February 14, 2013

More Like Rantham-boring! (Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, India)

When we asked one of our Indian friends back in San Francisco about the countries many parks he recommended Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan. It's considered one of the best places in the world to view the wild Bengal tiger. At this point there are more Bengal tiger in captivity than exist in the wild. We really wanted to see a tiger but realized even if we didn't it would be nice to see other wildlife and get some fresh air- much needed after the polluted haze of Agra (read here).

We're on safari!

Once you have a ticket for a cantor, an open air truck that holds 16-20 people, the driver heads to one of the 9 zones with a guide and try to spot wildlife. While some zones have a much better chance of seeing tigers (zones 2, 3 or 4 are the best) you have no control over what zone you get put in. 

The first day we got on a safari, after waiting in line for 2 hours to get  a ticket. No tigers but we saw some other great wildlife (photos below).

Spotted deer
We were determined so we headed back the next day. We met two Australians in line so banded together to keep our place in line. Waiting in line in India is a battle in itself. You cannot let your guard down, because as soon as you do someone will swoop in and take your spot. This means you are literally pushed up against the people in front of you while the people behind you try to create a wedge so they can slide ahead. Its insanity! 

We waited in line for hours. We got to the front twice and were told there were no tickets, yet had  park rangers just slide into the side of the ticket window with stack of cash. Someone pulled us aside and said if we really wanted to go we should go around the back of the building and bribe the park rangers. You know the corruption is bad when you have to grease a park ranger. 

Disgusted by the system we walked back to the Australians guest house and decided to have some lunch and a beer. Day turned to night, we all kept deciding to have "just one more" and eight hours later we headed home. The Aussies guesthouse had helped us book a morning cantor online. We even paid for someone to go stand in line at 4am to get our tickets- well worth they $2 per person. The cantor picked us up in the dark at 6:15am on one of the coldest days in 9 years. We were bundled up in blankets, looking through the fog trying to spot animals. While we didn't see tigers that morning either, we had fun with our new friends commiserating about India.
JT and Daniel - Freezing on our morning safari
We ended up going on 3 safaris in 4 days (one of which was at 6am on the coldest day in 9 years and we FROZE) and while we saw some other great wildlife (see below) we never saw the elusive Bengal tiger. The highlight of our four days there was drinking with our new Australian friends and getting to know the guys at our guesthouse, Harisingh and Kumlash, who took care of us so well and were always giving us tips on how to see the Bengal tiger on safari. They brought us room service one night because it was too cold to eat on the roof, where the dining area was. But, as far as the park goes...Ranthambore? More like Ranthamboring.

You can see all of our Ranthambore pics here. A few more are below, as well as a video of a sambar deer (won't show up in email feeds).
Mustard fields outside the park

Footprint of a tiger we never saw...

Plenty of monkeys in the park but, at this point, seeing a monkey is like seeing a pigeon

Beautiful Kingfisher bird

Sambar deer put on a show for us as part of a mating ritual - rolling in the mud (NSFW).

Check out the video below, or click here.


A Jackal in the road

Me and Kumlash from Aditya Hotel

Wild Parakeet
Freezing morning safari

They said there was a tiger behind this tree. We waited 20 minutes but he never showed himself.

Antelope at the watering hole

Steph's favorite bird of the safari: Indian Tree Pie (related to the magpie)

A cow waiting his turn while a goat drinks out of a water tank

Freezing at 6am in the fog
 You can see all of our Ranthambore pics here.

1 comment:

  1. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My site addresses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you are interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail (rahulranjan535@gmail.com). I look forward to hearing from you! Excellent blog by the way!