Heard about Jawai-Bera from few friends who are interested in wildlife. There are many wildlife-photography group who conducts trips but for us we have to arrange it ourselves.
Jawai is the name of the river on which is largest man made dam of western Rajasthan dam build by Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur, work started pre-Independence and completed in 10+ years with a cost of 2+ Cr in those days to supply water to Jodhpur which is 100+ KM north.
Bera, a small hamlet situated in the Aravali range of Rajasthan and surrounded by lakes and dams and big boulders. The whole area is not under any Forest management. The lands belong to private people who have inherited from Royal Families.
We booked for 2 nights 4 safaris there.
Left from Udaipur Aiport directly to Jewai via Pindwara highway. On the way we had a quick stop for a small lunch. The road post Pindwara was mixed bag, as few patches of road was bad. We reached around 2:30 PM and the heat really hit us hard. Unfortunately there was no electricity, so we were on the mercy of ceiling fan with UPS/Invertor.
Our first safari itself was a success as we sighted one female leopard on the top of the mountain. The distance between us and leopard must be 800/1000 meters. With low evening light my camera had tough time getting decent shots. But that is wilderness not a zoo :)
With lots of hope we started our next day early morning safari before sunrise. As our Jeep started to make rounds in the hills we could see other jeep’s headlight in distance doing the same. Soon the sun came out and as go from one possible location to next one there was no sighing. Talking to other safari cars as we pass it was getting obvious Leopards of Bera were no mood to be seen around. And our jeep got a flat tyre, luckily it happened on a road instead on the hills and almost at the end of morning safari time.
As mentioned before there is no proper demarcation between firm land or leopard sanctuary the conflict between man and wild is very high. There are around 30 leopards in total it seems and the area we were staying there around 4/5 leopards.
Sunday afternoon safari was just as unsuccessful like the morning. Looked like it was a complete Sunday for the leopards :) they took a weekly off. But this is what makes wildlife safaris so unique and memorable when you sight something.
Now while we are getting freshen up suddenly our guide came and told us someone spotted a leopard and two cubs next to the roads and asked us to come hurriedly. Pamela came out with half shower and the car was going in full speed. The sky was lighted up with waxing moon and we could so see many stars. There was another jeep with wildlife enthusiast but they also did not spot the leopard. The mother leopard is very anxious, nervous and careful. First of all they are very shy animal and try to avoid any sighting to start with. Any way with all the rush and drama our jeep suddenly went kaput and refused to start. Luckily it happened on the main raid, and we got an alternative vehicle. So Sunday was full of car drama!! and nothing not even a decent bird picture :(
The last safari on Monday morning, we started again at 5:30 AM finger crossed.
After climbing few rocks and the big rock as local call it “Black Rock” for nth time our guide spotted something in the dark. With flashlight we got the glimpe of a female leopard. it was completely dark soon many other jeeps came and the leopard was little disturbed. One male leopard also came but all these were happening just pre-dawn. with naked eyes we could see something but from camera it was completely black.
We were very fortunate to get one decent shot and see the leopard from close. And with that our first trip to Jawai came to an end.
Here are the pics please check them out.
If you are still reading few tips …
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- Best time to visit in Winter (Nov-Jan may be Feb 2nd week) ;
- I was sick the first evening and was vomiting, after a while it was so bad the moment I drank some water i was vomiting ; So be careful with the heat
- You really need long tele lens ; best would a 600 mm F4 as only time you are going to sight something with be low light (most likely)
- Also a good camera body which can handle high ISO.
- Castle Bera looks like a decent place to stay if that is within your budget.
- Coming with experienced photo group might be an better option.
- Check out SUJÁN if money is no issue.