Lions and tigers and bear butts and India adventures oh my! Today we spent our Thursday getting a truly VIP experience on a fantastic tiger filled jungle safari. It was a great way to spend a work day, rather than be at work. Our India vacation has been a great holiday escape!
Today we had one of the most amazing zoo experiences I have ever had. (Second only to when my friend worked at a zoo and I got to actually hold a fox and a big jungle cat and pet a mountain lion that was almost dead. (A really old and sleepy mountain lion, he actually expired a few weeks later, poor kitty cat) Other than taking selfies with very ancient cougars todays expedition to Bannerghatta National Park was right up there with top zoo animal encounters because we got to see this.
Yes that pretty kitty was next to our tour bus on the side of the road sleeping. I love cats of all kinds and species so seeing all the large cats, the tigers especially, was the big draw of this trip and we lucked out completely and got the VIP experience.
We waited in a very long line at the extremely crowded park to the south of where we were staying in Bangalore. Even though this park was only 20 kilometers from our apartment it took us an hour and forty five minutes to reach it because traffic in Bangalore is utter and complete madness.
After sitting in the car all that time when we arrived at the park it was literally crawling with so many screaming children. I already had a headache as we huddled in the shady grandstands behind five hundred other people who were going to also do the bus tour. We found absolutely nothing about Bannerghatta National Park when we had researched it ahead of time and were not expecting much from this park. Back in California, we have a huge world famous jungle safari park, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and I figured this jungle experience would be nothing compared to that. It was a day out away from the hustle and the bustle of being stuck in the concrete cow jungle of Bangalore though so we were looking forward to a day away and maybe seeing a tiger or two.
When we boarded the bus there was some kind of commotion in the front of the bus, it was all spoken in Hindi so I could not tell what was going on but the bus driver motioned for the guy siting in the very front seat to move his ass so my boyfriends daughter and I could sit in the very front, the best seats in the house. I was not complaining, even though they sat my boyfriend way back in the bus, away from us.
As the bus tour started the guide Askar sitting in the front seat next to the driver was really exceptionally nice to us, asking us where we were from and even offering to take photos from our cameras for us out the front windows so we could get a better view. We had just left the front gates and were making our way through the jungle gates when Askar called my boyfriend up to take his seat in the very front of the bus and Askar sat on the metal divider part of the bus. He was talking to my boyfriend in Hindi so I was not really getting all the information that was being spoken until it was explained to me later after the bus tour.
The guide, Askar had heard us in line earlier speaking English and had surmised that we were Americans and apparently in India Americans are the only ones who tip. The guides are not allowed to give anyone special treatment on the tours (At least at the beginning of the tour where the video cameras are set up) so once they left the area where you board the bus and no one was watching Askar and driver gave us the best seats on the bus! As soon as Askar heard us speaking English he stopped speaking Hindi and began speaking to us in perfect New York accented English. It’s funny how every one in this country starts to sound like Billy Joel once they realize they could make a tip or two! Not only that but as the tour continued the VIP treatment got even better! Every time they would see an animal they would stop extra long just for us to get the best photos. They would pull the bus so we had the absolute best view also. Askar and the driver would even hang out the windows with our cameras to get us the best possible photos of the tigers and other cats.
It was the funniest thing, every time we saw an animal the driver would yell,
“All to that! SILENCE!”
Yelled at the top of the drivers lungs I was cracking up, in between enjoying the close up views of White Siberian Tigers, Bengal Tigers and Majestic lions. We were so close to a lot of the animals, it was a fantastic experience!
This was worth sitting in traffic for an hour and forty five minutes one way!