We then moved on to the area near the chowk, where we got to see Noor devouring her prey – we could see her tearing at the bloodied flesh and could actually hear the crunching of bones at one point! It felt like we were bang in the middle of a National Geographic show.
We came away from our Ranthambore trip happy and satisfied with our experience, vowing that we will go back very soon. We understood why Ranthambore is so addictive!
TIPS TO MAKE YOUR RANTHAMBORE TRIP EASIER
1. Local Transport: Sawai Madhopur has an expensive and underdeveloped local transport system. Auto rickshaws and jeeps ferry people to-and-fro, but they are difficult to come by after dark. If you’re located in Delhi, it makes sense to drive down to Ranthambore and use your private vehicle to move around the city.
2. Ranthambore Zones: There are 10 zones in Ranthambore. 1 to 5 lie on one side of the city and 6 to 10 lie on the other side. Which means that if your hotel is close to zones 1 to 5, it will be at least 1.5 hours away from zones 6 to 10, and vice-versa. The hotel’s location is actually not important, because all the gypsies or canters go to the hotels to pick and drop people. Having said that, the most accessible hotels are on Ranthambore Road.
3. Tiger Sightings: Zones 1 to 5 are popularly known as ‘good’ zones, famous for tiger sightings. However, it is true that sightings are based on pure luck. In the two days we were in Ranthambore, there were sightings in Zones 1, 4, 6 and 7.
4. Canter versus Gypsy: Gypsies are more expensive than canters. Gypsies are quieter, faster and more comfortable. Canters shake a lot, are slower and noisier. Tigers (and much of the other wildlife in Ranthambore) are bothered by neither vehicles!
5. Bookings a Safari Online: These can be made from the official Rajasthan government website. However, the website says that 'payment does not guarantee the booking'. This means that even if you book in a particular zone, the government might change your zone if they want to fill seats in a different zone. Also, once you get your online ticket, you still need to take a printout and go to the booking office in Sawai Madhopur and get the vehicle released.
6. Booking a Safari through Agents: Agents can book seats for you for exact zones which do not change unless under some exceptional circumstances. However, they charge a lot of extra money.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Best months to visit: Summer months see a lot of tiger sightings because they go to drink water near the lakes - they often sit in lakes to cool off. But we had our sighting in the winter, so try going at this time too. Most National Parks are closed in the monsoons as it is the mating season.
Hotels: Here are some hotels you can consider.
Luxury: Oberoi Vanyavilas
Mid-range: Trulyy The Bagh , Tiger Moon
Budget: Hotel Ranthambore Palace, Hammir Wildlife Resort
Safaris: These can cost anywhere between 1500 INR to 3000 INR
Transport: Auto rickshaw drivers usually charge exorbitant prices, anything upward of 100 INR per trip.