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Published: December 1st 2016
The twenty first day was the day of the tiger safari. We started at 6.30 and were able to watch the sun rise from the back of an open jeep as we sped through the old town in rathambore and into the national park. Unfortunately being in India I had assumed that it would be warm but without the sun and going the speed that we were it was anything but warm! Still, to be out in the jungle in India searching for tigers it was worth being a bit cold.
The national park itself was amazing, from rocky mountains to grassy plains to jungle punctuated with river beds and thick vegetation. The first wildlife we came across were a pair of spotted deer, they set the precedent for the animals of the park being completely unconcerned about the safari jeeps and continued to graze right beside us. This was lucky as, unfortunately, it was Sunday and so there were a lot of other people out in the park. The tiny antelopes were described as 'tiger chocolates' to us by our guide, and the huge horselike antelope (who's males were blue) were imposing creatures. As for tigers, our guide explained
This guy just stood as we stopped right in front of him.
in the beginning that none of them are tagged - finding them is only done using footprints and following the calls of other animals. And though we were not lucky enough to see any during the morning safari this was not much of a disappointment as I really enjoyed being out in the park and we spotted lots of other animals anyway. We saw a pair of vultures in a tree and I had a stick dropped on me by a monkey - this fulfilled my quota of a minimum two animals featured in the jungle book so I was happy! By the end of the morning we had seen so many deer and antelope that they were starting to lose their novelty factor but we did manage to spot a turtle in a pond and some very brightly coloured ducks.
The afternoon safari took us to a different part of the park, much more mountainous and rocky, the drive was surprisingly the highlight this time and I found myself enjoying standing in the back as we bumped around. The views were excellent as we got higher up into the mountains and, although the wildlife we saw was mostly
This pair of vultures helped to fill my 'jungle book quota'!
the deer and antelope again, when we stopped high above a gorge I was happy to stand and look down into the valley and imagine all the tigers, leopards and bears that must be wandering around somewhere in there. As for birds we saw a 'tiger magpie', a 'pheasant crow' and a 'penguin buzzard' (with a Zorro mask). And to end the afternoon we watched the sun set from high in the mountains before a very fast windswept ride back to the tents.
We also spotted some footprints on the first safari (tiger, leopard and bear) however afterwards we were told there are always 'footprints' on the safaris, so I will have to leave that one as a maybe. Still it was nice feeling as if we'd seen something tiger-like. I also discovered that evening that the best type of curry is 'butter paneer masala' - shame I've never come across it anywhere else!
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