We return to one of the beautiful, crazy and compelling countries in the world – India. This time, we finally got to do something we had wanted to do for a very long time – go tiger spotting in Ranthambore!
A Quick Jaunt to the UK
Those four weeks were pretty crazy. Ku had to to to London to get a new passport as her present one had run out of pages. Additionally, we needed to go through the oh-so-painful process of obtaining an Indian visa. And there were, of course, family and friends to catch up with. Oh, and we had a couple of housesits to fit in too!
It has been five years since our last trip to India. We booked our flights to Delhi back in December when we were in Antigua, Guatemala. We arranged it so that we would have four weeks back in the UK, prior to heading to the sub-continent.
At last, we were on our way! We arrived in Delhi at 4.30 am and our driver was waiting for us. This was great news, as it meant we wouldn’t have to deal with the con-men and tricksters! Having made it through the airport, we still managed to get scammed on our first day in Delhi.
Despite it being our fifth time in India, we were caught out by a charming con artist, a tuk-tuk driver and an ‘unofficial ticket office ‘. As a matter of fact, they were all working in coercion! Stupid! Luckily, we only lost twenty rupees and then had to walk a kilometre back to Delhi train station – where we were headed in the first place. It could have been worse. Scammers are lurking around every corner in Delhi!
A Train Trip to Sawai Madhopur
We finally succeeded in getting our train ticket, and the next day set off for Sawai Madhopur, the nearest town to Ranthambore National Park. Our hotel was located in a quiet, residential area of town and we enjoyed lunch on the rooftop terrace. The heat was intense. As the sun went down, we watched boys playing cricket in the street and monkeys leaping between the houses opposite.
That night was a challenging one. Not only did Ku spend hours attempting to unblock the toilet, but additionally, we had an infestation of bugs in our room. All night long, they were buzzing in our ears, driving us crazy. That was bad enough, but then one of the bugs flew into Ku’s ear.
(Ku – It was horrible – sometimes I could hear its wings flapping in my head and then just a loud droning sound. I tried to wash it out with water, but am not sure whether or not I succeeded. For all I know, it drowned, and it is still in there).
The next morning, we asked to switch rooms.
An Early Start!
We were up at daybreak (despite the night from hell!) to wait for our jeep to the park. We were on a mission to see a tiger! The light was exquisite. A mother and baby hog made their way along the dusty street and a cow waited at the door of the house opposite for a morning treat.
As the jeep headed along the main road, the town was beginning to come to life. Ranthambore National Park was the main reason that visitors came to the rural town of Sawai Madhopur. We entered the park’s gates and before long, we had spotted monkeys and lots of varieties of deer. Nice, but not what we had come for!
Fifteen minutes later, our guide caught sight of a beautiful female tiger emerging from the forest. She came straight towards the jeep, oblivious to us, her mind very much on prey. It was an incredible sight. For the next couple of hours, we watched as the tiger patiently stalked a deer.
Sitting by a lake, she did not take her eyes off her prey. Unaware that the tiger was lying in wait, the young deer wandered towards her. The tiger spotted it and took off, chasing it across a shallow lake. The deer was too fast. The tiger was left standing there, staring in disbelief, as the deer disappeared into the depths of the forest.
Not only were we lucky enough to witness one tiger, but as we were leaving the park, we saw a male strolling along a ridge, past a troupe of monkeys. It was definitely a lucky day for us. It goes without saying that tiger sightings cannot be guaranteed. To see one at close range was an amazing and unforgettable experience.
A Visit to Ranthambore Fort
The following day, we hired a jeep to take us to Ranthambore Fort. It’s a a huge construction dating back to 944 AD, with seven kilometres of ramifications. It was busy with Indian pilgrims, who were making their way up the two hundred steps to the temples and tombs within the fort. We spent a couple of hours exploring the fort and were entertained by a troupe of langur monkeys who were hanging out on the steps.