in front of my car! 2 tigers galloping from the left to greet Mrs. Neelam. I thought the so-called “tiger cub” was a cute little tiger cub with a wagging tail, didn’t know they were also as big as their mother! The child is about 2 years old. The cub will continue to be with its mother until it is 3 years old, after which each cub will seek its own territory.

RRRROOOOAAARRRRRR!!! Suddenly a tiger jumped high from behind a bush while roaring very loudly right to my left! “AAAAAA!”, I screamed in surprise and immediately curled up under the seat throwing the camera and closing my eyes. Omaigat, if the tiger gets into the car, what should I do? I thought panicked. RRROOOOAAARRRR!! He roars again! Ouch, my knees are weak! The Indian girls in the car next door started crying. “Calm down.. calm down! He won’t get in the car. His name is Charger. He’s still frustrated because he missed crossing to his mother,” said the guidecalm. The driver backed up to make way for the Charger, then he jogged after his brothers and mother. Damn it! Panic! The roar of a tiger is so loud that it can be heard 3 km away. But the scene of a hundred kilo tiger suddenly jumping so close was really traumatic!

Having lunch at the lodge , I, who was still pale, was greeted by a group of friends, “ You’re so lucky! We saw them very far and only heard Charger ‘s loud roaring ”. Okay. Hopefully my next safari will be better prepared. At 3.00 pm, we went on safari again in Kanha. Just an hour of driving, we heard an “alarm call”. Only 4 cars approached towards the sound behind the trees. And come out… the leopard! Its spotted body is not as big as a tiger’s, but its walking is faster and agile. Maybe because I’ve seen a leopard ( leopard) before in Africa, so this time not so nervous. The population of leopards in India is twice that of tigers, but they are the most difficult to find because they prefer to hide before preying on them. Ah, that day was indeed our lucky day.


Finally we moved to Satpura National Park by driving for 8 hours and stayed at Denwa Backwater Escape which is my favorite because of the beautiful scenery. Satpura covers an area of ​​1,427 sq km with a landscape of rocky hills and clear rivers. To enter the park, we crossed by boat first. Although Satpura also has tigers, their mainstay is the sloth bear (Melursus ursinus). That day I was not lucky to see a tiger or a bear, but another group saw a leopard. My misfortune was compounded by the flat tire of the safari jeep! While waiting for the car to be jacked up, I was forced to get down with anxiety for fear of being grabbed by a tiger from behind. Hiyy!


Anyway , I learned a lot about nature, especially about tigers and tigers. No wonder they are often hunted by humans, the fur motif is really beautiful. So remember when the naturalist presentation said that in this world there are 6 sub-species of tigers, including the Sumatran Tiger whose population is only about 400 individuals. When I found out from Indonesia, I was asked by an American friend, ” Have you seen Sumatran tiger in your country ?” I answered, “ Yes. In the zoo. We can even take picture with them. I heard they drug tigers for tourists to do selfies !” What a shame!

The trip ended in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh province. Why am I there? Wait for the next post!


  • Since July 2018, India visa is free for Indonesian passport holders. Visas are obtained by filling out an e-visa at  then printed out , and shown to Indian airport immigration. The visa approval process takes a maximum of 72 hours.
  • A recommended safari operator is Pugdundee Safari which has 6 hotels near 5 National Parks in Madhya Pradesh. All of the hotels are very eco-friendly , for example they cook from their own crops (the food is all delicious!), discourage the use of plastic, and provide stainless steel bottles for refilling drinking water. The naturalist guides are very knowledgeable, every night there is a free presentation about nature. Apart from safaris, they can also organize other activities such as tours to Bhimbetka Rock Shelters, visits to local villages, and cooking classes.
  • When on safari, it is advised not to dress in flashy colors and not to use strong fragrances. Bring a scarf or mask as the roads can be very dusty.
  • Information about Madhya Pradesh tourism destinations at