Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan:
After spending several weeks working (and sightseeing) in Jaipur, I finally left the city again on the first weekend of May. Together with four friends, I took the train to nearby Ranthambore National Park.
We arrived very late at night at the Hotel Aditya Resort (highly recommended: www.hoteladityaresort.com) in Sawai Madhopur, a dusty town approximately 15 minutes from the park’s entrance. Since our journey to Ranthambore was relatively spontaneous, jeep safaris were already fully booked, but we still got seats on the so-called canters which carry approximately 20 tourists through the park. After a short night, we got up early and were picked up in front of our hotel. Around ten routes lead through the park of which no. 1-5 are the most promising. Our first safari took us to Zone 5 where we saw Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer, and Mugger Crocodiles.
Among the many birds, the most beautiful were the dancing peacocks:
Following a quick breakfast at the hotel, we drove to Ranthambore Fort. This ancient fort (10th century) is situated on a hill right in the centre of the national park. Apart from the old ruins and the wonderful view, most visitors come because of a very famous Ganesha Temple. After a nice walk through the extensive compound in temperatures of around 45°C, we returned to the hotel.
In the afternoon, another guide and canter picked us up and brought us to Zone 2. During this afternoon safari, we saw more Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, and a good number of birds. Unfortunately, most visitors are only interested in tigers and some guides therefore do not stop for anything smaller than a deer…
Our first day in Ranthambore was over and we did not see a tiger yet. While I booked another safari for the coming morning before our departure, my travel companions had lost hope and prefered to stay in the hotel – a big mistake! In the early morning, the canter with guide/naturalist Wasim Akhtar brought me once again to Zone 2 and after passing the usual suspects (Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, and a Nilgai Antelope for a change), we finally saw a tiger resting near a water hole. Together with at least 4 other canters and 4 jeeps, we could observe “Tigress T60” getting up, strolling through the forest, and marking its territory. Eventually, the large adult female lay down in an empty river bed and I thought the show was over – far from it! After 5 minutes, the cat got up and killed a Sambar Deer which was dumb enough to come too close… After approximately 10 minutes of struggle, the deer was dead and the tiger dragged the heavy corpse into the bush for an early lunch (or late breakfast?)… While everyone was already highly satisfied with the outcome of the safari, we spotted another tiger on the way back (a 2 year old female called “Arrowhead”)!
After a well-deserved breakfast in the hotel, we packed and took our train back to Jaipur where we arrived in the late afternoon. Two weeks later, I travelled again into the interior to spot some more striped cats – this time, my destination was the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra.