We allocated 3 days to Ranthambore while in Rajasthan! Ranthambore is one of the most well known Tiger safari Parks in India with rich density of tigers!
Tip – We reached Ranthambore an evening before the safari and booked two safaris for the following day!
The next day, it was an early start for us! We were told that the safari canter would pick us up by 6:30AM. We woke up about 20 minutes early to get ready.
The Park and Zones
Ranthambore National Park is divided into 10 Zones.
Zones 1 to 5 are closed in the rainy season. They open only from the 1st of October every year. These are the most interesting zones in the park with the probability of spotting a tiger being high. Zones 6 to 10 can be done by tourists who come in the rains. If you are planning your tour with intentions of tiger spotting (ofcourse!) then the summers would be the best time as the terrain is dry and the animals come out in search of water. In the summers, it is also easy to get safaris scheduled for zones 1 to 5!
Things to understand!
- Bookings are often done online however none of the zones are guaranteed. Anyone booking Zone 4 might get Zone 1 when they turn up on the Safari day.
- Second important information one should know is that none of us or the hoteliers can choose the zones. Canters and Zones are randomly allocated on the Safari day and time.
- You would get zones between 1 and 5 if it is not between June and September.
- As per what I have noticed, Zones 2 and 4 have a slightly higher probability of spotting a tiger. The reason for this is because these zones have 5 plus tiger density. This is just a probability, and probability as we know can be either 0 or 100. On the other hand, even the low profile zones of 6 to 10 would have tiger sightings on certain days.
- At times, a tourist may see 3 tigers in a single safari and some may see none in 3 safaris.
- As it goes without saying that none have control over tiger movements and at any point in time during the safari the tigers could be just anywhere!
Safari Vehicles – Gypsys or Canters?
One has the option to choose between Canters and Jeeps/gypsys for their safari. Canters have the capacity of 20 people and the Gypsy can carry 6 at a time. It seems a bit obvious to everyone that gypsy is more comfortable and goes well with smaller groups and it ensures a private group safari if seen that way. Canters however wouldn’t ensure you a private ride but the purpose of the safari is met on a canter as well. Route and views are same on both.
One plus point of the canter is that every seat is elevated a bit more than the gypsy (might help in photography and sighting animals). Canters are many in number unlike the Jeeps. That is why Jeeps need a fine advance booking whereas canter rides maybe available on short notice.
Tip – It is highly possible that a single safari may not ensure tiger sighting because of which tourists usually take multiple safaris during their trip.
Zone 1 – Our Morning Safari!
Our early morning, 6:30 AM, Safari canter took us to Zone 1. Like I mentioned before, the zones are decided by the officials and we have no bet in choosing them. Tigers namely Sultan, Noor and Ustad have their territories in this zone. Zone 1 wasn’t my preference as there are just three tigers and they wander into two other zones as well! Whatsoever it is, we weren’t lucky to spot a tiger with this safari!
As mentioned above, Zones 2 and 4 have slightly higher probability of tiger sightings due to tigers unique-to-the-area and their density. Zone 3 is the lake Zone and Zone 5 has some unique cubs as well.
Zone 3 – Lake Zone and the Most Scenic Zone in Ranthambore!
We planned to take another safari ride at 2:30PM to try and see if we could spot a cat! We hoped our best for a different zone to try our luck. As expected, the resort staff said they had no stake in arranging zones and it has always been the way the government officials wanted it. We had our lunch just before the safari and waited for the canter to pick us up. The canters were all delayed for the day and we were picked up at 4PM.
We were allocated Zone 3!
This is supposedly the most scenic zone with the two important lakes of the park inside here. We saw loads of peacocks and several varieties of deer, wild boars, birds etc.
Unluckily, the tiger spotting didn’t happen! However, it wasn’t displeasing because this zone is without doubt the most picturesque one as claimed by many!
Remember, Tiger spotting does happen in this zone. Even if you don’t see a tiger, you will be happy to have just been there!
Okay… so we didn’t spot the tiger..!
That was Ranthambore for us! Just because we didn’t see any tiger, I wouldn’t say the trip went a ravage because the park is one of the beautiful ones to just take a safari regardless of whether or not you see the cat!