India (2) – Ranthambhore

392 square kilometres and 38 tigers.  Needless to say, we didn’t manage to meet up with the tigers!  We had an early start this morning, waking up at 5.30, after a warm and muggy night.  For all that we didn’t find any tigers, it was very refreshing to sit in the jeep in the refreshing cool breeze.
We started with photography over tea and biscuits this morning, waiting for the safari jeep to collect us.  And though we didn’t pick up any tiger shots, we did see plenty of wildlife on our safari, including peacocks, black faced lemurs, deer and a couple mongooses (mongeese?).  Unfortunately we had to share the jeep with another 12 tourists, which made things a little awkward for photography at times.
We returned back to the hotel around 9.30 to find breakfast laid out for us – some tasty stuff, though I couldn’t tell you what most of it was!  It did include aloo parathas, masala omelette, the ubiquitous toast, porridge and rather bizarrely, chips.  A bit of mango pickle on the side spiced things up nicely!
For the rest, a lazy morning looking at our photos and snoozing, followed by a dip in the pool before lunch.
In the afternoon, another tiger safari, with a different guide and a new set of passengers.  We didn’t set out with high expectations as the tigers are most active in the mornings.  By this point the temperature had increased markedly compared with the morning.
As this morning, we saw plenty of lemurs and deer, but no signs of tigers.  We followed the same track as the morning for the first part, and when we stopped for a small break we had an unexpected sighting of about 7 crocodiles!  We’d stopped at the same point this morning, and no sign of them then.  That said, they were well camoflaged, so perhaps we just missed them.
We continued up along a different trail up into the hills.  Although there wasn’t too much wildlife to be seen there, it was much cooler, and far more comfortable.  We stopped at the top of the hill where there were a couple jeeps lined up, and then suddenly after a frenzied conversation between the drivers, all the jeeps jumped into motion.  A tiger!  We hung on for dear life, whilst the driver drove us up to the edge of the ravine.  We looked down, and there was the tiger, sitting in the grass at the bottom of the ravine.  Far away, but there!
After watching the tiger for a while we were running out of time, and had to drive fast as we could back to the hotels.  It was a very bumpy ride, particularly for poor Arie who was at the back of the jeep.  We had a couple brief stops for a few more lemurs and a displaying peacock, and then back for another cool off in the pool before dinner.
Tomorrow we’re off to Jaipur, where we’ll be having an elephant ride to the Amber fort.

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