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Living the Jungle Book Dream
Having gone to India hopeful of seeing one or maybe two tigers, this trip far surpassed my expectations! If you think of safari trips, then seeing the big five in Africa might spring to mind, but India is an equally fantastic destination for seeing a whole wealth of animal and birdlife.
The trip started in Delhi and as soon as we stepped out of the airport, we found ourselves engulfed in a culture that is so different from ours that it takes your breath away. However, it was the wildlife that we had all come for so the next day we made our way down to Ranthambore on the train. Once out of Delhi the vastness of this enormous country becomes apparent as you watch the flatness of the landscape slip by. Out in the country it couldn’t be much more different from the hustle and bustle that we had left behind and the parks are definitely a highlight of this trip, simply because of the suddenly peaceful environment that you find yourself in.
We had our first tiger sighting right at the very end of our afternoon game drive in Ranthambore and it really could not have been more perfect. From the feeling of disappointment that we were going to come away from the first park without any sightings of the magnificent stripy cats, the mood suddenly became one of elation as we all turned into giddy school children with grins from ear to ear. The tigress, Muchly, named after a fish because of her love for water, stepped out of the bushes mere metres away from our vehicle and was so close it almost felt as if you could lean down and touch her at times! After that point I could have come home very happy, but we were only 4 days into the trip and there was much more to come!
You can’t be in the area and not visit the Taj Mahal, so Agra was our next stop, with a tour around Fatephur Sikri on the way. Breathtakingly beautiful and an unbelievable act of love, it really is an exquisite building and seeing the sunrise cast it’s warm glow over it made it even better. Khajuraho followed with its Hindu temples, vastly different in architectural style from the Islamic sites in Agra, but no less beautiful. Covering every inch of these buildings are thousands of carvings, the most famous of which are the erotic ones, although the majority depict normal everyday life.
Once in Bandhanvgarh, the search for wildlife began once again and carried on into Kanha. Both parks are wonderful and you really feel like you’re in another world. Be prepared for a bumpy ride, but the scenery and creatures you encounter more than make up for it, especially when there are tigers along the way! Words cannot describe how it feels to see even one in the wild, but among our group there were sightings of lone adults, cubs and families of cubs with their mother. It’s not just the tigers that make the parks what they are though, there are several species of deer to look out for, the langur monkeys are great fun, Indian gaur are the largest type of cattle in the world and can only be found in Kanha and then there are the birds! I believe around 115 species were sighted during our trip and they come in all shapes, colours and sizes. Our guide, Kamaal, really knows his stuff and was invaluable in helping us to spot wildlife, or answering any of our questions.
During our time in Bandhavgarh we visited a local government-run school. After having the children shouting and waving to us as they ran alongside our jeeps as we headed out on game drives, they were now suddenly shy. That soon evaporated once they realized they could have their photos taken, and the rooms were suddenly filled with giggles as they saw the photos of themselves.
Back in Delhi once more, we had a tour of the city before enjoying our final meal together, a fantastic end to a fantastic holiday.
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