Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka - One of India's premier Tiger Reserves with stunning forest landscapes, small water streams, beautiful hilly terrains and refreshing waterfalls

This year I was exploring Karnataka state of India and during the same trip I also visited Kabini Tiger reserve & wildlife sanctuary. I have done more than a dozen safaris in Wildlife sanctuaries in north India and success rate of Tiger sighting has been pretty low. I had never seen any Leopard in the wild and here I saw 2 leopard at the same time. And not only that, these leopards were around us for at least 15 minutes. We saw them drinking water in a pond and then taking some rest under the sun, before they headed back towards the forest. This post shares some of the such interesting experiences from Kabini Tiger Reserve. We have also tried to share some details details around - how to reach Kabini, main places to stay, what else to explore locally apart from Wildlife Safari.

Few years back, we were exploring Karnataka state of India and during the same trip I also visited Nagarhole National Park & wildlife sanctuary. I have done more than a dozen safaris in Wildlife sanctuaries in north India and success rate of Tiger sighting has been pretty low. I had never seen any Leopard in the wild and here I saw 2 leopard at the same time. And not only that, these leopards were around us for at least 15 minutes. We saw 2 leopards drinking water in a pond and then taking some rest under the sun, before they headed back towards the forest. 

This blogpost shares some of the such interesting experiences from Nagarhole National Park. We have also tried to share some details details around - how to reach Kabini, main places to stay, what else to explore locally apart from Wildlife Safari. 

Kabini is easily accessible by road from Mussore or Bengaluru. It's approximately 4.5 hrs drive from Bengaluru and 1.5 hrs drive from Mysore city. We were driving from Mysore to Kabini in an AC coach. Road condition is pretty good, so driving around this region of Karnataka state is awesome. Nearest railway station is Mysore and it's also connected well through bus network. So reaching Kabini is not an issue at all. You can chose what aligns well with your style of exploration and your budget.

Kabini is easily accessible by road from Mysore or Bengaluru. It's approximately 4.5 hrs drive from Bengaluru and 1.5 hrs drive from Mysore city. 

We were driving from Mysore to Kabini in an AC coach. Road condition is pretty good, so driving around this region of Karnataka state is awesome. 

Let's talk about ways to reach Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka state of India.

By Air : nearest airport is in Mysore and other preferred airport is in Bangalore. 

By Train : nearest railway station for Nagarhole National Park is in Mysore which is approx 70+ kms. Nearest railway station is Mysore and it's also connected well through bus network. So reaching Kabini is not an issue at all. You can chose what aligns well with your style of exploration and your budget. 

By Road : Nagarhole National Park is approx 220 km from Bangalore and 70+ km from Mysore city. Kabini is easily accessible by road from Mussore or Bengaluru. It's approximately 4.5 hrs drive from Bengaluru and 1.5 hrs drive from Mysore city. Road condition is pretty good, so driving around this region of Karnataka state is awesome.


So reaching Kabini is not an issue at all. You can chose what aligns well with your style of exploration and your budget. 

When we talk about options to stay, there are plenty of places to stay around Kabini Tiger Reserve. And the options are available in all budget ranges. There are pocket friendly guest-houses as well as home stay. At the same time, you can chose luxury stay options by some of the popular hotel & resort groups. We stayed in Karnataka Tourism's resort near Kabini river and also enjoyed early morning

Nagarhole National park has over 270 species of birds including the 'critically endangered' Oriental white-backed vulture, greater spotted eagle and the Nilgiri wood-pigeon. Kabini has darters, oriental white ibis, greater grey headed fish eagle and red-headed vulture too can be found here. Endemics include the blue-winged parakeet, Malabar grey hornbill and the white-bellied treepie. Some of the birds that can be sighted here include the white cheeked barbet, Indian scimitar babbler, malabar trogan and Malabar whistling thrush.

Nagarhole National Park is a national park  which is spread in Kodagu district as well as  Mysore district in Karnataka state of India. Nagarhole National Park is one of India's premier Tiger Reserves along with the adjoining Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Nagarhole National park has a healthy predator-prey ratio, with many tigers, Gaur, elephants, Indian leopards, and deers. Certainly a lot of birds are there in Nagarhole National Park. 

When we talk about options to stay, there are plenty of places to stay around Kabini Tiger Reserve. And the options are available in all budget ranges. There are pocket friendly guest-houses as well as home stay. At the same time, you can chose luxury stay options by some of the popular hotel & resort groups. We stayed in Kabini river Lodge and also enjoyed early morning action around Kabini river. We have shared detailed information about Kabini river Lodge at the bottom of this blogpost. 

You may also want to check - Belur, Halebidu & Shravanbelagola : some of the brilliant sites to visit in Karnataka

Above photograph shows a Leopard with it's cub. When we reached this place during our safari in Kabini Tiger reserve, both these leopards were drinking water and soon they came up and kept staring at us. They sat here for about 10 minutes and we clicked lot of photographs. Sorry about bad quality as I was not carrying any Zoom lens.

Above photograph shows a Leopard with it's cub. When we reached this place during our safari in Kabini Tiger reserve, both these leopards were drinking water and soon they came up and kept staring at us. They sat here for about 10 minutes and we clicked lot of photographs. Sorry about bad quality as I was not carrying any Zoom lens. 

Nagarhole National Park was declared the 37th Project Tiger in 1999. This national park is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The Western Ghats Nilgiri Sub-Cluster including all of Nagarhole National Park is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site. 

I always thought sighting leopards in wild is impossible but I was proved wrong by these 2 beauties who didn't even show up in front of us but kept posing for us. When they felt that we should save space on our cards, they planned to move out.

I always thought sighting leopards in wild is impossible but I was proved wrong by these 2 beauties who didn't even show up in front of us but kept posing for us. When they felt that we should save space on our cards, they planned to move out. 
We noticed both the leopards walking at their leisure at Kabini Tiger Reserve. It was brilliant day and lucky for all of us.

We noticed both the leopards walking at their leisure at Kabini Tiger Reserve. It was brilliant day and lucky for all of us. 

We noticed both the leopards walking at their leisure at Kabini Tiger Reserve. It was brilliant day and lucky for all of us.

Bengal tiger, gaur and Indian elephants are found in large numbers inside the Nagarhole National park. Nagarhole has three species of predators - tiger, Indian leopard and Asiatic wild dogs.

Nagarhole National park also has a good number of golden jackals, grey mongoose, sloth bears, striped hyena, spotted deer or chital, sambar, barking deer, four-horned antelopes and wild boar.

Other mammalian inhabitants include the common palm civet, brown mongoose, striped-necked mongoose, black-naped hare, mouse deer, Indian pangolin, red giant flying squirrel, Indian porcupine, Gray Langur and Indian giant flying squirrel.
Apart from seeing these 2 leopards, we also saw a tiger sitting around the water tank inside Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary. The very first photograph of this  post shows you the tiger we saw.

Apart from seeing these 2 leopards, we also saw a tiger sitting around the water tank inside Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary. The very first photograph of this  post shows you the tiger we saw. 

Kabini forest is very beautiful, so it's not only about Tigers, Leopards, Elephants, Deers or birds but much beyond that. These muddy roads look amazing in these forests. This forest is also surrounded by Kabini river. Sighting of Asiatic elephants is very popular in Kabini Tiger reserve.

Kabini forest is very beautiful, so it's not only about Tigers, Leopards, Elephants, Deers or birds but much beyond that. These muddy roads look amazing in these forests. This forest is also surrounded by Kabini river. Sighting of Asiatic elephants is very popular in Kabini Tiger reserve. 

Above photograph shows the most common deer you see in all wildlife sanctuaries in India.

Above photograph shows the most common deer you see in all wildlife sanctuaries in India.

The park in Nagarhole derives its name from naga, meaning snake and hole, referring to streams. The park was an exclusive hunting reserve of the kings of the Wadeyar dynasty, the former rulers of the Kingdom of Mysore. It was set up in 1955 as a wildlife sanctuary and later it was upgraded into a national park in 1988. The park was declared a tiger reserve in 1999. 

Let's also talk about the place where you can plan to stay around Nagarhole National Park.

Nagarhole National Park is one of the most popular tiger reserves in South India and is easily accessible from Mysore & Bengaluru. And today we are sharing about one of the most beautiful and very well located resort around Kabini Tiger reserve. we are going to talk about Kabini river Lodge which is located on the river bank of Kabini river. There are so many reasons which make this place special for stay as well as experiencing wildlife with great natural resources around it. 

 Kabini river Lodge is part of Jungle Lodges and Resorts. Kabini river Lodge is spread over 50+ acres of land with huge green space between cottages in the resort. 


Kabini river Lodge has different kinds of cottages, bungalows and rooms. All of them spread over a huge piece of land to offer privacy. My favourite cottages are the ones which are facing Kabini river. These cottages are 2 huge rooms with separate spaces included of stairs, balconies etc.

Kabini river Lodge has different kinds of cottages, bungalows and rooms. All of them spread over a huge piece of land to offer privacy. My favourite cottages are the ones which are facing Kabini river. These cottages are 2 huge rooms with separate spaces included of stairs, balconies etc. 


Kabini river Lodge has beautiful campus. There are multiple cottages with 2 rooms and bungalows with 6-8 rooms in each. Apart from these there are some special bunglows and a reception area. 


Detailed information about rooms, cottages, bungalows, dormitories and packages can be checked on website of Kabini river Lodge. I will certainly encourage to check other booking websites to find a deal which suites you.    Let's talk a little about restaurant at Kabini river Lodge and food served. The eating area is close to the river bank so you can enjoy your meal while watching river water and birds around you. We were in a huge group and a lot of us were from North India, they ensured that the menu has varied options. I am not sure if the menu was good for foreigner tourists, although the folks I spoke to enjoyed the local cuisine and they preferred that. There is decent variety and it was served in buffet style. I am not sure if that was because of lot of guests at the resort or they always serve in buffet.

Detailed information about rooms, cottages, bungalows, dormitories and packages can be checked on website of Kabini river Lodge. I will certainly encourage to check other booking websites to find a deal which suites you.


Let's talk a little about restaurant at Kabini river Lodge and food served. The eating area is close to the river bank so you can enjoy your meal while watching river water and birds around you. We were in a huge group and a lot of us were from North India, they ensured that the menu has varied options. I am not sure if the menu was good for foreigner tourists, although the folks I spoke to enjoyed the local cuisine and they preferred that. There is decent variety and it was served in buffet style. I am not sure if that was because of lot of guests at the resort or they always serve in buffet. 


If I have to suggest few things to Kabini river Lodge about eating area, it can be little cleaner and utensils can be upgraded. For me, it was manageable but for some of the friends had challenges and couldn't eat well. Personally I liked some local cuisine served which others may not have appreciated. A good presentation of food can help in overcoming that challenge. 


Kabini river Lodge also offers morning and evening jeep safaris.  When I was exploring Karnataka state of India and during the same trip I also visited Kabini Tiger reserve & wildlife sanctuary. I have done more than a dozen safaris in Wildlife sanctuaries in north India and success rate of Tiger sighting has been pretty low. I had never seen any Leopard in the wild and here I saw 2 leopard at the same time. And not only that, these leopards were around us for at least 15 minutes. We saw them drinking water in a pond and then taking some rest under the sun, before they headed back towards the forest. But why am I sharing all that? Is that related to the resort? Yes and no. It certainly matters who is your driver, who is guiding you for the safari in terms of timings n all. Local guide certainly know a lot about behaviours of wildlife and if you know that well, you can plan your safari with someone who has patience to wait at a spot where probability is higher. Rest, a lot of things are on luck.

Kabini river Lodge also offers morning and evening jeep safaris.  When I was exploring Karnataka state of India and during the same trip I also visited Kabini Tiger reserve & wildlife sanctuary. I have done more than a dozen safaris in Wildlife sanctuaries in north India and success rate of Tiger sighting has been pretty low. I had never seen any Leopard in the wild and here I saw 2 leopard at the same time. And not only that, these leopards were around us for at least 15 minutes. We saw them drinking water in a pond and then taking some rest under the sun, before they headed back towards the forest. But why am I sharing all that? Is that related to the resort? Yes and no. It certainly matters who is your driver, who is guiding you for the safari in terms of timings n all. Local guide certainly know a lot about behaviours of wildlife and if you know that well, you can plan your safari with someone who has patience to wait at a spot where probability is higher. Rest, a lot of things are on luck. 


Above photograph shows the most common deer you see in all wildlife sanctuaries in India.


Resort also offer boat ride down the River Kabini, especially during sunset or sunrise time. It depends which time suits  you. 

Kabini forest is very beautiful, so it's not only about Tigers, Leopards, Elephants, Deers or birds but much beyond that. These muddy roads look amazing in these forests. This forest is also surrounded by Kabini river. Sighting of Asiatic elephants is very popular in Kabini Tiger reserve.

Kabini forest is very beautiful, so it's not only about Tigers, Leopards, Elephants, Deers or birds but much beyond that. These muddy roads look amazing in these forests. This forest is also surrounded by Kabini river. Sighting of Asiatic elephants is very popular in Kabini Tiger reserve. 


When we talk about options to stay, there are plenty of places to stay around Kabini Tiger Reserve. And the options are available in all budget ranges. There are pocket friendly guest-houses as well as home stay. At the same time, you can chose luxury stay options by some of the popular hotel & resort groups. We stayed in Karnataka Tourism's resort near Kabini river and also enjoyed early morning

If you are planning evening safari in tiger reserve , you can enjoy boat ride during sunrise which can offer sightings of herds of elephants and different kind of birds roaming around the water. So when you go for boat ride, don't forget to take your cameras and binoculars. 


We saw few pelicans, bitterns, herons, egrets, storks, ducks, geese, hawks, kites, eagles, pheasants, cranes, cormorants, pigeons, woodpeckers, hornbills babblers & sparrows.

During boat ride we saw some pelicans, bitterns, herons, egrets, storks, ducks, geese, hawks, kites, eagles, pheasants, cranes, cormorants, pigeons, woodpeckers, hornbills babblers & sparrows.


The same property maintains the safari vehicles and boats. They have good number of staff members to ensure that guests are served well.

Above photograph shows local fishermen who had started their day early and were putting net for their catch of the day. Kabini river Lodge maintains the safari vehicles and boats. They have a good number of staff members to ensure that the guests are well taken care of.

Since we were a huge group of Golden Chariot and lot of them were from North India, they ensured that menu has varied options. I am not sure if the menu was good for foreigner tourists, although folks I met enjoyed the local cuisine and they preferred that.

Every evening there is a audio visual presentation in one of the halls. It's a good briefing about the national park and evolution of local habitat. During the same time bonfire starts near the restaurant. Depending upon kind of deal you have opted snacks and drinks are served during bonfire. 


What else can you do in and around Kabini river Lodge?


1. You can spend time in peace, by making good use of lawns or trees in the property.


2. Walk along the river bank which is very close to Kabini river Lodge. 


3. Walk around the resort and river with your binoculars to observe birds and click them with your camera. This place can be a great place for birders. 


4.  Step out of the property to walk and observe the neighbourhood to experience how locals live in this part of the country. Every state of India offers different exposure to lifestyles which includes many things like houses, cloths, food, language, daily routine, kind of agriculture etc. 


5. Explore common areas and galleries of Kabini river lodge. Some sections are dedicated to people and their stories. All those can be very enriching. Along with that some galleries have stories about elephants and tigers of Nagarhole National Park. 


Overall I liked the ambience of the place and curious staff. I would certainly recommend this place but please keep your expectations low in terms of restaurant area and food. It's not bad, but if you prefer a place with with indoor setup along with options to order your meal of choice, you may want to consider another place. But in terms of overall space, this is lovely property to stay and enjoy nature. 


If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -

- Manage your waste well and don’t litter.
- Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.
- Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.
- Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.
- Don't play loud blaring music in forests or jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite.

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