I had driven down to Satpura National Park (again!) last summer. A 3300 km roadtrip, Bangalore – Pench – Satpura National Park – back.
Bangalore – Hyderabad was a steady, uneventful cruise. After picking up a friend from Hyderabad airport, I proceeded towards Nagpur. First night was spent in Rukhad, Pench, after covering 1230 km in 16 hours. I usually do a night stop in Bison Retreat, Rukhad when I am driving North from Bangalore. It is an MPTDC property – value for money, beside the highway, and in the middle of the forest. They serve good egg curry and dal fry. And in winter, they offer dinner beside a cosy campfire.
Next morning we headed to a forest rest house in Satpura. After fiddling with Google Maps for a while, I decided to try a short cut through the Southern fringe of Satpura National Park. Perhaps a mistake. Narrow and broken roads, with 1 foot deep potholes. Long stretches of no dirt trails. It was a hot and dusty drive, and slowed us down. But what is the use of a reliable Toyota 4WD if one can’t afford to experiment and explore a bit?
Cursing the road, and admiring the scenery (it was literally in the middle of nowhere, with almost zero traffic – a road less traveled), we eventually hit NH46, linking Betul and Itarsi in MP. After heading North for 20 km, we left the highway and took a village road, which morphed to a dirt track after a few km. Reaching the FRH – located in the core area of the park – involved about 30km of trail driving. I had driven there 1.5 years before, that too in the evening, so wasn’t worried about losing our way.