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April 16th 2009
Published: April 16th 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

Friday evening and it’s proving harder than I expected to find an internet connection so goodness knows when this one will be sent.

It’s been another long day after a train ride yesterday which took 3 hours - but was delayed for 4. Since we Brits introduced railways to India I suppose we’ve only got ourselves to blame for the delays. So we got in finally about 9 pm, straight into dinner, followed by an early night.

We’re in Ranthambohre which is the smallest of the Indian National Parks but home to a number of tigers in the wild. The number seems unclear - but possibly around 25.

The alarm call was at 5 a.m. for the morning drive, leaving at 6 after a cup of tea and a biscuit! Breakfast? Come back later! So we piled into the back of the 20 seater open top jeep - tightly packed because they want to fill every paying seat. It’s not comfortable and you can’t get off for 3 hours, although we did drop off one of the park rangers part way round the drive, which does sort of spoil the images of man eating tigers. He just waved and wandered off (possibly never to be seen again……..).

Back to the hotel by 10, breakfast, swim and sleep, then out again for the afternoon drive. Sadly we failed both times - the little blighters just wouldn’t play. On the dusk run we did see some tiger prints (allegedly) although I think one of the park rangers probably has some special trainers. Loads of monkeys, herds of deer (is that the right collective?) in all different shades, a few eagles, owls, kingfishers…….but no bloody tigers. Still an experience, trailing round the national park on the back of an open top jeep! Although it’s getting quite hot now, maybe mid 30 deg C, this is supposed to be the best time of year to see the tigers. The vegetation is not so lush so it’s easier to see through the trees and shrubs, plus they are more likely to come down to the lake for a drink during the day. That was the theory, but one of the other guides told us that he has done this with around 70 tour groups now and reckons he has seen tigers 15 or 20 times at most. So like the others in my group, it’s a good thing that tigers were not my main reason for visiting!

Lie in Saturday morning, then back on the train to Jaipur. Thankfully on time and only just over 2 hours, so not quite so shattering! The railways are still an experience: just like you’ve seen pictures with people hanging out of the carriage doors and still scrabbling to fit in a few more at every stop. We reckon if they have 3 points of contact (say, 2 hands plus 1 foot) that counts as on board. We’re in the AC class, so aircon cooled and reserved seats. Apart from the first train out of Delhi we’ve been boarding cross-country trains part way through a long journey, so inevitably, our reserved seats are occupied. It’s amusing to see the pantomime which follows at busy stations as everyone tries to get the seat they want, rather than the one allocated. Mostly it’s good natured and reasonable - most are prepared to compromise although occasionally it gets more heated and the ticket inspector has to intervene. There’s fresh tea or coffee from urns, brought through the carriages every few minutes, for RS 5/- a cup (that’s about 8p). On board our trains there only seemed to be packet snacks like crisps but I expect that would be different on longer journeys. At every major station the food vendors gather round the doors (and windows) selling hot snacks wrapped in tinfoil. No time at the smaller stops - the train pauses for 2 minutes, so you’ve got to be quick!

I’m posting this at the end of the holiday: we’re back in Delhi and this is the first internet connection for the best part of a week. I may try the blog again, not sure, I’ll have to think about that……Still, I couldn’t have sent e-mails either, I guess it was just the nature of the holiday. I’ll sort out my photos later and let you know where to find them.

Roll on the nest trip!


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