Leap year then and now...Travel day tomorrow...We'll post during layover...More tiger photos coming!...

A gaur crossing the road. "The gaur (/ɡaʊər/, Bos gaurus), also called the Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine. It is native to South and Southeast Asia and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986. The global population has been estimated at maximum 21,000 mature individuals by 2016. It declined by more than 70% during the last three generations, and is extinct in Sri Lanka and probably also in Bangladesh. In well-protected areas, it is stable and rebuilding."
It's leap year day. I don't have a "year ago photo" since there was no post on February 29th last year. But we've added a photo from the last leap year four years ago, on February 29, 2016.

I recalled last year at the end of February like it was yesterday. I'd been home from the hospital for only three days and my legs had yet to become infected but were very sore from the incisions from my ankle bones to about eight inches above my knees.
A pair of gaur, a rare sighting in the national parks were a thrill to see.
I'd been walking around the house every hour or so hoping to speed my recovery, but sensing I was making little progress.

The pain was unconscionable, my breathing sketchy and inconsistent, my wounds so raw I didn't dare shower, doing sponge baths instead fearing infecting myself with the less than clean water in Marloth Park, South Africa. It happened anyway.
A black eagle.
Even the smallest of tasks required hours of recovery. Tom did it all along with the help of our amazing household staff, Zef and Vusi who handled all the housework. I languished in my awful state of being wondering if it would ever end.

And now, one year later I am in India, getting up and dressed for the day to head out on safari twice a day beginning at 5:30 am.
A sambar deer. "Sambar deer is found in almost every corner of India, But it is mainly found in the central India. They can easily be spotted at Kanha, Corbett, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, (we've been to three of the fore mentioned national parks in India) Gir, Dudhwa, Manas, Kaziranga and Sariska. Habitat: Sambar deer prefers marshy and wooded areas to live."
It's 10 hours a day of bouncing so hard in a safari Jeep that my FitBit measures 10's of thousands of steps and hundreds of flights of stairs from the violent jostling about on rough roads.
I love it all. I am alive. And I am grateful every morning when I awaken to face yet another day, braced for adventure, braced for excitement, expecting the most but accepting when it's less.
Young wild boar. "The wild boar (Sus scrofa), also known as the wild swine, Common wild pig, or simply wild pig) is a suid native to much of the Palearctic, as well as introduced numbers in the Americas and Southeast Asia. Human intervention has spread its distribution further, making the species one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world, as well as the most widely spread suiform. Its wide range, high numbers, and adaptability mean that it is classed as least concern by the IUCN and it has become an invasive species in part of its introduced range. The animal probably originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene, and out-competed other suid species as it spread throughout the Old World."
What's next? Another month and a few days more of India, the vibrant rush of colors and its equal passion for life.

I feel at home here in this culturally and diametrically diverse notion of life from that which we knew in the past, embracing that which I know now, from that which I've learned from adversity.
Kanha Nation Park is truly beautiful with a wide range of types of scenery, all exquisite.
Everything happens for a reason. But I ask what I needed to learn? I already was in awe and grateful. Had I yet a new level of appreciation yet to discover, yet to conquer?

I am still trying to figure this out. Surely during whatever time I have left in this world, it will come to me. I wait patiently. I know it will come and for some odd reason, I know I have enough time to bring it to fruition.
A sambar deer on the side of the road.
At the moment I am sitting outdoors in the resort in Kanha National Park, in India with the sounds of nature, surrounding me, her magical arms holding me close to her heart.

It's not perfect. Like life, it is flawed. But I open my arms and welcome her in knowing full well that therein lies the answers to the mystery of life we all so long to know. I am at peace.
Just like in Africa, the antelopes and pigs hang out together.
Tomorrow morning at 4:30 am we'll embark on yet another six-hour drive to a distant airport to head to an all-day flight with layovers to Udaipur. I will complete tomorrow's post during our 3 1/2 hour layover. We'll prepare tomorrow's post during the layover.

See you then, my friends. We'll see you then.

Photo from the last leap year, four years ago on February 29, 2016:
View of Mount Taranaki from a walk in the neighborhood while we lived on the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand. For more photos, please click here.

Photos of Tuli Tiger Resort inside Kanha Tiger Reserve...

The spacious veranda outside the door to our lovely suite.
We're having some technical issues. Maybe I should have bit the bullet and purchased another Windows laptop instead of a Chromebook. As it turned out in my haste to order, the HP Chromebook I ordered doesn't have a slot for an SD camera card.
A small casual bar in the dining area.
Subsequently, I've had to use my phone to take photos and although many come out well, using zoom is a missing aspect of using a smartphone as a camera. Now that we're in the midst of another nine safaris after nine at the last location in the Bandvargarh National Park, today I broke down and used the camera, getting many better shots than ever possible using the phone.

Now, I'm left with no way to load them. A few minutes ago I purchased an adapter from Amazon India with a proposed receipt date of Monday, March 1st, the date we arrive at our hotel in Udaipur. Hopefully, once again a shipment within India will work out as well as the last.

The spacious pool is near the dining and bar area.
As a result, in the interim, I will be uploaded only those photos we'd taken on our phone while continuing to use the camera. Once the adapter arrives on Monday when we'll have more time, I'll be able to share the many fine photos we took in Kanha Tiger Reserve.

After going out on four safaris as of today, with two more remaining tomorrow that encompass 10 hours of each day, we decided to split up today with me taking the 5:30 am session and Tom out right now on the afternoon session.
The grounds are filled with named indigenous vegetation befitting this type of resort.
Doing so left me with time to post today's story and photos and to work on the Amazon order which is trickier than compared to ordering supplies from the US.
The bathroom is small but nicely appointed.
Since we don't have a tremendous number of tours during our three nights in Udaipur, we'll have time to upload the camera's photos and get more caught up posting.

Plus, the WiFi in both safari resorts has been sketchy at best, in each case, off and on all day and only accessible from the reception office. Not being able to put up my feet and relax while preparing a post is a bit annoying, but soon we'll be in a hotel with good service in our room (so says the online information).
There are several seating areas in our suite.
This resort is beautiful and well-appointed otherwise. Besides Tom's disappointment with the food, we're enjoying our time in this premium property.

So far, our 55-night tour of India is going quite well and we have a fabulous company, Tailormade Journeys continuing to work with us for any questions or concerns. We've been very pleased with their service working with rep Rajiv and his support staff in making this a seamless series of events, a highly complicated scenario for this extended period. They can be reached as follows:

Rajiv Wahie
Tailormade Journeys Limited
25 Grangewood , WEXHAM , SLOUGH , SL3 6LP , South Bucks. United Kingdom.
United Kingdom Tel : 01753 577330, 01753 201201 Mobile: 07739716978.
USA & Canada Toll Free : 1 - 855- 9 – 526526 , Canada :416-619-7795
Australia : 61-2-86078986Emailgreat-vacation@btconnect.com
The king-sized bed is very comfortable.
Well, that's it for today folks. We've included photos of the lovely Tuli Tiger Resort. We're looking forward to sharing more photos soon.

Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, February 28, 2019:
Mom and Babies hanging out by the recently cleaned cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

Wednesday was a travel day...Now amid more safaris at Kanha National Park...

Note: All of today's photos were taken from the car on yesterday's road trip. No captions needed.

Yesterday as I wrote this post we were in a crisp clean white SUV with aircon comparable to other vehicles that have been transporting us from one location to another.

It was travel day, once again with an expected 5½ hours drive until we'd reach our destination and yet another safari camp, Tuli Tiger Resort, this time to Kanha National Park where we'd be spending another four nights with two game drives each day.

The drive is interrupted every three or four kilometers by small towns line with shops vendors selling fruits vegetables clothing and a variety of tourist goods and household goods for the locals.

Cows, dogs, and goats wander through the streets aimlessly in search of the next meal and women walk with baskets of food and other items atop their heads, while men congregate in small groups discussing the events of the day.

The woman wear colorful Hindu costumes impeccably draped and pleated regardless of their income level of poverty. The beautiful garb us unike any other we've seen in the world. Although each town may have its own personality the premise of the Hindu philosophy is evident in every aspect of creating a certain familiarity from town to town.

Once back out on the highway the landscape is brown and somewhat desolate, scattered with trees and vegetation of one sort or another. 
It's winter time here and until the monsoon season arrives everything the grasses remain brown and less hearty for the cows and other animals in search of good grazing fields.

With nary a patch of green for meandering cows and sheep, they often seek out public areas in hopes of food donations from the locals who appear at times to be very generous with their sacred cows. Hindus have a love of all creatures, both human and animals.

People often smile and wave as we pass through. School children in freshly pressed school uniforms play together in the streets without a toy or a ball and yet seem happy and content in their lives .

Their simple life is accepted with a powerful faith not so much as a religion but as a way of life leaving them grateful and accepting of whatever lifestyle they've been provided.

We are humbled and in awe of their dedication and their strength as they work their way through any obstacles life presents them. Many have no access to medical care, modern conveniences, clean water and in many cases such taken for granted commodities such as electricity.

These individuals and families work together however they can to create the best life possible without complaint, without disharmony and without a longing for what could have been.

I often think of all the times I'd grumbled when making a call for customer service to end up with a heavily-accented Indian person on the line, often working in a hot uncomfortable boiler room taking calls for various digital and computer equipment companies all the way from India to provide customer service for companies in the US. Now,I have an entirely different perspective.

In a land of 1.3 billion people there's is little to no government subsidies such as welfare, food stamps or government assistance. Overall, Indian people are on their own.

We've seen less homeless people here in India in the almost month we have been here than we saw in an equal time in the US. That speaks for itself and the powerful work ethic and life values imposed by their Hindu strength and principles.               

This morning at 5:30 am we began our first morning safari from the resort. We didn't see any tigers yet but we have five more safaris scheduled at this location, including another today at 2:30 pm. 
By the time we return for the afternoon game drive at 6:30 pm, we'll freshen up for dinner, dine at 8:00 pm and head to bed shortly thereafter. Its a busy and exhausting day but typical in the lives of wildlife enthusiasts like ourselves.

Have a fantastic day and night!
Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2019:
The kudus give us "the look," which means "more pellets please." For more photos, please click here.

Safari adventures continue...The rigors of game drives...

A female sambar deer.
It wasn't entirely about the Bengal Tiger. Safari in Bandvargarh National Park also included many other forms of wildlife and as shown and some stunning scenery along the way.
This baby elephant was being prepped for humans to ride him in search of tigers. Riding an elephant is a custom in India, but as most of our readers know, we wouldn't ride one. 
The morning drive beginning at 6:00 am each day was cold and we covered with the blankets provided by the resort. The roads are as bumpy as can be and thus, those with back or spine problems would be miserable during either the morning or afternoon game drives.
The baby's mother was chained nearby. We have to respect the customs in other countries as we travel the world. After all, we don't cringe when horses are ridden. I supposed the chains are the most disheartening part affecting us animal lovers.
Bathroom breaks are at a premium and often the toilet is but a hole in the ground, not conducive for us women wearing pants. What a challenge that is! I choose not to drink any fluids in the morning to avoid the necessity. Of course, for men, behind a tree works well.
A white gum tree, the bark of which is used by locals for medicinal purposes..
Between the morning and afternoon game drives, one can expect to be out for no less than 8½ to 9½, making for a very long day. There's a 3½ hour break between the morning and afternoon game drives, allowing time for lunch in the dining room, all Indian food, spicy and flavorful (not necessarily flavorful to Tom. He ordered separately on most occasions).
When we stopped during the safari for our packed breakfast, consisting of boiled eggs, toast and muffins for Tom and vegetables for me, a few cows entered the picnic area in the park.
Climbing in and out of the safari vehicles is not easy. With my legs not fully recovered it was challenging but I kept a stiff upper lip and did so with nary a whimper. Tom stood close by spotting me in the event of a fall. But I managed well.
Not easy to see in this photo taken at quite a distance, a tiger is dining on her catch.
In other words, safari is not necessarily for everyone. But, for us, after years of experience in Africa, we didn't complain at bit and bounced our way through hour after hour of game drives through the rough terrain.
We saw many of these vine trees in the park.
Our wonderful safari driver was with us throughout the three days and each session a different naturalist joined us. But, our driver Babalu was most knowledgeable after 27 years as a safari driver. 
"Apart from being a rich wildlife reserve, Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh has other ways to beguile travel aficionados. One can be interested in noticing an age old fort called the Hill Fort or Bandhavgarh Fort standing right in the middle of the national park. This majestic fort allows visitors to peep inside the rich history and shows the prominent influence of religion in the state. So, what exactly are we talking about here? Well, we are focusing on the priceless heritage that includes the cave dwellings, shrines and several sculptures that indicate the strong faith on the power of Lord Vishnu here."
We wouldn't have needed the naturalist when many barely spoke English (our problem, not theirs. We are in "their" country, after all) but seemed to provide good service as spotters who's hearing is acute and eyesight keen for sightings.
A Common Kingfisher.
When a tiger is nearby, the spotted deer make a barking warning sound. The driver and naturalist quickly picked up these sounds and then the watch for the elusive tiger would begin. We'd often sit quietly in the vehicle at the side of the road for 20 or 30 minutes watching and waiting for the animal to appear.
A gorgeous sunset over Bandvargarh National Park in India.
On a few occasions, they did appear. On many more other occasions, they did not. An impatient person would not do well under these circumstances. There's tremendous with no sightings of any animals and others when they were in abundance.
Another photo of the tiger we spotted.
Since my camera card doesn't work with my new Chromebook (no slot) I wasn't able to use my camera until such time as I can purchase an adapter or cord. Subsequently, all of our photos were taken with our Google phones, not the best for zooming in, as we all know. There was a bit of frustration over this on my part.
Male spotted deer.
Plus, the photos from our phone which normally would appear on my laptop within a few hours of taking them, didn't appear for at least 24 hours with the slow WiFi signal using my phone as a hot spot or when sitting in the reception area of the resort. Yesterday, photos appeared on my laptop in a more timely fashion and I was able to do yesterday's and today's posts in a little more timely fashion.
Rare wild buffalo referred to as a gaur. We were excited to spot this elusive animal.
We apologize for a lack of a post on Monday. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get photos to load. There was no point in writing a story about a fine artist without being able to upload the photos I took in the shop, especially when I was thrilled with their clarity.
Mom and baby wild boar. I love all types of pigs. This was no exception.
If you didn't have an opportunity to see yesterday's post, please click here.

Today, we are on the move again on another over five hour drive to the next safari lodge in our itinerary. We'll be back with more on that soon.
Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2019:
This is our Basket, the Bully, who was thrilled to see we'd returned to the bush.  Many weeks ago he appeared with a bloody right ear, which now is but a stubble of an ear which appears to have healed nicely. For more photos, please click here.

A noteworthy artist at Tiger's Den Resort...A wildlife artist beyond comprehension...Rakesh Prajapali...

Over the past 48 hours at the Tiger's Den Resort, we've been so wrapped up in going out on safari twice a day (8½ hours a day) and dining on delicious food three times a day, we've had time for little else.

With the resort's WiFi connection only available in the reception area, preparing posts in our room using my phone hotspot technology has been slow and laborious. The only post I'd uploaded from here was yesterday's story after our first tiger sighting. Please click here for details.
However, getting up at 5:00 am and being safari-ready by 6:00, has left me a little weary and preferring to stay in our beautifully appointed room when not in the jeep or dining room.

Today, I decided to bite the bullet and head to the reception area where the signal is perfect. Also, today, after last night's heavy rain and hail, this morning's the sightings were few in the safari areas of the park. 

After a five-hour foray of searching for the elusive tiger, after yesterday's great success, we decided to forgo the afternoon game drive and stay in at the reception area in order to do a post that was nagging at me... The stunning work of Rakesh Prajapali, a young and vibrant wildlife artist like none we've ever seen in our over seven years of world travel.
Darling cubs so beautifully represented.
We happened across his fine work by accident. When staying in a hotel or resort, we may breeze through a gift shop paying little attention to the typical trinkets-type inventory offered to impulsive tourists, often overpriced and often unused and unappreciated once returning to one's country of residence.

When we casually entered the "Souvenir Shop" after dinner our first night here, when at that point, we'd yet to embark upon the first of many safaris and weren't quite as tired as we are now, our mouths were agape at what our eyes beheld.

There before our eyes lie the most exquisite paintings we'd ever seen of any wildlife, let alone the mysterious Bengal Tiger, only found in India, with only 2500 remaining nationwide. 
Leaning against a glass countertop stood a handsome young man, Rakesh with a tiny paintbrush in his hand, painting an exquisite rendition of a tiger from a photo he'd taken here in the Bandhavgarh National Park with its 1536 square kilometers (593 square miles) surrounding this and other safari resorts.

After being engrossed in his work, I asked him if we could highlight him with a story and photos of his actual paintings and, let me stress, these aren't photos of photos.  These are photos of his actual paintings.

Of course, the tiger is a perfect subject for the skilled and determined artist, but Rakesh has taken this advantage to an incomprehensible level. After seeing hi
Such fine detail.
Today, we share a few of Rakesh's stunning works (painted, not photos) and invite any of our readers who may so wish, to contact him directly if you'd love one of his masterpieces. 

He ships his works worldwide in a secure cardboard tube for your framing preferences once received. Prices range from INR 5000 (US $70) to INR 75000, (US $1043) plus shipping. The sizes of each original painting vary. Feel free to inquire as to the size of each masterpiece. Many would perfectly encompass a substantially sized wall.

To reach Rakesh, contact him at his email here: prajapatirakesh73@gmail.com
Rakesh paints a wide array of subjects, human and animal, besides tigers. Outstanding work!
As for this resort, Tiger's Den Resort, we couldn't be more pleased. The grounds, rooms and public areas represent a vast wildlife and safari persona. The service is impeccable. Monkeys, birds and a few lovely German Shephard dogs protect the guests and yet are friendly and welcoming. The area is safe and unhindered by many risks one may find in more populated areas.

We will leave here tomorrow, but will take with us many fine memories of both Rakesh, Tiger's Den Resort and its staff.
Happy Day!
(Today, it is one year ago that I resumed posting after a two week break after open-heart surgery).
Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2019:
Tom had cut several stalks of celery, saving the scraps for the kudus, bushbucks, and zebras, all of which love celery.  For more photos, please click here.

Safari luck prevails in India...The elusive Bengal Tiger...How lucky could we be?...

There she was. We couldn't have asked for a better vantage point.
We never expected to see a tiger in India, although we're scheduled for six full days on safari in two different national parks, where we are now at Tiger's Den Resort in Banghavgarh National Park and also upcoming on the 26th, Tuli Tiger Resort in Kanha National Park.

We were up bright and early at 5:00 am and having coffee-tea (as they call morning beverages here in India) by 5:30 am in the dining room of our lovely resort. Both of us were still tired but, also pumped for our first-morning game drive that began at 6:00 am while it was still dark.
Our hearts were pounding with excitement while we attempted to take photos.
In no time at up we were bundled up with blankets on a chilly morning and headed to Gate 1 of 3 in the area. As planned by our diligent travel agent for India, it was us, a driver and a naturalist, alone in a small open-sided vehicle Jeep with elevated seats.

The naturalist sat in behind us on the seats usually reserved for additional guests to ensure we could easily hear him and to provide him with an elevated view as well.

After the first hour and a half without seeing more than some spotted deer, monkeys and bush chickens, we resigned ourselves to the fact that spotting the elusive tiger may be more of a dream than a reality. 
Such a beautiful animal!
And then, around 8:00 am, it happened. Our guides were able to predict there is a tiger in the area when varying antelopes were rapidly on the move, monkeys and birds were particularly noisy.

Suddenly, we were hopeful but still kept our enthusiasm in check. And then, there she was causing no less 10 other safari vehicles jockey for position to get a glimpse of her majesty.

She was walking perpendicular to the road and as shown in our photos at one point she bravely crossed the road. Our guide explained the tigers weren't as intimated by safari vehicles as one might think. They grew up in the park, which has been a popular destination for many wildlife enthusiasts for decades.

Oh, yes, I wish we could have been able to get better photos with more closeups. But, since my new laptop arrived, I sadly discovered it didn't have a slot for a camera data card. I tried to Bluetooth the camera to the laptop, but that didn't work.

She didn't seem to be disturbed by all the gawkers. 
The only option for the future is to purchase an adapter to fit Chromebook but for now, we're sadly stuck using our phones. And, although the photos are adequate, they surely aren't the closeups we'd have been able to get with the camera.

Right now, using my phone as a hotspot, since there's no WiFi in the rooms at the resort (not good) I was having trouble gaining access to the photos in a timely fashion. Hopefully, by dinnertime, the photos were in my cloud ready to be uploaded to this post. 
A pretty scene we spotted in the national park.
Hopefully, as you are reading this we have plenty of photos we were able to upload.

This afternoon at 2:30 pm, after the 1:00 pm lunch, we'll go out on our second game drive of the day. At this, after seeing this morning's tiger we can sit back and relax and simply enjoy nature and whatever may come our way.

Happy day to all. We'll be back with more soon.