Focus on the small stuff

Yes we’re staying in a tent but not one of those pop up jobbies that they use at festivals. No this is a luxury tent with a wooden floor, hers and hers sinks and a lovely shower. It has a nice verandah where we have our pre-safari morning tea brought to us by a nice man as our wake up call. Khem Villas is a lovely property just outside the Ranthambore National Park- famous for its tigers. So it does feel like we’re getting a little bit of luxury. To be fair though we have just complained to our guide that it isn’t really quite up to what we’d expected. It’s hard to pinpoint what’s wrong the nearest we could get to it was to say that they didn’t serve muesli at breakfast when their booklet says they will and we had to ask twice to get them to fix the hot water!! Oh and they serve juice at breakfast which isn’t fresh and is served out of the carton. It’s just not quite the luxury we’ve been spoiled with at similar places we’ve stayed at in the past.
Or maybe this slight disappointment in Khem Villas has more to do with two other things. Firstly, I’ve still been rather unwell since we got here – now developing a nice cold to go along with the dodgy tummy. Perhaps even more – it’s because I am afraid to report that after our 4 safari drives we have failed to see a single tiger. The whole reason for being here. It’s terribly disappointing especially for Jane.
We’ve been out on the jeep 4 times in the last two days with our guide Nafis -twice with Joyce and Enid and twice with a Canadian couple staying at Sher Bagh next door. The way the system seems to work is that the guides get allocated specific sections of the park that they are to go to at each session and they have no choice in the matter. There are 9 sections all together and we visited section 3 twice yesterday and then sections 8 and 4 today.
Section 3 yesterday morning was very enjoyable and we saw quite a few animals and birds and the scenery is really lovely with a great big lake and hunting lodges etc. Doing it a 2nd time with the new people was a bit boring- oh yes there’s the same baby crocodile that we saw this morning in exactly the same position…and no tigers….
Then this morning we were due to go to section 9 but as this is an hour an a half drive away before you even start and there were two sickies on the jeep our guide managed to swap us to section 8 which is nearer. Good news – except that this looked mysteriously like farmland as there were men on bicycles riding around and cattle with cows bells trundling about. Not quite the ‘prime tiger territory ‘ that Nafis was trying to convince us it was! It was also sadly rather empty of wild animals and definitely no tigers. We did have an interesting incident when we arrived here though as part of the deal of the swap of the section was that we had to give a senior ranger a lift. At one point we were driving through a small village and he and Nafis suddenly jumped off the jeep and went up to this poor man carrying a big bundle of sticks and pushed him over. The senior ranger grabbed an axe off him and went for the man with it as if he was going to strike him. They then untied his bundle if twigs and told him to move along. Apparently this was all because the man had chopped down the tree wood within the national park and it was tiger habitat which is protected. Blimey.
This afternoon was our last chance to see the tiger and so when Nafis told us we were going back to Section 3 Jane got a bit stroppy with him and said we wanted to go somewhere different. The good man made this happen and off we went to Section 4 where ‘only the best drivers can go’. What this actually means is that you’ve been sent to the punishment section for tourists who get stroppy as it was the rockiest, steepest, bumpiest bit of track in the whole park. That and an upset stomach are not a great mix. And still no tigers.
So the good news is that my previous training with Laura as a Game Ranger has taught me not to just look for the big stuff. Safaris are generally much more enjoyable if you focus on the small stuff. So we had a lovely time on the first morning watching a sambar deer take a spa bath in some mud, we watched a family of monkeys leaping in turn from one tree to another and the highlight was watching the battle between a cormorant and a big frog. The cormorant won! You can see Jane’s pics of these events below.
However, to finish I have a quiz question for you. Which of the following is NOT a bird that we saw on our 4 safari drives:
1) Black Drongo
2) Jungle Babbler
3) Great Tit
4) Damson Headed Parrot
5) Yellow Footed Green Pigeon
6) Crested Serpent Eagle

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Focus on the small stuff

  1. Pete Allen

    Focus on the small stuff – very wise words – not forgetting the bear necessities! Hope you’re all feeling better. Reading of your first train journey makes me glad I travelled by bike!

  2. ‘Great Tit”! Bad luck on the tigers – to be honest I don’t think any tourists do see them.

    • Phil good to see you keen with the bird answer but you’re the only one that’s played! So will keep you in suspense a little longer… Tend to agree re tigers. Ah well we’ve had a brilliant time today on the road.

  3. Amanda

    Fantastic words and pictures! I’m with Phil on the Great Tit answer, all the others sound suitably exotic or possibly made up………… hope you’re back to full strength Jule, and that Jane’s disappointment over the tiger shortage doesn’t lead to an international diplomatic incident xx

  4. Laura

    My first inclination was also ‘tit’, but as I didn’t want to look like one… particularly a great one… I thought on it some more… drongos are pretty much ubiquitous… maybe the parrot?? 🙂

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