Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, India Week 142 December 14th -16th 2013
Next stop is Ranthambore National Park.

Just over 200 km away. Two days.

Road building is predominantly by hand.

But wait ....

we have reports that the roads of Rajasthan are 'better'.

At least some stretches are good.

Lined with gum trees to remind us of Oz.

If you are wondering how those overloaded trucks become overloaded ...
We see lots of canola.

We are guessing the soil is quite sandy and poor as the canola stems are much further apart than we have seen elsewhere.

Our direction is generally south west.

The railway does a better job than the roads of heading directly to Sawaimadhopur.

We cross it a few times.

Jaipur is known as the pink city.

We aren't going there, but perhaps this pink sandstone is.

We are near Gangapur.

There aren't many hills in India so we have to invent our own.

It seems the sandstone is cut to standard shapes and lengths.

Like wood really!

Cut from hills like this.
Not as many rivers as we are heading west.
The fields are prepared as one large area with a tractor.

Then organised into smaller patches for sowing and irrigation.

Just a tad unusual so far in India.

Water has been hand pumps from the ground.

This looks like part of reticulation.

Tractor tracks, and water.

Given the state of the fields its almost as if growing things is continuous.


We guessed the overpass wasn't ready for us.

But there's no level crossing.

We spent a half hour or so finding the detour.

Lots of road building in this town.

The ponds on the left seem to be part of providing a firm base for the new road.

Education, or at least schools, seem to be prolific in India.

We rarely see adverts for anything beyond schools and mobile phone networks.

We are not sure whether to be a little peeved - Rajasthan is considered roaming for mobiles. The sms informing us mentioned "unless you have an internet plan", so hopefully we have and its ok. May be a trap for others. China was a bit the same.

We've passed a few toll plazas.

This one is miles from anywhere and either incomplete or abandoned.

A big step up and down for the concrete plinth.

We found our way to the Vinayak Hotel, a Rajasthan Tourist Development Corporation hotel, between Sawai Madhopur and Ranthambore National Park.

Complete with red vented bulbul that must have followed us from Nepal.

And a very raucous long tailed bird.
Set off a bit after 7am after early morning call - how's that for service in the car park.

Organised by hotel reception. Picked up from the hotel.

All rugged up for a morning tiger viewing.

Followed a river gorge into the park and up to a plateau in the sandstone hills.

There was once a fort.

And a gate.

Our driver lost the door here. The poor welds on the hinges broke on impact, cleverly saving further damage.

Only when I looked at the photo did I realise the green things were parrots.

I thought they were food spread for peacocks and monkeys.

There are langur and macaque monkeys in the park.

These have long tails so must be langurs.

Peacock is the national bird of India.
The fig tree and gate are separate.

That's our intrepid guide stood up.

Inside the park we reach the lake.

Basically we are in 'zone 3' and are driving around the lake.

First off.

Water birds.

And ground dwelling birds that we thought were rabbits until we got the binoculars out.

Binoculars that the guide found useful.

Its really nice for a day in the park.

But just in case we have down jackets with us.

And wooly hats.

And woollen gloves.

Not too bad in the sun, but a tad draughty on the move.

What do darters eat.

Frogs (or toads) of course.

What eats darters?
Acacia trees and grassland away from the water.

Part of a band of savannah that circles the globe at this latitude.

Is this going to remind us of looking for elephants in Thailand?

Where all we saw was elephant droppings.

Fresh tracks of a tiger.

We are told there are two approaches in seeing tigers.

One is to look for tracks. The other is to watch and listen for other wildlife that has been disturbed.

We are hoping there's a third way ... that other guides tell our guide where they've seen tigers.

Just rocks.

And open grassland.

We seem to be embarked on a semi random search algorithm for a moving needle who's aim is to stay hidden in a very large haystack.

Destined to head for where the needle was as we have no idea where it will be.

The radio collars that used to be used were removed a few years ago when it was discovered they interfered with mating.

I guess removal also subtly changed the game of cat and people.

A bit denser trees and some spotted deer.
Not in the least perturbed by us.

Maybe in their possible role as future tiger food they can offer us guidance.

Though apparently tigers prefer the sambar.

Not a rock.

A large boar.

Probably too big for tiger fodder.

We've seen these somewhere previously.

Merzouga in Morocco.

In Morocco they were ruddy shelducks. In India brahminy ducks.

Maybe not the same pair!

Bird migration tends to be north - south rather than east - west.

And this one we saw yesterday.

Careful not to be directly under it.

Though our neighbour in the truck wasn't so lucky.

There's a lot of variety in India.
Some of it must be food for some other of it.
The monkeys can be overly friendly.

The guide needed a stick.

Back at the entrance with not a tiger in sight.

We thought we may have been lucky.

Maybe the cynical German was right ... all a hoax.

His partner was keen to go home.

But wait.

We haven't quite used up our allotted time and there are reports of a tiger sighting.

We turn round.

Around here our guide became excited and the driver doubled our speed.

The level of anticipation in the truck even effected the cynical Germans and the previously unaffected American.

Calmest of all were the majority Indians.

And ourselves, of course.

And there it is.

An exhibitionist bengal tiger.

Out for a morning stroll in the park.

At this time of year there is lots of water.

In Summer the waterholes dry up and sightings near the lake are more frequent.

It helps that the tigers are territorial.

Studiously ignoring us.

A steady saunter towards the long grass.

It really is as if we aren't here.

Next time we'll ask to park on the other, sunny side .....

Our approximately 60 seconds of tiger watching came to a predicatble end as it disappeared from view.

The crowd applauded.

The guide saw rupees at the idea of an enhanced tip which he thoughtfully reminded us was usual when a tiger is sighted.

A quick stop for the loo.

And a view of the bits of fort on the hill.

Then a navigation of the road works.

The trailers of gravel are loaded by whicker basket and hands so I was a bit surprised to see hydraulic tipping.

The mirror on the Massey Ferguson tractor (mixing it well with the Indian Mahindra and other brands) is attached to the upright exhaust.

Back through the gorge.
Past the sun bathing tortoise ...
and the waiting water snake.
For a look back at the gorge.
And a safe return to our hotel car park. About 3 hours.

Mission accomplished. We saw a tiger in its natural habitat ........... apparently the north west limit of the species range.

Not just a tick the box experience. There's something a bit more indefinable to it. 

Thanks to a seriously enthusiastic  recommendation from a chance encounter with a couple of Indian couples from Delhi who we met in the hotel restaurant in Orccha.

The Road to Chittaurgarh, Rajasthan, India Week 142 December 18th 2013

Ian & Jan Wed, 18 Dec 13 08:37:56 +1100
WOW! Glad you got to see our 'striped' friend must have been a wonderful sight, and one that will be remembered you lucky people!

Best wishes
Ian & Jan

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