There are plenty of great reasons to go on a safari. The main is for sure to see animals in their natural habitat!
This reason should be enough, in my opinion. Where better to see wild animals than in their own environment? Granted, a safari still seems to be a bit of an invasion of their privacy but if they don’t like the look of you, they can run away. And anyway, it’s miles better than locking them away in a cage in a country that their bodies just aren’t made for… I think that being closer to nature makes us more aware of our connection to a ‘greater whole’ with animals, other people, our surroundings and the Earth. By the way a recent research has shown that this feeling of connectedness is vital for our health and happiness and I can’t agree more.
Luckily I have already had few adventurous African Safaris and I couldn’t wait to take my chances to see the majestic tiger in the wild.
Ranthambore National Park
One of the biggest and most renowned national park in Northern India, Ranthambore National Park was once the hunting ground of Maharajas and is now a dedicated and well-protected sanctuary for the wild beasts. Sprawling over 100 miles, the Park revolves around the 10th-century Ranthambhore Fort, surrounded by ancient temples and mosques, hunting pavilions, crocodile-filled lakes, and burial tombs succumbing to vines.
There are approx eighty Royal Bengal tigers on the reserve’s territory, of which there are an estimated thirty-two cubs. At the time when Indian government had banned tiger hunting in 1962 only nine species could be found in the park area. Since Ranthambore became a national park the tiger population was growing rapidly. According to local guides the number of sightings has doubled in the last three years.
Among the other wild animals at the park are: Striped Hyenas, Sambar deer, Langurs, Jackals, Jungle cats, Caracals, Sloth bears, Indian Wild Boar, Yellow Bats, Indian Flying Foxes, Porcupines, Longeared Hedgehogs, vipers, marsh crocodiles and Mongoose among almost 40 mammal species and over 320 species of birds.
Where to stay
We made The Tigress Spa And Resort our base for a couple of nights, as the luxury retreat is located less than ten minutes from the famed Tiger Reserve. Situated in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, it is about three hours from Jaipur which is the nearest airport. Also there is Sawai Madhopur railway station, which connects cities like Jaipur, Agra, Mumbai and New Delhi.
Superb facilities and an excellent location make the The Tigress Spa and Resort the perfect base from which to enjoy your stay in Ranthambore.
We woke up very early around 5:30 am and after a quick breakfast served at the swimming pool area headed off on our tiger safari. We circled the Rajbagh Lake, the perfect spot for bird watchers while crocodiles floated leisurely along its shores. We also explored several routes, and came up with no sightings of tiger.
We have been escorted by highly trained Indian guides who are knowledgeable about the land and its people as well as being loved by the tourists. They told us always keep our ears tuned for the monkey alarm or the Sambar deer barking as a warning of an approaching tiger. The jungle creatures are well organized in communicating the tigers arrival. After spending few hours in the jungle we have returned to the hotel for lunch break, the second attempt to spot a tiger was planned for the same day afternoon.
Around 15:30 we took off for the second part of our tour into the park. The guide has chosen a different route this time and we were so fortunate to see a tiger after a while. She was chilling out in the tree shadow next to tiny lake, than suddenly she started walking and we began to follow her. She was a young tigress (around 3,5 years old) that had not mated yet, and we ended up hanging out with her for the longest time as she walked across the paths exploring every bush. The guide mentioned her name was Sultana. What a beautiful animal!
Bengal tigers are not very social and remarkably territorial, but it seemed our presence was just a non-threatening distraction in her daily amble through the forest.
Almost three hours later we returned to the hotel with such enthusiasm, not every visitor to Ranthambore spots a tiger!
I wish we could have stayed at here for a few more days since it was that much fun and an adrenaline busting adventure like never before. It was time to catch a train to New Delhi for another adventure, but I know one day we’ll come again to explore more of this majestic jungle.
Most important part of tiger safari
If you go into the jungle with expectations of seeing a tiger, and all you are focusing on is a tiger, unless you see a tiger, you will be disappointed. More over, even if you see a tiger, it might not be as good a sighting as you want, and again you might be disappointed. This narrow minded focus means you will miss a lot of other fantastic sightings that might occur. So if you go into the jungle just enjoy the jungle!
Plan your safari in dry season
It is always advised to plan your safari in the dry season as the heat during this time forces the animals to lurk around waterholes more often. Other than that, there is hardly any vegetation around water holes which ultimately exposes the fauna and enhances the chance to spot them.
What to take
- A charged camera, extra batteries, extra memory cards, binoculars
- A sunscreen lotion, sunshades, a wide brimmed hat, scarf (for dust)
- Antiseptic cream, insect repellent cream
- ID proof, in Ranthambore National Park you will need to carry your passport on safari
Photography © Gurcan Sarisoy