January 13th, 2017
Safari in Ranthambore
On our way back to Delhi, we stopped in Ranthambore for one night.
Ranthambore is a much smaller town; the air here is cool and empty. It reminds me of the air in Iowa, and I wonder how it will feel when I step off the plane at home in just a few days.
One main road runs through Ranthambore, so we spent our evening wandering through local shops and exploring our hotel, the Ranthambore Bagh. In the hotel, we watched a documentary about the reintroduction of tigers from Ranthambore national park into the Sariska Reserve, also in Rajasthan. Afterwards, we had dinner to the tune of local musicians, huddled around a fire with lanterns hung from the trees above.
Shanea and I had the pleasure of spending the night in tent 6, falling asleep to the rustle of wind through the leaves.
The tents were made of thick beautiful fabric, equipped with a bathroom, down comforters and a space heater; truly, the ultimate glamping experience.
We woke up early for the safari. I wore two pairs of pants, five layers of shirts and sweatshirts, and huddled under two blankets with Shanea. This was no match for the open air Jeep; on the way to the park, the cold wind threw back our hair and slapped our faces till they went numb. The chilled air threw dust in our eyes, but we didn’t dare blink and miss sights around us.
Ranthambore National Park is home to leopards, wild boars, deer, hyena, sloth bears, crocodiles, and a variety of birds and plants. However, it is best known for its tigers. Ranthambore was declared one of the Project Tiger reserves in 1973 and became a National Park in 1980. In 2005, there were 26 tigers in the park. Now, there are upwards of 62 tigers in the park.
On our safari, we saw wild boar, spotted deer, Sambar deer and two Blue Bulls (the largest Asian antelope). We saw hoards of monkeys and peacocks in the forests, and may egrets in the water.
In addition the the song birds, we saw a Serpent Eagle perched on a tree and a stunning King Fisher, with a bright blue back, diving off a branch into the water for breakfast.
Behind the King Fisher, a crocodile layer on the banks, warming itself after a cold night.
Lastly, much to our guide’s surprise (he said we were luckier than we could imagine at sighting a tiger in such dry, cold weather), we saw a tiger sleeping in the forest. This tiger, labeled “T28” or “Star Male” is the dominant male in the territory, though I wouldn’t have guessed; he drowsily rose his head as we approached, then carelessly fell back asleep, occasionally stirring only to roll over or stretch.
My pictures are too blurry to do much justice to these beautiful animals and the surrounding land, but if nothing else, they will serve as proof to my little brother that we did in fact see a tiger.
Now, we are on a train to Delhi, and my face is red and warm from windburn. I am preparing my last few blog posts, and my email is flooded with announcements regarding spring semester. How bittersweet that our time here is coming to an end.