Tigers of Ranthambhore

Dec 11th, 2011, 01:38 PM
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Tigers of Ranthambhore

I went for 5 days to the tiger reserve at Ranthambhore. The hotel had made reservations for me for 5 safaris. But with a 25% chance of seeing a tiger I found that I really should have planned my visit a lot better and well ahead. There are 8 safari zones, 3 of which have little chance of seeing a tiger. Also it is important to be in the first jeep so the distance of the hotel to the park entrance is a factor. For photographers there are also photographic issues in regard to seating in the safari jeeps.To help in getting the most out of a visit to Ranthambhore i have written an illustrated report at
les112 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2011, 12:19 PM
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Thank you for the link to the detailed blog page. I have read so many negative things about wildlife safaris at many of the different parks in India that I have pretty much eliminated such activities from our planned visit. It is unfortunate becasue normally national parks like this would be at the top of our list.

If you had it to do over again, would you still take 5 days out of your trip to visit Ranthambhore?
julies is offline  
Dec 12th, 2011, 04:00 PM
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Julies don't eliminate a park such as Kanha or Corbett! Even Bandhavgarh did not have the negatives going on that I read in this report, but I did have my own vehicle. If you have 5 days, do 3 days in the Kisli section of Kanha and 2 in the Mukki section. Or if you want to see elephants, go to Corbett and spend about 3 nights in the Dhikala section and 1 in the Biranji section. If Bandhavgarh works out best logistically, then go there for about 4 nts.

Back to les112, would you say that Ranthambhore is best experienced if you have enough people to form your own group in a vehicle?
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 12th, 2011, 06:26 PM
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First, let me say, that if one could choose the time and the zone, Ranthambhore would be fantastic. It has the ambiance, and the layout to see tigers hunting at close range and not be obstructed by long grass. I have not been to other tiger parks in India, but I have photographed lions pulling down buffallo in Botswana, and photographed wildebeest crossing the Mara river, and in comparison Ranthambhore,for tigers, is a top place. But one has to acknowledge practicalities. Rightly, the park authorities limit the number of visitors and the times they are allowed to be in the park,(and randomly assign the safari zone to be fair to all)so that the tigers are not unduly stressed. So from a visitors point of view these factors have to be taken into account to maximize the experience. With a 30% chance of seeing a tiger, 3 trips should suffice from a statistical basis to get one viewing.
To get back to the two questions.
1) Would I go back to Ranthambhore for 5 days.
Yes,I would. I would go in early summer, I would go for 5 mornings and 5 afternoons (this should statistically provide me with 3 sightings) I would stay in a hotel close to the park entry and be sure to go early to get into one of the first jeeps, and I would get the hotel to help book the tickets.
2) Is Ranthambhore best experienced if you have enough people to form your own group in a vehicle?
If you only want to see tigers, it does not matter, as the jeeps are open and quite compact, and one can always peer around or over the other people. However as a photographer, seating is a major problem. You could be lucky and the action be on your side without obstruction, but what is the chance of that?. If you had your own party and could choose your place, etc. then not a problem. Otherwise, one has to hire sole use of the jeep as a professional photographer/media. Could I afford that? There is always hope.
les112 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2011, 09:08 PM
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julies - but how interested, really, are you in seeing tigers? And how disappointed would you be if you didn't see one? There is so much else to see and experience in India I would be reluctant to add this to your itinerary unless it was really important to you - and you haven't mentioned wildlife on your planning threads. I've spent four months total in India, have yet to bother trying to see a tiger, and still have plenty of other places to see. (If it was really important to me, sub-Saharan Africa would be higher up my list.)
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 05:05 AM
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Initially a park to view tigers would have been pretty much on the top of our list becasue we are big national park fans here in the US. BUT, I read a lot of different posts different places about wildlife viewing (tigers in particular) in India and decided that this isn't the quaity of experience we are looking for. Plus, it costs a lot.

I am now even vacillating on the idea of going up to Assama to Kaziranga park for rhino viewing although this is supposed to be one of the best parks in India, and there is baasically a guarantee of seeing them. Frankly, it is the logistics part of just getting there that is starting to give me pause.
julies is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 06:15 AM
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julies (BTW, I'm Kathy, Karen is married to Bob) - but you don't go to US National Parks to see big game, do you? Seems that an NP in the US and an NP in India are quite different.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 04:04 PM
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Julies, if you enjoy national parks and are spending a month in India, I think spending a few days in one of the national parks that fit logistically would be enhance your trip. The logistics of Kaziranga are not as easy as Corbett, Bandhavgarh, or Kanha. But you would not see rhino in those parks I mentioned.
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 09:41 AM
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All of the info in this thread is very interesting and eye-opening. Having been on (photo) safari in Africa in a private game reserve a couple of years ago I can see that this will be a different experience and I can reset my plans and expectations. Are the seats in the vehicles all at the same level (i.e. not tiered)? Can a vehicle be booked as a private vehicle (i.e. just me and a couple of friends)?
Thanks again for all of the great info.
limeyinchicago is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 11:13 AM
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The seats are not tiered, and the two front seats are taken up by the driver and guide, but the vehicle is completely open and very compact compared to african safari vehicles. You can book the vehicle privately but you need help from the hotel or Indian agency to do it for you. Two hotels which told me they would book a private vehicle if I stayed with them, were Ranthambhore Bagh and Dev Vilas.
les112 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 11:28 AM
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Chicago Limey,

Vehicles I used all had 2 rows, back row slightly elevated from first row.

Private vehicle--In Kanha, Bandhavgarh, and Corbett I booked a private vehicle, no problem. I used an Indian-based outfitter to make my bookings. This is what I heard about Rathambhore: it is not as easy or common for a private vehicle. Also, it is possible even if you have booked privately in Ranthambhore, for that arrangement to be changed. Not sure how a refund of the difference between private and group would work. If your group filled up the Gypsy, then I think it would be unlikely for your private vehicle to taken away from you. That's why I'd prefer to to to Ranthambhore with others, not solo.

As part of my India trip report posted earlier on Fodors, I did a specific comparison of the African vs Indian safari. I was in Gypsies, small jeeps.

Comparisons between Indian and African safaris
I had heard and read that my expectations for India should be held clearly in check after going on African safaris. I had been warned about cheering sections when a tiger was spotted, people tumbling out of vehicles, and general pandemonium. I was cautioned to be prepared to be “horrified.”

Far from horrified, I was impressed and enchanted. What helped, I believe, was going at a non-peak time (not Christmas/New Years and not during Holi), allowing Wild World India to negotiate all the paperwork and secure all permits for the parks, paying extra for a private vehicle, and having outstanding naturalists that had been selected by Wild World India. But the people I encountered who did not have quite the exclusive arrangement that I did also seemed to be very happy and some of them were wildlife enthusiasts who travel the world.

What also helped me and will help everyone else is within the past year (2010) Bandhavgarh (which was the source of some of the worst stories) changed the rules to limit the number of vehicles and where they may go.

The tiger sightings did generate a gathering in all three parks I visited, with much maneuvering of vehicles, plus some standing atop the Gypsy. But all the vehicles stayed on the road, or shoulder, so there was no surrounding the tiger and it was not possible to pursue the tiger off-road. Everyone remained in/on the vehicle, and I heard no shouts.

Other than tigers, I was alone for almost all other sightings. With most vehicles on a tiger mission, having other animals or birds to myself was not hard. When non-tiger sightings were shared, usually it was just another vehicle or two at most.

I was surprised at how many of the same species of birds, or very similar species, were present in both locations.

From the sheer standpoint of visual impact, not much from any country or continent compares with the tiger!

Some differences between African and Indian safaris included:

Those little Gypsy vehicles in India were great and more maneuverable than Land Rovers or Cruisers usually used in Africa.

The forested terrain in India makes sightings tougher than the openness of the African savanna, although there are meadows in the Indian parks.

Listening for alarm calls and observing animal behaviors to spot predators was more prevalent in India. Waiting in areas that seemed promising based on alarm calls took up a greater percentage of our outings in India than Africa and more times than not, the wait did not produce a predator. The type of habitat in Indian parks meant we had to work harder and have more patience for our sightings than in most parts of Africa.

Even though my list of mammals and birds is extensive, there is not the variety or abundance of the typical African safari destination.

That queue at the park gates in India in advance of starting times does not occur anywhere I have been in Africa. However at the larger African lodges, the jumble of vehicles departing in the mornings or afternoons may number the same; but just lack the organization of an official queue.

There is a definite emphasis on seeing the single species of the tiger in India, whereas in Africa the emphasis is diffused among a greater number of predators. In both places, I found the naturalists were responsive to expanding the fauna emphasis to all creatures great and small.

In Bandhavgarh (though not in Kanha or Corbett) vehicles are assigned to a specific track, which is not the case in Africa. Not only must they remain on that track or route, but they need to maintain a designated distance between vehicles (except for tiger sightings or I suppose leopard or sloth bear). That means you cannot linger to your heart’s content at non-tiger sightings. I found that after a tiger had been spotted, then it seemed that the rules were relaxed for maintaining the designated place in line. The result of these rules is that rarely do you encounter another vehicle during the outing, unless there is a tiger sighting that can draw in up to 10 or 11 vehicles from your track.

The ability to view predators from an elephant is unique to India (and other Asian destinations), although I saw a hyena from a camel once in Africa and there are places such as Abu’s and Amalinda where it is possible to ride an African elephant. Longer elephant safaris that last a good part of the day, or even several days are possible in Corbett, though I didn’t partake. I was pleased to learn that mother tigers with young cubs are not approached by elephant. The demeanor of the tigers when viewed by the elephants varied from complete disinterest, to sleeping soundly, to a hiss and a departure from the area.

At the parks and lodgings I stayed at in India, I did not have the remote, secluded tented camp experiences that I have enjoyed in Africa. But I think it is possible for a price.

Speaking of price, India was not as expensive as Africa.

Food at the lodges in India was primarily Indian, with a rare appearance of continental cuisine, whereas in Africa food tended to be continental, with a few choices of African dishes. Most of the Indian dishes were not excessively spicy.

When taking a packed lunch, that wobbly sausage that often is found in the African lunch boxes was nowhere to be found in the Indian packed lunches, which were predominantly vegetarian.

In Africa I usually encountered other foreigners in camps and lodges. In India, most of the other guests were Indian.

Safaris in both countries offered rewarding and exhilarating nature and wildlife and the fact that I am so privileged as to be able to even offer comparisons between these two remarkable locations is something I do not take for granted.
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 01:07 PM
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For arrangements not to change the gypsy vehicle has to be booked as a professional photographer/ media. If you book it as a tourist (and pay) with other persons that don't turn up then arrangements can be changed.
les112 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 09:29 PM
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How many people are assigned to a gypsy vehicle in most tiger parks?
Novak is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 08:15 AM
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Usually 4. But the two rows of seats can accommodate 3 people each for a total of 6. That's crowded but would probably not obstruct your tiger views. It would hinder photography
atravelynn is offline  
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