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Lucky Ranthambore Tiger Experience


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Quick cut from my long trip report on 24-day India Trip we just completed. It seemed to me, that if we were going all that way, it was at
least worth an attempt to see a tiger in the wild. We had 2 nights on the edge of Ranthambore, at Khem Villas, and everything was arranged so that we could train it after seeing the Taj Mahal in Agra, in time to make a late afternoon gypsy drive, giving us a total of three drives.
Feb 16, 2014 Trian to
Sawai Madhopour

Mr Singh reserved our 2nd class tickets months ago. We hear people buying tickets on standby today won't get seats together. This "mail train" runs all the way from Punjab to Mumbai. As a result when we board, all the seats are pulled down like beds. Took me about 10 minutes to realize they can be flipped up to form sort of a sofa. The seating still isn't exactly comfy, but nowmy feet touch the floor and the scenery is delightful without the roadside clutter. The rape fields are in bloom and the sun is out. We have 5 stops to Madhpour. Our handler at Badaphur told us someone will tell us when it is time to get off. He was a 20-year old who works for Legends & Palaces as a subcontractor, and is studying to be a naturalist specializing in birds. As the train was about an hour and a half late, we also met his friend, who got him into the birding gig, whose father is "an internationally known" expert. I had read a trip report on Fodor's by someone who had done some birding in Badaphur, so I know there is a national preserve. We enjoyed talking with these young men until the train finally pulled in. Our driver will bring our luggage so that we don't need to worry about it on the train. We've been told that the road between Agra and Ranthambore is so bad, we wouldn't make it there in time for that late drive.

It was easy to identify our stop, and there was someone with a sign for us from Khem Villas. They stop by the safari place so they can copy our passports and collect the voucher for our drives, and then we proceed to Khem Villas where we have time to freshen up, pick kup some bottled water and a box lunch, and jump into the gypsy vehicle that pulls into the drive.

(2n). Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
Khem Villas
Lux. Tent

OMG. Khem Villas is awesome, I was concerned that the tent would be too cold....it is gorgeous and cosy. There's a heater. They give you hot water bottles. The mattress is great, the pillows are perfect. It is quiet but for some dogs barking in the distance..but this is much less than the honking horns and wedding processions in Agra. Drinks around the fire were wonderful, and the other guests are interesting and friendly. High point is that although we were squished 6 into a what I would consider to be a 4 person-vehicle this afternoon, WE saw a tiger. A giant male, who posed appropriately. Actually there were two, but one was more obscured by brush. They are said to be brothers, about 2 years old. When they got up and walked away, it truly took our breath away because they are SO huge. Hope we get to see more tomorrow, but at the very least we have actually seen a beautiful wild tiger. I think the requirement that someone in each vehicle that sees a tiger sign a form at the entrance/exit post is pretty neat.

The food at our camp...organic/vegetarian...is superb. There is a nice gathering around a fire pit before dinner, and the meal ended the meal with a cocoanut concoction to die for and masala tea. Both of us are ready to crash. I was a bit concerned we'd be too cold in a tent, but it was an amazing construction and also had a portable heater which was perfectly sufficient. There was enough hot water for two hot showers, and yes, even a hair dryer, although the bathroom section did not get much benefit from the heater.

Second day, early AM drive. Guess we will still be traveling 6 to a vehicle. Not comfy, but John and Jane from the UK are with us again, and they are good company. They are staying at the fancy Oberois Villas, which we passed on the way from the station. They are more in town. We are in the country, surrounded by acres of organic farm that provides the fruit and veggies we eat. Totally veg and organic, but for 2 nights, we can live with it. It is delicious. Back to the safari drive....not much luck. We did route 2 (yesterday was 5) and saw prints for both tiger and leopard, but no animals. I didn't expect these drives to be anything like we had experienced in Botswana or Zimbabwe, and they were clearly not. I did get some good terrain shots. The park is gorgeous. Back for breakfast. Put in some laundry, and we should be set. Sitting outside in the sun in front of our tent, overlooking beautiful fields. I was able to change into capris and sandals for a change. Light breeze. I had a lovely ayurvedic massage at the spa between drives.

Sorry, no tigers on last drive, despite a very sincere and try-anything guide! His English was best of the three we had, but while I am usually pretty good with accents, sometimes it still was a mystery. At one point, toward the end of the drive he told us something, and the lady next to me asked me what did he say? I had to giggle and tell her, I'm afraid what I heard was" and over here we have a lamb we call iceberg." She said "that's what I heard too" and we just laughed.
I will attach some photos here...some deer (spotted and sambar)...some birds (peacocks, treepies?, Kingfishers and owls)...and a monkey a couple of crocs and terrain shots. It seemed just as I was trying to video the tiger the driver decided to reposition so I could get a better shot (to no avail, really). India is very different. We loved every minute. I wouldn't go just to see wild life, although one couple at Khem Villas had built their trip on visiting every national park. But our trip turned out to be a really successful one, and we did see those glorious tigers. These aren't in any order, but the last two are from Khem Villas.
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Oh fudge...the shot just before the deer tying itself into a knot is of the view from our tent. And the video of the monkey jumping onto the canter filled with tourists didn't load, but I'll try to do that later. It is cute, if nothing else.

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SafariChick

Very interesting - thank you for sharing all the detail about getting there and lodging and so on. The tiger is beautiful - so glad you saw it!

 

and I can't stop laughing about " and over here we have a lamb we call iceberg."

Edited by SafariChick
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ah.. Ranthambhore is an amazing place. Those treepies are really bold there.

 

loved the pictures.

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The town I identify as being where a bird sanctuary is, should have been Bharatpur. Just saw a pic I took of a sign at the station.

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and...here is my little video. Just a fleeting impression of the whole experience, but yes, it was worth it all.

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What a beautiful animal @@Uh_oh busted

 

The landscape was also lovely as were the tents. I've always wanted to see a tiger. I guess you cannot sit and wait as in Africa to see if any movement occurs? Were you in those large trucks at the beginning of the vid following each other through the park, or the smaller one that appeared later in the film?

 

 

Thanks for sharing; I've wondered why it'd be like to look for tigers.

 

Also, an iceberg lamb :wacko:

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Shame you didn't see the iceberg lamb. Elusive little things, I suppose. It's nice to learn about and SEE some good things about Ranthambore. How did the guy get the Rufous Treepies to land on him? And this is just part of 24 days. Hope the rest was just as exciting.

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We were not (fortunately) in one of the big vehicles, but the gypsy jeeps which are supposed to seat 6 are much smaller than any vehicle we've been in while on safari in Zimbabwe or Botswana. I was in the middle of the "way" back seat when we saw the tiger, so I was shooting around/behind the guy to my left. sigh. In conversation with some other guests at Khem Villas, who have also done "real" safaris, they could do SO much better if they focused on all the other animals in the park as well as the tigers.

 

Atravelynn... The guides appear to feed the treepies when they stop for "snacks" (not a sundowner stop in any stretch of the definition, and each route stops at the same place each drive) so they seem to expect it. They reminded me of seagulls at the beach. But they are pretty birds. Throughout the rest of the trip -- if you visit Fodor's I do have a report going on the Asia forum -- we had a marvelous time. We saw more parrots, peacocks and Kingfishers than I could have guessed before the trip. Our lodgings were almost embarassingly high-end compared to our normal travel options. Food was amazing, and I could almost go vegetarian based on some fabulous dishes we ate. Rajasthan is ridiculously romantic. Kerala, in the south, is exotic and laid back and a real kick.

 

Maybe someday Animal Planet will have a special on the Iceberg Lambs of India...

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  • 7 months later...

Beautifull pictures, thanks for sharing!! These two brothers are T74 & T75, actually they have a sister T73 as well but she is pretty shy and is hardly spotted. They were born in May2012 to T17 who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. So the FD took care of their food needs for a while.

 

Regards

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  • 1 month later...

Just saw this reply! Thanks for the extra info, DKay.

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