I woke up at 6 am to catch our safari bus to the Ranthambore national park. Lucy had a touch of delhi belly the previous night so decided not to come.
We had been told to wrap up warm the previous night which turned out to be good advice as we drove through the cold morning air in an open topped truck towards the park.
Although Ranthambore has one of the highest concentrations of Tigers in India apparently it is still quite rare to see any on the 2 hour safari so our expectations were suitably low as we were welcomed by the squawks and howls of the local monkeys and bird life. Even if we didn’t get a glimpse of a tiger it was still a stunning place to drive round for a couple of hours.
As we pelted along the dirt track, at what seemed like a ridiculous pace, our local guide did an astounding job of spotting the wild life. As soon as he saw something interesting the truck would stop abruptly and we’d spend the next 3 minutes trying to work out what we were meant to be looking at. Deer, monkeys and peacocks were in abundance but we also got a look at a couple of crocodiles and a particularly weird looking bird sitting in a tree.
As we headed further into the park we converged with a few other tours. We would stop and the guides would converse in Hindi with a lot of head shaking which we took to mean no tigers had been spotted so far. We kept driving around for a while in seemingly random directions, coming to dead ends and having to reverse back onto to “main road”. Then suddenly we came across about 10 trucks all stopped by a lake side with their occupants peering through: binoculars; long lense cameras; and iPads at something on the other side. We found a spot to pull up and joined in with ritual staring. A spec of orange on the other side of the lake. Zooming in on the camera I saw two tigers lounging lakeside (apparently they were cubs although they still looked big enough to me). We stared in wonder for about 5 minutes before the tigers got up and slunk into the forest.
The vehicles didn’t hang around long. We raced off to see if we could catch up with the tigers on the other side of the lake. We stopped along with a few other trucks with the guide pointing at a patch of grass within which there was apparently a tiger. We drove on a bit further still unconvinced of the presance of the tiger. We stopped again and this time i could definitely see it. It strolled straight past a couple of the trucks on the other side of a small pond totally uncaring about all the eyes following it. It walked lazily on into a patch of open grass land and we followed along the road. It was an amazing sight watching such a powerful animal disappearing and reapearing in the grass without a care in the world. It did a little leap into the air and then vanished from sight completely.
We spent the rest of the safari at a more leisurely pace, stopping to photograph all the other animals which we had sped past earlier. We stopped to listen to a couple of birds sing at us for a while and watched a crocodile lying totally still waiting for something to fall into it’s gaping jaws.
We got back to the hotel around 11 and I stuffed my face at the buffet breakfast to see myself over to dinner. Lucy managed a slice of toast . We spent the rest of the day sitting by the pool watching a couple of monkeys chase each other around and dive bombing into the pool.