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Tigers galore in an afternoon at Kaziranga

Kaziranga, Assam India, is home to two thirds of the world's Greater One-horned rhinos. This fact alone had us travelling on a train for 9 hours followed by a five hour bus ride.

Kaziranga is split into four zones: The Eastern range, the Western range, the Central range and the Burapahar Range We did three game drives at Kaziranga. Two in the Eastern range and one in the Central range. The Central and Western ranges tend to be more crowded with vehicles as they are closer to the main ticket office. The Eastern range is over 20km from the main booking office but is worth the drive. The drive takes you though quaint villages rich with bird life. During our times in the Eastern section we only saw a handful of other people.

Our first afternoon is something that I will never forget. Shortly after entering the park we arrived at a large lake which was teeming with wildlife. There were herds of water buffalo close by and a scan with binoculars revealed a wild herd of Asian elephants drinking, hog dear, swamp dear, wild boar and over 15 one horned rhinos!

We sat for a long time taking in the scene before us. The sun began to dip so we continued deeper into the jungle. Further along two vehicles were stopped. We pulled up along side them and as the engine was switched off the brief silence was broken by a bark to our left. A hog dear calling in alarm. This could only mean one thing. There was a tiger close by! We sat in silence as the calls of the hog dear got closer and closer. There was an open clearing on either side of us and we all focused in the hope this regal beast would make an appearance. We were in luck. A large female popped her head out from a bush and watched us for a moment.

Perceiving us to be a threat she snuck back into the thicker bush and slinked around us in the long grass, her stripped back only just visible over the yellow grass. I was so excited that I was shaking. I could feel my heart beating and tried to concentrate to get a half decent photograph.

She had disappeared but we waited in silence hoping to catch another glimpse of her. The sun was fading and it was becoming more difficult to scan for animals. Then we heard a shriek. Another car fifty meters further along beckoned us forwards. It was difficult to make out in the fading light but through my binoculars I could see not one, not two but four tigers! A mother with 3 youngsters had just killed a wild boar and the youngsters were bouncing around on it and tearing chunks from the carcass. Unbelievable!

Despite my best attempts to freeze time the light continued to fade. Five minutes later we could no longer make out the distant shapes on the tigers. Beaming, we made our way back in the dark, adrenaline still racing from the afternoon's activities. We got more than we'd bargained for at Kaziranga. We were extremely fortunate but we also had a very patient and knowledgeable guide.

If you are ever planning a safari to this area I would highly recommend Parag Hazarika. You can find him on Facebook or on +919854848672/+918471813140.

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