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In the Jungle the Mighty Jungle the Lion sleeps tonight.

“I just want to get away from these cream coloured walls, I want to enjoy the bumpy and dusty roads of the jungle feast my eyes on the greenery. Please Samarth Take me!” That’s my wife who has got desperate in these covid times to see the Jungles. Given any other day we would have just hopped in our car and leave to explore the wild that’s around our city or some nearby national park. But given the COVID challenge our outings have been near zero. So I said this “Darling apna time aayega”. Till then I thought why not share our experience of those days. Our parents think we are crazy. I am way behind the bank balance that my mom expects me to have. But we make it up in our experience

My neighbour is in wildlife photography (who is a fabulous photographer by the way) and he introduced us to this. I saw him buying a camera and lens worth 4 lakhs! Frankly at that time I thought its stupid! Seriously who invests that much in a passion/hobby. Well what is passion? My only passion was studying and cracking exams, getting married, and then probably get a dog. Save money for the future, kid etc. Yes, those were my thoughts. Today my investment in this hobby has gone way beyond that and I don’t regret any of it. I really thank him for introducing me to this. This has been the best investment I ever did.

We did our first safari in Rajaji National Park and at that time we saw only some langurs and a few Chitals. When our Safari was about to end, we saw a forest guard patrolling who said these golden words “ Apna Apna Naseeb hai.” The sighting depends on your luck! With these golden words we thought to try our luck further. We come back again. And well our luck didn’t turn good that easily .It took us 3 more safaris in Rajaji to just see an elephant.

The best part of this experience was that we felt peace and satisfaction. Our eyes were relaxed after seeing all that green. The clean air of forests seemed drugged and we wanted it more. To sit beside a lake and watch the birds whole day and fight about what was the species of that bird. Or Travel to some high mountain peak in the dead early morning ,beat the cold and fog then in the beautiful sunrise spot the countless birds .Hear their beautiful melodious songs with a cup of tea . Our dog went crazy as soon as we picked our gear! He knew these two will be gone for long.

One day we thought lets change the scenery and the universe said “ok folks your wish is my command” and woosh I got transferred to Assam. Here we got to experience the beauty of North East with parks like Manas National Park. Another day we were seeing a movie where the lead girl goes to Zambia . We looked each other in our eyes with mischievous smile and the next month we were flying to Kruger National Park, South Africa just when this corona pandemic was ranging in full and restrictions were about to come , luckily we came back at the right time. Seems crazy. Oh yes, it was! Would we want to do that again? Yes!!!

We normally have two goals in life , 1st - midlife goals like job , making money , getting married these give us momentary happiness (or none) 2nd we have long term goals which give us true happiness like travelling, learning that skill,spirituality etc which gives you that real satisfaction and happiness. Going to natural places is just that for us.

But still why you should do it. Firstly forests were our home till a few thousand years ago (out of our 2.5 million years on earth) so going to forest is like going back home. The lush greenery or the beautiful yellow hue of the forest in the autumn and summer with those fallen leaves, the fear in the eye of a chital or the call of the sambhar dear when its predator is near. Those beautiful jungle flowers and the refreshing jungle air. The beautiful river flowing in the middle filled with otters and an occasional group of elephants bathing in it. The hundreds of different species of birds and their hundred different songs. The shy leopard with its big beautiful tail sleeping on a tree with its prey. The beauty of the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger or the charisma of the lion, the excitement when you first see it. The unpredictability, the thrill. That’s what makes people like us go to the forest again and again.

It is so wonderful to be in a forest and experience all this and capture in your camera, believe me, its worth every penny you spend. Go with your friends, go with your family, book a nice resort enjoy the scenery feel the clean air of the forest feast your eyes on the beauty of the landscape and relax. There are many other benefits of going to the forest like eco-tourism and conservation but about that I will write some other time. Currently, I am eagerly waiting for my next trip.

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