Ranthanbore, India – Our quest for tigers
We set off in search of tigers in Ranthanbore. After having been in South Africa I figured we needed to see tigers to go with our lions, elephants, etc! We had met an Englishman previously that had said he went for 2-3 safaris and saw nothing and frankly hadn’t enjoyed the experience all that much. After our amazing experience in S Africa, I was hesitant to leave this sort of taste in my safari mouth, but it would be cool to see tigers in the wild.
We left on our evening drive, and I immediately knew why the look had come over the Englishman’s face when he mentioned the drives in Ranthanbore. Our covered truck crowded with people (more of that to follow the next morning) was incredibly loud (the metal roof thundered every time we hit a bump) and dusty. I figured if there were tigers within a mile of the truck they would be long gone by the time we neared. With most of the drive finished and having seen only a few “summer and winter” deer we headed back. Thankfully because of the Englishman, I think my expectations were pretty low so I wasn’t too disappointed.
Then suddenly I spotted the striped cat off to the left. A male slowly made his way around us and we viewed him when suddenly a female off to the right also came into view. It was again evident this was an Indian safari when the entire vehicle started shouting, jumping, and making enough noise to repel any animal more from sheer annoyance than fear (this after a long speech explicitly explaining what not to do when you see a tiger). Surprisingly, even the tigers must be used to Indian culture as it simply looked at the green, giant, screaming and rocking, “animal” and kept walking. We had seen our tigers… this was a cap for animals seen in the wild on this trip.
The next morning, I was somewhat reluctant to go through the 4-hr ordeal again with a slim chance of seeing anything. This increased as our vehicle arrived already packed with people and many kids so much that we had to squeeze in a back seat where I barely had enough room to get my knees between the seat ahead of me and the rest of my body. As we headed out of town, surprise, more people to pick up!!
The English couple had a look of dismay as they boarded. The man politely asked if they could sit on the front seat by the driver, which at this point was empty. No the driver replied, there was another couple to be picked up!! Needless to say we got to know each other well as they had to squeeze into the back seat with us. I’m happy to say we were rewarded with our patience as again, very near the end of our drive, a male tiger appeared walking in front of us on the road where we were able to get a couple of shots.
Ranthanbore is not much of an area to see other than if you’re lucky enough to see one of these creature… and thankfully in this instance India was kind to us.