Thursday 03 November 2005

The beds were so hard we could hardly sleep. That plus constantly aware we had to actually hear the alarm go off this time – so both of us kept waking up to check what time it was. Well we did hear our alarms and we also had a knock on the door to get us up!

This morning there was no jeep waiting for us. Instead, we had to join 13 other guests on a truck they call a canter (for 20 people) but to us it’s a huge truck – this was not expected since in this Park we had paid for jeep safaris for just the two of us (with the possibility that up to 3 others would join us if there were too many tourists)!. When we arrived at the entrance to the park we were again crowded with men selling hats, t-shirts, badges etc. And I gave in to one of them and bought a book – a field guide on Indian Mammals – knocked him down Rs95 too! :-)

Driving through the entrance we went straight to where there was a sighting of a tigress and her two cubs. The only good thing about being on the truck was the height it gave us to look over the wall! It was very hard to see but we caught a glimpse of the two cubs. Not as magical as the first sighting we had hoped to see… dreaming of our own jeep to ourselves and a tiger crossing the path in front of us, in the clear, and a perfect photo opportunity! But dreams are not always reality. Instead we were on a crowded truck amongst many other vehicles all fighting for a glimpse of the tigers!

Eventually, we travelled on, only stopping on the odd occasion for deer and antelope. We didn’t stop for any monkeys and passed by loads of scenic places. We went quite high up at times so the drive was really interesting seeing the different types of landscapes and habitat.

Covered in sand, dust and gritty exhaust fumes I headed straight for the shower when we arrived back at the hotel. After a short snooze we went down for some lunch, and just after we had eaten we saw two crows attack the bowl of rice so we didn’t return for seconds!

Soon it was time for our afternoon jeep safari only to be disappointed as another truck turned up. There were only two seats available in the middle of the back row and it was such a squeeze. None of us could move and there was no hope for taking any photos. When we made our first rest stop in the park, the guide asked if one of us wanted to sit at the front – gladly! Everyone could breathe again! Huge sighs of relief were heard. I went to sit at the front on top of a hot bumpy engine. There was a cushion and as I had the windscreen to shield the dust and the wind I was happy. We only made a few stops and again missed many photogenic places.

We did stop by a lake whilst the sun was low creating silhouetted deer in the water, and we saw a baby crocodile there too. We drove through the Ranthambhore Fort too but didn’t stop, and there were loads of monkeys there just begging for their photo to be taken! Instead, we went to the place where we spotted the two cubs in the morning. From what we gathered, there were definitely tigers in the bushes but after several minutes of waiting and no sign of tigers we headed back to the hotel where both of us had a quick shower (Rajasthan is a desert area so everywhere is very dusty!) before meeting the local Indian Moments agent. It turned out that he never received a copy of our final itinerary details so we provided him with the service vouchers. He guaranteed us a jeep safari for the next morning and confirmed our pick up from the hotel to the train station.

A little later we went down for dinner but since we were a bit early had a few drinks first. Once the buffet was open we had our dinner while the same group from the day before played their music and danced for us.