Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek

Difficulty
Difficulty
Moderate
Duration
Duration
5 Days
Trek type
Trek type
Jungle Trail, Boulders
Altitude
Max Altitude
3471 ft
Required Fitness
Base
Panchmarhi
Best time to visit
Best time to visit
October to February

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek

Located in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Satpura Tiger Reserve covers an area of 524 sq.km near the famous hill station of Panchmarhi.

Although renowned for the diversity in Flora and Fauna, what many overlook and wrongly so, is the sheer variety it offers in terms of terrain! Ravines, gorges, sand beaches, hills, waterfalls, and steep gullies are just a few of the topographic features it offers!

We have explored and documented the Satpura Tiger Reserve trek, a trail that combines the virgin gorges of Muar Ghat with the most interesting stretch of the traditional Forsyth trail, to bring together the best of all these features in a 36 km long trek through the heart of the Tiger Reserve.

Starting from the Hill station of Panchmarhi, this is one of the rare treks where one is allowed to walk through the core zone of a Tiger Reserve. This gives you a firsthand experience of the Tiger’s natural habitat and a splendid opportunity to even catch a rare glimpse of the majestic creature in person!

Table of Contents

What I Like and Don’t Like

What I love about Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek

Rarely does one get the opportunity to trek through the core zone of a Tiger Reserve.

The Satpura Tiger Reserve trek is one of the very rare, if not the only trek in India that gives you this opportunity!
Being a part of the exploration team for this trek, I hold it close to my heart. I can probably list hundreds of reasons to love this trek but here are my top 4:

1. A chance to experience wildlife in its true habitat: As mentioned above, the core zone of a Tiger Reserve is out of bounds for trekking in general. However, Satpura Tiger Reserve is one of the few tiger reserves where you can not only trek through the core zone but also camp right at the boundary of the core and buffer zones. This gives you unparalleled chances of spotting wildlife in their natural habitat and even pugmarks of the elusive tigers!

2. The barefoot walk along Denwa river: The Denwa river traces the boundary of the core zone of the Satpura Tiger Reserve. As it flows downstream near Dehaliya, it spreads over a large area giving rise to wide sandy beaches along the shore. Walking barefoot along the sandy beach and inside the riverbed, littered with pebbles smoothened by the river flow, is an experience unlike any other! 

3. Waterfalls and pools along the trek: The Satpura Tiger Reserve is one of the few treks in Central India where you’ll find waterfalls that keep gushing deep into the summer season. Combine this the shallow pools along the Denwa river and you have the perfect place for soaking your feet or if you are a good swimmer, even a dip after a long trek day!

4. The magnificent gorge en route Muar Ghat: There are few marvels of natural formation that inspire awe and fear in equal measure as the gorge near Muar Ghat. Centuries of erosion by the river and natural processes has given rise to this deep cut gorge that now guards the ravine. Visitors to Panchmarfi often (illegally) catch a glimpse of the gorge from a lookout point on their way to the hill station. However, nothing can rival the sight that the gorge is when viewed from its base.

What I don’t like about the Satpura Tiger Reserve trek

1. The first day is packed with highlights, but very long:
At 14 km, the first day of the trek is one of the longest distances you’ll cover on any Indiahikes trek. Couple this with the numerous trail highlights packed into it and you have a very long day at hand, often 7-8 hours long. While this is necessitated by the rules of the Tiger Reserve prohibiting camping inside the core zone, it can get a bit overwhelming for a few people.

2. No permission to camp at the beautiful Kanji Ghat: This is, in a way, an extension of my first point. Kanji Ghat lies in the core zone of the park and therefore, out of bounds for camping overnight. However, with the picturesque setting second only to the Dehaliya campsite, it’s hard to be disappointed at losing out an opportunity to camp one of the most beautiful locations you’ll come across on the trek.

3. The boulder section between Khamkeri and Muar Ghat: At 36 km covered over 3 days, I would have rated the trek as Easy-Moderate, if not for the last day of the trek. The riverbank is littered with huge boulders, small and huge, sharp and smooth alike and this I have found, is incredibly taxing on the lower body. You not only need a good lower body and core strength to prop yourself up and over hundreds of boulders, but with the ever-present possibility of light showers near the hill station, you also have to be wary of injuring yourself.


Trail Information on the Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek

Day 1: Drive from Bhopal to Panchmarhi

Indiahikes arranges transport from Bhopal to Panchmarhi by 5 or 6 seater jeeps or cars. The cost of this transport is not included in the trek fee and has to be equally divided amongst the trekkers.

The drive from Bhopal to Panchmarhi is 206 km and takes about 6 hours to cover. The accommodation can be arranged at a homestay in Panchmarhi or campsite, subject to animal movement and permission. 

Day 2: Trek from Panchmarhi to Dehaliya

Distance: 13 km
Duration: 8 hours
Coordinates of Panchmarhi: 22°28’39.52″N, 78°26’25.99″E
Coordinates of Dehaliya campsite: 22°27’53.90″N, 78°31’47.38″E

The trek starts from the Panchmarhi Cantonment entry gate.

Satpura Trek - Starting from the Panchmarhi Cantonment entry gate - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Starting from the Panchmarhi Cantonment entry gate. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

On your right is a vast plain at a slightly lower elevation as compared to the road. Walkabout 50 meters from the gate and keep looking out for a faint trail emerging out of the road and descending down to the plain.

Take this trail and walk towards the hillock straight ahead.

Satpura Trek - Initial Trail on the plains - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Initial Trail on the plains. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

On your right, in the distance is the army training center. Your footsteps would be accompanied by the soldier’s cries during the first 15 minutes of the trek. Behind the army training center is a hill called Chaurapahad (the broad hill), so named after the peculiar shape. 

As you move further along the trail, it climbs up gently, cutting through dry bedrock. The sparse vegetation is now being gradually replaced by taller trees. The trail traverses a small mound on your left and you start descending through a beautiful forest. 

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Trekking through the Sal Trees - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Trekking through the forest filled with Sal Trees. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

The forest here is dominated by Sal trees. If you have started early enough, you’d be greeted by the sight of the elusive Grey and White hornbill.

You’ll soon cross a rectangle stone marker, about 3 feet high. These are Beat markers, indicating the boundaries between different beats that the forest is divided into.

On your right is a partially destroyed structure, which is used as a fire check post by the forest officials.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Fire Checkpost - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Fire Checkpost. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

The trail winds zig zags through the forest, always descending and ascending ever so slightly to provide you frames beautifully lit by the angled sunlight streaming in through the foliage. 

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - A magical feeling with sunlight cutting the foliage - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
A magical feeling with sunlight cutting the foliage. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

The forest officials have constructed a check dam in this region to help collect water for the wildlife.

One of the peculiarities of the trek is that the terrain keeps changing under your feet every kilometer. As you cross the check dam, you’ll notice the crunch of sand beneath your feet. Yes, the trail cuts through the sand bed of the seasonal stream!

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Crossing the check dam - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Crossing the check dam. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

Continue walking for about 10 mins to reach a tree surrounded by a carefully arranged formation of rocks. The locals worship this as the goddess of the region, called Banjari Devi. If you’d like to pay your respects, make sure you remove your footwear first.

Moving ahead the trails forks into two with the slightly faint trail climbing straight up a small mound while the often trodden trail traverses it from the left. Choose the former to get a bird’s eye view of the region. You’ll also catch a glimpse of the Madadeo hill in the distance, slightly to your left.

Continue walking at a brisk pace as the trail descends gently through the forest to reach a stream locally known as Gidhmau Nala.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Gidhmau Nala - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Gidhmau Nala. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

You’d find plenty of wildlife footsteps here as the water is potable. If you are apprehensive about your water stock running, walk a little upstream to find a clear pool of water and refill your bottles.

Spend a few minutes here listening to the gentle rumble of the water flowing over the rocks before starting again. About five minutes from Gidhmau Nala, you’ll hear the unmistakable sound of a gushing waterfall on your left. This is your cue to veer off the proper trail and instead turn left towards the sound. You’ll notice a small depression shrouded by stunted trees. Carefully make your way down to the stream and treat yourself to the view of the first waterfall of the day!

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - First waterfall on the trail - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
The first waterfall on the trail. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

A curtain of waterfalls down a flat vertical slab of rock with the sunlight forming a rainbow over the droplets.

Spend some time here but not too long as there’s another surprise in store a short walk away.

Walk downstream from the waterfall and about 5 minutes later, you’ll again hear the sound of water splashing from a height. As you reach another sharp drop in the stream’s path, circumvent the depression from the left and carefully descend towards the pool. This is the renowned Forsyth’s waterfall.

The water here has cut sharply through the rock and gushes into the pool with great force. All this while you have been trekking off the main trail but the depression gradually transforms into a valley.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Beautiful Forsyth’s waterfall - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Renowned and beautiful Forsyth’s waterfall. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

To join the main trail, clamber up the right side of the depression and walk towards the center of the plain. The trail is unmistakably prominent here, a 2 feet wide bald strip going across the grassland. It continues to descend gently, hugging the base of the hill on your right.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Trail from the waterfalls - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
The trail from the waterfalls. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

With every footstep forward, you’ll notice the level terrain on your left slowly transforming into a valley. The trail takes a sharp right turn around the hill and starts descending rapidly. Be careful here as the rocks are often loose and the narrow trail overlooks a considerable drop on your left.

Stop for a moment and take in the stunning view in front of you. The layers of hills laid out in front of you, progressively obscured by the intervening distance. It’s sight for sore eyes and one that few other treks would give you.

Continuing further, for a certain distance, the trail is made up of rocks arranged in steps to aid the rapid loss of elevation. As you enter deeper into the valley, the trees start towering over you once again. Look out for the flora in this section.

About 15 minutes into the valley walk, you’ll start crossing multiple stream beds, which would be dry or just about to dry up depending on the season. The sandy terrain of these dry beds is a welcome respite after the hard descent over rocks.

Look out for another beat marker on your left as you climb small hillocks. About 5 minutes after passing the marker, you would be treated to one of the highlights of the day’s trek- Kanji Ghat.

Kanji Ghat is a forest lookout point over the Bainganga river. Stretching across the other side of the bank, it’s almost a postcard-perfect setting compelling you to capture it in photographs.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Bainganga River - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Bainganga River. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

When you sit down on the bank giving your legs a much-needed breather, don’t be tempted by the clear running river. Bainganga flows through the town of Panchmarhi and therefore, even though the water might look clear, it’s not potable and swimming is certainly not recommended.

You’ll cross paths with the river again tomorrow, but for now, bid it goodbye and cross over to the other side. Walk a little downstream to find some flat rocks jutting over the river. If you are lucky, you’d find a wooden log to help you cross over without removing your shoes.

Turn left immediately after crossing the river and look out for the tracks of a jeep. Forest officials use the Kanji Ghat chowki to keep track of the movement of animals and use 4WD vehicles to approach it from the Sita Dongri entry point.

Once you have found the track, start walking along with it. About 3 minutes of walking along the tracks would get you a small stream of clear water going downhill towards Bainganga.

If you are running out of the water, you can walk a little upstream (in the direction opposite to Bainganga) and refill your bottles here.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Water Source upstream - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Water Source upstream. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

The trail ahead climbs to cut through the hills, passing another forest checkpoint called Gedhi Ghat. As you start climbing up to Gedhi Ghat, you’ll be able to see the hills you descended from earlier in the day. 

Once you cross Gedhi Ghat, the trail is a proper dirt track till you reach Denwa river. You’ll pass through Jamun forests and multiple camera traps strapped to the stumps of trees to track animal movement.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Camera Traps on the trail - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Camera Traps on the trail. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

About an hour of walking from Kanji Ghat will lead you to the wide, sandy bank of Denwa river.

As you walk along the banks, look out for animal footprints. You might even be able to spot pugmarks of a solitary tiger! 

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Tiger Pugmarks on the river bed - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Lucky spotting of a Tiger Pugmark on the river bed. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

Turn right from the bank along the dirt track and reach the final check post for the day- Dehaliya. Denwa here traces the boundary of the core zone of the Satpura Tiger Reserve.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Campsite on the river bed of Dehaliya - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Campsite on the river bed of Dehaliya. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

The wide riverbank on the other side of the checkpoint falls under the buffer zone and is your campsite for the day.

Day 3: Trek from Dehaliya to Khamkeri

Distance: 13 km
Duration: 6 hours
Coordinates of Khamkeri:  22°31’0.39″N, 78°30’35.15″E

One of the highlights of the Satpura Tiger Reserve trek is the river walk.

As the Denwa river deepens downstream, start the day with a walk upstream. The river meanders and gives rise to some breathtaking, diverse terrain and settings.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Walking on the Denwa River - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Walking on the Denwa River. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

Walk for about half an hour, covering roughly 2 km until you reach the second bend. Here you’ll notice that a trail climbs up the left bank.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Left Bank of the River - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Left Bank of the River. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

This trail is the other half of the traditional Forsyth trek that goes straight to Sita Dongri via Chopna.

But you have greater adventures to look forward to and presently, retrace the path back to Dehaliya campsite.

Once you have packed lunch for the day, set off for the second campsite of the trek, Khamkeri. Located about 9 km downstream from Dehaliya, it overlooks another meander of the river.

As you leave Dehaliya behind, stick to the right side of the bank. The riverbank gets fairly narrow at some places. So opt for the trail that passes through the bushes and over the rocks above the river bank.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Trekking along the right side of the river bank - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Trekking along the right side of the river bank. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

The forest here is peculiar with tall Arjun trees lining up the riverbank and providing some much-needed shade. As you walk further, you’ll come across the first boulders of the trek.

Irregular shaped and spaced out at quite a distance from one another, now would be a good time to notice how the trek leader and other staff members place their feet and negotiate this stretch.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Stunning stretches in the jungle trail - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Stunning stretches in the jungle trail. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

The river volume, especially in the summer season is quite low. This exposes the intricate patterns formed in the river bank formed by centuries of sedimentation. Moreover, the minerals lend a myriad of colors to the rock, ranging from dark brown to pink and purple

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Pretty patterns formed in the river bank - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Pretty patterns formed in the river bank. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

As you walk along the riverbank, keep an eye out for pugmarks, especially on the wet sand.

Continue walking along the prominent trail between the trees. After a while, it’ll disappear into the river bank. This is your cue to descend down into the river bed.

The sandstone here has a pink shade, courtesy the high iron content. Be careful while walking along the edges as the pools here are quite deep.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Sandstone with varied colors and patterns - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Sandstone with varied colors and patterns. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

As the river bends again, the shore turns into a wide sandy beach.

About 45 minutes later, the sandy beach will again vanish into the sandstone bed with deep cuts made by the river, flanked by impregnable forest on either side.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Sections with waterfalls inside the forest - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Sections inside the forest with waterfalls. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

The forest guide is essential here as they know the exact spot in this section where you can safely cross over to access the trail hidden beneath thick vegetation.

About 4 and a half hours after starting the downstream trek from Dehaliya, you’ll notice the bank on your right rising continuously until it merges into the hill in the distance. Look closely and you’ll spot a chowky at the point of intersection. 

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Khamkeri Campsite - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Khamkeri Campsite. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

Pitch your tents at the base of the hill at the L-junction. This is Khamkeri, your campsite for the day.

Day 4: Trek from Khamkeri to Muar Ghat

Distance: 10 km
Duration: 4.5 hours
Coordinates of Muar Ghat: 22°33’10.67″N, 78°30’2.15″E

Start the day as early as possible and set off at sunrise. Today is the day of ironies. The shortest but the most taxing and rewarding day of the trek.

Cross over to the other side of the river bank from a suitable spot and start walking along the beach. Since the river curves around a hillock, you can also opt for a shortcut going straight over the hill instead of circumventing it.

As you descend down the other side, you’ll be treated to a teaser of the breathtaking surroundings of the day ahead. The riverbank, which was surrounded by gentle hills all this while, is now suddenly flanked by upright, rugged cliffs.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Trail leading to the left along the cliff side - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Trail leading to the left along the cliffside. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

Looking at the narrow bank on either side, it’s natural to be a little skeptical of the existence of the trail. However, continue walking along the base of the cliff on your left and you’ll soon come across a faint trail.

This trail appears intermittently for a duration of half an hour until the bank is entirely gobbled up by huge boulders.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Traverse through some bolder sections - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Traverse through some bolder sections. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

Tighten the straps of your backpack as the real trek for the day begins now. Few other treks in India give you the thrill of finding a way across a wall of 8 ft high boulders.

Follow the Trek Leader’s and Forest Guard’s instructions carefully here. The team will set up a rope at tricky sections if need be.

This section lasts for about 500 meters but the required physical exertion means you’ll need a good 30-45 minutes to negotiate this stretch successfully.

Immediately after this stretch, the riverbank again opens up and you’ll come across this uniquely shaped giant tree.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Uniquely shaped giant tree - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
Uniquely shaped giant tree. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

Take a breather underneath it before continuing your trek. About 100 meters from the tree, you’ll come across a section of knee-high grass. 

Tip: Stamp your feet while walking through this patch to ensure reptiles aren’t surprised by your movement and have enough warning to clear out beforehand.

Meanwhile, the cliff on your left is now higher than ever. Admire the beauty of this formation as it’s a spectacle on its own. 

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Cliff on the left - Indiahikes - Saurabh Sawant
The huge cliff on the left. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

The river cuts straight through the valley for a distance of about two and a half kilometers from this point. The trail all but vanishes now, lost in another maze of boulders.

The team will take the same precautions wherever necessary.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Second section of boulders - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Second boulder section on the day – Indiahikes – Jeet Singh Arya

About 2 hours after the first boulder section, the river finally curves to the right to cut a 150 meters wide gorge that towers above you.

Carefully cross over to the other side with the help of a rope as the river is at its shallowest at this point.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Crossing the river - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Crossing the River. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

The sand here is deep and your feet sink with every step. However, the beauty of the surroundings keeps you going. 

Speak in slightly hushed tones here as the walls act as a reflecting surface and cause echo. You’ll also hear the distant murmur of vehicles passing by as the lookout point is constructed right above the midpoint of the gorge.

Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek - Trekking through the gorge to reach Muar Ghat - Indiahikes - Jeet Singh Arya
Trekking through the gorge to reach Muar Ghat. Picture by Jeet Singh Arya

Continue walking along the river bank for another hour. Now, look out for a chowki on your right. This is Muar Ghat, your destination for the day.

Break here for your lunch and then hop into the four-five seater jeep waiting for you. It’ll exit the Tiger Reserve through Reni Kheda and then proceed to Bhopal to drop you off.

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Plan Your Travel for the Satpura Tiger Reserve trek 

How to get to the basecamp – Panchmarhi

1. By Train

Pipariya is the nearest major railway station. However, there are few trains connecting
Pipariya directly to the major cities of the country.

If you are coming via Pipariya, you’ll get frequent public transport in the form of state transport buses and Jeeps to reach Panchmarhi.

Bhopal is the next major railway station boasting of good connectivity with major towns and cities from across the country. You can board a train for Bhopal and convey the same to your trek coordinator.

Indiahikes organises transport from Bhopal to Panchmarhi by a 5 or 6 seater jeep or car. This is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver.

2. By Air

The Bhopal Airport is the closest airport from Satpura Tiger Reserve.
It is well connected to the major metro cities of the country, viz. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bengaluru by frequent direct flights.

Indiahikes organises transport from Bhopal to Panchmarhi by a 5 or 6 seater jeep or car. This is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver.

Getting back to Bhopal after the trek

Indiahikes will arrange 4WD  transport from Muar Ghat to Bhopal airport or railway station.
The drive is just over 200 km and takes about 6 hours.
You can then board a train or fly back to your destination from the railway station or airport, respectively. 

Reaching Panchmarhi using Public transport

Panchmarhi, being a popular hill station, is well connected to the major towns by public transport. If you are coming from Bhopal, you’ll be able to find frequent state transport buses plying between Bhopal and Panchmarhi.

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Difficult sections and Safety on the Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek

The good news is that Satpura Tiger Reserve trek is not a difficult trek. It is not a high altitude trek, nor are there any steep or risky sections on this trek. But by virtue of it passing through the core zone of the Tiger Reserve, there is a chance that you might encounter wild animals.

Terrain wise, it is not difficult. However, there are some of the sections you should watch out for on this trek.

  • Trekking in a Jungle: Trekking in a jungle has its own set of difficulties. Wild animals, insects, and maybe forest fires too. You might also lose your way. You must not trek alone in the jungle. This trek can only be done with certified forest guides.

Indiahikes Safety Protocol: The Indiahikes team is accompanied by forest guides who have spent years exploring these trails. They are highly trained and qualified to tackle any emergency in the forest – be it from wild animals, or any other such emergency.

  • River crossing post rain, or during monsoons: We do not run the trek during the monsoon season, but in case of untimely rains, the river crossing on the trek can become slightly more difficult.

    Safety Advice: Our Trek Leader suggests that you wear loose pants that can be rolled upto your thighs, or trek pants that can be converted into shorts. We suggest that you carry loafers, or crocs for this section. If your shoes get wet, the rest of the trek will become difficult, especially because you will be trekking through sand.

Indiahikes Safety Protocol: Your Trek Leader is the best person to assist you during the river crossing. You will be taught the technique to hold hands firmly and form a human chain. You will be under the watchful eyes of your Trek Leader, trek guides, and forest guides.

Closest hospital on the Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek

If a medical emergency occurs on the Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek, the nearest hospitals are the Government and Army hospitals in Panchmarhi. Depending on the injury and location on the trek, it can take up to 3 hours to reach the hospital from the farthest point on the trail.

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Places to visit after Satpura Tiger Reserve trek

If you are planning to spend  a few days in Panchmarhi after the trek, there are plenty of attractions to keep you occupied:

1. Rajat Prapat trek: If another trek is what you’d like to do, then there’s nothing better than a one day trek to Rajat Prapat trek. Involving an easy hike to the 30th highest waterfall of India with a single drop of over 300 ft, you won’t regret this one bit!

2. Shri Panch Pandav Caves: Believed to be built by the five Pandava brothers during their exile, the Panch Pandav caves have mythological as well as cultural significance. A beautiful gardens adorns the cave’s surroundings. 

3. Bison Lodge Museum: A museum constructed in the oldest house of Panchmarhi and dedicated to the Captain Forsyth, this one is a must visit to see the life sized sculptures of flora and fauna besides documentaries and other interesting tidbits from Panchmarhi’s history. 

Short Itinerary for Satpura Tiger Reserve trek

Day 1: Drive from Bhopal airport/railway station to Panchmarhi.
Distance: 206 km
Duration: 6 hours

Reach Bhopal railway station or airport and communicate the same to your trek coordinator beforehand. They’ll arrange the pickup accordingly. 

Day 2: Trek from Panchmarhi to Dehaliya
Distance: 13 km
Duration: 8 hours

Start the trek from Panchmarhi Cantt. Gate. The trail turns right from the gate and climbs over a small mound. You’ll cross paths with two waterfalls before entering the valley that ends at Kanji Ghat. Cross the river and end the day’s trek at Dehaliya.

Day 3: Trek from Dehaliya to Khamkeri
Distance: 13 km
Duration: 6 hours

Enjoy a barefoot walk in the Denwa river before starting the day’s trek. Pack up for the day after the walk and start trekking downstream by the right bank of river Denwa. Cross over to the sandy beaches on the other side of the deep pool. The surrounding hills will continue to tower over you as you amble along the river bank to reach Khamkeri.

Day 4: Trek from Khamkeri to Muar Ghat & drive to Bhopal
Distance: 10 km
Duration: 4.5 hours

Today’s a long day and it would be prudent to start early. Cross over to the left side of the river and negotiate a tricky boulder section to reach the easier, rocky section of the trail. The river flows straight as an arrow for a 2 km stretch before entering the Gorge. Cross the river here with the help of the Indiahikes team and reach Muar Ghat ghat after walking along the true right side of the river.

Driving distance: 206 km

Duration: 6 hours

A vehicle with 5-6 seater will be waiting for the team at Muar Ghat. The jeep will exit the Tiger Reserve at Reni Kheda and head over to Bhopal to drop off the trekkers.

How to train for the Satpura Tiger Reserve trek

The Satpura Tiger Reserve trek is marked as a Moderate trek. A trek rated ‘moderate’’ requires about 30 days of training before the trek starts. 

Why does a trek marked ‘easy-moderate’ require 30 days of training?

The Satpura Tiger Reserve trek, unlike our other high altitude treks, has hardly any altitude gain. But, this trek involves a lot of walking and covers a distance of almost 37 kilometers over 3 days, starting from Panchmarhi and ending at Muar Ghat. Consequently, all three days require good endurance. This can be grueling for most people who have not trained for the trek. On the other hand, if you have prepared yourself, you’ll get the most out of the trek — there are lots to see on the Satpura Tiger Reserve trek! 

This guide will help you train for the trek. This guide has three sections:

  1. How to train for the trek
  2. What to do if you are short on time
  3. What happens if you do not train for the trek

How to train for the trek

While we can have an elaborate training preparation plan, you need to focus on primarily two aspects:

  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Strength training

You need cardiovascular training to be able to do the long walks on the trek. As the trek involves walking through the humid, sandy trails, cardiovascular endurance helps the body in retaining the energy required for such long-distance trekking by utilizing lesser oxygen and thereby reducing the overall effort required to be put in.

You also need to build your endurance. The jungle trail on the first day is particularly long. It takes almost 7-8 hours to reach Dehaliya. Then there’s the third day when you have to negotiate hundreds of boulders through the Muar Ghat gorge.

And you wonder why Satpura Tiger Reserve is called a Moderate trek!

People generally start getting worried at this stage. They wonder if they must join a gym. Or do something really rigorous. None of that is required. What you need to do is increase your cardiovascular capacity over a period of time. This can be done at home. Along with it, we add some strength and flexibility training, which are nothing more than freehand exercises (we have a guide for that at the end).

Let’s start with cardiovascular endurance

The trek requires you to build a good amount of cardiovascular endurance. Here’s how to go about it.

  1. Start by the slowest jog possible by you. Look to see the maximum distance that you can cover without feeling overly fatigued. We call this the starting distance
  2. The next day, look to increase 0.25 km over the starting distance. Do not worry about the time being taken. Use a running app like Nike Run Club to track your distance.
  3. The subsequent day, add another 0.25 km over the last distance covered. Again, do not worry about the time being taken.
  4. Continue the incremental increase of distance for 4 days in a row. On the 5th day take a break. Allow your muscles to recover. 
  5. From the sixth day onward, jog for 4 days continuing to increase your distance by 0.25 km every day. Take a break every 5th day. Do not worry about the time being taken. 
  6. When you are able to get to a distance of 5 km, note the time taken to cover the distance. This is your starting time. At this stage, you must be able to cover 5 km with some exhaustion but not something that destabilizes you. 
  7. The next day looks to see if you can reduce your time by 15 secs. Do not reduce more than 15 secs — that may exhaust you too much.
  8. Over the next few days, reduce the time taken every day. Continue with your breaks every 5th day. 
  9. An ideal benchmark is to cover 5 km in 37 mins (about 7.5 mins per kilometer). If you are above 40 years old, then 5 km in 40 mins would be your benchmark (a little under 8 mins per km).

Is this endurance possible? Yes, we have seen our trekkers able to build this endurance from scratch starting from zero in about 30 days. 

Tip: Join a running group in your city. Running groups have mushroomed all over the country. You will find one close to your home. Running groups have systematic beginner programs that are of immense help. Running groups help you to train efficiently and keep the momentum going. 

Pro Tip: Go for a long-distance walk every weekend. Cover a distance of 7 km. You must cover the distance in 1 hour and 20 mins. Walk with a day pack that contains two one-liter bottles of water and a hand towel. 

This exercise greatly helps in building endurance. It also prepares you for walking long distances.

Let’s move on to strength training

The Satpura Tiger Reserve trek requires you to walk continuously over sandy and sometimes rocky terrain for long periods of time to cover the distance.

To manage yourself well in such conditions you need good leg muscles as well as a strong core. You are bound to face some difficult sections where you need to be nimble.

Squats are the best way to build strong leg muscles quickly. Especially your thighs, glutes, and knees. 

  1. Start with 12 squats. This is one set. Learn how to do a proper squat by looking up online tutorials on the internet. 
  2. Once you are comfortable with a set of 12 squats (this may take 3-4 days). Give a break of 2 mins. Start on your second set of squats. Start with only 2 squats. So your set one will have 12 squats and set two will have only 2 squats, totaling 14 squats.
  3. Every day increase your squats in the second set by 2. So the next day you are doing one set of 12, with a 2 mins break and then another 4, totaling 16. 
  4. Give a break every 4 days for your muscles to recover.
  5. You must be able to do 2 sets of squats comfortably in 15-18 days.
  6. Try to get to 3 sets of squats before your trek starts.

For strengthening your core, there’s no better exercise than Plank and Hip Raise. Both of them are very common exercises.

In this guide, we have kept away from giving you complex exercises or workouts. We have stuck to what is practical and doable. 

Please note: Any form of exercise requires you to stretch and warm up first. Please do not do any cardio or strength training with a cold body.    

What to do if you are short on time

Sometimes trekkers join a trekking group late — less than 30 days to the trek start date. This puts enormous pressure on the training schedule. 

In such a situation, you need to start training without losing a day’s delay. You need to compress the training schedule so that it can quickly get you to the cardiovascular threshold of being able to cover 5 km in 40 mins. 

Increase the jogging distance by 0.5 km every day instead of the 0.25 suggested earlier. 

  1. Start by the slowest jog possible by you. Look to see the maximum distance that you can cover without feeling overly fatigued. We call this the starting distance
  2. The next day, look to increase 0.50 km over the starting distance. Do not worry about the time being taken. Use a running app like Nike Run Club to track your distance.
  3. The subsequent day, add another 0.50 km over the last distance covered. Again, do not worry about the time being taken.
  4. Continue the incremental increase of distance for 4 days in a row. On the 5th day take a break. Allow your muscles to recover. 
  5. From the sixth day onward, jog for 4 days continuing to increase your distance by 0.50 km every day. Take a break every 5th day. Do not worry about the time being taken. 
  6. When you are able to get to a distance of 5 km, note the time taken to cover the distance. This is your starting time. At this stage, you will be able to cover 5 km with considerable exhaustion but it is ok. 
  7. Over the next few days maintain this distance until your trek starting day. Allow your body to get used to the stress of jogging. This preparation is crucial for the success of your trek
  8. An ideal benchmark is to cover 5 km in 37 mins (averaging 7.5 mins per kilometer). If you are above 40 years old, then 5 km in 40 mins would be your benchmark (a little under 8 mins per km) 

The minimum you must aim to do if you are short on time is to be able to jog for 4 km in 30 mins. This is minimum but not ideal. The longer distance you cover, the more endurance you get.

What happens if you do not train for the trek

Many trekkers do not train for a trek. These are the usual reasons.

  1. I did not have the time. 
  2. I have done other treks before. They were more difficult. I could manage myself in those treks. Satpura Tiger Reserve trek, which is an easy-moderate trek, will be easy to manage.  
  3. I walk for an hour every day. I am fit. 

Training is imperative for a trek. When you join an Indiahikes trekking group, most members are serious about their training. They spend considerable time preparing for a trek. 

If you do not train for a trek and lag behind, then it is a great disrespect to those who prepare. It also becomes difficult for us to manage a group. The group spreads out on the trekking slope and the safety of the team is compromised. Which is why we have a clear turn around time on our treks.

If you lag behind a group (more than 30 mins on the Satpura Tiger Reserve trek), then clearly your body is not prepared for the trek. Your trek leader will send you from the trek back to the base camp. Your trek ends here

Before a trek leader sends you down from a trek please keep in mind:

  1. The trek leader will always announce at the briefing the average trekking time for the group to reach the next camp. You must make a note of this time. If for some reason he/she has not announced it, then you must ask your trek leader for the average trekking time to the next camp. 
  2. This time is an average trekkers’ time and not from a fast trekkers’ point of view. It considers stoppages for rest, photography, and looking at the scenery. If you are unable to maintain the average trekking time then your body is not ready for the trek. You will compromise the safety of the group as well as yourself. 
  3. The trek leader will have someone escort you back to the basecamp.

What to take on the Satpura Tiger Reserve Trek

If you’re trekking in the Satpura jungle in winter, the temperature during the day will be at around 15 to 25 degrees, and at night, the temperature will not drop too low but it would remain around 10-15 degrees. You will need to carry a maximum of one or two warm layers.

Ensure you carry a poncho and full sleeve t-shirts and pants to have a comfortable trek.

Bare Necessities:

  1. Trekking shoes: Carry trekking shoes and not sports shoes. The trail will be slippery at several places and will require shoes with good grip and ankle support. 
  2. Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.

Clothes

On a trek, carry fewer clothes than you would normally need. Do not pack for ‘what if situations’. That will only add to the weight of your backpack and not be used on the trek. Once your clothes get warmed up on a trek, you will not feel like changing. Just maintain personal hygiene.

  1. One or two layers of warm clothes: If you’re trekking in winter, carry one fleece jacket with you and one light sweater.
  2. Three trek pants: Carry light quick dry trek pants. One of your pants can be tights that you can wear as an inner layer while trekking. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
  3. Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sunburns on the neck and arms. Let one of these be a dry-fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes after reaching the campsite fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek. 
  4. Thermals: Carry thermals (top and bottom) to keep yourself warm at night. Keep your thermals fresh and don’t wear them while trekking.

Accessories

  1. Sunglasses: Sunglasses are mandatory. This is to protect you from the harsh winter sun.
  2. Suncap
  3. Balaclava: You’ll need this to cover your head, as most of the heat escapes from your head.
  4. Socks (2 pairs) and a pair of woolen socks: Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woolen socks for the night.
  5. Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
  6. Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole
  7. Ponchos: In a jungle, unexpected rain is possible at any time, and hence it’s mandatory to carry a poncho so that you don’t get wet.

Others

  1. Daypack (20 litres): You will need this to carry water bottles, light snacks, and medical kit in case you decide to offload your backpack.
  2. Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturizer, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose of wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains. 
  3. Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug, and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons. 
  4. Three water bottles: 1 liter each. We recommend the Lifestraw Go
  5. Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalize things and carry a few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
  6. Odomos or any other insect repellant

Mandatory Personal Medical Kit 

  1. Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
  2. Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
  3. Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
  4. Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
  5. Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
  6. Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
  7. Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
  8. Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
  9. Gauze – 1 small roll
  10. Band aid – 10 strips
  11. Cotton – 1 small roll
  12. ORS – 10 packets
  13. Betadine or any antiseptic cream
  14. Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
  15. Knee cap, if you are prone to a knee injury
  16. Antifungal powder
  17. Odomos or any other insect repellant

Mandatory Documents

Please carry the below documents. Document two and three need to be downloaded (PDF), filled in, signed, and handed over to the trek leader at the base camp. 

  • Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.) – It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek. 
  • Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
  • Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF

ATM and Network connectivity

You’ll find ATMs in Bhopal and Panchmarhi and in almost all the major towns between them.

Network connectivity inside the national park is good for BSNL sim cards. If you have any other network provider, then you’ll have to rely on a sporadic network at specific points on the trek. Please refer to the trek guide for these hotspots.

It would be prudent to not depend on the sketchy availability of the network on the trail. 

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Complete trek guide

Last updated: July - 2020

 Complete trek guide

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