I had low expectations for Ranthambore National Park. Extremely low expectations. I was well aware that many people leave the park without seeing its most famous resident – the Bengal Tiger – and with only 60 or so tigers in the 392 km park, I knew the odds were stacked against me. Coupled with the fact that I went on a 4 day safari in South Africa a few years ago and somehow didn’t see a single lion – I had a sneaking suspicion this safari would also be devoid of big cats.
Because I had already come to terms with the fact that it was highly unlikely I’d see a tiger, I didn’t leave Ranthambore disappointed; in fact, I thoroughly enjoyed my two-night stay. It proved to be a nice break between the chaos of Agra and bustling Jaipur, and the silence was a welcome change.
Driving through the park in the early morning, and watching the sunrise above the distant hills was one of the few moments of absolute peace I felt in Northern India. I relished in the silent moments, the naturally beautiful surroundings, and the serene atmosphere of Ranthambore. And while it can be difficult to spot a tiger in the park, there’s a variety of wildlife and impressive scenery to behold nonetheless. Beautiful banyan trees, mischievous langur monkeys, elegant peacocks, wild boar, a variety of birds, and a crocodile were a few examples of the flora and fauna we encountered during our hunt for the elusive tiger. Oh, and deer. There’s a lot of deer.
Tigers may be the predominant reason people flock to Ranthambore, but the park is home to a myriad of species: leopards, hyenas, jackals, and pythons- to name a few. When we visited, a number of people had been lucky enough to see a sloth bear, which is apparently a rare sighting.
I’ll admit there was a suspenseful moment on my final safari when I thought – just for a brief second – that I might actually see a tiger. We came across a startled herd of deer which appeared to be moving away from a potential threat, sounding warning calls as they walked. We followed them for a while, and waited in silence to see if we could spot whatever it was that spooked them. Everyone in our vehicle was completely still, holding their breath and waiting in great anticipation when we heard something: a low rumbling sound, almost like a growl was coming from… my empty stomach. I was embarrassed by the inappropriate timing and volume of my hunger pangs, and joked that maybe the growling sound would help attract a tiger. The guides were not amused.
When we returned to the hotel, I spoke with a man who had seen not one, but two tigers on two separate safaris, so I think it’s safe to say spotting a tiger is entirely dependent on timing and luck.
Is Ranthambore worth a visit?
It depends. If you have your heart set on seeing a wild tiger, it may be worthwhile to visit Ranthambore, but I would recommend staying longer than 2 nights – the more safaris you go on, the higher the chance of spotting a tiger. Other tiger reserves, like Bandhavgarh Reserve and Kanha Reserve in Madhya Pradesh are two alternative options, and (according to this article) they offer a high likelihood of seeing a tiger.
Ranthambore is located roughly between Agra and Jaipur, and it’s not too far of a detour if you’re travelling the Golden Triangle route. You can find practical information about visiting Ranthambore National Park at this website, and I found this post by Adventurous Miriam to be helpful and informative.
Have you been to Ranthambore? Or do you think it would be worth a visit? Am I the only person who didn’t see a single lion on safari in South Africa?
i faced the same ! :/ but yes, a bear i did get to see 😀
Sorry to hear you didn’t see a tiger either, but exciting that you saw a sloth bear!
I’ve been wanting to go to Ranthambore for a while. It seems like it’s full of wildlife, and it’s not really surprising to not see a tiger since there are so few of them. While it would be amazing to see one, I wouldn’t hold my breath!
Yeah, I think it’s definitely worth a visit regardless of whether or not you see a tiger! Hopefully you make it to Ranthambore soon!
It looks stunning there! I think if you go in without high expectations, you can definitely be disappointed. As for not seeing a lion – it’s just a good reason to go back and try again!
That’s very true 🙂 I’d love to revisit South Africa, or just go on another African safari again someday!
Hey Ashley, thanks so much for mentioning my blog! I see you didn’t spot any tigers either, but at least we saw deer, right? They certainly didn’t disappoint 😉
You’re welcome, Miriam 🙂 Haha that’s for sure! So. Many. Deer.
The next time you travel with me 🙂 Ive been to two of them in Kabini (Karnataka state) and Kanha. Got lucky…I’ve seen friends posting tons from Pench Reserve too. Cubs too. But tiger sightings are a rarity often. Good luck for the next
Wow two, you really are lucky! I’ll be sure to tag along with you on my next tiger safari 😉
I went and saw a tiger eating a deer on my one and only safari saw monkeys crocodiles and lots of other animals but to see the tiger was great
Sounds like you really lucked out!
I went to Nagarhole National Park ( Kabini ) in South India and saw tigers on all our safaris plus we saw elephants, and it was a true jungle adventure indeed. Our friends who are are frequent wildlife travelers also have had good experiences in Kanha and Bandhavgarh too, but in Ranthambore, nobody saw anything. I think it is all about fame, there is no way to measure tiger sightings against the number of tourists and jeeps coming in, so national parks can only be famous by word of mouth. Ranthambore has plenty of that, it is situated in a prime location with a unique history with luxury resorts and it is a name recognizable throughout India, but when it is time to deliver I seriously doubt it is truly the best national park in India for a tiger safari. In the top 5 ? Yes. In the top 3 ? Probably. Is it the best ? No