Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds and yes, we disregarded my sister’s advice not to go. Word on the street is that you spend a small fortune and get to see a bunch of antelope and small deer but we had a few extra days to spare in the Rajasthan.
We camped on the edge of the park in “Swiss” tents; these are perma-tents with running water. You’ve most likely seen them in African safaris and they look swank; for me, umphh ok average but we’ve certainly had worse on these travels.
While we weren’t modeling by the pool or playing championship badminton, we did get up early for a sunrise safari tour to track the wild tigers of India. We woke in a groggy state of mind having overindulged the night before on yet more Indian food; seems we are gaining weight rather than losing it here!
Traveler Note: Did you know that we haven’t gotten sick but our Indian driver got food poisoning as did a friend of ours that lived in India?! Perplexing but true!
Back to Tiger tracking…unlike the balloon over Bagan that served a nice coffee and cookie snack before departure (not to mention champagne upon touchdown), we bypassed that and hopped into a MASH jeep.
An hour later with some Canadians on board (always good to have Canadians because they taste much better according to the “Tigers Eat Meat” cookbook), we enter the park via a small dirt backroad.
Note that all the other jeeps/canters went the opposite direction to the main gate entrance – yes, my doubts rose and Sarah was going to be correct all along.
But…low and behold…
No more than 15 minutes later our driver spots a tiger! This is BIG news especially when your driver goes crazy happy over it too. We stop and driver is first to pull out his camera. Are you getting the feeling that we are in for a treat?! Or maybe that our driver needs to document it for evidence after we become a breakfast? I don’t know which but it is exciting, especially when he turns off the engine and I’m now thinking, “Ok, I’m out of shape and the chances of me climbing that tree are not good…but we do have the Canadians on board and if I can outrun granny then I’m in the clear.”
The really cool part is that we spent a good half-hour tracking her track breakfast (small deer). In the end, she spared the deer (probably for Louisa’s benefit) and spared us (the Canadians are thankful too) while we got some super fantastic photos. Here is a sampling; you can find the rest on National Geographic whenever they see the light of my photographic skills to publish them:
Turns out that those in the know (local Indians) knew exactly what entrance we used (it’s called something like 6Q for obvious reasons) and everyone in our Swiss tent complex and beyond exclaimed that we were very lucky to see tiger.
Instead of answering your questions individually by email, I am providing you with the FAQ for this experience in advance.
- Did the lion roar for you? First of all, these are tigers but to answer your question, no. Our driver kept saying “Shhh, be quiet” and I think the tiger listened.
- How close did you get to the tiger? Great question! Close enough that you could get a first down in football – 30 feet.
- Why do the baby deer have antlers? They aren’t babies. Chital deer have spots for life or until eaten by Tigers.
- Have people been attacked by Tigers? Only Canadians (see note above about Tiger cooking).
- How much does it cost? Please, it’s not about the money honey! We had exhilarating fun paying for a near death life experience. Does that not not make sense?!