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Chillin' in India, Feb/March 2020


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janzin

Wow that's an incredible tiger sighting at Kabini! Maybe better than what we had in Ranthambhore. The whole family!

 

Good to know about the Evolve Back lodge, seems like the place to stay when (hopefully) we get to Kabini.

 

And I have to say I love the tiger face in the cappuccino! And impressed that they even made cappuccino lol.

 

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Hads

Hi @elefromoz all good up here in the Pilbara, most stuff cleaned up after Cyclone Damien went straight over the top of us, quite eery when we were in the eye of the cyclone.

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Chakra

You are spot on. Kabini is a lot calmer than Ranthambore. Excellent sightings.  I'm absolutely sure you'd love Assam. There are lots of tigers in Kaziranga but they are so difficult to spot that expectation is very low so guides do focus on birds actively.  Evolve Back is a fantastic resort but one needs a DEEEEP pocket :D

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elefromoz
14 hours ago, janzin said:

Wow that's an incredible tiger sighting at Kabini! Maybe better than what we had in Ranthambhore. The whole family!

Yes, I know, I wonder how often that happens, not what we were expecting that's for sure.

 

14 hours ago, janzin said:

And impressed that they even made cappuccino lol.

Not just Capps, Latte', Soy Latte', whatever we wanted, and we both love our coffee for breakfast.  We had excellent coffee everywhere we stayed actually. 

 

6 hours ago, Chakra said:

I'm absolutely sure you'd love Assam.

Im sure I would too, once the World regains some semblance of normal, we'll try again.

 

6 hours ago, Chakra said:

Evolve Back is a fantastic resort but one needs a DEEEEP pocket :D

Our trip was bundled so I have no idea of price breakdown, but yes I'm sure its upper end pricing. Our pockets are less 'deep" this week than last week now.

Joking aside, I feel so bad for all the Lodge, hotel and Park staff that we crossed paths with just a few weeks back, we can absorb some financial losses,  job losses will devastate them. 

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michael-ibk

Tigertigertiger! Fantastic, especially love the two drinking, what a beautiful Picture.

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elefromoz

Jaipur, Pink city and Pink Ladies

We did a 2 night stopover in Jaipur, again being Julias first trip we thought it would be nice to see a bit of Indias life and History. We stayed at the swish Heritage Haveli, living like Maharanis for 36hrs. 

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Even the door handles were gorgeous.

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And the Garden was a peaceful place to sit and read a not so good book

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We took a Rickshaw ride with the Pink City Rickshaws. All the Drivers are ladies, this sponsored business initiative is giving women an opportunity to work in what is historically male dominated profession. We were picked up at our Hotel at 8am.

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We certainly got some long stares from the men folk, our driver Renu has been doing this for 5 years now and is used  to being something of a novelty. We had a fabulous morning over about 3 hrs. We walked through the Flower Markets, pile after pile of Marigolds, then piles and piles of Pink Roses, all aromatic and dazzling. 

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Our next stop was to a Temple, what an experience of sight and sound, bells clanging, chanting and powerful song from the men at the back. The Women were magnificent in their colourful Saris. Hundreds of people, arms raised in song. I have absolutely no idea what was going on but it was extraordinary. 

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We passed some of Jaipurs famous sights. A Rickshaw is a great way to sightsee

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We also did a City Tour which took in Amber Fort

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City Palace 

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 and a few other sights.

It was a nice short break to see some history, but I find this kind of touring very exhausting and we were both ready to get back into the jungle.

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elefromoz

On our last visit in 2016, we went to the Stepwell at Mehrauli Archeological Park in Delhi which sparked a bit of a fascination with Stepwells. 

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 This trip on our Jaipur City Tour we stopped at the Panna Meena Ka Kund on the way up to Amber fort.

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But now my all time favourite Stepwell is the tiny little one in Ranthambore because

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There's a Sloth Bear in there! We took a quick peek over the edge and then left her in peace.

We'd spotted her earlier, but she'd run off at the sight of an approaching Jeep

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we got two separate really good sightings of Sloth Bear in Ranthambore

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elefromoz
1 hour ago, michael-ibk said:

Tigertigertiger! Fantastic, especially love the two drinking, what a beautiful Picture.

 

Thanks, I was very jealous after your last trip and your fabulous sightings, when we'd struck out. Not so now :)

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elefromoz

 

“It quite hard to see an Otter” our Guide said at the beginning of our Kabini Boat Safari. Of course everyone else had said “Tiger, Leopard” when asked what they’d like most to see. The chances of seeing an Otter were about the same he explained. The day before, the group had been lucky enough to get a Tiger on the riverbank, a really good sighting, so you never know. Not only did we see two Otters, but they were fishing, successfully

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It was a nice relaxing few hours on the water. We did see some nice Birds

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and Marsh Crocs.

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Originally we had hoped to see herds of Elephants, but I’ll get to that soon.

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elefromoz

One of the attractions in our original plans to Kaziranga was the opportunity to see Wild Elephants herds. Luckily Kabini also offered us this opportunity. Unfortunately the Herds, the Migration of large numbers hadn’t occurred yet. Guests in previous days had missed out altogether but we were lucky again and managed to see some, in small numbers.

 

The first on a Jeep safari, a small Herd across the other side of the River (:Dwhen I first wrote that I said “a small Herd on a Jeep Safari” )

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There was one large Male nearby.

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And then another small Herd of 5 on the afternoon Boat Safari1594297193_India144.JPG.5cb499c8a826c6cf476ba91e30ef4b4e.JPG

 

The next sighting was a Tuskless Male just resting and grazing by the track, he was lovely. 

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elefromoz

A few thoughts on Birds. Birding was not easy this trip, don’t get me wrong, I was not out to tick or click every species. Its difficult to focus on Birds, when alarm calls are a call to action. Maybe if you are on a dedicated ‘birding tour’, more time would be given over to it. We did see a ‘birding” group in Nagarahole but never had the opportunity to chat with them to see how it was all going. Often we drove straight past Birds before a chance or opportunity to see or photograph was given. I think my total was about 80, it’s probably possible to get that in a day with focus. In Ranthambore the whole Tiger thing just dominates all else and in Nagarahole, we were sharing the vehicle with 5 or 6 others. They may be not be as keen to see Birds. The experience of the Guides and Naturalists you have with you could make all the difference to what you are seeing too. A long time Birder sees all sorts of things that relative rookies don’t see. Just to reinforce though, we didn't push for sightings, just took whatever came along.

So a few from the trip

We started at the Andaz Hotel in Delhi

847769137_India150.JPG.bf2505e049312c8c7553306947c1e9f8.JPGOriental White Eye

 

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Some from Nagarahole

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Racket Tailed Drongo

 

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247089724_India163.JPG.6470ab51c67d1f9638df20d2ce05c823.JPGBrahminy Kite

 

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634572567_India160.JPG.8963b6705b274c0b1cc25dabfe9861a0.JPGWooly necked Stork

 

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Grey Heron, Purple Heron

 

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Red Naped Ibis

 

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Indian Pond Heron

 

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Indian Spot Billed Duck

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elefromoz

Well I really mucked up that post. The last several were from Ranthambore

Painted Spurfowl, Green Bee-eater, White throated Kingfisher, Spotted Owlet, Chikra,Scops Owl and Crested Serpent Eagle.

 

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Atravelynn

You certainly found your tigers on this trip.  Four at a time.  The two together were very photogenic mirror images of each other.  Great leopard sightings too.  You have the termites to thank for it all!  And the hits keep coming on page 2!

 

The painted spurfowl is exquisite!

 

"Tiger sighting has an almost drug-like effect (not that I know personally) on all the Drivers and Guides and everything just goes crazy."  Very good observation.  I'd like to get that drug back in my system.

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elefromoz
2 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

I'd like to get that drug back in my system.

@Atravelynn, Its been a while since your last trip, maybe you're ready for some Tiger craziness again, when this other craziness is all over

 

I love India because there is just so much going on everywhere, all the time. When we got back people would say “whats your highlight”? For me its climbing into the back of the Jeep at the crack of dawn, whizzing through the village, a chill wind, people, dogs, camels tractors, cows, trucks, women working, men talking (ha ha), kids waving and the anticipation of what lies ahead. I just love it!

 

A misty morning in Nagarahole 

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Langurs are such fun to watch. One of the saddest sights I saw was a tiny dead Langur baby laying on a rock in the middle of a stream.

Yes that’s a banana.

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Giant Squirrel munching on the bark 

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A Monitor was a cool surprise. Apparently used  as a treatment for asthma, not cool  

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Another Serpent Eagle stares us down as we drive past

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We drove through colourful villages 

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Peacocks aplenty

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elefromoz

One of the Naturalists from Evolve walked us up where he knew a Spotted Owlet lived  

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Kabini shoreline

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Delicious Indian food, worthy of mention. We even ate Indian breakfasts, we loved it so much and even though we didn’t eat any street food, it still looked and smelt great.

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Jaipur street food

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Sambur were common across both Parks 

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who’d have thought a glimpse of stripes could be so exciting, Im not done with Tigers yet..

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Ranthambore scenery

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Treepol

@elefromoz  you were in Kabini when I was in Ranthambhore, shame our itineraries didn't overlap. I am really enjoying your TR and photos. I totally agree with you about the almost exclusive focus on tigers in Ranthambhore, such a shame when there is so much else to see. Your time in Jaipur sounds interesting, wish I had known about Pink Ladies Rickshaws as they sound like an excellent initiative.

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janzin
7 hours ago, Treepol said:

I totally agree with you about the almost exclusive focus on tigers in Ranthambhore, such a shame when there is so much else to see. 

 

Its true for most of the guides but if you get the right one, it can be a different experience. We were extremely fortunate with our Ranthambhore guide and driver this trip as while of course the primary focus was on cats, they were both excellent with birds and in fact when tigers weren't to be found they got quite excited finding birds for us--even one apparently rare bird that excited even them! The driver was taking photos of it! (I'll leave that tidbit for my trip report. :) )  So its possible but you just really need to find the right guides.

 

Sorry to digress from this excellent report!  Wonderful to be brought back to India right now. Looking forward to more!

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Atravelynn

The haziness adds interest to the photos, like the peacock one.  How long did the giant squirrel hang around?  Great shot.  You have read my mind on both the craziness now and my continued interest in that striped cat!

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Atravelynn
On 3/17/2020 at 8:22 AM, janzin said:

And impressed that they even made cappuccino lol.

 

Forgot to mention that.  Now that's art!

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elefromoz

@Treepol nice to hear from you, Abhishek was updating us on your progress when we were in Delhi. If I recall, you have had a pretty long trip, Ill be keen to how it all went when you have time and inclination to do a TR. I hope you stayed well.

@janzin, Janet really glad that everything worked out for you this trip. We'll all be waiting for your photos of course

@Atravelynn, the Giant Squirrel was going nowhere, happily munched away while we parked and watched

8 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

Now that's art!

I keep telling everyone that India is full of surprises, even the coffee choices.

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elefromoz

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The Queens of Ranthambore..

I’m happy to be corrected on this, in Nagarahole, 10% of the Park is given over to Tourism and in Ranthambore, 30%. So… I guess this means that the majority of the Parks wildlife is not exposed to the shenanigans that the likes of “Noor” and “Arrowhead” are exposed to daily. They are either the ‘rockstars” or the ‘sacrificial lambs’ depending on how you see things. They just happen to be the ones born into, or that make their territory in the Tourist Zone. That said, I was as excited as everyone to see them and I’m in no position to judge. They bring in the vital funds. I should also say, I never saw any signs of stress, they just seemed to carry on their path, sniffing, spraying, swimming, just mostly ignoring us. @Soukous posted a video on another thread,  he was trying to video and the Jeep fired up and moved off. We encountered this at times too, and it was a bit frustrating. The Drivers have been so conditioned to get the ‘best shot’ for their clients, you know best position, best angle, best light…being in the moment is lost. Sometimes we just wanted to sit quietly and watch  1.The Tiger approach, 2. The Tiger walk past us  3. The Tiger walking off and away. This process is usually interrupted at stage two when the engine starts and everyone moves off en-masse to get in front again. I’ll stop there now as I’m sounding negative and whingey, not so. I loved every minute of our fantastic sightings and absolutely appreciate how lucky we were.

 

It all starts with something like this, our first Ranthambore sighting, “at last” I hear the Guides say, after striking out on the last 2 drives.522439848_India500.JPG.9e12a57e7d31aef20daf0d71132b5b13.JPG

 

 And there she is, Noor 

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She picked her way across the harsh terrain 

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With the Tiger paparazzi in pursuit

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These photos were taken over a 45minute period

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elefromoz

We had a couple of sightings of Arrowhead, she managed to evade us initially, although we did see her 2 near adult cubs. They must have gone their separate ways during the days. We caught up with her eventually. The first time, on the morning of our Full Day game drive, we were allowed to cross zones, and caught her resting quietly. No noise, just us and her, that’s nice

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Eventually, she moved off into the undergrowth and we lost track of her.

We didn’t see sight of another Tiger all day until the late afternoon. In fact we really saw very little between 10am and 2pm, it seemed everything had gone into hiding. Then we exited Zone 6 on into Zone 1. We found her again, picking her way through a gully. They really do traverse some really rough terrain with ease, and speed, I should add. As they walk they cover a lot of ground very quickly, even though they look like they are just strolling.

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This was my final impression of her, my final Tiger, for now, standing, resting quietly, warm setting sun on her face. Thats how I'll remember her.

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elefromoz

Since leaving some 3+ weeks ago, India, like other countries has been turned on it’s head. Whist on my trip I ‘fretted' some,  over the Tiger 'stalking' by tourist vehicles, now I worry “what happens when no-one is watching?”  On television I see the people of India, the very same ones that gave us such care and good service during our trip, now jobless and often homeless, caught hundreds of kilometres from their homes and villages. 

 

A quick rundown on 'big’ sightings from our excellent trip:

Nagarahole

D1  AM  Dhole x 2,  Leopard x 1 (brief, crossed road)

D2  AM  Tigers x 5 (2 Adults, 3 sub adults), 1 x Leopard (brief, crossed road), Dhole. x 2            PM  Leopard x1 (25 min sighting)

D3 AM  Tiger x1 (sub-adult)

 (D2 was a cracker!)

Ranthambore

D1  AM Zone 1     Sloth Bear x 1     PM Zone 3- 

D2  AM Zone 6     Tiger x 1 ( Noor),   Sloth Bear x 1    PM Zone 1   Tigers x  2 (sub-adult cubs of Arrowhead)

D3  Full Day  AM Zone 2    1 x Tiger (Arrowhead)    Mid-day -  

PM    2 x Tigers,  Zone 2 (Noori on her kill),    Zone 1 Arrowhead

D4 AM  Zone 5  (I missed this drive)     2 x Male Tigers

So individual Tigers 6 Nagarahole and 7 Ranthambore.

 

I’ll go full circle and finish up with my young friend from #1, in these stressful times, he’s just living one day at a time....

 

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Treepol

@elefromoz Abhishek is a real networker, he was keeping us updated with your progress through Kabini, such a shame that we missed each other at Ranthambhore. We were in India for 32 days on a combined cultural/wildlife trip and we had a wonderful time with many memorable sightings. I am still sorting out bird IDs and expect to begin a TR in a week or 2.

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