Published originally on: 15/01/2012 18:00
It all started when a group of Bikers decided to hit the road and explore a hidden treasure of Orissa – Satkosia Tiger Reserve. Quick bookings were made by Nayan and we were all eagerly waiting for the D-day to arrive. 14th Jan, 2012, had finally arrived and with our bags packed we left BBSR at around 05:00AM. The temperature around that time was surely less than 10C and riding at 70kmph, we were all having a tough time to keep our self warm.
It was becoming impossible to continue as the temperature in highways dropped further. We finally decided to take a quick break and warm ourselves with hot morning Tea at a local tea shop. A single glass tumbler was not sufficient to warm our body; so we decided to double the intake.
Another 70km drive and a quick break again at the tea shop and then some snacks at Angul; we were already running behind schedule and decided to make the next halt only at our destination Satkosia. We managed to reach the place at around 11:00AM only to be stopped by the security personal at the gate.
Reason: We did not bring the gate pass; Infact we had no idea that the gate pass has to be collected from Angul (40Km away from where we were) by showing the payment receipt. Going back was not an option and calling forest official was not a choice due to lack of mobile connectivity in the area. We waited for a solution and finally after a 20 min discussion with a senior security official at the gate, managed to seek entry inside.
Note for travelers: Please collect your gate pass from the Angul Forest Office before arriving at Satkosia.
As we drove further inside the reserve, the trees and the jungles started to become denser. After a drive of 35Km we finally got the first look of the beautiful river gorge and our lovely tents. The first sight was just breathtaking and we just stood there for a couple of minutes gazing at the untouched beauty.
Soon after a quick breakfast, our cameras were out followed by quick clicks. Everyone was a little hungry and they decided to go back to their tents, while I was busy clicking and following the birds closely. With my 18mm-105mm it was a little difficult to get a decent picture of the birds. So I was pushing myself as close as possible. Soon I sighted a black cormant sitting on an isolated branch making a perfect frame. But it was quite far and to reach closer I had to cross a very small and shallow stream. I quickly examined the area and decided I would open my shoes and quickly cross over. As soon as I jumped to cross over and placed my first leg in the stream…woop… went straight inside the sands. I quickly realized it was a wrong decision as it was quick sand. I managed to get myself to the other side but was dead scared. I thought as I’ve made it this far, why not take the pictures and go back. It was the 2nd mistake. The whole of other side was a quick-sand area. I kept going down. I immediately decided to backout. But, in order to do so, I had to cross the stream again. Worst part was that no one was around for any kind of help. Took a deep breath and jumped again. This time it was worst. Half of my body was inside the sand. I managed to keep my camera high up in the air with one hand, folded my legs and managed to crawl out somehow with the other. It was a nightmare and I promised not to repeat it ever again. I sat there on the rocks for quite some time to cool myself and get rid of the bad thoughts and fears. Packed my camera and moved straight to my tent for lunch.
Post lunch we decided go into the forest to try our luck in sighting tigers and wild elephants. We moved from one watch tower to another but could not get a glimpse of the big cat. We returned back without the shot of the wild cat but with a great experience of walking and driving inside the dense forests.
We also missed the sunset at the river gorge, but not the after effects of the sun going down. I’d never seen the sky so colorful and beautiful. I quickly took out my camera and without the tripod took some long exposure shots by placing the camera on the rocks. Satisfied, I moved back into the tent to change and prepare for dinner.
Our dinner was served around the warm bonfire and the taste was just awesome. It was a perfect blend of local flavors, charcoal smoke and fresh harvests. We were also greeted by some deer near our tent. Post dinner we just sat and gazed at the beautiful stars. The sky was so clear that it gave us a feeling of watching stars in some planetarium.
It was getting cold and we had to retire to our beds inside the tents only to wake up early in the morning to take the glimpse of the sunrise. It was chilling when we woke up. We covered ourselves with as much clothes as possible, took our cameras and hit the river bed to capture the beautiful moments.
The whole sight was breathtaking. We also saw the crocs floating on the surface of the water very close to us. Only the pictures would be able to speak what we saw and not any of my words.
After spending almost 3-4 hours and witnessing one of the most splendid sunrises ever, we returned back to our tents for breakfast. Post breakfast and quick rest, it was time to pack our bags and start our journey back to BBSR. Of course on the way we had some great time in the flowing waters of the forest.
After another long drive we were back to home sweet home.
Satkosia spreads along the magnificent gorge over the mighty river Mahanadi in Orissa. Established in 1976 as a wildlife sanctuary, Satkosia is a paradise of immense scenic charm. It is one of the best ecosystems in the country, representing a diverse floral and faunal extravaganza. The name Satkosia originates from two words; sat meaning seven and kosk meaning two miles, indicating the length of the gorge as 14 miles or 22 km.
How to Get There: The reserve is 190 Km from Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Orissa State in India. Take the National Highway 42 and reach Angul. From there proceed to Pampasar which is the main entry gate of the reserve. Bhubaneswar is accessible by air, rail and road.
Tourist Season & Time: The Tiger reserve is open for tourist throughout the year, except during the period of wild animal census and estimations, which is notified in advance. However the best season to visit is during the winter months from October to March.
Accommodation: Visitors can stay in the Nature camps at Tikarpada, Purnakote or Chhotkei. Forest Guest Houses are available at Tikarpada, Purnakote and Labangi.
Reservation: For reservations contact Ecotourism Cell, Satkosia Wildlife Division, Hakimpada, Angul, Orissa 759143, India. Phone: 91-674-236218 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org