It has been ages since I was in the jungles, 2+years.. Few months back, we [a bunch of women who connected couple of years back with “safari” & “jungles” as the common connect started making plans to visit one of the jungles sometime in March. But as the saying goes “Man proposes, God disposes”, one sweet soul – S decided it was time she moved to heaven [literally].. The rest of us decided we will do the trip, in her honour~
We went one step further, found one of S’s favourite photographs and got it printed on a T-shirt, to wear during the trip. So anyways, plans were set in place and wheels were in motion. There were 3 who took charge of the wheel, and organised the whole thing – accommodation, safari bookings, etc.. The rest of us [5 of us] simply had to book our flight tickets, transfer money & show up!
I flew with 2 others from Pune to Jaipur, and then we all hopped into an Innova, towards Sawai Madhopur [ which is where Ranthambore National park is situated]. The property we were staying at was situated atop the hill, and was once a palace of sorts – RTDC Castle Jhoomar Baori .. Our rooms were on the topmost floor- 3rd and it was good climb up narrow staircases. But it was fun! We had a terrace on the 2nd floor that was where we parked ourselves in the evenings, with some music, wine & dancing. It also included sharing plenty of memories, stories about S .. We were all angry cos she had neglected symptoms, but then we understood why she did what she did and just kept thinking about her. In fact, the day we all wore her T-shirt, we [one jeep] had a fabulous sighting- 2 tigers [after. a mating session], and a leopard on our way out. We were sure S was the one behind the awesome sighting~
We spent 4 days together, 4hours in the mornings [6 to 10am] & evening [2.30 – 6pm] were reserved for Safari rides, and remaining time we were chilling, working, shower, cleanup, etc, while post 6pm we were invariably in the terrace unwinding and being loud~ I have been on a couple of trips with these women [ 2/3 of them], but this was the 1st time we were this large a group and age ranged from 32 to 65.. There was some ego clashes, and temper flares, but well, at the end we were all together and parted on peaceful note~
The Jungle Experience:
This was the 1st time I was travelling without my camera [ mine are in Chennai, but then I also thought I will just go and experience the whole thing without worrying about clicking good shots + lugging around heavy gear etc]. Did capture some videos on the phone, and took shots from friends who had their cameras… In fact, another girl had also just come with her phone.
If you have never been to the jungles, let me tell you it is something completely different. You are in the jeep, roads/paths are bumpy and crazy, you are holding on to the rails for dear life at times, and there will be minimum to no signal on your phone, leave alone data connectivity~ My kind of a place.. All you can do is sit, and look around you trying to catch sight of a Bird or animal. Be prepared for different habitats, terrain and to be surprised.
I pride myself at being a good spotter and this time too the streak continued. I spotted a Momma Sloth bear with her tiny baby, a Hare, jackal, the tiger, another sloth bear momma baby duo, the leopard and few owls as well.
You get back from the jungles, the hangover lingers for a good week – one side your body is aching in places you didn’t know existed, the other is you miss the rush of being in the jungle. The constant lookout for tiger paw marks, or alert calls from monkeys and deer. In fact, we were heading out of the zone we had been to when suddenly saw a lot of traffic on the road, and then the monkeys went bonkers screaming away. Across the other side, at a distance was a mountain where we were told a leopard was spotted. But then, within minutes I spotted the leopard running up the hill and it was quite the moment…
Spotting animals in their natural habitat, doing their own thing is something. Yes, I am not thrilled about jeeps chasing a tiger, or cornering it so they can get a better sight/photo, but at least they are all in the jungle, free to roam and do what they please. Better than the zoo~