Ranthambhore, 8 - 11 March 2009
Trip Start Feb 13, 2009
39Trip End Jun 22, 2009
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Rahthambhore is 410 sqaure miles and apparently has 31 of India's 1400 tiger population. The safaris are in jeeps for 6 or "canters" for up to 20 people. In the end, we took canters for all the safaris (as jeeps were dificult to book last minute), but found the canters quite OK. Apparently, the drivers draw lots each time to decide what zone they are allowed to cover. Each zone seems quite different - certain ones near and around a very pretty lake with the Ranthambhore Fort asa backdrop - others seemingly a long way away in the forests and hills. Obviously, the main emphasis is on trying to spot a tiger, but there is quite a lot of animal and bird life, there is some lovey scenery and each safari was quite different.
The plan was to do two safaris on the first day, then one on the morning of the second and then, if no tiger spotted, to do one of the morning of the last day before heading off to Agra on the train in the afternoon. On the frst day, the nearest we got to seeing a tiger was coming across some tiger footprints. Same for the safari on day 2 ...
So, on day 3 I was resigned to the possibility of leaving without seeing a tiger. Also, I was by myself on safari (ie without Lindsey) because she had been stuck in bed (or should I say toilet) fron after the first day's safar until we left for Agara (so missed the last two safaris).
We headed off away from the fort again and, after a while cae across some fresh paw marks. So, the driver decided to hang around a bit ... nothing ... so we decided to move off and then heard (apparently) alarm calls of spotted deer ... so decided to hang around again (together with another caner and a couple o jeeps. Minutes passed in relative silence and then our driver shouted "tiger down the track" and there was a tiger a couple of hundred metres back in the middle of the track.! Our driver reversed at speed back to where the tiger had walked off the track and there it was 20 meters away in the light bushjust walking steadily along level with the track.
After following it for a minute or so, our driver indicated to the othes to move down the track a couple of hundrred metres back to where there was a clearing. After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably two minutes (!) it arrived, and just continued to walk towards us and then decided to cross the track right by one of the vehicles, walikng in front of us on the other side before finally decided to lay down around 30 meters away in the thicket.
Sensational sights of a tiger at close quartes. A wonderful experience ... rather saddened by Lindsey not being there to see it.