Day 142: Hunting tigers out in Indiah (they bite, they scratch, they make an awful fuss)

Ranthambhore National Park Travel Blog

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Two explorers ready for tiger spotting!

Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Ed (Netherlands)

The Ranthambhore National Park is one of India's prime reserves for the near-extinct Bengal tiger, the largest cat species in the world. It is estimated that there are only about 3200 tigers left in the world, less than half of them living in the wild. Although only about 25 tigers live in this 1334 sq km reserve, Ranthambhore is the place where you are most likely to spot a tiger in the wild in India (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter).

Traffic is restricted in the park, with only 40 vehicles allowed per day. The park is generally closed during the monsoon months, which is the main mating season for tigers and tracks often become impassable after rains. The keen reader will have noticed that this was the monsoon season, so howcome we are here?
Well, this is India, after all, where rules and regulations are merely guidelines and enforcement depends on how much money is involved.

The Ranthambhore National Park
So when I expressed my disappointment when Mahinder told me the park would be closed, he told me he would be able to arrange something.

Let me start by saying that I don't generally condone this kind of thing. I take environmental conservation seriously and I know they close the park for a reason. But sometimes the flesh is weak and temptation to high to resist. Besides, we weren't the only ones. There was a German couple on our tour as well and inside the park we came across another Jeep full of Indian tourists.

Well, call it karma, but we didn't see a single tiger that day. Mahinder had told me we'd had a 99% chance of seeing one in Ranthambhore, yet during the tour our guide told us that during the monsoon all tigers move into the highlands, so chances of seeing one in this period are next to nothing.
Some spotted deer
That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy this trip though. The national park contains some very dramatic scenery with vast steppes, dense forests and high cliffs.

Our guide was utterly useless. His English was terribly bad and all he did was pointing out what he called 'beautiful bird'. Every bird was a beautiful, bird, I suppose. And sure, some of them were nice indeed, but after seeing a peacock for the seventeenth time, I couldn't care less about them anymore. We did see a few antelopes, deer, a couple of monitor lizards and a jackal, but for the most part the animals were hiding today. Or we were driving to fast to see anything.

At one point we were driving through a very dense forest and he explained to us that this was called tiger forest, as this is the place where many tigers live.
Watering hole where tigers often come to drink
To me that sounds like a place where you are more likely to spot a tiger, yet we sped through it at 50 km/h, making it impossible to discern anything in the blur of trees.

So the landscape was beautiful, the tour itself was worthless. The guide wasn't just a poor wildlife guide (he was barely able to explain anything about the animals we saw and I often spotted them earlier than he did), he also had the guts to start asking for tips halfway through (“Rs 500 for spotting animals, Rs 1000 if we see a tiger”).
I was beginning to see a pattern here as this is pretty much a summary of my experience of India so far: a beautiful country, yet as soon as people are involved the enjoyment factor drops. With the exception of Mukesh, our driver, I hadn't seen anyone not doing a shit job at their work so far.
Ed and I in the Ranthambhore National Park
Hotel staff, waiters, shop attendants, ticket salesmen - all so obsessed with earning tips that they forget to do the actual work they are supposed to do in the first place.

Back in the hotel we had dinner at the hotel restaurant. There wasn't anything else to do in town (this being off-season it resembled a ghost town) so we just relaxed in our room and had an early night.

Biedjee says:
LOL
Posted on: Dec 10, 2010
edsander says:
> His English was terribly bad and all he did was pointing
> out what he called 'beautiful bird'.

Be fair on the guy. He also told us if the 'beautiful bird' was male or female and what the Indian name of the bird was. ;-)
Posted on: Dec 10, 2010
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Two explorers ready for tiger spot…
Two explorers ready for tiger spo…
The Ranthambhore National Park
The Ranthambhore National Park
Some spotted deer
Some spotted deer
Watering hole where tigers often c…
Watering hole where tigers often …
Ed and I in the Ranthambhore Natio…
Ed and I in the Ranthambhore Nati…
The streets of Sawai Madhopur - tr…
The streets of Sawai Madhopur - t…
The only tiger we spotted that day…
The only tiger we spotted that da…
On the road to Ranthambhore
On the road to Ranthambhore
On the road to Ranthambhore
On the road to Ranthambhore
Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve
Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve
The Ranthambhore National Park
The Ranthambhore National Park
First large mammal we spotted: a G…
First large mammal we spotted: a …
Bambi!
Bambi!
The Ranthambhore National Park
The Ranthambhore National Park
Black bird (beautiful bird!)
Black bird (beautiful bird!)
The Ranthambhore National Park
The Ranthambhore National Park
Peacock, male (beautiful bird)
Peacock, male (beautiful bird)
Antelope
Antelope
Ill photoshop the tiger in later!
I'll photoshop the tiger in later!
The Ranthambhore National Park
The Ranthambhore National Park
Another spotted deer
Another spotted deer
More deer, or gazelle, or whatever…
More deer, or gazelle, or whateve…
Another bird, cant remember the n…
Another bird, can't remember the …
Lazy lizard
Lazy lizard
Ranthambhore National Park
photo by: lealealou