Thursday, April 26, 2012

Where Tigers rule: Ranthambore National Park

When I visited Ranthambore last year for a day and failed to see a tiger, I had decided that I will come back here again. I always had a feeling that I missed seeing one by a very slight margin.
So I decided to drive to Ranthmabore on a Friday night, have four safaris over Saturday n Sunday and drive back after the evening safari on Sunday.
Last year I committed a big mistake of doing these safaris in a Canter, which is like a minibus with its top removed. Though you can still see a tiger but the canter with its inability to maneuver easily and the time it takes in picking up all the tourists reduces the probability of seeing a tiger significantly. So I booked my safaris in gypsy with Ranthambore Bagh. I would highly recommend this place to anyone going there. With the owner himself being a wildlife photographer, this place is built with a passion that won't be seen in other resorts in Ranthambore.

Safari 1:
We got zone number 3 in our 1st safari. Its surely the most scenic zone with three lakes here. Also, the chances of sighting a tiger here are good as these lakes provide nice habitat to a tiger with enough water n prey present. Zone 3 falls into the territory of T-28 male tiger, T-17 female and T-19 female with her 3 cubs. However, we were out of luck as this zone was totally dry during our safari. No pugmarks, no warning calls. We had to make do with just crocodiles, deers, monkeys and a number of birds.

Safari 2:
When we reached back to our hotel, we found out that people in zone 4 and 5 had seen multiple tigers, so we requested the agents to get us those zones for the evening safari as tigers hardly move during the day. We got zone 5. Its the biggest zone and the ride is quite harsh on your back in this zone.
The start to this safari was similar to the earlier safari with just deers, monkeys and birds to give us company. However, i still had hope as tigers normally move late evening when its a bit colder. After about 2 hours, we saw a canter and a gypsy parked saying that there is a tiger nearby. We moved closer to them and there she was. Sundari(T-28), a female tigress big enough to ruling a territory as big as male tigers of 40-50 sq kms, sleeping on a rock.
After lying there for sometime, finally she got up to move towards the stream. This was our chance to have a closer look at her. With atleast 7-8 vehicles there, our gypsy driver drove in reverse gear for over 100 meters on such difficult terrain to get us probably the second best view of the beautiful tigress. She sat in the water for about 15 mins giving us enough time to take pictures. After that she walked into the woods and we exited the park for the day.

Safari 3:
Though we didn't want it, but we got Zone 3 again. By now, I had started trusting my luck though having seen 3 tigers in my last three safaris. I actually did get lucky as we had just entered our zone when a gypsy came backwards with the guide announcing the approach of a tiger. After a bit of commotion with all the gypsies moving backward and forth, he came out of the bushes, crossed the road and climbed onto the ruins to analyze his territory before disappearing into the bushes on the other side.
T-28, Star Male
Fort Territory
This was T-28 or Star Male, the biggest tiger of Ranthambore. Though Sundari was big but T-28 seemed massive compared to her. More than that, I just loved the attitude with which this tiger crossed the route totally unperturbed by all the cars around.
Rest of the time in this safari was spent looking for T-19, the female with 3 cubs. However, she is known to be shy and not easily spotted. That belief was proved when we couldn't find any trace of her but still came back mesmerized by T-28.

Safari 4:
I wanted to see the grand old dame of Ranthambore, the oldest tigress in the wild, 17 year old Machli or Crocodile killer or Queen of the Lakes. While male tigers are known to be dominant and stronger, it was Machli's 10 year reign of the highly desired Fort territory of Ranthambore that made her a legend. She finally left the territory for her daughter, Sundari. With her canines broken and a weak old body, she now lives in Zone 4. For this very reason, I requested my agent to provide us Zone 4. However, we were again allotted Zone 5. Though we were pretty disappointed, but our guide almost promised us that he will show us atleast one tiger. That helped in soaring our spirits high.
He didn't have to work hard to keep that promise. We had just entered the National Park and were on the common road for the park and Ranthambore Fort when we saw almost all the jeeps parked. We understood that we are in luck again. It took about 15 mins before we could spot the black n yellow stripes in the woods. It was T 39 and she was walking towards us after drinking water at the stream below. Finally she came out of the woods right next to our jeep and looked towards us. She seemed hungry and our guide concluded that she must have just fed her cubs by looking at her nipples. A forest guard present there was happy to see that as that confirmed that there were new cubs in the Park. After staring at us for a few seconds, she moved parallel to the road before jumping onto it and move into the woods on the other side.
She was the closest I could be to a tiger. Anymore closer, she would have been in our jeep.
Then we went into our zone hoping to find Sundari again but that didn't happen. We came out of the park after our final safari of the trip and were more than satisfied after seeing 3 tigers from close.

1. If you are going from Delhi by road, go to Jaipur. From jaipur move on Tonk Road(NH 12) before turning left from Kothun. Continue on this till Lalsot and turn right from there. This is the best route among all you will see on Google Maps.
2. Do whatever it takes to get a gypsy for safari.
3. Do atleast four safaris to enhance your probability of seeing a tiger and enjoy the wildlife.
4. If you still don't see a tiger, go back again!! 


Sabyasachi Patra | Tales from Wild India said...

Good to know that you went to Ranthambhore. How are the roads now? I normally take the train as the roads used to be bad.

It is a nice place. Good that you got to see the tiger. Summers are a better time to see the tiger.

sachin said...

Hi Sabyasachi

I went there before monsoons and the roads were quite nice except for small patches here and there!! I plan to go there again on December's first weekend!!

Rahul Ranjan said...

Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My site addresses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you are interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail ( I look forward to hearing from you! Excellent blog by the way!

sachin dixit said...

Thanks for the appreciation rahul..I have sent you a mail too!!

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Unknown said...

Thanks for make blog Ranthambore Tiger Reserve is one of the biggest and most renowned national parks in Northern India. The park is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, which is about 130 km from Jaipur. Being considered as one of the famous and former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. Today the Ranthambore National Park terrain is major wildlife tourist attraction spot that has pulled the attention of many wildlife photographers and lovers in this destination.