Another early wake up call today as we went on our final safari of the trip, this time to Sariska National Park, between Jaipur and Delhi.
Sariska has always been overshadowed by its neighbouring Ranthambhore as there's been more tigers and Ranthambhore for many years. In 2005 Sariska hit the headlines big time when the tiger population, estimated at 20/25, completely disappeared overnight. Many stories discuss what happened but it's believed that they were all poached after locals were bribed. Whatever actually happened doesn't actually matter, it's just very, very sad.
Within the last few months a total of three tigers have been moved from Ranthambhore, where the tiger population is (allegedly) growing. (Maybe if they hadn't had moved those three I might have had a better glimpse of a tiger at Ranthambhore!)
We'd planned to go to Sariska way before I'd heard that there were actually tigers there but of course knowing about them added a bit of excitement during the safari. Of course, we never saw one, nor any other of the cats that are meant to live there. But if the lady at our hotel is to be believed then she saw one tiger, one leopard and a jungle cat, all in a single safari. So there's hope for Sariska.
Part way through the safari you enter the 'tiger re-introduced area' and stop to view some of the pugmarks (paw prints) cast in plaster. Not very interesting but there's some very tame Treepies (think colourful Magpies) there that will eat from your hand. Of course, the girls were too scared to try it so Dad got thrust forward - Jane had the video camera - to feed them. I put a piece of Marks and Sparks finest shortbread (that we'd carried around the whole of Rajasthan!) in my palm and held my uncovered arm out. It would have been wise to have worn long sleeves that day. Three treepies landed, had a fight on my arm, clawed me, ate and flew off. Not so nice; I tried again and only one bird, so no fighting, much better.
We did nice loads of wildlife on the safari and I'd really recommend Sariska to anyone passing by; it's certainly worth a visit. We saw birds (kingfishers, treepies, egrets, storks, herons and more), crocodiles, sambar deer, chittal deer and more.
It wasn't particularly cheap for us and we had to pay Rs1000 (15 quid) for a taxi there. Then entrance fees we're Rs200 each (apart from Amy who was free), Rs125 jeep entry ticket and Rs900 paid separately to the man with the jeep. So, Rs1625 (about 23 quid) for the safari and Rs1000 get there (which was way overpriced but we had little choice).