Ranthambore National Park, India

Kids,

American holidays are always interesting in a foreign country, and this year we decided to spend Thanksgiving with friends traveling since we couldn’t be with family.

Day1 – Thursday November 22nd: Travel Day

This was our second trip where we didn’t need to leave around midnight. I could get used to this departure time.  We headed to the airport after you finished a half day of school and met up with our friends prior to boarding a flight to Jaipur.

The hotel we were staying at was a 3 hr drive from the Jaipur airport, so although the short 2hr flight was incredible, we had another 3hrs to go in the car. Transportation was setup ahead of time and the transition from plane to car went rather well. The trip on the other hand did not. Ok, it wasn’t bad, but at about 2 1/2 hrs your mom and I had heard enough of how the car ride was “taking sooo long”.

After getting checked in and walked to our rooms, we took the opportunity to look at the grounds and find a place for dinner. The hotel compound was amazing with a large open grass area, a pool, and bikes of all sizes for the kids to use.

There was only one restaurant at the hotel, which helped simplify the process of deciding where to eat dinner.  The buffet was good, but a little over priced for the food options available, especially when you kids only would eat the pasta with tomato sauce.

During dinner, we learned about a barbecue option that you had to reserve ahead of time. We checked out the menu and booked it for dinner the next day.

After dinner we headed to bed to be as prepared as possible for the early morning. We were going on safari…

Day 2 – Friday November 23rd: Safari Day

We planned to go on at least three Safari’s while we were in Rajasthan. The park offered morning and afternoon safari’s and we quickly signed up for the morning Safari which left the hotel at 6:45, or 7:15, or 6:15 depending on who you asked.

We woke up at 5:30am so we could make the morning coffee session that started and 6am and be ready incase the departure time was 6:15am. We left the hotel at 7:15… While waiting, we got the opportunity to check out all the bats that nested in the trees surrounding the hotel. They were everywhere, and very large. Luckily they stayed at a distance so it was actually pretty cool.

We boarded the 20 passenger canter and headed the 15 minutes to Ranthambore National Park.

The drive went through very modern parts of the park until we reached the back 40 where there was no cell reception.

The safari was amazing, and we saw all sorts of animals including peacocks, wild boar, alligators, and many types of deer. The guide called the small quick deer “Tiger Chocolate”. We didn’t see any tigers on the first try but we did manage to see a leopard off in the distance. After we returned to the hotel we were told that a leopard was an extremely rare sighting and people typically don’t see them. Can you spot it below?

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a rest stop in the park. While waiting for everyone to get back, Morton became the bird whisperer and we quickly had a dozen birds around our vehicle. It was fun, although I think the best part was when I turned around and saw Katie and your mother under a blanket to make sure no bird touched them.

We headed back to the hotel and planned to schedule another Safari for the afternoon. To kill a few hours we decided to have our own happy hour on the porch while all the kids ran around. We found out last minute that the park service shut down all safari tours for the remainder of the day. We were bummed, but understood that having the canters and jeeps driving around all day was not good for the animals.

We made the best of the rest of our day by swimming in the arctic pool, it was freezing, riding bikes, and playing on the playground. Well, that’s what the kids did…the dads continued happy hour on the porch while the moms were in the spa.

The barbecue was amazing, although not barbecue as we think of it in the US. Dinner was basically Veg and Non-Veg kebob dishes made over a flame. No barbecue sauce involved. Either way it was awesome.

They setup a location for all 13 of us, with the adults dining around a fire pit and the kids at a separate table. I will add that when we first walked up the plan the hotel had laid out was to put the kids, all under 8, at the fire pit and the adults at the table without the fire…

Day 3 – Saturday November 24th: Safari Day 2

We were determined to do everything we could to see a tiger on this trip, so we signed up for another early morning. It paid off! This safari was in another part of the park, and lucky for us, it was feeding day. The group of 4 tigers killed a deer and drug it into a grassy field.

Our driver on day 2 was not as good as the first day, and we ended up driving to a closed part of the park after he received directions from at least 3 people about the location of the kill. After driving down a steep road, next to a steep drop off, we hit the wire across the road indicating that part of the park was closed. The driver then proceeded to back up this huge canter loaded with people up a hill with a cliff on one side. It was at that moment that we all thought we were about to die.

When we finally reached the tigers there were at least 6 other vehicles there watching the action. They were probably 150ft from the path and hiding in some tall grass, but I swear they are there.

After a successful safari we headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day playing cricket, hanging out on the porch, and for some….going to the spa again.

Naturally we headed back to the barbecue on our last night since we were familiar with the process and enjoyed it so much the night before. Which might explain the following:

Day 4 – Sunday November 25th: Traveling Home

With morning flights, and a 3 hour drive to get back to Jaipur, we headed out at 6am again. Although this time we rented a bus to take us all together, instead of separate cars.

We all had an amazing time with some awesome friends and found many more things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Love,

Mom & Dad

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