Incredible India. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I went with an open mind and a relaxed attitude.
We landed in rush hour New Delhi traffic and arrived at the luxurious Oberoi New Delhi, a peaceful haven in the city. The following morning, we set off early for an almost 8-hour drive to Rajasthan. But not before enjoying the Oberoi’s sumptuous buffet breakfast!
The ride to Rajasthan was an eye-opener of a road trip, with brightly coloured trucks on the road and drivers’ incessant use of the horn. We sped past beautiful fields of bright yellow mustard plants and farmers harvesting crops like onions.
For someone used to organized roads, there was something fun about the chaotic (bud oddly safe) traffic, driving against traffic. If we took a wrong turn, the driver simply turned against traffic, zipped down the right road, and no one batted an eyelid. The easy-going attitude was restful indeed.
Of course, the main reason for heading to Rajasthan was to go on safari. This being my first safari, again I went with an open mind.
Now that I’ve gone on one, I can say from first hand experience that the most comfortable way of doing safari is this: go in an open-air jeep provided by a reliable company (thanks Ravishing India Holidays!); go only with people you enjoy spending time within said jeep; go supplied with hot water bottles and blankets, snacks and hot drinks thoughtfully provided by the hotel (thanks Oberoi Vanya Villas for the superb service!). Needless to say, the proper clothes and gear are a must to battle both the cold mornings, hot afternoons and back to cold evenings as the sun sets.
What was going on safari like? First of all, I love landscapes so it was lovely staring at rock cliffs, water bodies and old forts high up above us.
Second, the animals in Ranthambore National Park are certainly roaming happily and freely. It was a thrill to see animals in the wild – samba deer, spotted deer, peacocks, monkeys and more.
The undisputed king of the jungle was the lordly tiger. They napped in the tall grasses and strolled under the trees. With them around, the jungle’s atmosphere changed. The other animals’ warning calls alerted us to the presence of the tigers, as well as the tigers’ paw prints on the dusty roads. It was fun and educational to learn about tigers and other wildlife.
I went on both a full day safari and 2 half-day safaris. The full day safari has the advantage of letting you stick around when you are hot on the trail of a tiger. But it does get hot at noon so the half-day safari allows for a respite from the heat and dust. The ride itself is dusty, wildly bumpy and thrilling (it’s like 1 long theme park ride from Universal Studios where the Mummy meets Transformers meets Jurassic Park). If you’ve ever watched the 1996 movie Twister, it’s kind of like that except that here you’re chasing tigers instead of hurricanes. And when your driver is on the hunt, hold on tight!
One thing is for sure, I could have been driving around for days and not seen a single tiger without the experience and skill of our guide and naturalist, RK. A knowledgeable, reliable and enthusiastic guide is Essential with a capital E for a solid safari experience. As RK shared with us, you need Passion and Patience to be able to find tigers. And find them we did. They are such majestic and wild creatures that it was really unbelievable to have them stalking past the Jeep without any safety barriers.
Finally, after an afternoon of chasing after tigers, it was nice to end off with a small but potent cup of hot chai. RK brought us to a well-known roadside stall where we munched on samosas and sipped chai in our open-air jeep while dogs, cows, and boars strolled by. Just another day in Incredible India. Now to check out Udaipur and Jaipur!