Ranthambore – Home to “THE BIG CATS”

Location – Ranthambore is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan and is a major tourist attraction as it houses the “Ranthambore National Park”.

How to Reach

  • By Road: Ranthambore is located at a distance of approximately 400 kms from New Delhi. If travelling on your own, it takes about 8 hrs 40 min to reach.
  • By Train: Sawai Madhopur (SWM) is the nearest railway station to Ranthambore National Park.
  • By Air: Jaipur’s Sanganer airport is the nearest and located approximately at a distance of 150 km from the Ranthambore National Park.

Where to Stay

The stay options in Ranthambore are plenty (Budget vs. Luxury) and depends on individual preference. There are modest home stays, budget hotels and holiday resorts. The more adventurous may even go for a night in one of the jungle lodges or luxury camps. It is advisable to check the property’s proximity from the Ranthambore National Park and selected safari zones.

If your budget permits, Sherbagh should be the unanimous choice for an authentic experience. It is one of the oldest and premium camps. Moreover, they have private jeep tours for their guests with trained and well experienced guides. Their traditional hospitality with local cuisines, luxurious tents, private swimming pool and a library right in the jungle would definitely be an experience forever. The look and feel might import you back to the British era of royalty. And who knows, you might encounter one right there!

We chanced upon Ranthambore Vatika Resort while doing our research. A budget accommodation, the first and foremost reason was the resort’s closeness to the safari zones. Moreover, they gladly allowed us an Early Check -In without any issue. If staying here, it is advisable to take an All-Inclusive-Plan as there are no eateries nearby. The food was extremely healthy, tasty and homely. The rooms were large and clean with eco-friendly solar geysers installed in the washrooms. The ever smiling staff members were readily available for anything we asked for. Please visit their website for price and room availability.

Best Time to Visit

The park remains open from 1st October till 30th June every year. Being the breeding season, it is closed in monsoons from July till September. Most tourists prefer the winters as an obvious choice to avoid Rajasthan’s unbearable heat. However, per locals, summer months are excellent to spot one especially near the water bodies (Zone 3) and are preferred by most wild life enthusiasts, filmmakers or photographers. For tourists, it is recommended to plan a visit during October till April.

Tiger Safari (Zones and Timings) Tiger safari is the main attraction in Ranthambore; hence, safari tickets should be timely booked at least 2 months in advance. This ensures availability of preferred safari zones and morning/evening slots. Canter and gypsy bookings via agents are expensive. One may get it done through their hotel or book directly through the Government website at https://fmdss.forest.rajasthan.gov.in/. For a single safari, canter booking amount is Rs 624.26 (as in Jan 2019).

Zones

The national park is divided into 10 distinct safari zones and selection is of utmost importance. Zones 1 to 5 are considered to be the best for tiger spotting. However, Zone 3 is the most popular with tourists and gets booked way too fast compared to others. It provides the most natural habitat for tigers with forest and three beautiful lakes – Padam Talab, Rajabagh Talab and Malik Talab. With three water bodies, this zone becomes a prime location for the predators. We studied the details on https://www.ranthamborenationalpark.com/safari-zones.html to finalize the zones.

An old tree at the entrance to Zone 1

Timings

The National Park entry and exit timings depend on the season. In summers, morning safari is from 6:00 AM till 9:30 AM and evening safari is from 3:30 PM till 7:00 PM. However, it varies in winters with shorter safari duration owing to lesser daylight availability. The park timing in winters (usually 1st November to 31st January) is from 7:00 AM till 10:30 AM and 2:00 PM till 5:30 PM respectively.

NOTE: At times, selected zone might be changed last minute on instructions by the forest officials. However, it is an extremely rare case and would happen in anticipation of the natural habitat for wildlife being disturbed.

How are Tigers named?

The forest officials and locals often refer tigers with their code names – T-19, T- 84, T-24 and so on.  But it was the constant reference of names like Krishna, Arrowhead, Noor, Macchli etc which made me wonder “How are the Tigers named?” Turns out, it is mostly based on their appearance, features and some special patterns or characters which you and I can never tell.

Marking Territories

From a young age, marking their territory is the prime focus of a wild cat’s life. As soon as they get independent, they begin hunting and specifying their boundaries. The preference of an area highly depends on availability of prey. The methods primarily include urination, secretion from anal glands, scratch marks on trees or making an artificial boundary with bushes. The cubs, on getting older, can chase their own parents (mostly father) out of a territory to make it their own.

What to Wear

  • Summers: It is difficult to bear the rising temperature of the forest from April through June. Wear the lightest of clothes preferably cotton and dark sun glasses. Cover your head with a cap or scarf to avoid direct strokes as it would be unbearably hot.
  • Winters: Winter mornings are freezing and many layers would be needed for a morning safari. Woollen gloves and a scarf/ muffler are highly advisable while you ride in the open jeep/canter. As the day advances, it would get pleasant eventually getting cold with the evenings and chilly nights.

Other Attractions: See Ranthambore Fort and Temples

P.S: Read an account of our visit to the park on “Ranthambore – Mission 3 Tigers”.

The information provided is based on firsthand experience. For any further queries, feel free to leave a comment below or email. I will revert at the earliest.

Related Post: Legends of Ranthambore National Park

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