Wednesday 02 November 2005

Ooops! We were so tired this morning that we slept through THREE alarms only to be woken by a phone call at 06:45 – our driver was wondering where we were since we were supposed to meet him at 06:30! Of course, we thought it was 06:15 when the phone rang believing we were only four hours ahead. However, it turns out that we are 4.5 hours ahead of Amsterdam time, and the phone rang again 15 minutes later to inform us it was 07:00 and to hurry since we had a train to catch! Thankfully by that time we were just about ready to make our way downstairs!

The train station was not far away and our driver had allowed plenty of time in case of traffic so being half an hour late was not too much of a problem – phew! We had two porters wanting to take our luggage to the train but Heiko kept insisting we were capable of carrying it ourselves, our driver reduced the tip from Rs100 to Rs50 and we allowed them to carry our luggage – Heiko was attached firmly to our camera gear though!

As the train left, tiredness set in and I was soon lying down resting my eyes we had a sleeper compartment. Finally managed to fall asleep and Heiko woke me since someone was asking if we wanted lunch. Well I was awake then so moved back to the window seat to sit with Heiko – he later went to lie down though, whilst I fought with my heavy eyelids in the window seat. There was a family in the next compartment and a guy was on the phone several times informing people he was on holiday and on the way to Ranthambhore National Park – he sounded very proud!

Finally arrived in Sawai Modhopur, the train station in Ranthambhore, and again our luggage was carted off plus the two guys asked us for more tip than we agreed complaining this was because our luggage was heavy! We were then brought to our hotel, the Ranthambhore Bargh. We had very little time till the start of our afternoon safari so we carried our lunch with us since we didn’t have time to eat it on the terrace (spicy vegetables in naan bread – it was very nice!).

So we left in the jeep joining three others from Germany. The safari was for 3 hours. We were taken straight to a place where our driver had seen a tigress kill a deer earlier that morning but we saw nothing. There were plenty of spotted deer (local name: cheetal) and sambar, antelope and hanuman langur (also known as black-faced monkeys) though, and we also saw a spotted owl and a mongoose. We drove through an area where the tigress with two cubs was spotted the evening before yesterday but again no sightings.

We stopped briefly at a rest stop where we could get out of the jeep but were soon told to get back in – the guide had heard a warning call from deer/monkeys which meant a tiger was near. We drove towards the calls but the area was thick with trees and bushes, and had water on the other side, but we were not allowed to go deep into the forest (and we had already been told off earlier for venturing off the track). We changed our direction and not long after we heard the roar of a tiger. The guide asked if it was someone’s stomach rumble but really there was no mistaking it! We drove back towards the rest point and it was confirmed that two tigers were mating (they have a special roar for that!) but we could not get close since they were deep in the forest. So no tiger sighting on the first safari – but we did hear a roar! Hope tomorrow brings us better luck (we set off at 06:30).

Once back at Ranthambhore Bargh and in our room (completely drained of energy from so much travelling!) we both snoozed a little and freshened up with a shower. We are sharing our bathroom with a geko – he’s between the window and the net screen!

Later there was a knock on the door and we were invited to have dinner on the terrace. We thought we had slept through dinner so we were quite glad to have something to eat. There was some traditional music when we arrived but they didn’t play for very long. We must have been quite late joining the guests. It is a really nice night to be sat outside eating dinner and hearing the sounds of the wild.

Time to be getting sleep now though, its 23:10 now and we don’t want to sleep through our 05:00 alarm!