Isha Koppikar Narang is more than a Hindi-film actor. The model has also made a mark in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Marathi cinema, all while balancing a career in politics as well. Amid all of this, Koppikar Narang made time to venture into the wilderness of Maasai Mara in Kenya — snippets of which she reveals in an exclusive chat with Travel+Leisure India & South Asia.
Excerpts from the interview with Isha Koppikar Narang
T+L India: Why did you choose to holiday in Maasai Mara?
Isha Koppikar Narang: Post COVID-19, we [Koppikar and her family] always wanted to go on an international holiday where we could go on a safari — and there’s no better place than Africa for this. In Africa, Maasai Mara is our favourite. Having visited four-and-a-half years ago, we thought that the place requires a re-visit.
T+L India: What was your most memorable experience of the trip?
Isha Koppikar Narang: I think the most memorable experience was when we saw two cheetahs make a kill. After that, we saw four more cheetahs make another kill. At this point, a hyena came in and snatched the kill from the cheetahs. Soon, more hyenas joined in to snatch the kill. Then, the cheetahs tried to stalk through the forest and make another kill. Unfortunately, since there was a lioness in the vicinity, the cheetahs ran away. Jackals also joined. So by now, we saw cheetahs, a lioness, a hyena, and a jackal—all in one frame. That’s four predators in the same frame! It was almost like watching a wildlife channel in real life.
T+L India: What animals did you see at Maasai Mara?
Isha Koppikar Narang: I saw the Big Five at Maasai Mara. This includes the lion, the buffalo, the rhinoceros, the elephant, and the leopard. I saw cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, different kinds of mongoose, beautiful birds, a variety of giraffes, and even zebras. There were even crocodiles, hippos, warthogs, deer, impalas, gazelles…the list is endless. It was a feast!
T+L India: What are some of the other wildlife vacations you’ve been on?
Isha Koppikar Narang: Jim Corbett [in Uttarakhand], Kanha [in Madhya Pradesh], Bandhavgarh [in Madhya Pradesh], Pench [in Madhya Pradesh], Gir [in Gujarat], Kaziranga [in Assam].
T+L India: Except your phone, what would be your travel must-haves?
Isha Koppikar Narang: I think the most important things I carry, especially on a wildlife tour, are binoculars, sunblock and a camera.
T+L India: Who is your favourite travel companion?
Isha Koppikar Narang: My favourite travel companions on wildlife safaris are definitely my brother and my parents. Rianna [her daughter] is too young for rugged travels because the timings are really a little tiring—safaris require you to wake up very early. Usually, there are seven-eight hours of safaris in a day, and then again four-five hours in the evening. This is too much for a child! But I have tried to give her that experience in India itself. If she develops an interest, then I’ll have yet another companion.
T+L India: What does your ideal vacation look like?
Isha Koppikar Narang: I like to go on different kinds of vacations. I’m not a beach person; I’m more of a mountain person. I also love wildlife. If I go to cities like Paris or London, then I would like to enjoy the city life. I would also like to go to the countryside. If I go to the forests, then, of course, it’s only about enjoying Mother nature, its beauty and the efforts that have gone into making this beautiful world by God. It all depends on how you want your vacation to be.
T+L India: What’s your favourite travel destination in India?
Isha Koppikar Narang: In India, I love Kerala, Goa, Mussoorie.
T+L India: Where are you travelling to next?
Isha Koppikar Narang: Madikeri, Coorg and maybe even Dubai.
Related: Going Places With People: All About Wildlife Photography With Actor Randeep Hooda