Friday, 15 January 2016

Land of Tigers: Ranthambore and Sariska Forest

Every year, we plan a long trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary. This year, it was not possible to plan in the month of February hence we decided to visit in the month of January. This time we selected Delhi – Amritsar – Bharatpur Bird sanctuary – Ranthambore National park – Sariska National park and Jaipur. To avoid length of blog, I have divided it into 4 parts. In this part, will like to share my travel experience from Ranthambore National park and Sariska Tiger Reserve

Without a doubt, travelers for this trip were me and my wife Renuka.

Tiger from Ranthambore
Tiger Cub set for Hunting 

Travel Blog link on Bharatpur: Bharatpur: Bird’s paradise!!!

About Ranthambore and Sariska:
              Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (Also known as Ranthambore National Park) is in Rajasthan, India. It is one of the best Parks in the India to spot tigers. It is spread over 392 sq km area. Ranthambore was established in year 1955 and declared as tiger reserve project in 1973. It is famous for tigers but it also other animals such as leopard, nilgai, wild boar, sambar, hyena, sloth bear, gray langur, macaque and chital.

               Sariska Tiger Reserve is located in Alwar district of Rajasthan. It is spread over 282 square km area. It is the first tiger reserve in the world to have successfully relocated tigers from one park to Sariska. There are around 14-15 tigers present in the park. Apart from tigers, you can spot leopard, jungle cat, caracal, striped hyena, Indian jackal, chital, sambhar, Nilgai, Chinkara, four-horned antelope, wild boar, hare, Langur, rhesus monkeys. Sariska is also home of birds like grey partridge, white-throated kingfisher, Indian peafowl, bush quail, sandgrouse, treepie, golden-backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle and the Indian eagle-owl.

Out entire Travel plan
  • Pune to Delhi Indigo flight on Thursday night – 7th Jan 16 
  • Train to Amritsar on Friday Evening – 8th Jan 16 
  • Day in Amritsar and late night train to Agra for Bharatpur 
  • 3 days in Bharatpur and evening train on 13th Jan 16 
  • A Day in Ranthambore for2 safari (original plan was of 3 Safari but we missed it due to train cancellation). Late evening Private cab on 14th Jan for Sariska. 
  • A Day in Sariska for 2 Safari and evening public transport bus for Jaipur – 15th Jan 
  • 2 days in Jaipur and Jaipur to Pune night Flight

owl
Owl

13th Jan 2016: Bharatpur to Sawai Madhopur:
              After beautiful visit to Bharatpur national park, we left Bharatpur by 4:00 PM train. We reached Sawai Madhopur by 7-7.30 PM. Soon we reached our hotel named Tiger Haveli. It was an average place to stay for a shorter duration. Next day we got to know a few nice hotels which we missed during our search.
              We had our dinner in Tiger Haveli which was not up to the mark. It is not at all recommended from my side. We submitted our permits to hotel owner. He converted it into Safari. One thing which I observed in Ranthambore was, these people try to make money from every possible ways. When I was in Kanha National park last year, the locals helped us a lot without any extra chargers. Also you will not get jeep booking if it shows all booked on their website BUT in Ranthambore safari ran on black market or agent market system. We had already booked our safari but if you are ready to pay extra cash to hotel owner / agent then they will arrange entire jeep / seat in jeep at any given time.
             Just because of local’s attitude I rate MP forest management on top of Ranthambore even those Tiger sighting is higher in Ranthambore forest.

Royal Bengal Tiger
Royal Bengal Tiger

Expense:
  • Train ticket to Sawai Madhopur: INR 240/- (for 2 person) 
  • Hotel Booking: INR 1000/- for 1 night 2 person 
  • Auto (Sawai Madhopur to Hotel): INR 100/- Donner: INR 240/- (Masala papad, Vegetable dish and Rotis)

14th Jan 2016: Ranthambore:
               We woke up at 5:00 AM. No one from the hotel staff was available and hence we left hotel by 6:00 AM on safari. The safari jeep came at 6 AM as decided. We were having Zone 3 permit. T19 Tigress and her 3 year old cubs were dominating this zone. We entered inside forest soon. Ranthambore is divided into 8 zones. People say zone 6, 7 and 8 are less preferred due to less number of tigers.

Malik Lake

               Even though tiger was main attraction for us, we were not fixated on stars like tigers; other inhabitants of the forests were a delight to observe too. It was cold morning and entire zone was on silent mode. Zone 3 and 4 shared Malik Lake area which gives more probability for Tiger sighting. Indian peacock and spotted deer welcomed us when we approached towards Malik Lake. We saw number of pugmarks and started following them. We tried our best but luck was not with us to spot tiger.

Mamma look here for photo

Spotted deer
Spotted deer

               We spent more than hour to track different pugmarks and then decided to spend more time near Malik Lake. We saw a group spotted deer, Sambar deer, Barking deer and many crocodiles in the lake. Malik talao (Lake) is the largest lake from park and consists of ruined small fortification which was used as king for hunting. Our Zone 3 safari totally failed as we were hardly able to spot any mammals but still we got to experience different winter moods of the forest.

Crocodile

Sambar deer
Sambar deer

               We came out from forest by 10:30 AM and went to the hotel. We decided not to have lunch in Tiger haveli so we went out in search of a good hotel/restaurant. We came across one hotel and the owner welcomed us. He helped us by providing some good tips and information about this place. He had one more hotel newly opened so we went there and loved the place. While leaving this place, tempting smell from kitchen forced us to have lunch. Food was delicious. The hotel name is Rajputana Heritage

Open billed stork and Spotted deer
Open billed stork and Spotted deer

Male Sambar
Male Sambar

              We got ready for our evening safari. It was our last Safari before we leave for Sariska Tiger Reserve. This was our last safari in Ranthambore. We entered inside park by 2.30 PM. For around one hour, we explored the forest area and went towards Malik Lake. When we entered in the lake area, we saw 1 to 2 jeeps watching something. It was a grown tiger cub taking rest on the bank of the lake. The guide took our vehicle close to the tiger keeping safe distance.

T19's Cub
Time to relax.. T19's Cub 

T19s Cub

               Tiger cub was T19’s son. It was just a year old grown cub. Looking at his massive muscles, he didn’t look like year old tiger. We decided to wait. Watching him for 30 min was good experience. After some time, he took a hiding position in grass. Definitely he saw someone coming down the hill. When we saw carefully, it was a group of Sambar deer.

Tigress T19's Son...I am just 15 month old boy

15 month old Boy

Target locked
Target locked...I'm set for hunt.

              He paused in same position till Sambar came close to lake. Somehow the distance between the tiger and deer was little bit far but the guide told us that still he will attempt an attack. The young tiger tried to attack on every prey. It was visual treat for us. After few minutes, the cub took great sprint towards the Sambar. It was simply amazing experience. He was unfortunate to catch him. He jumped in late at the end and Sambar had narrow escape from life and death race.

Target locked...Ranthambore


Thrilling experience at Ranthambore

              After the failed attempt, he crossed the lake and went in zone 3. Few Jeeps were standing in Zone 3 and waiting for their turn. Cubs went close to jeep and then disappear in the woods. It was great to watch this activity. It was 5:30 PM and we decided to leave this beautiful land of Tiger.

Other side of Lake after Failed attempt of Sambar hunt

Woolly necked stork

          We reached at the hotel by 6:30 PM. Our next destination was Sariska. We rented a car to reach Sariska. We left by 7 PM. It was quite long journey. We had our dinner at The Tiger Treat and left for Sariska. We reached at RTDC Tiger Den hotel for stay.

Expense:
  • Morning Safari permit: INR 260/- for 2 person 
  • Morning Jeep safari: INR 2200/- 
  • Guide fee: INR 300/- 
  • Lunch: INR 320/- for 2 person (Papad, vegetables and roti) 
  • Evening Safari permit: INR 260/- for 2 person 
  • Evening Jeep safari: INR 2200/- 
  • Guide fee: INR 300/- 
  • Car rent (Till Sariska): INR 4500/- (Normal rate is between INR 4000-4200/- and hotel owner chargers us wrongly) 
  • Dinner at The Tiger Treat: INR 340/- (Aloo Paratha, Panner Paratha and 2 coffee) 
  • RTDC Stay: INR 2500/- for 2 person 1 night

15th Jan 2016: Sariska:
          We woke up at 6:00 AM and reached at Forest office gate. We submitted our permit to take morning safari. Sariska is divided into 3 zones named as Zone 1, Zone 2 and Zone 3. There are total 13 Tigers present in forest. We got zone 2 for morning safari.
          We went inside by jeep by 7 PM. It was cold morning and we were unable to spot anything for couple of hours. We saw few pugmarks but no tiger sighting. We saw few groups of spotted deer and Sambar. The forest is dense as compared to Ranthambore and the forest people are very friendly. We spent a lot time to explore different routes. At the end, we saw a jungle cat in the forest and safari ended by 10.30 AM.

Wild Cat at Sariska
Wild Cat at Sariska

Male Spotted deer
Male Spotted deer

Painted Stork basking on ground

            We went to the RTDC hotel and had breakfast. Food was average in taste and manageable. We got refreshed soon and checked out. They accepted to keep our bags in the clock room. We spent our free noon time in RTDC’s garden.

Common hoopoe

               For evening safari, we went again to the forest office. We got zone 3 for this safari. Safari time was 2.30 PM to 6 PM but the driver suggested us to go inside by 3:30 PM to avoid harsh sun light. We were hardly bothered about the weather so we forced him to take us inside. Finally he agreed when my wife ordered him to take jeep inside as we wanted to explore the forest and not only tiger sighting.
             When we entered in the forest, we (including guide) decided to visit the lake. We saw painted stork, ruddy shelduck, Common teal, spot billed duck and few other wet land birds. We saw 2-3 crocodiles in the lake. After spending an hour, we went inside the forest.

Ruddy Shelduck

Common Teal

Crocodile on bank of Lake

            Our search for the tiger began with the help of deer’s call. But we failed to spot any tiger till evening. We almost visited all lake and water pond area. We saw Jungle cat, spotted deer, sambar, peacocks and some forest birds.
           We came out of the park by 6:00 PM. We picked up our bags from the hotel and caught the bus for Jaipur from Sariska. Now our 2 days of Jaipur trip began.

Flight...

Expense:
  • Morning safari permit: INR 254/- for 2 person 
  • Morning Safari jeep chargers: INR 2680/- (which includes guide chargers + chargers for 4 person permit as we hired jeep for 2 people) 
  • Evening safari permit: INR 254/- for 2 person 
  • Evening Safari jeep chargers: INR 800/- for 2 person (As two more couple wanted to join us in our jeep) 
  • Bus to Jaipur: INR 200/- for 2 person 

Process for Safari booking:
1. Go to http://www.rajasthanwildlife.rajasthan.gov.in/booking.do site and book your entry seat. (This payment is only entry permit and not jeep safari chargers)
2. To view more details of Booking Fee and Timing click on MORE Info Button for respective forest.
3. Register your account to book a permit as booking as guest option is not available.
4. Please carry your mentioned ID proof for safari. Only those tourists are allowed in park whose names are mentioned in permit. To modify permit before safari, you need to contact forest department.
5. Carry print out of your permit as showing online receipt at counter doesn’t work every time.
6. Once you get permit then make you stay and journey arrangement
7. Once you reach in Ranthambore, either asks your hotel manager to make arrangement of forest registered jeep (Every hotel charge around INR 50-75/- per person) OR visit at gate at 7 PM for next day morning safari and at 1-2 PM for same day evening safari to block jeep against your permit number.
8. Safari jeep can pick up from Hotel. For this service, you have to pay extra cash. Generally INR 300/- for whole Jeep or depends upon hotel owner/agent/jeep owner.
9. Sorry to say but forest management / agent network works on money hence they will ask you extra cash for every service. I have been to other forest as well and confirming your permit, blocking a jeep, trying to give you suitable guide etc. by hotel owner is free and as part of hotel/resort’s hospitality.
10. On the date of safari, reach 45-60 min prior to safari time at entry gate. E.g. if morning safari starts at 6AM then verification process starts at 5.30 AM and for evening safari, if timing is 3PM then verification process starts at 2.30 PM
11. Show your permit and ID proof at entry gate and pay INR 250/- chargers for Guide.
12. Board your jeep to enjoy beautiful forest

Tips:
  • Make sure that your jeep should be among first 5 vehicles to enter in forest. It increases your chances in summer to spot Tiger on road in respective zone 
  • Try to avoid zone 6 and 7 as chances are less to spot tiger. 
  • Tiger activity in particular zone changes as per time. So do not believe of anyone who says a chance of spotting tiger in xyz zone is higher than other. It completely depends upon your luck and observation of guide. 
Contact number for Reference
  • Hotel Tiger Haveli: 07462-223825, 09928889936. ( www.tigerhaveli.com ) If possible avoid hotel Tiger Haveli. Our experience was quite average 
  • Rajputana Heritage: Vishnu Rathore 09414726616, 09251086627. (http://rajputanaheritage.com ) Newly opened property with beautiful interior and friendly hospitality 
  • Hotel Green view Ranthambhore: Vishnu Rathore 09414726616, 09251086627 (http://www.greenviewranthambore.com ) same owner of Rajputana Heritage. This is budget hotel 
  • Tiger Safari Resort: Deepak Maheswari 07462221137, 07462224582. (http://www.tigersafariresort.com ) 
  • Goyal Tour & Travel (for car rent): Anshul Goyal 09414818877, 08104432150. 
  • The Tiger treat, Bilona: 09351387066, 09351149027. Restaurant between Ranthambore – Sariska 
Travel Blog on Jaipur: Pink City: Jaipur

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune

3 comments:

  1. Its good to know that you had a great and wonderful trip to Ranthambore. Thank you for sharing with us all these details.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for wonderful information Pritesh. Me and my wife planning to visit Ranthambore-Jaipur in January 2017.

    Thanks
    Dinesh Nisang

    ReplyDelete