So after the night safari, which frankly wasn’t so bad, we started off early the next morning for the daytime safari. I was particularly excited about this one because trips like these are organized by the forest officials themselves. Which means that they take tourists deep into the jungle. So we got there with our driver around 7 am, paid around 40 rupees per head (plus 100 for the camera, I think) and waited for the mini buses.
Not long after, a group of twelve or so professional photographers arrived in the scene. They were all geared up: latest camera with straps that shout the brand name, impressive-looking lenses, hats, vests with lots of pockets, and IDs around their necks that tell everyone that they’re members of some professional photographers’ association. 99% of them sported Nikon, while 1 % had a Canon with him. I looked at them in awe (by them, I meant the equipment).
Anyway, so a mini bus – painted all over in green and brown stripes to match the surroundings – pulled up next to us and we all climbed in one by one. Our designated seats were printed on the tickets, so it was hassle-free and we seated ourselves comfortably. I changed lenses while the driver waited for everyone to get settled. I also noticed that the group of photographers were walking towards another bus. “I wonder how it’s like traveling with them,” I thought out loud.
My late grandmother used to always remind us to be careful what we wished for. She was actually right, for within a few minutes, I found the photographers climbing into the same bus as ours! And although their designated seats were the ones at the back, they started walking all over the bus once we started moving and sat next to children, pushing the poor kids away from the windows. The parents got upset, naturally, for everyone wanted window seats.
And the most annoying part came when we would spot an animal and they would all scream, in unison “Stop! Stoppppp!” Of course, one needs not to scream at the driver mainly because he knows the place better than us and is an expert at spotting animals. So when he sees an animal, he’ll stop the bus. Simple. Besides, we were instructed not to create noise because that will just distract the animals. But no, noise was what these photographers were creating every few minutes.
They also blocked everyone’s view as they posed themselves to take pictures, so while they shouted, “Stop! There’s a wild elephant!”, what everyone else could see was the photographers’ back. At one point, as I lifted my head up after capturing a photograph of an elephant attacking a bison, my head hit a lens. A photographer was taking a picture right above my head!
But apart from this annoying group, the daytime safari was fun. It’s wonderful to see the animals roam freely in the wild, as oppose to seeing them in zoos. And it’s exciting to closely observe the jungle for any movement or sound. Photographing wildlife is tough, most of the pictures come out blurred mainly because you can not predict what happens next! For decent shots, one has to bring a zoom lens.
Oh, there is also an elephant safari, where you get to ride an elephant and go into the jungle. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for that.
I would rate Mudumalai’s daytime safari (the one organized by the officials) – 4 out of 5 stars.