ZOOM INTO 'EXTER'ORDINARY! Hyundai Exter's Expedition to Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary
In the pursuit of capturing nature's most elusive moments as a part of Hyundai's Great India Drive, the Exter took us on a thrilling journey through the untamed landscapes of the Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, a 184 Km drive from Nagpur.
Expeditions - a harmonious blend of planned and spontaneous, lead us into the heart of the unexpected wonders we are destined to explore. The aim of OVERDRIVE and Hyundai's Great India Drive is to embark on such expeditions every year. Over the last few GIDs we have explored artistic and architectural nuances of our country with some of the best cars Hyundai has on offer and this year we set out to explore the wild with the versatile Hyundai Exter. The latest compact SUV from Hyundai is up for a challenge which its city car image doesn't quite recognize.
With an estimated 8.7 million species on Earth, and a huge number of species available at Tipeshwar itself, our mission focused on the apex predator - the mighty Tiger. Hyundai, in collaboration with us at OVERDRIVE, planned this venture as a commitment to responsible tourism and eco-friendly practices, ensuring that we preserve these magnificent species in a living form for our future generations to witness. We set forth on this adventure with the compact and capable Exter and accompanying us was Lionel Falcao, a veteran wildlife photographer, adding a seasoned perspective to our expedition. He opened up to us about his experiences about the diverse wildlife of India over the last decade and the technology and equipment that assist him in his art.
Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, home to approximately 20 Tigers, unfolded before us as a hidden gem. Offering a unique safari experience, Tipeshwar allowed us to drive our own vehicle under supervision, which is an exclusive factor here. However taking your own car comes with a series of strict inspections and identification scrutiny upon the advance approval of which you get to enter the jungle. The set rules and regulations by the government are absolute and attracts heavy penalties if violated. Going there driving your own car sounds like fun for sure but be rest assured that your driving skills are going to be challenged under intense conditions. The terrain at Tipeshwar is as diverse as its flora and fauna, filled with bamboo and teak forests and hilly undulations the 'track' presented itself as an intense challenge for the Exter. However the 185mm ground clearance and the tractable 1.2-litre engine on the Exter navigated the challenging terrains with agility, proving its mettle.
As Lionel guided us through the key pillars of wildlife photography - patience, responsibility, and adherence to the animals' rules - we embarked on four 4-hour safaris of these dense forests.
This sanctuary, sprawling over 148 sq kms, boasts of a diverse ecosystem with tigers, leopards, hyenas, sloth bears, and an array of bird species. Our encounters ranged from peacocks to sloth bears, creating a canvas of diverse wildlife. This is where Hyundai steps in as a constant promoter of wildlife conservation, a reason which they chose the Exter for such a trip which stands as a tough yet efficient vehicle perfect for a trip such as this.
Despite elusive moments with the big cat, the Exter's size advantage and Lionel's expertise allowed us a vantage point for the most awaited shot. The last morning safari unveiled the alpha male by the pond, showcasing the Exter's prowess even in such terrain.
Witnessing a Tiger in the wild has its own charm and excitement attached to it, being at one with the wild animals is a feeling which is unmatched and deserves the respect we give to other special experiences in life and hence deserves to be preserved as well. This calls for eco-friendly tourism practices which are actively exercised by the government personnel working there and also by resorts available around Tipeshwar. All efforts towards wildlife conservation converges to one point and that is responsible behavior which is an irreplaceable aspect. Tourism shall grow hand in hand with preservation and no tourism practice shall harm the natural ecosystem these wild animals are thriving in and disturb the balance, that is the aim.
The Exter, matching steps with the jungle's giants, delivered a quick, comfortable, and rugged ride - an unforgettable experience, a true testament to Hyundai's excellence in crafting vehicles for every terrain.Our journey with the Hyundai Exter to Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary epitomised the essence of responsible exploration, capturing the delicate balance between man and nature. A balance sprawling generations which now requires special attention in order to keep it intact and striving for the future generations to witness.
Words Rohit Paradkar
Photographs Sumit Gaikwad