Ranthambhore National Park Travel Blog› entry 25 of 33 › view all entries
Having missed out on tigers in Nepal (the chances were never high in Chitwan), time to try my luck in Ranthambore where although a small population, the tigers are reputedly exhibitionists.
Caught another train from Agra to Sawai Madhopur feeling that the bad press of the Indian trains unjustified as I'd had no problem travelling in sleeper class so far. However this time I found myself double booked with someone else. With my new partner wanting to get his sleep in sleeper class, I found myself squashed on less than my half a seat. Thankfully after checking all tickets on the train, the conductor returned and found me a spare seat to settle down for the journey into the night.
Ranthambore not a cheap place to stay and only hostals in the mid and expensive ranges so treated myself to a hostal 4 times more expensive than anywhere else so far stayed in India ($20).
I got up in time for the return of the dawn safari returing to the hostal with big smiley faces having seen Bengal tigers on their trip. I booked my trip for the afternoon.
It doesn't take long to establish that Ranthombore is only cluster of hotels set up for the safaris and there is nothing else to do. Thankfully the weather a complete contrast to Agra and the sun blazing. Took my book on to the hotel balcony and relaxed until my afternoon safari.
15 of us set off in our canter truck in to the Ranthambore National Park. Unlike the lush green plains of Nepal, Ranthambore much more like I'd imagine an African safari with bleached dry short straw grass and dusty soil.
As the sun started to go down, lovely views of over the lakes with Ranthambore Fort (2nd largest fort in Rajasthan dating from 11th century) towering at top of ridge above the plain. The monkey alarm went off a few times to indicate a potential tiger spotting where every vehicle would descend upon the spot with all eyes peeled for any movement - all to no avail.
Another start before the sun rose. A lot less people on safari for the morning trip meaning a lot less vehicles entering the park. This mornings tour guide much more informative than yesterday giving more detail to the history of the park and wildlife that are indigenous to the area. I was happy with his priority to try and find a tiger.
We quickly drove alongside the 3 lakes without success before stopping several times at known spots where tigers are often seen. At about the 5th attempt, I turned around and spotted our elusive friend from about 30 metres away. I selfishly took a couple photos with x10 zoom before flagging our guide.
Only one third in to our safari, I was quite happy to go back to the hostal. However we went off to try for more sightings. Very little other wildlife around so spent much of the time watching grass sway in the wind. 45 minutes later we came across a group of vehicles and found our T-17 again in the undergrowth sniffing around and laying her scent. She wandered off after 5 minutes only to be quickly followed by a 2nd tiger who picked up the scent and followed after her. We tracked our 2nd tiger for 5 minutes as she walked in parallel to the road in thin undergrowth. Objective of trip fully achieved :-). I tried not to be too smug when returned to hostal to see several of the others who had been on the afternoon safari and decided against the dawn safari.
Doing both safaris worthwhile as far more wildlife in the afternoon, but I would have left disappointed without seeing the tigers in the morning. A few more rays of sun and time to move on to Jaipur.