We started our safari with hope in heart and a sharp sight to spot tigers. As we entered the vast stretches of Ranthambore national park, we kept scanning the woods in search of the majestic tiger. Fluttering of leaves and chirping of birds were the only sounds that echoed in the forest. The jeep kept rumbling on muddy & uneven roads, in search of tigers. As the magnanimous trees hovered over us, we kept a vigil eye on the huge tree trunks. It was a matter of second to miss a tiger sighting. We didn’t know if we were going to be lucky and spot a tiger. But, one thing was sure. Our hearts were beating rapidly in anticipation of the splendid sighting that might occur any moment now! So, did we spot the tiger? Let me come back to this point later.
Ranthambore National Park is considered to be one of the best tiger reserves in India. However, the tiger sighting in Ranthambore national park is very tough. The Ranthambore national park is divided in 8 Zones. Jeeps and open canters plough on these routes in search of the majestic animal, tiger.
If you are planning to visit Ranthambore national park, it is recommended that you book safaris through some trusted website like Ranthamborenationalpark.com. The bookings start 90 days in advance. The open jeep slots are filled faster than the open canters. However, if you have some contact in a Ranthambore resort, they can arrange a jeep, even 1 day in advance
The jeep costs Rs 1400 per person. The open canters cost half of that. If you spot a tiger during a Ranthambore safari, the jeep would be able to give you a better thrill. However, the canters are also not that bad.
When I reached Jaipur, visiting Ranthambore national park was in my list of things to do. It is a 3 hour journey from Jaipur. So, we took a day trip to Ranthambore National park in search of tigers. We had opted for an evening Ranthambore safari (2.30 pm to 5.30 pm). We had booked it via a resort in Ranthambore.
The safari started on time and we shared the jeep with 3 other adventure seekers from US. The zones are allotted randomly through a lottery system. So, there is nothing that can be done about it. However, its India. So, there might be some way to get in the hot favorite zone. We did not undertake any such manipulations and decided to try our luck in zone 6/route 6.
The forest started getting denser as we entered the zone. But, once we crossed the main gate, there was no dense forest. We were in the wide & open terrains of Ranthambore. Our driver followed the dust tracks and delved deeper in the forest by crossing the open grounds.
Now, we were in the heart of the forest. Any minute, a tiger might just walk in front of us! The thrill was building up and so was our excitement. The birds chirping enthusiastically made us believe that a sighting would happen. We diligently kept eye on every possible shape that can resemble a tiger. But, all that we saw were deers and wild boars. We did come across a tiger pugmark. But, the excitement was brief and lasted only for the next 5 minutes.
Our safari timing was half over and the driver decided to take a short break. We were evaluating the chance of tiger spotting in the second half of the safari. Suddenly, we noticed a flock of birds behaving in a very friendly manner. They were landing on our palms and savoring the bits we offered them! The bird was an Indian treepie and it was not scared at all by our presence. During our break, we also noticed a brave female indian sambar deer quenching its thirst peacefully.
We resumed our safari in search of tigers. We spent good one hour again exploring Ranthambore terrains. But, to our utter disappointment, we were not able to see the regal creature.
Here, I have compiled some quick information which you should know before visiting Ranthambore National Park. It will help you in setting the expectations before visiting Ranthambore National Park
1) Vehicles: You can opt for a jeep or a canter. Jeep would cost Rs 1400 per person per safari and canter would cost Rs 700
2) Zones/Routes: There are 8 zones in Ranthambore. Apparantely, zone 6-7-8 are not good for sighting. However, if your luck is strong, you will sight a tiger in any zone.
3) Safari Booking: You can book the safari online through some websites like Ranthamborenationalpark.com. But, you will have to book it well in advance. Other option is to book a Ranthambore safari through a local resort. Third option is to book it through the government office itself. But, you might have to stand in a line to get the booking done.
4) Ranthambore Resorts/Hotels: So, there are many resorts/hotels next to Ranthambore National Park. But, most of them are located in Sawai Madhopur village. Hence, they don’t really give a forest resort kind of feel. Hence, do proper research before booking a resort near Ranthambore.
5) Best Season for Tiger Sighting: No season can guarantee a tiger sighting in Ranthambore. However, summer becomes very hot, So tigers tend to stay near water reserves. Also, the trees have faded off the leaves in summer which again helps in tiger sighting. If you are going in Summer, go in March of April. In the months of May & June, Ranthambore becomes excruciatingly hot and full of dust. Also, prefer morning safaris in Summer as it will be much better than searching for tigers in blistering afternoon heat. Please note, Ranthambore remains shut from July to October.
I was not able to see the Tiger. But, a friend, Dhiraj Jain, was able to spot a tiger and he swears on the animal’s magnanimity. Below is a brief image gallery. The pictures are taken by Dhiraj. (Use arrow key to navigate left & right)
I hope you find this post useful. I am not ending the post here. I am keeping it open. I will visit Ranthambore National Park again, see the regal creature and add my experience here.
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