We made a day out of a visit to Bannerghatta National Park, an 11,000 hectare reserve about 25km south of Bangalore [location]. Although it seems close, it is nonetheless a 2-hour drive from our home in the northern section of Bangalore. Heavy traffic and poor road conditions, not to mention frequent diversions around cows in the road, make for slow going.
We stopped for a quick lunch at a tiny, run-down restaurant along the way. The food was cheap – the five of us ate for $6 – but I perhaps I can characterize the atmosphere by its bathroom facilities: his & hers outhouses in the backyard.
Our first priority was to take a ride on the Lion and Tiger Safari. About 20 people piled into a small bus – with windows covered in strong mesh – for a 45-minute drive into the reserve. It was easy to find, and get close to, the lions and tigers, because they do not roam freely over the park; they live in fairly small enclosures. The park has 6 lions and 25 tigers in the forested enclosures, plus more lions in their circus-lion rehab center.
The zoo itself was interesting, with many fascinating creatures: leopards, cobras, pythons, macaques, birds, and even some from Africa (zebras and hippos). My favorites, though, were the elephants and monkeys. At one point, the elephant handlers brought three elephants on a walk through the zoo, and stopped to let us touch the elephant. Neat! I was told that there were many wild elephants that roam the broader park, but they only come out at dusk after the park closes.
The monkeys were not part of the exhibit. At a US zoo, you might see squirrels roaming the grounds, picking through the trash and perhaps even checking out some of the zoo animals. At this zoo, local monkeys roamed freely. They and their babies are very cute!