Back from India!

Apr 11th, 2006, 03:33 AM
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Back from India!

Had a great trip to India. Well mostly - was ill for several days and admitted to hospital overnight at one point since the drugs I was taking myself were going straight through me and not working. Goshdarnit but I hate drips but it did the trick and I was able to recover for the rest of the trip.

Did get to visit the Taj Mahal (have been before) but not for the afternoon/ sunset visit I'd hoped as this was one of my ill days. Did snatch a brief morning visit.

After this had a night in Dholpur and then back to Delhi. It was at this point I was hospitalised but at least it was only one night and meant I was able to join the Festival trip as planned...

Skipped the Jaipur visit completely - would have enjoyed riding the eles up into the fort and all the shopping and stuff but as was feeling ill arranged private car to take me straight from Jaipur airport to Ranthambore and relaxed there until others arrived that evening.

Luckily finally improved that night and was able to fully participate from the next morning - when all the game drives and activities started properly.

Ranthambore was a great experience and I was extremely lucky indeed with my tiger sightings - luckier than most in the group.

Had great fun on all the activities and my own photography talk in the workshops went down very well. It was great to have people coming up to me during the week saying they were already putting it into practice and it was helping and I can't even describe the buzz of having someone like Jonathan Scott saying several times during his talks "As Kavita was saying in her presentation..." Talk about a large grin on my face!

Weather was HOT HOT HOT! Thought I was going to melt - racing at breakneck speeds through the park in an open jeep with the sun pushing down on you and the sand blasting your face was certainly something to be endured. They can't drive slower as a daft system at Ranthambore means drivers HAVE to finish their (ridiculously long) routes within the time given (can't be even 10 minutes late out) or they are fined and often even suspended/ sacked. Checkpoints along the route ensure they don't miss any out. It's crazy.

Lots of shopping in Delhi too and some quality time with family.

Altogether, ignoring the illness, a bloody marvellous trip!
Kavey is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 04:36 AM
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Hi Kavita,

Great to hear you had a wonderful trip to India, obviously with the night in hospital being the exception. Thrilled to hear that you had great luck with the tigers - how many were you able to view? Your grin is well deserved!

Kind regards,
KayeN is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 04:58 AM
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Welcome home Kavey!
And glad you're feeling better.

<<and I was extremely lucky indeed with my tiger sightings>>

Okay, tell! All the details please!
And where are the photos?!
Are you posting on the Asia forum?
divewop is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 08:04 AM
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Well, on the very first drive our group had the fortune to come across a tigress with two almost fully grown cubs. When we saw them to our left at the top of a ridge we were excited enough (given that the chances of seeing tigers at all in Ranthambore is so low). The most recent census estimates that there are only 18 tigers left in the whole park.

Then the three tigers slowly made their way down the ridge one at a time towards the road we sat on. Each crossed the road just behind our cantor and then moved into the flat forested area to our right. We watched the three tigers pad along in and out of the shade, stopping to sit a while before carrying on.

Suddenly one of the cubs BOUNDED towards us and came very close before veering off along the side of our cantor and moving on up the road behind us. Apparently he'd suddenly decided to play-hunt a critter none of us had seen. He clambered up the road behind us, paused at the top of the hill and then walked back down the road and bounded back into the flat grassy area.

We stayed for a while longer before having to leave to make it out of the park on time.

That was my first drive. On the next 4 I saw tigers on each drive but much less exciting/ close-up sightings - usually involving just one tiger (one of the same cubs as above) lying or sitting in the long grass some distance from the vehicles.

On the very last drive I had another fantastic encounter. A female tigress called Lady of the Lake, also known as Muchli, was spotted walking to our left in fairly open wooden land. We positioned ourselves around the corner and sure enough she came walking over the top of a low rise and down our side of it crossing onto the road directly infront of us. Just a few feet away. What an animal! Unfortunately, although she had been clearly about to continue walking up the dirt road infront of us, another vehicle revved up from behind us and swung past us towards her - we actually saw her flinch at the dust thrown up at her and she quickly crossed the road into the grass on our right and walked off out of sight. We were really cross at that other driver, not just for spoiling our experience but for his complete lack of respect for the tigress' space and peace.

Unfortunately his behaviour was common place in this park - local guides and drivers are really not very skilled or considerate. They are not helped by the ridiculous rules that impose rigid routes on the drivers - they are given a fixed route each day (that aspect is OK - it ensures that vehicles are spread out evenly around the park) but the routes are extremely long and they are obliged to complete them - checkpoints along the routes ensure no parts of the routes are missed out. They are also obliged to exit the park exactly on time and even a 10 minute delay can result in a large fine and suspension for months. Because of the length of the routes most of the time is spent bombing around the park at breakneck speeds with little opportunity to stop for long at most sightings.

Still... I was incredibly fortunate with the groups I was in and probably had the most luck of anyone in terms of total number AND quality of tiger sightings on the trip.

I'm now planning a return trip to India in October (a favourite cousin is planning to get married then, if he meets a suitable bride and I'd like to go to that). Pete will come with me and we'll include Bharatpur plus at least one of the parks - possibly Kaziranga and Bandavgarh.
Kavey is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 08:09 AM
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Welcome back Kavey,
So sorry about your bout of illness but very glad that good karma brought you tigers.
cybor is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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Wow, sounds like great success with the tigers (I went on one trip to Royal Chitwan in Nepal to see tigers, but while we saw lots of rhino, guars and other large animals, we saw no tigers).

Do you have any photos?

thit_cho is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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Wasn't intending on posting on the Asia forum as I have never posted there really...

Just posted here because I know that many of my fellow Africaphiles here will also be interested in animal safaris elsewhere...

Photos will be a while as they are all in RAW and need converting and processing but I have set aside time for that in the coming weeks. And to process the Galapagos ones from last year too!

Kavey is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 08:49 AM
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Hi Kavey

Great report.

We are still in India, actually returning to Uk on Weds.
We were at Ranthambore on Thurs 30th and Friday 31st March. We didnt see Tigers on the Thursday but saw them on the Friday morning . However the 3 Tigers we saw (i am sure they were the same as yours) were in the bush at what sounds like the same place. We were in a private jeep from the Oberoi but were told we were only allowed to stay 2 mins and were moved on as the guards were checking. We knew for the rest of the 3 hours we would not see them again.
There were 4 jeeps there at the time i guess. I was so disapointed to be so close yet so far!!
DId you stay at the Vanyavillas ? I would loved to have heard your talk on photography.
barnetda is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 09:04 AM
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Yes we did stay at Vanya Vilas but our party took over the entire place so there were no other guests able to attend the activities and workshops we enjoyed.

Our group arrived on the 3rd April and we were there for 4 nights.

Probably was the same tigress and two cubs we saw - this was out on route 1 or 2 - that direction - no lakes and few old ruins - a number of banyan trees.

The idea of our trip was for each group to go out with one or more experts so we had a whole bunch of jeeps and cantors at our disposal. The operator had also obtained special permission for the cantors to have only 4-8 people in them rather than the usual 20. The jeeps held the normal 4 plus guide and driver.

My talk was just a short one on understanding and using histograms in digital photography (and therefore using exposure lock and/ or exposure value compensation). The pros did longer presentations/ workshops.
Kavey is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 09:05 AM
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ditto re sorry about the illness but your tiger sightings sound fabulous.
bat is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 09:40 AM
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It sounds like the Indian government needs to learn a thing or two from African conservantionists on how to run a game park.,

I knew that tigers, vs. lions are very very different, but there just sounds like so much incomptence or bureacracy in the Indian park system.

Maybe I should ask on the Asia forum, but I wonder how difficult it is to breed tigers and reintroduce them in the wild.
waynehazle is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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Welcome back, Kavey. Sorry to hear about your illness, but very happy for you that the rest of your trip was a resounding success--especially luck with tigers.
Leely is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 10:48 AM
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Welcome back Kavey! Glad you had a good time, sorry about your illness. It was nice meeting you in London! My trip was great! Let us know when you get the pictures processed and posted.
matnikstym is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 12:15 PM
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So glad you're amongst the living! And thanks for the report - pictures I'm sure will be up to your usual high standards
Favor is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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"Delhi belly" is par for the course and it could have been worse. At least it wasn't malaria or typhoid. The latter afflicted me during one of our trips there. Its too bad about missing Jaipur but seeing the Taj and tigers makes up for that. BTW its 100 degrees in Delhi today.
jacketwatch is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 04:28 PM
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I went to India at the beginning of February. I found it incredibly fascinating.

I went to Ranthambore as well. Glad you were able to see the tigers. Three game drives but no tigers, unfortunately. We did see two paw prints though.

In addition to the reasons you stated, I found the game drives very frustrating in Ranthambore for several other reasons:

1) too many people in the jeep (we did get a smaller jeep on the last game drive)

2) the guides are SO busy trying to find tigers they don't even pay attention to any other animals. I enjoyed seeing the chital, sambar, female nilgal (which I had to insist we stop so I could get a picture), wild boar and luckily a jackel plus a hyena.

3) we had problems with the drivers giving rides to the locals (I wouldn't mind except it seems to me who is getting paid to take the locals!)

4) they can't use radios so the chances of seeing a tiger are even slimmer.

Sorry you missed Jaipur - it was my favorite city of the three I visited.

Glad that you are feeling better. Looking forward to your photos!


one2travel is offline  
Apr 11th, 2006, 04:31 PM
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Oops...thought I was hitting preview but hit post instead.

I saw a female Nilgai (bluebull).
one2travel is offline  
Apr 12th, 2006, 02:16 AM
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Jacketwatch - Delhi Belly I can handle - and it usually clears up within a day or two of starting on Cipro. This was much more severe than I've experienced before (in many, many visits to India) and didn't even start clearing up until the drip meds went in and lasted a little beyond that too. In total about 6 days which was a good chunk of the trip. I'm definitely glad I didn't get malaria (or at least don't seem to have got it - one can't tell immediately) as my dad had a very severe case of malaria in October last year that scared the heck out of us all. Even the doctors at the Tropical Diseases unit were shaking their heads as it wasn't manifesting as they expected. But I'm all sorted now, and so is dad, so all is well.

Deb, I'm sorry about your experiences in Ranthambore. The cantor (large jeep) system is such a poor one as 20 people crammed into those seats really doesn't make for a great experience. A LOT of negotiating went into our being able to have less in ours - probably aided by the fact that the trip is associated with the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation which has funded much of the conservation efforts at Ranthambore over the last decades.

One note though - those locals they were picking up were likely the forest rangers who are responsible for walking through different areas of the park on a daily basis tracking and recording tiger and other populations and making casts of pugmarks to aid in the record keeping process. We picked up and dropped many of them but were aware of who they were because we had some additional presentations letting us know more than usual about how the park functions.

You were extremely lucky to see the jackal and hyena - rare in Ranthambore to say the least.

We too enjoyed sightings of cheetal and nilgai (male and female, what a contrast) as well as peacocks, wild boars and many birds but were also frustrated by how often we were forced to move on before we wanted to.

Jaipur is indeed a great city but I didn't feel to upset at missing it this time around as I have visited many times before and really wasn't feeling up to it. I know I would not have been able to enjoy it feeling ill as I still was that day.

Thanks everyone for your comments...

Photos will be a while but I am working on them!

Kavey is offline  
Apr 12th, 2006, 03:41 AM
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I'm sorry to hear it was worse than what I thought but at least you are OK now. Look forward to the pics.
jacketwatch is offline  
Apr 12th, 2006, 03:53 AM
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Have already started working on them!
Kavey is offline  

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