Ranthanbore National Park is jungle, although it’s not Tarzan’s jungle; no high sprawling canopy or hanging vines. It’s dry with small water holes and low spindly trees broken up by the occasional Gum or Banyan tree. This is the end of this region’s dry season, with monsoons starting in June and continuing into September.
The roads are paved, semi-paved or rutted rocky tracks, where we had to hold on for dear life. The sunrise over this hill county was a soft pink in a clear blue sky. The national park was established in 1981 and a tiger reserve in 1974. India’s declining population of tigers is finally on the upswing. Tigers live an average of 14 years and aren’t known as great hunters. Out of 10 attempts they will be successful in killing game 1 time, so they tend to hoard their food in a hidden area, eating and sleeping until it’s all gone.
We had a brief stop at the ranger station where our driver and naturalist got their instructions on which area to enter. The park is divided into zones and the safari drivers are directed to different zones to keep everyone somewhat separated, minimizing wear and tear on the more popular sections of the park. Here is our naturalist, Ru with an friend.
Halfway into our 3 hour safari, we saw female Bengal tiger tracks in the road. Then further on, we could hear a tiger barking a warning signal. You can hear the back on the sound bar below.
We kept following the warning barks until we saw a couple of safari jeeps in the distance stopped with everyone’s camera’s at the ready. As we pulled up we could see a tiger in the grass with her 3 cubs of about 6 months (featured photo). They started walking and we were able to follow at a distance.
We were so blown away to be a part of this very rare sighting. This mother and her cubs have only been sighted 4 times before today. Here are two cubs fooling around trying to climb a tree….not much luck. Although the naturalists aren’t allowed walkie talkies in the park, they seem to have a sense of when another group has found a good sighting. As the tigers moved through the park, there was a tiger race with jeeps flying over impossible roads, while the naturalist yelled for us to hold on.
Our day was made and we had one more afternoon safari to go.
After a traditional Indian lunch, we went back to the room to rearrange out luggage for the next day. We needed to transfer everything we would need for the afternoon and evening to a carry-on for the next days train trip. It took quite a bit of juggling but we finally managed. Paramjeet picked up our big bags to take by car to Bharatpur, where he would meet us the next day. Ohhhh….separation anxiety from Paramjeet, who has been a rock during our driving portion of the trip.
Ru picked us up at 2:30 pm for safari number two. Our new driver was a speed demon, and we were a little concerned about trying to stay in the jeep if he flew over the rocky, rutted roads in the park. Fortunately once we got there he slowed down to a reasonable pace for the terrain. After driving for quite a distance, stopping to listen for game, we again saw a jeep in the distance pulled over with everyone looking into the bush. Pulling up we could see in the distance an elusive Indian mountain leopard, tan on top, white on the tummy with black spots all over. This leopard was way back in the trees, at the base of the mountains and very difficult to see.
We have been so fortunate at the Ranthambore National Park. We even got a glimpse of a sloth bear, before he was scared off by an aggressive safari driver. I’m hoping we can get a photo at safari in Bandhavgarh National Park.
The park is full of Sambar deer, Spotted deer, Rose Ring parakeets, Kingfishers, little Mocking birds, Heron and numerous other animals.