After Delhi, both Andy and I started to question our trip. What had we gotten ourselves into? India wasn’t shaping up to be the spiritual worldly place that media like National Geographic had made it out to be. Where were the hoards of giggling school children? Where were the kind old men who gave you samples from their stalls? All I was seeing were scammers, poverty beyond imagination and a city that was so dirty I could barely see the skyline. Yes, being an American I thought that India was waiting for me. You know that people would want to talk with me and find out about my life. I had read way too much consumer propaganda.
I wanted to retreat into myself and not look at the men and women who stared at me with what I felt was hostility. I just wanted to sit inside under the AC because oh my gosh India was hot. Where was the beauty in this country? All I saw was feces and trash.
Then we got to Ranthambore Regency Hotel where they greeted us with a warm glass of Coca-Cola (oh my gosh it was so good!) and necklaces of orange carnations. They fed us a delicious lunch buffet style and encouraged us to settle into our room (which was so big and beautiful and cool). We would have our first safari later that day where we hoped to view tigers in the wild.
Ranthambore National Park has approximately 62 tigers in the park. Park officials will be moving several tigers to other parks to ensure that there is enough territory for all of the animals.
We got into the jeep around 3pm with one of the best guides. I don’t remember his name but he knew so much about the history of the area and knew every animal, every bird, and every plant in the park.
We were about to turn around and leave the park when our guide saw the other jeeps. That could only mean one thing – a tiger! And sure enough it was.
We watched the tiger for almost 45 minutes which left us almost no time to get out of the park. Guides can only be in the park for a specific amount of time. Failure to abide by the time restrictions can lead to fines or banishment. So our guide shouted “Go!” in Hindi and the Mario Andretti of Ranthambore drivers drove that little jeep to the fastest it would go over the dusty bumpy roads. We flew through the area in an effort to beat the time bouncing along the seats. It was so much fun. Everyone laughed and enjoyed themselves. Later after taking a shower, we realized exactly how dusty the trip really was.
We ate dinner and went to bed early as we had to wake up at 5:15 for our morning safari. Mornings in Ranthambore National Park were amazing. Maybe it was because we come from Delhi but the air smelled so fresh and clean. The light was amazing, it was cool, and everything just felt magical.
We settled into a nice little routine: wake up, safari, breakfast and relaxing, safari, dinner, relax, and then bed.
We saw another tiger!
We visited the Old Fort which was pretty cool although our guide spoke very little English.
We saw our last tiger on our 5th safari. She was cooling off in the stream.
During our stay, we met a lot of awesome people including the staff and other tourists. One of the staff members told me and Andy how during the off season, tigers will leave the park and can be spotted on the main road at night. This particular staff member works until midnight so going home on his scooter was a little scary at times.
We didn’t want to leave Ranthambore and Sawai Madhopur but it was time to move on. We still had a lot more of India to check out.