When thinking of safaris, most people imagine the sweeping plains of Africa with its abundance of wildlife and while Africa is the most well known destination for such a trip, it is not the only place where you can get up close with exotic wildlife and big cats.
Ranthambore National Park in India is one of the biggest in the country and has a wide array of animals that would rival many African national parks. It is home to leopards, hyenas, crocodiles, sloth bears, Indian false vampires and many, many more. Ranthambore is also possibly the best location in India to see one of the country’s most famous residents; the Royal Bengal tiger. There are approximately 36 tigers within the park and they can be found with relative ease, even throughout the day, hunting or caring for their young. The park offers these endangered tigers a safe haven from the habitat destruction and poaching that has plagued this species and resulted in the decrease of their numbers in the wild.
Today the park is a major wildlife tourist attraction but originally the park began its life as a hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur in South-eastern Rajasthan. Many royal guests (including Queen Elizabeth the 2nd and Prince Phillip) came to Ranthambore to shoot tigers during the times for the Maharajas until tiger hunting was banned in 1970. In 1973, Ranthambore National Park was declared a tiger sanctuary under ‘Project Tiger’. Project Tiger was a nationwide mission, which sought to preserve tigers along with the entire eco-system, which sustains the tigers of India. Ranthambore is the smallest of the Project Tiger sanctuaries but is also one of the best wildlife sanctuaries to see tigers in the wild. You can see tigers in Ranthambore National Park while on jeep safaris within the wildlife reserve.
In addition to being one of India’s largest national parks, Ranthambore is also considered an important heritage site because of the ruins that are scattered throughout the park. One of the better known is the Ranthambore Fort which is located at an elevated position in the middle of the forest where the Aravali and Vindhya Ranges meet. Due to its location and structure, it was considered to have been one of the most difficult forts to overthrow. The fort is huge and covers an area of approximately 7 kilometres and is believed to have been built in 944 AD by a Chauhan warrior making it one of the oldest forts in India. A day trip to the fort is definitely worth while even if only for the breathtaking panoramic views. The interiors of the fort are also interesting as the quality of workmanship is difficult to match even today despite the advances in technology. An example of this can be seen in the acoustics of the Hammir court, where even a whisper can be heard at the other end of the building.
At the end of your days exploring the park, what better way to relax than in your own luxury tent or private bungalow? Just because Ranthambore is a wildlife reserve, it does not mean that you have to rough it and the park certainly delivers when it comes to the accommodation. There are 21 different accommodation options around Ranthambore ranging from the comfortable right up to indulgent luxury. If you are after something with a little local atmosphere, why not try the Ranthambore Safari Lodge with its charming cottages and gardens and conveniently located right next to Ranthambore National park.
So next time you imagine a safari trip, maybe you should consider trading the plains of the Savanna for the jungle instead.