The Daily Diary of a Wandering Restaurateur
February 1 - Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve

And now for something completely different! Today our Rajasthan excursion detours to Ranthambhore National Park and its famous tiger reserve. This dose of country is a nice break from what has primarily been a tour of principle cities. We are staying at the Rathambhore Bagh, a pleasantly rustic sort of place with a mixed clientele. We are just outside the town of Sawai Madhopur but there is nothing to lure us into town. The action is between here and the tiger reserve.

Indeed, it is all about the tigers. Safari trips go out from 6:30-10:00 in the morning and again from 2:00-5:30 every afternoon. That is why everyone is here and the question is always, "Did you see a tiger?" Most of the time, the answer is no but like Las Vegas, there seems to be the occasional winner and their photos -- shared with great enthusiasm, of course -- are enough to keep everyone else playing the game.

It was surprisingly cold in the morning. Fortunately I was carrying a fleece jacket that I needed in Seattle and our layovers in Europe. Even with that and as many layers as I could muster, the pre-dawn ride to the park in the back of an open jeep was a bone-chiller, mitigated somewhat by blankets from the hotel.

Before you ask, no we did not see a tiger in the morning. But since our friend Fraser did get some great shots, I decided to try my luck again in the afternoon ... in a bus full of German tourists as it happened. We went to a different part of the park but again came up empty on the tigers. However, we did catch a fleeting glimpse of the eastern end of a west-bound leopard which I am told is a much more rare sighting.

The photos tell the story more effectively than I can, so I will defer to today's fine assortment of pixels. Tonight we catch the overnight train to Udaipur We leave at midnight and (are scheduled to) get in at 7am. This means hanging out here for most of the day but the option was an earlier train that arrived at 2am. Not much of a decisionn to make. Train travel can be a hassle but experiencing that hassle is part of experiencing India ... and is yet another story the tour groups never get to tell.

Rathambhore Bagh

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty ...

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