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Safari in Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur is named one of the best places to spot tigers in India. Since it was almost on our way, we went there with hopes of catching a glimpse of a wild tiger. Logically, with only a few tigers on nearly 400 square km, odds were not in our favor, but I chose to hope that we would be of the lucky few.
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SAFARI IN RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK
We had a bit of a rough journey coming from Pushkar to Sawai Madhopur. We had opted for a taxi as it would be faster and less time-consuming, 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, 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 rapes of local girls and travelers. So no way!! 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 drive us somewhere he wasn’t supposed to.
We arrived at our hotel 6.30 in the morning – ready for the Ranthambore National Park safari leaving at 7. I was knackered and in no mood at all to go anywhere than to bed and sleep. I did get a few minutes sleep, though, before the tour guide came to our room and said: “Let’s find some tigers!”
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RANTHAMBORE SAFARI BOOKING
Ranthambore safari booking is easy, and there are two safaris a day. One at 7am and one at 2pm. Each safari lasts about three hours, and you’re best off going on the morning tours as tigers are more active during these hours. The Ranthambore national park entry fee is $42 per person for a 6 seater shared jeep, and we booked it through tourmyindia.com.
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. We didn’t know this at the time, but it wouldn’t have mattered much as you don’t have any say in what zone you’re going to. This is entirely managed and decided by the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve management.
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 the safari park, and b) If we were eaten by a tiger, it was at our own risk.
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.
TIGER SAFARI, BUT WHERE ARE THE TIGERS?
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! We don’t give a horse’s arse about deers and trees. We’re here to see tigers, so stop wasting our time and make it happen already!” 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 Reserve, 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.
BEST TIME TO VISIT RAMTHAMBORE
Ranthambore National Park is open from October to the end of June. It’s closed for visitors the rest of the time. The best time to visit Ranthambore is during the summer – it gets really hot, but the heat also increases the chances of spotting tigers.
October to April because it gets quite hot during summer – and so the chances of spotting tigers.
WOULD I RECOMMEND RANTHAMBORE TIGER RESERVE?
It’s a tough question. Seeing as 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 favor. Like with anything else, just remember to adjust your expectations. Don’t go to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and expect 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 HOTELS IN SAWAI MADHOPUR
We were more than satisfied with our Ranthambore hotel in Sawai Madhopur. It 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 from a to b was 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). So, as you can imagine, I only have praises for this particular hotel.
We paid $43 to stay at the Tiger Safari Resort.
Have you been to a tiger park in India? Did you see a wild tiger?
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