Day 11 - Monday, November 7, 2016 - Game-viewing in Ranthambore National Park
Our wake up call was at 5:30 so we could have a light breakfast at 6:00 and then we left at 6:45 for Ranthambore National Park. Sujay reminded us that it was called a game drive because it was a game between the tigers and us. We wanted so badly to see them and they do not want to be seen.
We got in the canter or big green truck and made our way to the park. There are five zones in the park for designated drives. Our assignment was Zone 4, and no matter if 10 tigers were seen in Zone 1, we could not go there.
Mazar, our naturalist told us there are only 60 tigers including a few cubs in the entire park. The tigers are very territorial and will fight for domination and hunting rights for one region.
After we entered and registered with the park rangers, we began our hunt for the tigers. We saw at least 12 to 15 different trucks and even more small safari jeeps with people also looking for the big cats. Right then and there we knew it was not going to be possible to spot a cat, but for three and a half hours we tried…
Supposedly the park is limited in the number of permits issued each day and no private vehicles are allowed in the park. No hiking was allowed and even with the authorized safari trucks, there were certainly a lot more trucks and tourists than tigers.
After driving for about 30 minutes Mazar and the driver spotted tiger prints in the sand. By the size of the print and the location, the guides know which tiger was recently on the road patrolling his or her territory.
All hunting had been prohibited in all of India since 1972. One cannot even shoot a pigeon or kill a squirrel. However, the number of Bengal tigers is still declining because of poachers and farmers who kill the tigers because they are threatening their livestock.
Even after dedicating the first half of the game drive to seeing a tiger, we had no luck. We did see hundreds of sambar deer, spotted deer, a crocodile, wild boars, a good variety of birds, and monkeys.
We returned to the hotel and had another light breakfast and talked to the other OAT group who was lucky enough to see two tigers on their game drive. As they say - some day’s chickens, some day’s feathers.
By 11:30 we were back in our rooms and we began the journal and sorting photos. We are going to dinner tonight so we did not eat lunch. So much food and today there was no walking to burn off those calories.
At 2:00 Sujay gathered us together for an explanation of the Grand Circle Foundation that helps villages and schools all over the world. We will be visiting this small village tomorrow so he wanted to prepare us for what we would encounter.
The second game drive of the day began at 2:30. This afternoon we were assigned Zone 5, the largest zone in the park. Again we searched, again we stopped and listened quietly for signs of a tiger, and again we came home without one sighting.
Although we enjoyed the outings today, we were disappointed in not seeing a tiger. Many of our OAT traveler friends had warned us that they did not see one of the mysterious creatures either. There are no guarantees, and the only sure way to see a tiger was to stay home and visit the Cheyenne Mountain zoo.
When we returned to the hotel it was 5:45 and we had until 7:00 to shower and get our bags ready for a travel day tomorrow. We met at the large step pool and Sujay offered us a drink and then gave out the traditional OAT travel pins from his country.
He thanked us all for our loyalty to the company and then there was a special presentation for us, as this is our 25th trip with OAT. Yesterday we were asked to go to the tailor’s shop, pick out fabric, choose a style, and have our measurements taken. Overnight, the tailor created shirts called a kameez (a long tunic) that are works of art.
We enjoyed our buffet dinner at the hotel. Most of the meals we have had have been buffets. We like these as we can choose what to eat and the correct amount. In a country that has so much poverty, it is good to know that we are not wasting food.
Everyone knows that the Americas and the western hemisphere were discovered because of the explorers who were looking for a short cut to India for spices.
India is rightly called the Land of Spices. No country in the world produces as many varieties of spices as India, 70% of all the world’s spices come from India.
Accommodations: Nahargarh Hotel - - - Meal: B, L, D
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No tigers, no problem... think of all you did see, not what you didn't.
Wow. What a trip! Thanks for the details, meaningful quotes at the end of each journal, and beautiful pictures. Safe travels!
No pictures of the kameez?
You didn't see a tiger Vic, but you have always been lucky enough to have one for yourself ;) Gennie, so I did not see a leopard in Africa, its really the disappointments in life that keep us wanting the "best" for ourselves, and its good to know we can strive for it.
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How disappointing to not see a tiger! I remember how I felt on a whale watching expedition to not see one whale. But you have had some amazing experiences on your trip.