Thursday, March 25, 2010

Safari on the Kabini River

Monkeys on the Kabini River
While we were on safari this week I stopped several times and mentally stood apart from the scene I was in and wondered how it had come to be that I was there. Life travels along so fast, with details flying past me as I go from one day to the next then suddenly I'm on the other side of the world, trailing my hand in the Kabini River, squinting as the sun dips farther toward the horizon and listening to the peacocks call to each other from the shore while the wild boars drink at the water's edge. I hope everyone has at least one day in their life like that, a day that stands apart from all other days forever after.

The Cicada Resort on the Kabini River
Monday morning we left Bangalore and drove southeast toward the state of Kerala and Kabini, a river that runs from coast to coast across the southern tip of the subcontinent, widening into a dragon-shaped reservoir on the west where the water has been dammed. There are a couple very small resorts there (very small) and we stayed at the newly remodeled Cicada Resort and it was as romantic and thrilling as anything you'd imagine. I did try to capture a picture of our room (including our super cool shower) on video here.

Relaxing at the Cicada Resort
When we got there we sipped coconut milk by the pool until they brought our bags to the bungalow-style rooms on the riverbank then Andrew and I killed an hour in the pool before heading for the river safari. I guess you could say it was like the real-life version of the Disney Jungle Ride only without the dumb jokes and mechanical head hunters dancing in a circle.

Safari at Kabini
Our guide--who looked remarkably like an Indian hybrid of Harrison Ford and Richard Gere--took us out on the river that afternoon where we motored down stream passing crocodiles, deer, wild boar, elephants, stork, eagles and deer.

Safari on the Kabini River
There are three kinds of deer along the river: spotted deer, sambar deer and barking deer who in fact do make a strange barking sound when they're startled, and plenty of monkeys and peacocks. We're finishing up the dry season just before the monsoons hit so March and April are the best months to see wildlife because the animals are more likely to come to drink.

The Kabini River
Even watching people along the river was fascinating. Men with hand-tossed fishing nets that splayed out over the waves before dropping into the water near the shore, women carrying loads of wash on their heads, children playing alongside their parents and people crossing back and forth in coracle boats which are round dish-shaped vessels like you see above. They hardly look seaworthy--you can see how low in the water they ride--and I can't imagine how one would steer but they are lightweight and beautiful and seem to do the trick. Just try not to think about the crocodiles.

The Kabini River
When we returned the sun was a hazy orange circle in the sky and as we stepped off the dock I saw a crazy sight. We'd noticed little black frogs when we'd boarded but now that the sun was setting more frogs had gathered around the dock until there were so many it was like one of the plagues of Egypt--and I've got video to prove it. It was hard to step without smashing them and just one more little part to the beauty of the afternoon.

Safari on the Kabini River
If you stick around I'll tell you about the tiger. . . .

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Melissa said...

I've really been enjoying reading about your travels and adventures. This might come off as sounding provincial of me, but I look at your pictures and have a difficult time wrapping my head around what's going on on the other side of the world and imagining a life outside of my own little existence. I'm thrilled for you that you got to experience even a little bit of it!

NorahS said...

I am really enjoying this series. It all sounds so thrilling!

Janelle said...

I normally like frogs, but that many of them, and that many in motion at once really just gave me the heebie-jeebies.

AlaneM said...

I love the frogs, that's so funny! Beautiful post as always, almost feel like I'm there.

Suzie B. said...

Of COURSE, we'll stick around to hear about the tiger! Wow!

Chrissy Johnson said...

Oh my word that shower! And the basket of snacks!

Cathi said...

Absolutely incredible!! Thanks so much for taking time out to let us join you!!

daysease said...

I have always wondered what English women in the past saw in living in a place like India. It seems that you have some of that understanding. As I read your words, it seems that there is something mysterious and pleasing to the surroundings, the people, the culture. It seems to me that India is growing a nice little spot in your heart. I could be wrong, as I don't know you well. You tell me... :-)