We got up at 4:30 for a 5:00 departure from the resort, since the gate into the park opens at 5:30. The park has three areas designated for tourists, or zones, and they are named Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3. You can purchase tickets to specific zones (subject to availability, of course), or request a mix of zones. Our guide Vijay indicated that when we booked our 4 nights at our lodge, the lodge immediately purchased our tickets for the park, since it does fill up. We had apparently requested a mix of the different zones, but we (the two of us) had no idea about this. Zone 1 was the original tourist zone, and zones 2 and 3 have been added since. Vijay told us that these 3 zones represent only 20% of the total national park. This morning we were going to zone 2, and we were fourth in line to go in.

After the gate opened, we saw a number of tiger paw prints, including some from what must be a massive male. We saw lots of spotted (aka axis) deer everywhere, and also a couple of another kind of deer, the Sambar Deer. There were lots of black-faced monkeys, called langurs. Crystal saw a white-faced monkey (rhesus macaque); Vijay told us they have a much worse disposition than the langurs. It was extremely dusty on the paths, so Vijay tried to avoid being behind anyone. In several places, saw private property butting up against park, with just a small mound to indicate boundary. We saw a couple of warthogs, an eagle, some sort of smallish bird of prey (which we got a picture of). There were also a number of peacocks, peahens, kingfishers in different colors, and hundreds of super short date palms. Vijay told us that the locals use the fronds for sweeping and other uses, and so the palms never properly mature.

At one point while looking for tracks we noticed some human footprints, which Vijay jokingly (or perhaps not jokingly) called "the most dangerous predator." Sadly for the tigers, that is an apt description. The forest contained a high density of Moa trees (Madhuca longifolia), which the locals would burn (even inside the national park) so that the tree would drop flowers. Vijay told us that the flowers are used to produce an alcoholic drink, and that the animals can get intoxicated from eating the flowers as well. That doesn't seem like a good idea when there are tigers around. Near the end of our drive, we found a tiger, but we couldn't see it. Deers and monkeys were sounding warning calls left and right, but the tiger was in the grass and we couldn't see it. A whole bunch of jeeps were lined up in the hopes the tiger would reveal itself, but it never did, and we had to leave by 9:30. We got back to the camp around 10, absolutely covered in dust. We had a late breakfast, then took a shower to clean up. After that we read and took a nap, then grabbed lunch at 1:30.

We got ready for the afternoon drive after lunch, and then went into the library where Vijay showed us a map of the park, and also showed us the five tiger parks in central India. He indicated it would be better if there was a corridor connecting them so that tigers could roam, and also to prevent inbreeding. We had read about an idea to do this in the India-Nepal-Bhutan-Myanmar area, and it is defnitely something that should be done, but we're dubious it ever will be. Vijay told us that we'd be spending the afternoon in Zone 3, and that it has multiple villages right in the middle of it. Human villages in the middle of a National Park, particularly one with Tigers, is completely nonsensical. On the drive we saw a Bluebull (aka Nilgai), a giant antelope. The moghuls named it "cow" so that Hindus wouldn't kill it. Too bad they didn't do that with the tigers.

There was a fire burning about 1/3 of Zone 3, set purposely for the moa flowers to drop. How this is allowed is incomprehensible. Even apart from the fire, Zone 3 didn't seem as green, and seemed even more dusty. We saw some warthogs playing in the water hole; otherwise it was just more of the same. This was bad news for the other two folks in the truck, a British couple named Kevin and (didn't catch her name), who were on their last drive and hadn't seen a tiger in Bandhavgarh. At the end of the drive, we heard warning calls nearby, asked Vijay if there was a road that direction - sadly the answer was no. We had to rush back to gate before it closed at 6:30, and barely made it, but Kevin and his wife seemed to appreciate the effort. On the drive back, Vijay was ranting and raving about the government, how they don't accept any free help from guides in terms of mapping, cataloging, or otherwise participating in tiger conservation. This sadly was not a surprise to us, as we'd read about the Indian government has been making a mess of the Tiger parks for years now, which is why we wanted to come before the tigers are all gone. We got back to camp even dustier than in the morning, and 0 for 2 on seeing tigers, but knowing we still had five more drives to go. At dinner, we saw the most depressing movie ever, which was about the plight of the tigers and all the ineptness and corruption that has caused it. We've tried our best to forget what was in it; the lodge gave us a DVD, we doubt we will ever be opening it.