Much to our delight we had 3 days away from the madness of Indian cities in the countryside of Ranthambhore. Although the town around the station area is still a bit manic we were staying in a quiet resort in the middle of farm land. Ranthambhore is famous for a huge area of National Park which included the Tiger Reserve, the main reason for our visit!
In our resort we stayed in amazing static tents... Glamping! They had all the mod cons of a nice hotel room and were fixed to the ground but were made of canvas and looked like something the royals would have set up for them when on the move back in the day! They were also beautifully decorated inside. Although in true Indian style, in our case, the air con and fridge were a bit iffy, but we didn't mind!
As with most hotels and resorts during the low season, some work was being done around the property but the staff were still excellent and the all inclusive food was great! During our stay we planned three safaris in the park, these would take place either early morning starting at about 6:30 or afternoon at about 4:00.
The tourist area is only about 25% of the total size of the National Park and is split into 10 zones, of which zones 1-5 are best for tiger spotting. We ended up going through zones 2, 4 and 5. On the safaris you can either go through on smaller open back Land Rover type jeeps or larger open back jeep/ lorries with room for about 20 people. We went for the larger ones...
In the park we spotted loads of different animals, peacocks, monkeys, mongoose, deer, owls, kingfishers and vultures being the main ones. We also (only just!) spotted the tigers we'd come for!
There are only 60 tigers in the whole park and unlike lions who move around in big packs, tigers are solitary and so even harder to spot! We arrived at one spot and a tiger was laying under a tree, we spotted the camouflaged face of it but nothing more. Then on the last jeep safari as we had admitted defeat we pulled over and saw a tiger laying in a mud pool. It was quite far away but was clear to see, with our binoculars you could pick out every detail. Then as we were about the leave the tiger stood up and walked off, great to see them in the wild! India used to be full of thousands of tigers but hunting and habitat destruction has led to them becoming nearly extinct. The last Royal tiger hunt in Ranthambhore was in 1961...
Aside from the safaris we chilled out around the resort, which luckily also had the most comfortable bed in a very long time (if not the whole time since travelling!).
We made a mix up with our train tickets so ended up changing the time to leave a day early which was nice as we had a Pizza Hut and beer night in the hotel in Jaipur before the next train journey to Agra and the Taj Mahal!