We couldn't get over how playful he was. He rolled over onto
his back twice, with his enormous paws splayed in the air.
We had barely gotten parked when the tiger emerged 100 feet behind us
The tiger seemed mighty pleased with how
things were proceeding. It was a standoff!
Even the guides seemed nervous about pushing any closer than this!
Photo courtesy of Bernhard Eder (
www.bernhardeder.com)
This is the other way to spot a tiger in
the park -- on the back of an elephant
The tiger's main food source -- spotted deer. We
saw hundreds of these during our one-day park visit.
We drove fast for the exit gate, jouncing over dirt roads, riding right on the bumper of the jeep ahead of us.
By the time we reached the gate we were so covered with dust we looked like coal miners emerging from a mine!
Our driver and guide had no idea we were getting so dirty! The situation
was so comical we took pictures with our guide and jeep mates afterwards.
Capturing Robin's smile at our incredible good fortune
This is the best I could manage with my
small pocket camera (a Canon PowerShot)
These were open-air jeeps after all!
Photo courtesy of Bernhard Eder (
www.bernhardeder.com)
He's watching us -- and loving every minute of it!
Photo courtesy of Bernhard Eder (
www.bernhardeder.com)
...and laid down smack dab in the middle of the road!
Where We Be
Bandhavgarh National Park, India
Lonely Planet says, “If your sole reason for
visiting a national park in India is to see a tiger,
look no further. One day spent here, including a
morning and an afternoon safari, almost
guarantees you a tiger sighting in this relatively
small park which boasts the highest density of
tigers in India.” Sounded good to us!

But by 4:30 pm we only had about an hour left
and we had yet to see a tiger after six hours of
looking. We were in an open-air jeep with three
other passengers (plus the guide and driver).
The guide had just heard monkeys making an
alarm call in the woods across the meadow --
which usually means a tiger is on the prowl.

We parked our jeep and waited. Our guide got
more animated when he heard repeated alarm
calls close at hand. Suddenly a Bengal tiger
walked into view! “There he is!” our guide
exclaimed, pointing. The tiger crossed through
the woods towards a dirt track.

We and several other jeeps sped off around a
bend in hopes of a closer look. Our jeep pulled
up last in line, but we had barely gotten parked
when the tiger emerged 100 feet
behind us! We
all got excited and started snapping pictures
like crazy, thinking we only had a moment to
capture an image as the tiger crossed the road.

But to our surprise and inexpressible joy, the
tiger circled toward us and laid down smack
dab in the middle of the road! All the jeeps
gunned their engines at once in a mad attempt
to get turned around and get closer. The tiger
twitched at the sudden noise but didn't get up.
The guides sounded as excited as we did,
shouting among themselves and jostling for
position. We found ourselves in the second
row with a great straight-on view. The next half
hour was a paradise of Bengal tiger watching.

Our guide identified the tiger as a four-year-old
male, quite large and in the prime of his life. We
couldn't get over how playful he was, laying on
his back with his paws splayed in the air. He
seemed to be enjoying all the attention he was
getting as he draped himself across the road so
our jeeps couldn't get by. He seemed genuinely
curious to see what would happen next.

As other jeeps pulled up on the other side, the
tiger seemed mighty pleased with how things
were proceeding. It was a standoff! He
continued lazing in the middle of the road, the
very picture of nonchalance, although every
now and again we'd catch him subtly eyeing us.
The show went on for thirty minutes, to the
point where the guides started getting nervous
about reaching the exit gate before 6 pm. They
had to be out of the park by then or face a fine
and we were a full hour's drive away. Finally
they started their engines and pulled closer in
hopes of startling the tiger but he didn't move.

Another flurry of picture taking ensued, then
the jeeps pulled even closer, revving their
engines. The tiger sat up but still didn't budge!
Apparently he was relishing the standoff. Our
front bumpers couldn’t have been more than
five feet from the tiger at this point, and even
the guides seemed nervous about pushing any
closer. These were open-air jeeps after all!

Finally a few jeeps went off track, making a wide
berth around the tiger. Our guide followed suit.
I like to think all the jeeps had to circle around
that stubborn tiger and that he never moved!
To our surprise and inexpressible joy, the tiger circled towards us...
This photo and the tiger photos that follow are courtesy of our
jeep-mate,
Bernhard Eder, who had a much better camera