A Rider was born:
This all started suddenly in the month of February, when I decided to buy a bike in Delhi. After fluctuating between Royal Enfield Classic, Thunderbird and Bajaj Avenger, I finally zeroed on Bajaj Avenger 220 cc. I am a die-hard fan of Royal Enfield Classic, but not having any previous experience of biking forced me to choose my Blue-Bird Avenger 220. After one month of small biking trips in Delhi, I decided to make a long trip. I had two options, either to visit Tribal Circuit of Lahul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh or to make a week-long trip to Rajasthan. I am equally fascinated about both history as well as nature. But since I was very new to the biking world and that was still the month of march, it was not advisable to visit Himachal Pradesh alone. Therefore, I decided for Rajasthan and applied for 8 days leave in my office.
I started planning for the trip and brought some gears from Adventure 18 shop in Delhi and prepared my bike for the trip. Nobody seemed to join me for the trip, so again I decided to do it solo. Finally, the day came and I started early from Delhi at 4.30 AM, as I had to reach Ranthambhore by evening, which is approx. 400 kms away from Delhi.
Reaching Ranthambhore from Delhi:
The condition of National Highway-8 was excellent up to Jaipur. Just before the Jaipur, I forgot to take my planned route and by mistake took the NH-8 Bypass towards Ajmer. But it was an excellent road. I entered in Jaipur City near Brijlal Pura and via Sanganer Airport joined the state highway going towards Tonk. This road is also in good condition. After passing Chasku, I took a single road near Kothun going towards Lalsot. The condition of the road in Lalsot for 5 kms stretch was very bad, but after that there is state highway 24 going to Sawai Madhopur and again it is in excellent condition. The only problem was speed breakers near populated area. It troubled me a lot till the end of my trip.
Anyway, I reached Ranthambhore about 2 pm and straight went to Tourist Reception Center and tried If I could arrange a safari today itself. But all seats had been already booked . Anyway, I already had two advanced safari bookings through the park website for the next day, so did not wait there and searched for a guest house, that I easily found closed to the Tourist Center.
The caretaker of the guesthouse offered me the rate of INR 400 per night for a single room and I could not resist. I was tired of riding by that time, so straight went to the bed and slept. I thought to woke up by 4.30 PM to visit Ranthambhore Fort at that day itself. But tired of about 10 hours riding at that day, when I slept, I could only got up about 7 PM in the evening. There was no chance to visit the fort then, so it was an opportunity to explore the city of Sawai Madhopur. It is just a small city with a simple market and nothing great to visit there. I took a dinner on a roadside dhaba, came back to the guesthouse and again went to the bed, so that I could woke up early for the morning safari.
Entry Charges of Ranthambhore National Park: To know about the entry charges and online booking of safaris,Please read this post: Ranthambhore National Park
My first experience of Safari at Ranthambhore National Park:
I woke up early in the morning at 5.00 am, since I was supposed to reach tourist center by 6 AM. Reached there on time and collected my boarding pass, vehicle number of the canter and name of my guide. My safari route was Route No.3. In Ranthambhore Park, you have to visit a single route at a time and that random allotment of route cannot be change at all. Chances are also there to get the same route in the morning as well as in the afternoon safari, but you have to follow that route only. You don’t have any choice to change your route. Some routes are full of water bodies, so they offer excellent chances to sight a tiger. My assigned route, Route No.3 was also a part of that good league of the routes. I went to the canter and waited there for 20 mins. My guide and canter driver arrived and soon we were joined by two elderly women. After that we picked up rest of the fellow travelers of that 16 seater canter from their respective hotels. Some passengers were still not ready in their hotels, so we had to delay our departure to an extent. Anyway we reached at Park entrance gate around 7 AM.
After showing our id proof and filling a declaration form, we started our journey towards the park. All seats of the canter were full. Suddenly we saw three canters and two gypsies jamming our way and every member of those vehicles were looking upwards towards a distant hill with great curiosity. They were trying to sight a leopard sitting near a small tree at the hill top. That was very far from their location. After much of difficulty, we also sighted an animal and assumed that it was a leopard as our guide suggested. We moved forward into the forest and reached to the entrance gate of our route 3. At the entry gate, we were welcomed by the Indian Tree Pie Birds having long tails and very friendly group nature. Tourists were playing with them by putting some biscuits and chips on their palm and those birds came to pick those biscuits without any fear.
Moving forward in to the forest, we saw a lot of spotted deer (cheetal) and sambhar roaming freely all around.
In a lake, we saw a mugger crocodile also. There were lots of birds around the water. There we saw some Blue-Bulls(Nilgais) and peacock.
To locate a tiger, guides generally use two methods, either to locate their foot-mark or they listen to any warning signs of gray langoors or sambhar. All vehicles on our route were roaming around here and there in the search of a tiger, but nobody had any idea. Near a water body, we waited for nearly half an hour and again came back at the same place to wait for another half an hour.
In this way our 3 hours had been passed and unluckily we did not find any sign of the tiger. Unfortunately, everybody visits this park only to sight a tiger, but this national park also has a lot of other worth watch beauties. Sighting the tiger is a pure luck and nobody can claim to sight a tiger by 100 % confidence. If you visit this park only for the sole purpose of tiger sighting, you have a great chance to miss the amazing landscape, flora and fauna of the park. I was also disappointed a bit like other fellow travelers, but since that was my first forest visit, I was happy to know about some rules of the jungle and overall satisfied with that safari.
Second Safari in the Afternoon:
I went for the second safari in the afternoon. That time it was a gypsy for Route 1 and the guide was a young man, who declared with a confident voice that we must sight the tiger on that safari. A fellow young man showed his unhappiness about the route as he went on the same route previous day also, but the guide and driver made him speechles with their confidence to sight a Tiger. According to the driver, just two hours before on his routine patrol, he already sighted a tiger on that route and the tiger was still there, sleeping near a water body. We went on route 1, nothing special was there. We spotted some deer and sambhar only. At a point, they listened a warning call from langoor and thought that might a leopard was nearby. We holded that position for nearly 15 minutes, but nothing appeared. Then we went to a water body, where there was a small tomb-like building. As per the guide, the tiger was sleeping inside the tomb, and in evening around 5 pm, it would come out for the water.
We were there for one and half hour, but the tiger did not appear. The old Sri Lankan couple seemed to enjoy the bird-watching and they had continuous chat about the birds with the guide. We were leaving that place in disappointed because the park was scheduled to close at 6 PM. Suddenly, from a higher point, we saw a yellow stripe bodies lying on the earth. The tiger was still sleeping and we could only saw some part of its body. In few moments we saw its tail, its yellow stripes and once its mouth as he raised it to avoid a fly insect. But still we could not sight the majestic Tiger walking in front of us. We came back to hotel by 6.30 PM. The Gypsy or canters are supposed to drop you at your respective hotels. So no need to leave that at Tourist Reception Center. The Sri Lankan couple paid INR 100 tip to both the driver and the guide. In the morning, none of my fellow travelers paid any tip to the guide. So, tipping is not mandatory and depends on you only.
My original plan was to leave the Ranthambhore that day itself and to reach the next destination, Bundi by the night, but then I heard that Bundi is a very small city and reaching there around 11 PM would not be advisable. I dropped that idea and explored the local market around Sawai Madhopur Railway Station. Nothing interesting was there. Next morning, I was again on the road to explore the beauty and charm of Bundi.
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