Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan

is it worth the trip to Ranthambhore?

tiger park

how many are there?

maybe 50 plus cubs

depends on who you believe 

and what chance is there really of seeing a tiger in the wild?

who knows

how lucky are you?

Imagei

To get into into Ranthambhore National Park

you have to go to Sawai Madhopur

and it’s not like I imagined

not some little village on the edge of a park

but an Indian town

with jeeps and cars

henna dyed camels

and motorcycles of course

and therefore horns

and speed and swerving

and your everyday chaos

can’t be many tigers around here

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we stay in Tiger Safari Hotel

and they’re friendly

helped us with our complicated safari booking

has to be done on line

or half of it anyway

complicated

we go into the park to the fort

not part of a safari

anyone can go there

and our jeep blows it’s horn when someone stops to watch an eagle

there’s people everywhere

building roads

no isolation here

no fear I had that exploring a fort might have us come face to face with a tiger

but it’s India

of course there are people everywhere

Image

the next day we go on our official safari

the only way to go into the park proper

or deeper into the park

and we’re in the winter fog

sitting up on the back of a jeep

blankets around us

and suddenly it’s quiet

there are no people

and i get the feeling we could see a tiger

there’s antelope, deer, a spotted gazelle

they don’t run

they sit and watch us

and i work something out –

even tigers are used to people in India

i ask the guide

do they run away?

he kind of shrugs

maybe yes maybe no

we see prints in soft sand

they’re huge

i realise if a tiger was hungry or angry and came out of the fog

it cold pluck us from the the back of the jeep

wrapped like a kebab in our blankets

 Image

the fog lifts a little

we get down

like getting off a boat into great white water

peer over a a cliff

there’s no tiger today

but i get the feeling that yes

it’s possible

and they probably don’t run away

 Image

back at our lodge

that’s exactly what they say

one group watched a tiger for an hour

well they would say that

someone else said to me later

yeah maybe

but the park had an eeriness

a just knowing something is out there

a land of tiger feel about it

that feeling alone was worth it

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~ by Drifting, Rambling on January 5, 2014.

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