We got up at 5:30am after not much sleep, I woke Jordan up in the middle of the night to investigate ‘animal noises’ as I could hear something crunching on the gravel outside the window and it took some time to stop imagining that we would be eaten by a tiger before I finally got to sleep.
The staff provided a wake up call and a tray of tea and biscuits and we got ready and waited for our driver. As sunlight approached so did the rain, by the time we were due to set off we were layered up and had been given water, sandwiches, blankets and hot water bottles by the hotel to ready us for the open air journey.
A bumpy drive towards the park ensued but the rain died off shortly before we arrived. The setting is much like that of Tomb Raider, crumbly buildings, beautiful water and vast expanses of greenery. With bright red hair and a yellow beret I’m not the most inconspicuous traveller and certainly not going for the Lara Croft look.
There are several zones across the park and we drove into section 3. Tiger spotting isn’t guaranteed and they make sure you are aware that the tigers are not tracked in any way, they are free to roam as are all other animals. The guides however do know how to follow tracks and listen for alarm sounds from deer or birds so they use this to navigate the park.
We saw a large number of spotted deer (bambi’s) Samba deer which are the largest in Asia and then an assortment of birds. We stopped on several occasions to take in the scenery and at one point found ourselves under a tree full of fruit bats.
Whilst the birds, deer and scenery were impressive I’d come to the conclusion that a tiger sighting might not be forthcoming given the weather and I turned out to be right, however what we got instead was equally rare.
In an unusual occurrence, we spotted a Sloth bear sauntering through the wooded area. Assuming we would get a fleeting glance only we stopped to try and take a quick photo but the bear seemed unaware of our presence and carried on ambling around,, digging at the earth and moving rocks. He seemed quite active despite being typically nocturnal and was intent on finding something to eat. He eventually crossed the road behind us and we lost sight of him but it was certainly an unexpected meeting.
Leaving the park we saw a host of furry friends gathering amongst the local villagers explaining why we had not seen them on our drive-there was food to be had elsewhere.
We drove back to the hotel, stopping briefly to move a turtle out of the middle of the road and had a late breakfast in preparation for our second drive.
Part 2 to follow..