Today was another day exploring the park. And, of course, it started early yet again! We went for coffee at 6:05 am, and met our jeep for our morning safari at 6:15.
Our first excursion took us to pick up our other 2 guests for the safari at their hotel, about 15min from ours. It was an interesting drive through the village and see it wake up with activity. The sun was just rising, women were gather dung from the streets to dry and use for fuel for cooking, they were sweeping areas reminding me of a curse in Dante’s inferno…alway sweeping and never getting things clean! The farms are somewhat more primitive that those back home!
The morning sun gave a beautiful glow through the haze reflecting beautiful hues of purples and blues on the hills of the park.
We soon had picked up our other two guests and were off to the park. First step always is for the guide to sign us all in. Once inside the park we were given a region for our explorations. Ours this morning was region 4. This was the region our travelling partners from yesterday had done the day before, and although they did not see any tigers, they did say the scenery was beautiful. I must say it didn’t disappoint.
We wove through the brush and into the hills on our hunt for the elusive tiger. Our guide this am did not speak English very well, so we didn’t find out how many tigers make this some their territory.
Our first animal sighting was a herd of wild boar, digging at roots for their food. It’s is amazing how the wild animals are not frightened whatsoever by our presence!
Next we drove by a lake which displayed many local birds.
Feeding by the water was a sambar deer and her calf. As our guide put it, the favourite food of tigers! Given their lack of fear, it was clear that there were no tigers close by!
As the outing progressed we came across a number of jeeps, the guides always comparing what they have seen (or not) in the area. We did in fact come across some fresh tracks along the path we were driving, but they were going the opposite way, and no sign of a tiger while we waited and watched.
We drove right up to the edge of zone 5, and saw a flock of parrots in a tree!
We then went to the edge of the rim of the valley to look out over the expanse, but still no tiger to be seen!
After a few hours it was time to head back. We did see a sambar deer stag, as well as a number of monkeys and a brown faced owl which was considerably larger than the ones we saw yesterday.
As we left the park from this mornings journeys, the guide checked out of the gate and told us that there were no tiger sightings this morning in any of the 5 zones. Just reinforces how very lucky we were yesterday pm. We are now off for our pm adventure.
Our trip this pm was with 4 other guests. The good news was that it was a better calibre of jeep, and actually had shocks that were functional! Not sure my back was going to survive another ride!
Our pm guide told us that we were going to do zone 1, so off we started. This route seemed to be a little more forested that the others and featured glorious Banyon trees that were hundreds of years old!
A short ways into the route, a jeep came towards us and indicated that a tiger had been spotted sleeping about 1 km down the road. Off we went at a pace that was hair racing to say the least on those forest trails!
As we approached the area there were 2 jeeps and 2 guide buses all facing the beautiful female tiger as she slept. We were fortunate to pull almost in front of the tiger, and we stayed and watched her as more jeep and guide buses approached. Talk about paparazzi !!! The young female was certainly not camera shy!!
We continued to watch her, and patience paid off and she decided to awaken and do her cleaning routine until she started off slowly through the woods, marking her territory as she went. It was truly incredible to a) see this majestic creature in her habitat, while b) hearing the warning calls of various animals as she moved through the forest.
Eventually. She headed into the woods, and the entourage began to break up. Our guide decided that we should drive to the other side of the hill where she went into the woods to she if she’d emerge. And with only our jeep left out of the bunch, we saw her emerge and walk straight at us as we backed down the roadway!
After 10 minutes or so, another tiger emerged and it turned out to be her sister, and she clearly was injured as she walked with a bad limp.
I asked our guide how many tigers this 1,700 acre park could support, and he said 40. There are 65-70 currently in it, and it is starting to feel the strain. A few weeks ago one male tiger killed another male competing for territory. This female could also have been in a territorial fight. Speaking with one of our fellow safari travellers, he explained that they have another 2-3 parks under development so that they can ensure the tigers can survive in a territory that will enable them to thrive!
We left the park after a very successful outing! Back to the chaos of the country roads and trails!
All round its been a fabulous visit to Ranthambore National Park!
The evening ended with an Indian concert in the courtyard, complete with pyrotechnics!
Tomorrow is another early start heading to Jaipur. We have a lot to get in as we’ll want to be under cover safe in our hotel when the Diwali main event starts with fireworks around the city! Until then!