Ranthambore National Park is known as one of the best places in India to spot a Bengal tiger in the wild.🐅
Fun fact: A little over 50 years ago, the land was used as a private hunting reserve for royalty! 🔫 😱It only changed into a national park back in 1980.Along with tigers, the park actually has about 40 other mammal species, including gray langar monkeys, and spotted and sambar deer. 🐒It also has a wide variety of birds and reptiles, like rufous treepie birds, kingfishers and heron.There’s actually a crocodile in this photo too! Can you see his head? 🐊
How to Book a Safari
The park is almost 90,000 acres and is divided into 10 zones. Zones 1-5 are the best zones for spotting tigers. You aren’t guaranteed a particular zone when you book, but you will most likely get 1-5. Your vehicle choice is either a 20-seater canter truck or a 6-seater gypsy jeep. I chose the canter, since it was 1/3 of the price. There is the option to book online, but navigating that web page, like most online booking systems in India, is a literal nightmare! It’s just easier to book with your hotel, plus then you’ll have pick-up and drop-off included in the price.
So did we spot a tiger?
Our vehicle left at 5:45 AM from my hotel to enter the park and begin our safari in zone 4. The canter truck was so loud and squeaky, it sounded like the reject cart at Walmart. 🤣 I’m sure the tigers could hear us from miles away! Hah! Also, everyone kept talking very loud with each other, which didn’t seem like a smart idea when you’re trying to spot wildlife. I even took a short video to help you understand.
Well we spent almost three hours driving through the park, where we spotted many other mammals and also the paw print of either a leopard or tiger. Unfortunately the most exciting animal encounter I had was with a bird that jumped right in front of me on the truck. Hah! 🤣
Our vehicle also got stuck at one point when driving down a narrow path, and the front end of the truck was lodged up against a tree branch. Everyone had to get out to decrease the weight, before he floored it in reverse to get out of that mess! 😱
Is a gypsy better than a canter?
During the safari all of the gypsy and canter vehicles were together. They communicate with each other if they see anything, and we pretty much stayed together the whole time. For this reason, I don’t see the advantage of the smaller, more expensive vehicle.
Is it still worth it to visit Ranthambore National Park?
I would say, although I didn’t spot a tiger, I always knew this was a possibility and I still enjoyed my safari. You have think, these animals are wild, nocturnal, and live mostly solitary lives. In this vast national park full of thick brush and trees, a recent census found only 60 tigers, meaning the likelihood of spotting them is far from guaranteed.I did visit during May, which is reportedly the best time to visit. The temps here are well over 100 degrees, and many tigers come out of hiding to find a water source to keep cool.Overall, I would say that it’s worth visiting the park to see if you’re lucky enough to spot a tiger, and at least see some of India’s wildlife, as well as, escape from the chaos of the city of Jaipur.
Cost: 25 USD/ canter safari
Side note: Now I spent two nights in Ranthambore and had the option of doing multiple safaris; however, I came down with a violent stomach bug on day one that left me bedridden for at least 24-48 hours. Maybe I would have spotted something on another safari, but I was far too sick to leave my hotel. 🤢
The main town near Ranthambore is called Sawaii Madhopur. It is a 2-hour train journey from Jaipur. As you’ll read in my Jaipur post, booking these tickets was again another nightmare. I HIGHLY recommend booking in advance if you want a seat. My train was also three hours late when returning back to Jaipur as well. I made many observations while I was sitting there on the verge of puking, counting down the seconds until my train arrived. Hah!First, I noticed that most Indians don’t touch their mouths to soda/water bottles. This is because they share everything with one another. I was even offered a stranger’s water on multiple occasions, which is very different from the culture back home. There is also this large basin at the train station where people share the same water scoop. Everyone drinks from it (not touching their mouth to it) and many pour water in their mouth only to spit out large quantities on the sidewalk. 🤔I also noticed a very different view of trash disposal here. Everyone throws all of their bags, bottles, food containers, and such directly out the window when they’re finished with them. There is garbage scattered literally all over the countryside. 😢
While in Sawaii Madhopur, I stayed at the Tiger Safari Resort. This might have been the highlight for me, as I had spent the past three weeks in communal dorms, and also couch surfing in Europe. For once I had my own room and my own space! 🙏It couldn’t have come at a better time too considering my illness. At least I did get the chance to go swimming once before I got very ill. 😀The remainder of my time was spent basking in my air conditioned room, or lying like a vegetable by the pool.It was obviously a bit more expensive, but with the personal space, I was able to teach a few VIPKID lessons and pay for my stay. 😉
Cost: 25 USD/ night (breakfast included, although I didn’t try it seeing as I couldn’t stomach more than crackers, soda, and plain pasta) 😭
Anyway, Jaipur is my final destination in India before flying to a new country. Stay tuned to hear all about it! Until then! 😀