Ranthambore tiger safari – is it worth going?

Ranthambore tiger safari

Wondering if you should book a Ranthambore tiger safari? Here’s how to do it and why you should or should not go.

Ranthambore tiger safari in Sawai Madhopur is named one of the best places to spot tigers in India. Since we were visiting the Golden Triangle, and Ranthambore is rather close, we went there with hopes of catching a glimpse of India’s national animal – the Bengal tiger.

Logically, with only about 50 tigers on nearly 400 square km, odds were not in our favour, but I chose to hope that we’d be lucky.

Read next: How to plan a camel safari in Pushkar

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Best time to visit Ranthambore safari

Ranthambore tiger reserve is open from October to the end of June. It’s closed for visitors the rest of the year due to the monsoon. 

The best time to visit Ranthambore tiger safari and spotting tigers is just before the rainy season, from April to June. Be aware that it can get very hot – 40°C – but the lack of water encourages animals out into the open. 

Avoid October if you can. 

Ranthambore in winter

We visited in Ranthambore in winter (February) and it was chilly. Mornings are cold, so make sure to bring a warm jacket and a scarf as you’ll be sitting in an open jeep.

Getting to Ranthambore tiger safari

Ranthambore tiger safari is located in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan. It’s about 400 km from Delhi and 180 km from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.

From Delhi 

I recommend taking the train. It’s faster, cheaper and takes 5 hours (book in advance). By car, it takes about 7 to 8 hours.

From Jaipur

By train and car, it takes 3,5 hours from Jaipur to Ranthambore tiger reserve, but the road isn’t that great. So again, I recommend taking the train. 

We had a bit of a rough journey coming from Pushkar to Sawai Madhopur. We had pre-booked a taxi as it would be faster, and to make a very long story short: the driver got lost in the fog, and the trip that was supposed to last 3-4 hours ended up lasting 11 hours. At one point when passing through a small village in the middle of the night, the driver stopped in front of a group of local men and suggested us to stay there until the fog lifted.

This happened just a month after the terrible gang rape and murder of local girl in Delhi. So, no way we were stopping! I was not about to risk getting attacked, and he certainly didn’t seem like he’d care if I did, so I firmly told him to KEEP MOVING. I didn’t get any sleep that night as I was making sure that he didn’t stop somewhere he wasn’t supposed to.

We arrived at our hotel 6.30 in the morning – ready for the Ranthambore tiger safari at 7 a.m. I was knackered and in no mood to go anywhere than to bed and sleep. I did manage to get a few minutes sleep, though, before the tour guide came to our room and said: “Let’s find some tigers!”

Ranthambore safari booking

Ranthambore national park timings

Ranthambore safari is open from 1st October to 30th June.

You can join two safaris a day. Each safari lasts about three hours, and you’re best off going on the morning tours as tigers are more active during these hours.

  • Two safaris a day: 6am and 2pm
  • Duration: 3 hours

Ranthambore safari cost

The Ranthambore safari price is INR 3700 per passenger ($46) for a 6 seater shared jeep. We booked it through tourmyindia.com, but you can also book it directly through the

Ranthambore national park animals

In Ranthambore National Park, you can see many beautiful bird species. Flamingos, flycatchers, sarus cranes, grey hornbills and serpent eagles are just some of the birds that call this park home.

You will also see deers. And tigers, if you’re lucky.

Ranthambore tiger safari

Enter at your own risk

Before entering the park, we had to sign a statement, basically saying that a) if we got attacked by a tiger, we could not sue Ranthambore tiger safari, and b) if we were eaten by a tiger, it was at our own risk.

Got it.

Ranthambore tiger safari

Ranthambore tiger safari

Best zone for tiger sighting in Ranthambore

The park is divided into 10 zones, and zones 1-5 are the core zones with zone 2 and 3 being the best zones to spot tigers. Zone 3 is most popular because there are three lakes here. This is believed to be the best habitat for tigers of Ranthambore as they’ll go here for water. 

We didn’t know this at the time, but it wouldn’t have mattered much as you don’t have any say in which zone you’re going to. This is entirely managed and decided by the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve management.

Ranthambore tiger safari

My experience at Ranthambore tiger safari

Driving into the park was really exciting, and I paid attention the every tiny leaf moving, ready to shoot tons of pictures.

“LOOK!…..” the guide said with an excited tone. We all turned our heads synchronically, following his pointing finger. “There’s a deer.” Everyone were snapping photos, aawing and oohing.

An hour went by, and when countless of deers had entered the spotlight, people were beginning to get annoyed by the guide’s enthusiastic (and slightly misleading) tone whenever a new deer showed up in the bushes.

By the time we’d seen deer number one-million, and the guide got ready to say: “LOOK! There’s a de…”, the guy in the seat behind me roared with a thick English accent: “Oh, shut up for heaven’s sake!” People were cheering while the guide clammed up.

After that, we didn’t see any more deers, and the tigers stayed off the paths, too. Unfortunately, this was the case on both of our tours, so we didn’t get to see any at all. I’d lie if I said I wasn’t disappointed. It would have been nice to see a wild tiger in Ranthambore tiger safari, but I know myself well enough to know that this won’t be the last time I’ll be chasing tigers. Not by a long shot.

Ranthambore tiger safari
Ranthambore tiger safari

Ranthambore tiger safari

Should you visit Ranthambore tiger safari?

It’s a tough question.

Since we didn’t spot any tigers and that I haven’t met anyone who has, I’m prone to say no. However, lots of stories on the Internet will tell you otherwise.

Obviously, your chances of seeing a tiger increases the more safaris you take, and if you’re lucky to get in the best zones, your odds are definitely in your favour.

Like with anything else, just remember to adjust your expectations. Don’t go on a Ranthambore safari, expecting to see tigers running around every corner, because you won’t. You might be lucky, but in either case it’s a chance to take. If you can accept those odds, I’d say go for it!

Ranthambore tiger safari

Stay at the Tiger safari resort Ranthambore

While we didn’t see any tigers, we were beyond happy with our hotel in Ranthambore national park.

The Tiger safari resort Ranthambore had a nice pool, great rooms and extremely helpful staff. We’d ordered a taxi to Agra in the evening (with the same company as before), but this time the driver didn’t show up at all.

Sawai Madhopur is somewhat in the middle of nowhere, so getting to Agra seemed almost impossible as time was not on our side. The manager of the hotel was very understanding and before I knew it, he picked up the phone and said that his nephew could drive us and that it would cost us less than we would have paid with the other company (and that was quite cheap).

We ended up having a super great and comfortable trip to Agra, and I was so grateful for the manager’s help. So, as you can imagine, I only have praises for this hotel.

We paid $43 to stay at the Tiger Safari Resort.

Ranthambore tiger safari

Ranthambore tiger safari

Planning to visit Ranthambore tiger safari? Ask me anything in the comments!

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Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur is named one of the best places to spot tigers in India. Here are my tips for visiting the tiger park.

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  1. Ah, the deers are cute, but they’ve got nothing on tigers! Shame you didn’t get to see any, don’t think I’d be able to cope with the disappointment if I’d spent all that money just to go tiger spotting!

  2. Thanks, Catherine! I was quite disappointed not to see any tigers, but when I heard how few there actually were on the enormous area, I wasn’t surprised. I guess it’s always a matter of luck when it comes to wildlife, but rather that than to see animals caged in zoos.

  3. We visited a month or so ago just before they closed the park for the season. We chose to do a day trip from Jaipur and joined an afternoon tour. Like you we had no luck but did see some deer, lots of peacocks and monkeys. If we did it again I would choose to stay out there and spend a few days looking. I thought it was a bit haphazard regarding the quality of the guides and the lottery in which zone you get. We were lucky and got Zone 4 near the water holes but unlucky in that there had been rain and the tigers no longer needed to come to the water holes.

    1. I definitely think it’s a matter of luck. I’ve since spoken to a few people who saw tigers at the park, but they also went on several tours, not just one. I know there’s a park futher south where it’s easier to spot them, so that might be a better bet.

  4. I haven’t been to Ranthambore yet. But I have seen tigers at Jim Corbett national park, it’s few hours from Delhi. I recommend staying at Dhikala forest guest house, it’s in the core forest area and is managed by the forest department. Though it’s a lot trouble to make direct bookings(you know how it works here with govt offices), but it’s totally worth it! The forest department has a office in Delhi, if you have a friend in Delhi they might be able to make bookings on your behalf.
    Ps-Tour operators sell the same package for double the money.

    1. Thanks for the tips, Shobhit. They’re super helpful! I’d love to see tigers in India so I’ll be sure to check Jim Corbett out when I return!

      1. Self visited Ranthambore tiger safari in the month of April in2018.I took 5 safaries and could see 19tigeres.

  5. Thanks very much, Miriam. I have been tossing up going to Ranthambore, this very day. I think you have convinced me not to visit. We only have 10 days available and visiting 2 tiger reserves (including Sariska), with the thought of probably not seeing a tiger, would be too disappointing. We intend to take a tour provided by indiabycaranddriver.
    Thanks again and by the way, your blog is very interesting and well written.I thought your Taj article was very evocative. Congratulations!

    1. I totally understand you, Martin! And I hope you get to see a tiger at Sariska, what a unique experience it would be!
      Thank you so much for the kind words, they mean a lot.

    2. You wouldn’t find any tigers in sariska too!!! I just had a trip to bharatpur and sariska, was disappointed, you will find peacocks and lots and lots of deers, birds, wild buffaloes and thats it.

  6. I was here in 2015, staying at Ranthambore Fort for one a couple of nights (arrived late one night and had one full day / night after that). I went on the safari the morning after I arrived and was fortunate enough to see two tigers and a leopard, which was awesome. I took one of the coolest photos of my life with my arm hanging out of a jeep pointing my camera at the mother tiger (the other was a year or two old offspring) as she walked within 15ft of it. Amazing experience.

    1. Ooh, that must have been amazing, Jake! And perfect that you got that great photo! You’re really lucky to have seen both tigers and a leopard 🙂

  7. Hey! thank you for sharing such a nice article. If you want to enjoy a wildlife safari in Rajasthan then Jawai safari is best.

  8. Since 2014 or so, the tiger population in India has almost doubled, and so the sightings have become an everyday thing in most zones at Ranthambore National park. I visited at the beginning of March, and had a tiger sighting for a full 2 hours as she just sat there gazing at deers at the lake. On my other two safaris, we missed the tigers by chance, as while exiting we found out that there was a sighting in our zone, just at the very end.
    This has been the case with most of my friends who visited the National park recently, everyone has come back having sighted a tiger.
    If you can, do visit again between January and March, you will not be disappointed.

  9. We also visited ranthambore national park in february 2021…we were relle lucky enough to spot the tiger within 10-15 mins of entering zone 3 as our guide caught hold of the alarm call given by the monkeys when a tiger is around…and in 3 hours we got to see four times… Also near the lake… We had tsken 2.30pm safari…. So yes offcourse it is worth going… And also choosing zone is necessary… Zone 2,3 and 4 are the most visited as they r the core zones esp. zone 3….Its bful. Must trying.

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