World Travel – Tigers in the Wild – The Trip of a Lifetime

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India March 2018 – I had the adventure of a lifetime. My first ever international trip was with 18 amazing people (who I’ve met from being a Big Cat Rescue volunteer) to 3 different national parks and the Taj Mahal for 12 days in India! I was lucky enough to have had 6 tiger sightings in Kanha National Park and 7 sightings in Ranthambore National Park – 3 of them were direct sightings and the rest were from a distance or through the foliage. Absolutely incredible!!! I was also lucky enough to see many many (some very rare) bird species, Dholes, Jackals, a JUNGLE cat!, Spotted deer, Muntjac deer, Sambar deer, Blue Bull, Gaur, Swamp deer, Wild boar, 3 different Mongoose, 3 and 5 stripe squirrels, crocodiles, Langur and Macaque Monkeys and luckily for me NOT very many spiders or snakes LOL! I also saw scat and tracks for leopards, civet/genet and sloth bears even though I didn’t get to see them directly it was amazing knowing they were nearby 🙂 Here are images of the entire adventure including where we stayed and all the many different transportation methods… we used planes, trains, cars, jeeps, canters, and rickshaws along with a rockstar-sized tour bus. We had some cultural visits to nearby villages and cities along the way… India completely stole my heart… and I would love nothing more than to go back again once the world opens back up. So – grab something good to drink & sit back and relax… here we go!

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Former BCR intern Diane, who at the time was a Graduate Research Assistant at Clemson University’s College of Agriculture, Forestry & Life Sciences, organized this trip of a lifetime. Diane was doing research for six months in India and sent out an invite for any of us to join her for an adventure while she was living there. We got a great group (18 of us total) of BCR volunteers, staff, former interns and a couple of friends and family members, a local guide, and Diane’s college professor to join her for 10 days where we visited 3 of India’s National Parks along with some cultural visits throughout the country.

10 of us drove from Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL to Orlando, FL -then we flew from Orlando, Florida to Dubai, United Arab Emirates to New Delhi, India where we met our amazing guide and the rest of the group that came from other parts of the world for the trip. We arrived late in the evening and stayed one night at The Pride Plaza Hotel in New Delhi.

We woke up early and headed back to the airport for a short flight from New Delhi to Raipur and then a couple of hour’s drive through the city and countryside to one of the most incredible places on earth – Kanha!

Our safari adventures began in Kanha National Park where we stayed at the gorgeous Kanha Jungle Lodge. Kanha National Park is set on The Chhota Nagpur Plateau in Madhya Pradesh, Kanha provides
breathtaking vistas of grassy plains and strands sal forests. This 366 sq mile preserve was set to save two endangered species i.e. Tiger and The Barasingha. The park offers a variety of species including Tigers and Leopards, Cheetal, Gaur, Barking Deer, Sambhar Deer, and the endangered Barasingha Deer.

We spent each day going on a morning and evening safari and had some incredible sightings among the group.

We feel incredibly lucky to have seen even one tiger in the wild but our group saw an unbelievable amount of tigers in our short time there… they must have smelled us coming… In total, we saw around 10 different tigers including two – 8-month-old cubs in Kanha.

We also had the pleasure of seeing lots of other animals including many many (some rare) bird species, Dholes, Jackals, two different JUNGLE cats!, Spotted deer, Muntjac deer, Sambar deer, Gaur, Swamp deer, Wild boar, Mongoose, 3 and 5 stripe squirrels, Langur Monkeys and luckily for us NOT very many spiders or snakes LOL!

We also spotted scat and tracks for leopards, civet/genet, and sloth bear even though we didn’t get to see them directly it was amazing knowing they were nearby.

The lodge we stayed in is family owned and they don’t miss a detail for their guests. They taught us how to properly wear saris, showed us first hand how the locals live, fed us like kings and queens, and made us want to stay forever.

But the journey must continue…

Next, we drove to Jabalpur airport to board the train to Sawai Madhopurwe for an overnight train ride to Rajasthan where we stayed at the Ranthambore Kothi Hotel and visited Ranthambore National Park for morning and evening safaris.

This park landscape was drastically different from Kanha but did not disappoint, it’s said that this park inspired the story of The Jungle Book. On our first safari, we spotted a Tigress named Arrowhead and watched her run across a land bridge and into ancient ruins.

During our time here we were lucky enough to also see Arrowheads mother named Krishna with her 3 cubs, an unidentifiable female as well as our grand finale and the final tiger sighting of the trip… an 8-year-old male from Krishna’s first litter named Aakash.

We saw many ancient temples, forts, and ruins along with even more diverse bird species, antelope, mongoose, Blue Bull, crocodiles, and Macaque monkeys.

During our time in Rajasthan, we ventured into the city for shopping, sightseeing and 6 people in our group got their noses pierced in the traditional Indian way by a local family at their jewelry shop. What a thrilling adventure!

Our last stop was in Bharatpur where we stayed the night in the Laxmi Niwas Palace, visited the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary via rickshaws and the big finale was a visit to the Taj Mahal.

And not to be forgotten…. the food and drinks were unbelievable!! I had the best Coke I have ever had in my life – the recipe they use in India is top-notch!

This was an unbelievable journey for all of us. We help care for captive tigers on a daily basis at Big Cat Rescue and to have the ability to see them, as they should be, wild and free, was truly an emotional experience, to say the least. There were many tears shed on this trip thinking about our beautiful but caged animals at home while watching these be free. It absolutely makes us all want to fight harder to end the suffering in captivity and protect those still left in the wild.

Thanks for walking down this dreamy memory lane with me! If you have any questions about my trip to India – just ask!

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