27th - 30th December 2013
Ranthambore National park is one of the most accessible forests in India. It is just 15 km from district headquarters of Sawai Madhopur which is 150 km from Jaipur and well connected by train. And hence it attracts far more visitors than other parks. Thanks to several documentaries from leading TV channels like BBC, the name Ranthambore is also well known among generic public.
Tigers are the main attraction here though luck plays a major role in sighting them. For example, I went on four safaris but found Tiger only on the last one at the eleventh minute. If you are targeting tigers, go in summer when water scarcity drives animals to the very few water holes in the forest. Sighting becomes relatively easier then. For less tiger hungry people, Ranthambore has much more to offer (and so are the other forests).
What I missed were my friends Elephants and Bison. They are simply not there in Ranthambore. Sambar deer are in huge numbers compared to our forests in Karnataka. And there are Nilgai.
Birds are innumerable. I am not a serious birder and hence it is possible that I missed most of them!! But there are plenty of them.
Peacocks are almost tamed and so are the treepie.
There are several lakes in Ranthambore which are picturesque. Whether it is against the backdrop of falling sun or the moss that covers the lake, they all look beautiful.
And there are many crocodiles to watch in these lakes and streams!!
Where to stay?
The road from Sawai Madhopur to the national park is teaming with lodges and resort. Prices vary from Rs 500 to > 50,000!! Choose your budget and luxury levels. Unlike in Karnataka one need not stay in luxury resorts to get into a Jeep safari in Ranthambore.
How to book safari?
This is the most important part of your Ranthambore trip. Whether you book a lodge or not does not matter. But make sure you book your safari before arriving to Ranthambore. The easiest option for common man is online booking on their website (http://www.rajasthanwildlife.in/make_your_trip/Ranthmbor/planyourtrip.jsp ). The website was extremely buggy when I booked but that is the only option. Route 1 -5 have good animal sightings while 6, 7 and 8 lie on the other side of the park and not favourite among tourists.
The advantage is that you only book for your seat and not for entire vehicle. A great boon for solo travelers!! I do not know the procedure if you want entire vehicle for yourself but it is possible as I saw few Jeeps with one or two people. (Book entire Jeep with dummy names??). When you book, the website asks for the hotel to pick you up!! Looks cool!!
But it is not so simple!! While booking, you will only pay part of the money with rest being paid just before safari at forest department office!! And only then you get boarding rights!! Ah!! So much so for asking pick up points while booking!!!! The easiest way is to ask hotel person to do it on your behalf. They will take additional money as service but that avoids the hassles of standing in the queue and dealing with unfriendly people.
Jeep safari is the best. Canters are also available but consider it if Jeep is not available.
Oh!! I missed one more important place…. In the next post!!
If you are still searching for tiger, click here!!