One final safari for us before we headed back to city life.
We were up bright and early once again and surprisingly raring to go even before 6am in the morning. It was another cold start but we had wrapped up warm in preparation. This time we headed to Zone 2 and out guide told us we would head straight for the best known tiger spotting areas first and then work our way back. We drove for some time without any sightings but then we started to hear alarm calls and the driver sprang into action and began darting across the park. This was certainly the most exciting safari that we had done as there was a lot more energy to the experience. Our guide was able to smell fresh tiger droppings (not a pleasant smell!) And could emulate a tiger’s call.
We saw a bunch of deer, some wild boar, peacocks and birds buy nothing new despite our best tracking attempts. As we neared the end of the drive a car up front alerted us to a sighting and we sped forward a few feet to join them. As the had been several calls and signs of tigers the cars had all bunched up a little, we estimate that there are around 6 cars in each zone at once. There are large 20 seater ones but they seem very invasive and don’t have access to many of the routes.
The call from the car infront turned out to be a valid one and I watched as the big cat made it’s way into the dense shrubbery. However, it was not the elusive tiger that we had discovered, but the even more appearance of a leopard. It was a brief sighting of no more than a minute but it is considered a true privilege to spot one of these shy creatures. I don’t think anyone was fast enough to grab a photo but the memory itself is always more important.
We topped off our visit with sightings of an eagle that eats snakes and a couple of mongeese.
Breakfast back at the hotel was a paneer paratha for me and several cups of tea to warm up before starting the 4 hour drive to Jaipur.
Returning to the city after a few days of relative wilderness is a bit of an assault on the sense but a good one nonetheless. Jaipur is a happy medium between the chaos of Delhi and the more deprived feel of Agra. We turned up on election day again so there is a heavy police presence and locals have taken to the street to pray,celebrate and generally just await the result. It’s a big deal here.
We stayed at Dera Mandawa which is an old heritage building that used to be a grand house. If you have seen the Great Exotic Marigold hotel film then it’s like a very well maintained version of that. Our hosts had political status in the past and now run a ‘home-stay’ as a means to retain the building. It’s a magnificent building with modern facilities but all of the traditional features protected.
Day Itinerary Morning Shared Jeep safaris at Ranthambore National Park Jaipur Fringed by the rugged Aravali Hills, Jaipur is the capital and largest city in India’s northern state of Rajasthan. This city is famed for being India’s first planned city featuring a multitude of pink terracotta buildings within the walled historic centre, earning it the nickname,’The Pink City’. Jaipur falls within the Golden Triangle, a popular tourist circuit, which includes Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, and serves as a gateway to the neighbouring desert cities of Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. This colourful city is a combination of tradition and modernity and offers visitors vibrant bazaars, lavish palaces and ancient temples. The salmon-‐hued old city is home to the opulent City Palace, encompassing an impressive assortment of palatial structures, sprawling gardens, courtyards and buildings. Don’t miss the fairy-‐tale splendour of the Amber Fort, set against the backdrop of the arid landscape.
Overnight: Dera Mandawa Hotel Central to most of Jaipur, Dera Mandawa is ideally located close to the main attractions of the Pink City. Built on two levels, the air conditioned hotel suites comprise of a lobby or gallery, a study and a bedroom. The accommodations are comfortably equipped for a relaxing stay.