A Tiger Rendezvous in Ranthambhore
India is a country that is bewilderingly beautiful. Its overflow of colour and variety of wildlife, people and topography are truly diverse, and it is this juxtaposition of widely varied themes that makes India so compelling. It’s a country that is as unique as the stripes on a tiger!
A dedicated India Tiger Tour is definitely something special. Witnessing the splendid striped beauties of Ranthambhore is a magical endeavour that leaves people gasping at the sheer size and aura of the Bengal Tiger. But in order to reach these big cats, a journey of magical proportions has to first begin!
After a day spent settling in and partaking in some shopping in Dehli, our India Tiger Tour group all hopped onto the Golden Express Temple train’s first class cabin for a 5-hour trip to Sawai Madhopur, which is the gateway to the Ranthambore National Park. This reserve is named after a historic fort that was built in the 10th century and is home to over 60 tigers, many of whom are habituated to the presence of humans. It is widely regarded as the best place to see Bengal Tigers on a classic India photo tour. In typically diverse Indian fashion, Ranthambore’s terrain alternates between forests and grassy plains, and which also boasts an impressive collection of wildlife including Leopard, Wild Boar, Sambar, Striped Hyaena, Sloth Bear, Chital and a plethora of birds.
With open-top jeeps and expert rangers, we commenced our search for the Lord of the Jungle, hoping to spot a huge striped feline. Our tour could not have gotten off to a better start as the first afternoon on game drive yielded an hour long photo opportunity with a magnificent tigress. Shutters went mad, memory cards started filling up at a rapid pace and it was only our first day!
As dawn broke the following morning, we drove into the park and our morning was filled with sightings of Chital, Grey Langur, Sambar and the amazing Brown Fish Owl (who looked ready to take his morning nap!). The afternoon drive gave us our second magnificent tiger sighting, much to the delight of our guests who finished off their day with an arsenal of incredible pictures.
The next morning presented a very special sighting of an Indian Leopard crossing the road with her two cubs. Unfortunately, no one was able to snap a photograph of this elusive spotted cat but sometimes rare moments like these are better remembered than captured! The afternoon drive on our third day in the reserve gave us yet another marvelous tiger sighting, the famous Jhalra female, also known as T-19. Born to the famous Machali tigress, she is the proud owner of the largest territory in the reserve. Her calm demeanour certainly made her a beautiful cat to photograph. The last morning tour around Ranthambore provided no more tiger sightings but a Sloth Bear proudly strutted around much to our photographic delight (perhaps he had his Bear Necessities in order?).
Although the relatively open nature of the terrain accounts in part for Ranthambore’s high rate of Tiger sightings, our skilled local guides were instrumental in retaining Ranthambore’s status as possibly India’s foremost park for seeing this elusive predator. The first part of our India Tiger Tour was thus a resounding successful! We will be furthering our India photo tour as we travel to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, which is one of India’s designated “Project Tiger” reserves, and with its lesser crowds, will be act as the perfect second leg to our adventure.