No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. – Heraclitus

Something about rivers has always inspired analogies and metaphors toward the meaning of life, and at their best, rivers inspire some of the greatest poetry. This particular river however extends beyond the aesthetics that one may project on it. It is unabashedly wild, untamed, mysterious, and therefore, obviously, breathtakingly beautiful. The Kabini River begins from the Wayanad District in the south Indian state of Kerala before flowing eastwards to join the Kaveri River which flows into the Bay of Bengal. But it is its backwaters that are really famous! Making up the south eastern part of the Nagarhole Rajiv Gandhi National park, its rolling acres and bountiful landscape have not only attracted the tourists but visitors of other species as well!

Don’t be surprised if you see a herd of Asiatic elephants lumbering along the grassy slopes, or wake up to the calls of the bison. A birdwatcher’s paradise, it has approximately 300 species of birds for the discerning cognizant eye to spot. The terrain constantly changes through the park: where at one moment you see shallow valleys with gentle undulating slopes, your feet might draw your attention to the fertile clayey soil that births the vibrant grassy cover you walk through, at another moment your eyes might shift to the deciduous trees that dry oddly during the summers and are lush in the winters. It is through these blades of grass that you might catch the piercing eyes of the national predator: the tiger! But then it could be the leopard or the hyena.

Don’t worry, there aren’t just predators prowling these once game lands of the maharajas of Mysore. The Asiatic elephant population thrives here with a 6500 plus populous and it is inevitably their herds and frolicking babies that greet you. Other than that there is a thriving eco system cohabited by the common langur, Bonnet macaque, jungle cat, slender Loris, leopard-cat, civet cat, mongoose, common otter, giant flying squirrel, giant squirrel, porcupine, jackal, mouse-deer, hare and pangolin. Besides this are the fantastic varieties of woodland birds, that aren’t bothered by the families of water fowl splashing for game in the Kabini River. Watch for the blue-bearded bee-eater, scarlet minivet and Malabar whistling thrush. The walk in the wild wouldn’t be complete without the crocodiles and pythons completing the aquatic life with the frogs and tortoises.

The best ways to navigate your way around the Kabini forests are through the various safaris that are offered. There is always the regular jeep safari, but what would be the best suggestion for a truly unique experience are the elephant safaris. Riding on the back of an elephant guarantees a natural comfort with the other animals in the forest as they are used to having elephants around. The watch tower offers a unique vantage point to catch the wildlife at lolls near the watering hole. And to truly flow with the tide of the river ride on a coracle or boat and truly rock yourself away to the sights and sounds of the jungle.

The best time to visit is usually during the rains when the true bounty of the forest unravels itself. The Cicada and Kabini river lodges are the resorts to stay in and they offer a variety of safari and guide packages to pick and choose from. Apart from this the guides appointed by the Karnataka government are very knowledgeable and always willing to lend a helpful hand.

So whenever you decide to add an edge in your outlook, visit the Kabini jungle! Just don’t forget you camera.

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