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In the Indian Subcontinent, lies the Ranthambore National Park where the tigers rule the jungle. Residing in this nearly 1334 sq. Km wide stretch of land in Rajasthan, these majestic animals roam around amidst lush greens along with other animals and birds. The park supports a diverse range of flora and fauna, including about 55 tigers. A Ranthambore national park safari is the best way to spot the king of this jungle, and Ranthambore is perhaps the best national park in India to get a glimpse of the majestic cat. The wildlife enthusiasts can go for a jeep safari adventure at the park and get a chance to explore nature in its truest form. Watching the wildlife will make you realize the importance of conserving endangered species, to balance the ecosystem of the earth. The Ranthambore National Park houses numerous historic structures, including the magnificent Ranthambore Fort, temples, mosques, lakes and hunting pavilions. Get a glimpse of the simple life led by the local people of Ranthambore living in the villages in and around the park and get mesmerized by their vibrant culture that represents Rajasthan in its truest form. The park is situated at the junction of Vindhya Plateau and Aravalli Hills and is characterized by rocky plains and steep cliffs.
Location: Sawai Madhopur District, Rajasthan, India
Nearest Airport: Jaipur airport
How to reach: 3 hours from Jaipur airport
Famous for: India’s most famous Tiger park
Best time to visit: October to June
Mammals:Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Sloth Bear, Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer, Caracal, Striped Hyena, Indian Hare
Birds: Large Cormorant, Painted Spurfowl, Indian Roller, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Nightjar, Painted Sandgrouse, Brown Fish owl, Indian scops owl, Osprey
Pass by the bare hills and sparse fields to get enveloped by the forest from all sides. As soon as you enter into the gate and crest onto a shady road, the incredible Ranthambore Fort looms large ahead and is as impressive as its brochures promises. The park itself sprawls languidly across 1334 sq.km. of contiguous, dry-deciduous forests where the Vindhya Plateau and craggy Aravalli Hills meet. Ranthambore National Park is one of the last few habitats that support viable populations of Panthera tigris, the Royal Bengal Tiger.
One can easily spot waders and waterfowl including snipes, grebes, godwits, sandpipers, geese, and ducks around the three lakes– Padam Talao, Rajbagh, and Malik Talao being the ideal spots. Watch the large and median Egrets hitching a ride on the backs of half-submerged sambar deer, picking parasites off their backs. Tigers are solitary by nature, therefore sighting them is always a matter of chance. Apart from Tigers, Leopard, Caracal, Leopard cat, Fishing cat, and Jungle cat can also be found in Ranthambore. Sloth Bear, Striped Hyena, Jackal, Desert fox, Palm civet, common mongoose, crocodile, python, etc are the other large predators present in the park. The two species of antlers namely the spotted deer (chital), and Sambar deer along with two kinds of antelopes namely the Indian Gazelle (chinkara) and the Bluebell (Nilgai) also reside here.
Enjoy the most exciting experience with tigers or sloth bears in the early morning and evening Ranthambore National Park safari drives. Look up at the silhouette of the Ranthambore Fort before leaving the park to sight a leopard within its walls. One might get a chance to see a ratel, Indian hare, common palm civet, or Indian porcupine soon after leaving from the Jogi Mahal exit gate at sundown or hear the Eurasian Eagle Owl or the Brown Fish Owl. The park has been divided into 10 zones (the tenth zone was opened in January 2014 to lessen the tourist pressure on the park). The core area includes zones 1-5, while the remaining 6-10 are in the surrounding buffer area. The buffer zones experience less Tiger sightings as compared to the core zones, but a little improvement has been noticed recently with the increasing tiger population across all the zones. Zone 6 has been outstanding for sightings so far this year and zone 1 also has good sightings. While booking accommodations, keep in mind that the zones 1-5 have access through the entrance gate near Sherpur village, while zones 6-10 have its entrance on the main road south of Sawai Madhopur. Learn more about Tiger families of Ranthambore on this blog. Learn how we spot Tigers in India here.
Things to do nearby:
Visit the Ranthambore Fort that stands majestically atop a hill overlooking the entire park. One of the only places that offer walk-up which seems very refreshing and exciting and even the big cats can be spotted up there! The surrounding view keeps getting better as you continue going up but it's nothing compared to the breathtaking view from the fort itself.
To get your hands on some amazing handicrafts, visitDhonk Crafts or Dastkaron the Ranthambore road in Sawai Madhopur. The handicrafts are made by the families of local reformed poachers from the Mogya tribe. Buy anything among the toys, block-printing, and moon basketry products.
Witness the paintings of tigers and other Indian wildlife on sale, made by local villagers at the Ranthambore School of Art in Sawai Madhopur, established to create awareness about tiger conservation.
Have a unique experience of boat safari into the Chambal river to spot the endangered Gharial crocodile and different types of birds, or maybe even freshwater Gangetic river dolphins.
Top places to stay:
Sher Bagh: Sher Bagh is a pioneering, luxury tented camp neighboring the Ranthambore National Park. To experience the 1920's style, stay in the hand-stitched canvas tents and arouse nostalgic evocations for life on Ranthambore National Park safari during the heyday of the Raj. Sher Bagh has been described as "the most sonorous note in Ranthambore's symphony".
Oberoi Vanyavilas: To enjoy a lavish jungle experience accompanied by luxury and magnificent hill views, the Oberoi Ranthambore is the place. Enjoy the stay at the luxury air-conditioned Swiss tents teemed with all contemporary high-end facilities and individual secretive walled backyard to make sure utmost retreat.
Aman-I-Khas: Surrounded by the enchanting Aravalli hills, the luxurious camps of the Aman-I-Khasand the rooms separated by cotton drapes exhibit the fascinating architectural designs and decor of the Rajput and Mughal era.