In 2010 a friend and I ventured to India for a Tiger Safari where we visited three Tiger Reserves: Ranthambhore, Kanha and Bandhavgarth National Parks.
Our fist reserve was Ranthambhore, a beautiful jungle park consisting of 154 square miles of deciduous forest. It is considered one of India’s most popular and photogenic Tiger Parks. It is the biggest and most renowned park in northern India; located in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan.
The park is also considered a national heritage site because of the pictorial ruins that dot the wildlife park and remind you of a bygone era. There are several water bodies located in the park which attract numerous animals and birds including tigers. There are many structural ruins around the park that provide shelter for the animals wanting relief from the heat and sun.
The park controls the jeep safaris that take you out both mornings and afternoons, you are picked up at your hotel at 7 am and returned for lunch and then picked up about 2pm in the afternoon and returned in time for dinner at your hotel. During the game drive the driver of your vehicle is restricted to a specific area of the reserve and not allowed to more into another sector to follow a tiger on the move. Unlike African wildlife parks there are no accommodations within the reserve. Resorts and hotels surround the entrance areas and visitors to the reserve stay in these. For our visit we stayed# at Khem Vilas Resort. This luxury resort offers ideal proximity to the reserve as well as spa services and a combination of Western, Indian and Oriental vegetarian dining.
As you approach the entrance to the park you are greeted by Hanuman Langurs, considered by Hindus as a god. These extremely aggressive primates will gladly relieve you of any food items you may have in your hand or carry bag before you realize what is happening. They live in a group or harem controlled by a dominate male. Often sub adult males are not tolerated and often form all male bands until then can form their own harem.
Once in the park we see a variety of deer including Sambar and Spotted Deer as well as Nilgai and Four Horned Antelope. Finally we are lucky to
have three brief sitings of tiger. Once a tiger is sited the guides urge the drivers to follow the moving target causing quite a traffic jam and lots of jolting around the vehicle as the driver tries to get closer to the tiger on the move. Between the jostling of the vehicle and the neighboring vehicles getting in the way you are lucky to get more than one shot off before the tiger mover out of sight. Tiger sitings, we find out, are not that common and can be brief and fleeting giving the viewer a very short window in which to get a photograph. The mere suggestion that a tiger has been sited gets the whole process moving. Of course the park has even more elusive animals than the tigers including: Leopards, striped hyenas, Caracals, Civets, Sloth Bears and Indian Foxes to name a few that eluded us altogether.