Tiger hunt take two!

Trip Start Aug 26, 2012
Trip End Dec 22, 2013

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Where I stayed
White Tiger Lodge

Flag of India  , Madhya Pradesh,
Sunday, December 16, 2012

I was so happy to arrive here (White Tiger Lodge) after the 13hr drive on some pretty horrendous roads. Most of our drive was in the country so it wasn't so much the city traffic but just the pure condition of the roads.  Being our first night of camping we had to get the tents down from the top of the truck and set them up.  Not as nice as the tents on my Africa trip but will do for the few nights we are camping on this trip.  I also didn’t realize that we had to have a sleeping mat but fortunately there were extra’s on the truck from passenger’s past.  Still made for some rough sleeping as the mat was not that cushy and my back was still suffering from the drive.

Another early morning start (see a theme appearing here?) to do a safari drive through the Bandhavgarh National park in the hopes of seeing a tiger.  This park is known for its tiger where there are 55 of them in a 400 km2 area.   Aside from different varieties of deer and wild boar there are also leopard’s, jungle cats, and hyena’s in the park.

Hopping into open air jeeps (very cold) we raced to get to the park for 6:30am when the gates opened.  Then we seemed to race through the park barely slowing down when we did see wildlife such as the spotted or barking deer.  Through broken English we figured out they were trying to get through the park to areas where they know the tigers are as early morning is the best time to see them (however we have also heard the afternoon is the best time).  Getting to the end of the road no tigers were spotted, only the deer, peacocks,macaque and langur monkeys. Heading back we spotted tiger tracks on top of our tire tracks heading the same way were going.  Full of anticipation we continued on in search of a tiger. But again no luck but the first of our three jeeps did see a leopard dash across the road in front of them.  We stopped for a while in hopes of spotting it in the bush but no luck. 

Spent the rest of the day going into town with Tanya and Joel to get an Indian sim card for our phones, which has been the most official to date requiring a copy of my passport and a passport photo. As well we picked up some beers for our campfire and cookout that night. Then back to the campsite to catch up on my blogging (with Flappy’s our pet chicken) while her mum (Amanda the guide) ran some errands and went on a second safari drive with the group.

As my luck would have it because I chose not to go one the second safari, one of the jeeps heard a tiger and the other jeep that got to go in a different zone of the park actually saw a tiger.  It walked right across the road behind their jeep giving just a slight growl as it sauntered by.  I got to see the video one of the group members took.  It was pretty amazing.  Felt a bit bummed about missing out but spending the afternoon not on a moving vehicle was just as sweet for me.  My body has taken a bit of a beating on these roads.

Instead I got to take my new learned skills of overland cooking from my dear friend Wilson (the cook on my Africa trip) and put them to good use.  As there was just a few of us hanging around the campsite, we were by default in charge of whipping up dinner for the group (21 in total).  So I rallied the girls (4 Aussies traveling together) and Tony (another Aussie on the trip with his wife Margo), we got all the kitchen gear out, cleaned up and I got them chopping veggies to mix in with pasta and pesto sauce and for a tomato cucumber salad.  After getting Tony to help set up the gas stove, we fired it up and I cooked veggies and pasta.  It’s a first for me to cook four bags of pasta in one go.  Dinner was ready just in time when the jeeps arrived back from their safari and while the pasta was slightly overcooked, every morsel of food was gone. So it was either good or mediocre but everyone was starving; I prefer to think it was both.  I really enjoyed organizing and cooking for the group; made me realize that I actually miss cooking.

Rest of the evening was spent hanging around the campfire getting to know each other and enjoy each others company.  It’s probably been about the first time we’ve had an opportunity to do so since the start of the trip.
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