We were on our last safari of this visit to Bandipur National Park and we hadn’t spotted a Bengal Tiger yet on this trip. We were hoping to end this trip on a high with sighting a Tiger and entered the park only to be welcomed by a gorgeous sunrise. We drove around aimlessly for about an hour with no sightings and then we got the news that a Tiger had been sighted in another area of the park. We hurried to get a glimpse and when we reached the location, we were told that it was a brief sighting for a couple of Jeeps before the Bengal Tiger disappeared into the forest. Given that the various Jeeps were going all over the place searching for this elusive Tiger, we decided to wait at the dried up waterhole where the Tiger was last sighted. We waited and waited. Every now and then some Jeep would come by to check and then go away to search another part of the Bandipur National Park. Thankfully, the other tourists in the Jeep were understanding enough that it is pointless to drive around and we patiently waited for the best part of an hour. And out of nowhere, I spotted the Tiger as it stepped out from the Lantana behind the waterhole. It was now clear that all this while it had been resting there, hidden from everyone’s sight. After that first glimpse of few seconds, the Tiger silently walked away into the Lantana. Our driver pointed out that there is a waterhole about half a kilometer ahead along this safari track and maybe the Tiger might appear there. So we started the Jeep and went about fifty meters when suddenly, the Tiger broke cover, from the Lantana, a few meters behind our Jeep and it came into the open and onto the same safari track (below), as though to reward our patience. It walked a few meters towards us when another Jeep came rushing from the other direction, from behind the Tiger.
The “Prince of Bandipur” as this majestic Tiger is popularly known as, slowly stepped off the safari track to the side and kept walking in our direction. It was an amazing experience to watch this huge Bengal Tiger walk towards you. At one point, the Tiger stopped by a tree to scent mark it and that was one of the great moments of this sighting. Every now and then, when the Tiger came too close, from a photography range perspective, we would then move a few meters ahead and stop again to take pictures till the Tiger came closer. We kept doing this till we reached the waterhole, and now we were in between the Tiger and the waterhole.
While we were contemplating what to do, the Tiger instead of moving towards the waterhole, crossed the safari track once again, behind our Jeep. Seeing the Tiger on the road, one of the Jeeps, came closer for a better view and that unsettled the Tiger and it once again disappeared into the Lantana. The sighting lasted a good fifteen minutes and given that the Tiger was behind our Jeep and coming towards us all the time, we got some frame filling frontal pictures of this amazing cat.