After safely arriving at Ranthambore, our hotel booked us on our first safari the same afternoon. Unfortunately, we could only get on a cantor (a 20 seater converted truck), rather than a jeep. A truck full of noisy and excited Indians, who don't understand the need to be quiet, isn't very conducive to wildlife spotting.. Fortunately, the guide told us that we would be going into Zone 2 of the park where a male and female tiger had been seen that morning with a fresh kill. And, sure enough, after racing through the forest we came to the spot where the 2 tigers were sleeping off their big meal - amongst the undergrowth, about 20 feet from the track. Fortunately, they were not disturbed by the excited babble of about 80 tourists. They're amazing creatures with beautiful markings and you could really appreciate their size.. We were very lucky.
Back at hotel, we find that a wedding is taking place opposite - the Indians surely like their bright lights, colourful bunting and loud music! Needless to say we didn't get much sleep. We were up at 6am the next day to go on an early morning safari, and we did another afternoon one too (luckily both times in a jeep). No more tigers unfortunately, but we did see a hyena which is very rarely seen, plus lots of deer (Sambar and Spotted), monkeys, crocodiles, wild boar, serpent eagle, black shouldered kite, spotted owl, lots of peacocks and other birds including Craig's favourite, the white breasted kingfisher.
We had a lie in the next day and then went on our last safari, to a different part of the park. We saw more of the same, plus black tailed mongoose, the 'common kingfisher' (which isn't common at all, and is another of Craig's favourites) and some Sambar deer rutting. We found some fresh tiger paw prints and followed the track until we reached the extent of our zone and waited to hear the alarm call from deer/monkeys.. It was quite exciting, until we were told by a passing jeep that they had spotted a leopard! Whilst there are more leopards than tigers in the park, the leopard is less often seen. We raced down the track and waited in a queue of jeeps to get a glimpse of a leopard asleep at the top of a cliff above us. Again we were very lucky. But, would you believe it, a leopard was spotted at 9.00pm just up the road from our hotel!!..
The hotel staff are overly attentive, with the manager and assistant manager continually checking that everything is' ok'. The chef comes out to meet us during dinner to check that we are enjoying the food. Whilst we have generally found the staff in all our accommodation to be efficient and friendly, we aren't used to this type of attention. Then we go onto Trip Advisor and see that since we booked there have been a few poor reviews mainly relating to the staff-being disinterested and not particularly friendly. So it seems we are benefiting from them practising what they learnt on their recent customer service course! The asst manager even gives us his personal room to use after we check out as our train isn't until 11pm. Trip Advisor has really benefited travellers in improving standards.
Love to all C & V.