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Old 21st June 2015, 02:59   #1
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Default Maiden trip to the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Before commencing with the travelogue, I wish to pay tribute to a very fine gentleman who is no more with us. Mr. BC Gurudutt (gd1418). He was the epitome of a true wildlife enthusiast and a photographer par excellence. Although I never met him personally, when I called him up with regards to planning for the trip, he guided me with a childlike enthusiasm. He did invite me once for a trip to Sariska which could not materialize owing to my occupational commitments. An untimely death snatched away a true son of the soil. RIP GD sir.

My earliest memories of wildlife were of the Kanha National Park when I was all of 6 years old. I must have visited the park on 5 to 6 occasions and the closest we came to sighting the elusive Cat was when we had a glimpse of its tail vanishing into the thicket. After Kanha though, I could never again get a chance to visit any of the other parks what with me being admitted to a Sainik School and limited vacations and the horde of relatives to visit. After School, it was NDA followed by IMA and then the Commissioned Army life...Leave periods kept shortening and planning anything remotely close was just a wishful thinking.

Ranthambore Tiger reserve (RTR) had been on my 'Must Do' list for quite some time and sometime in Dec 2013; I strengthened my resolve and asked for a long overdue leave. The result was a weeklong break from breakneck speed of work. The biggest challenge for my wife and me was to manage our 7 month old Son. We decided to pack everything under the Sun required for his comfort in the bone freezing cold of a typical December month and go ahead with the trip. We were to have a stopover of 2 days at Jaipur and then proceed to RTR.

A few pictures from the trip. Experiences follow subsequently.

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The D-Day was set for 30 Nov when we were to start from Delhi Cantt at around 10 AM and make quick ground to reach Jaipur by about lunch time. But then, one cannot actually 'Plan' when with lady wives. By the time I put my car into the first gear, it was well past afternoon. As expected there was humungous traffic after crossing the Gurgaon toll. Moreover with the work on widening of roads after crossing Manesar, the pace of move was pretty much damp.

After an uneventful journey, we reached Jaipur by 9 PM and stayed put at Jaipur cantonment for 2 days. After spending a couple of days at Jaipur, our plan was to reach Ranthambore by mid day on 2 Dec and hence had to start latest by around 8 AM from Jaipur. As always it was a delayed start and we could only proceed at 10 AM. The route which I took to Ranthambore was ‘Jaipur - Kothun - Lalsot - Sawai Madhopur’
The road stretch till Kothun was good but the moment I took a left for Lalsot, I felt as if I made a mistake in understanding the directions being belched out by the Google maps and comprehending the correct route. The initial stretch of close to 10 Km was atrocious to say the least. Time taken to cover these 10 Km was around 40 minutes! The road did start improving gradually and after crossing Lalsot, it was an absolute pleasure to drive the remainder of the 70 odd km to RTR.

We eventually reached our resort by 2 PM and the promptness with which we were checked into our tents was a delight. Full marks to the management and staff for having waited patiently for us to arrive and serve us a sumptuous lunch. Since we were anyways not taking an afternoon safari, we decided to settle down in our tent and visit the Ranthambore Fort in the evening. We were advised to start latest by 4 PM to be able to check out the fort and be back before last light.

Tiger Machan: The Resort

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Ranthambore Fort

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Our trip to the fort was good barring the fact that my car (Etios Liva) was just not suited to negotiate the kind of track that leads to the Fort from the Park entrance. More so because of the road repair that was going on. After a terrible 45 minutes we reached the fort and realized that we were the last ones for the day. We got a guide along more for the company than for his expert commentary. All in all, a good experience and we returned to our resort by 6 PM sharp.

Next morning was going to be our first attempt at sighting the big cat during our morning safari. Hence the night was restless and the excitement quite palpable. There was a very welcome bonfire in the lawns prior to dinner, wherein there was a group of 9 as also a couple from Kota apart from us. All of us had a merry time sitting in the lawns over a couple of 'Old Monks' and swapping stories from each others’ experiences. We had to retire early to bed as the next morrow was to be a long, tiring and hopefully an interesting one.

Got up early and for once got lucky as my better half too arose without me having to sweat in that chilly morning. Got our son ready and packed him up with all the available warm clothing. By 6.30 AM we were ready to storm the gates of the park but had to wait patiently for the gypsy to arrive with our companions for the safari.

Fully Decked Up!

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Our guide informed us that we were allotted Zone 5. I had read on numerous travelogues on RTR and found that Zone 5 was not very popular with tourists as tiger sightings were pretty much rare as compared to other zones. Unfazed and optimistic, we entered the gates with an expectant mindset. Who could predict what lady luck had in store for us?


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The Sun was starting to peep through the trees and it promised to be a glorious day to be visiting the forest

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As soon as we entered the particular zone, our guide pointed out pugmarks of a tiger made during the previous night and promised us that he would do his best to enable a sighting. But that was the closest we came to sighting the ELUSIVE CAT as the safari turned out to be an uneventful fare. We did spot a few antelopes during the course

Pug Marks

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In Rapt Attention.

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More than halfway through the safari, we stopped for a loo break along with a couple more gypsies. The beautiful surroundings provided a perfect background for a photo op. Even the peacocks obliged and posed for the shutter bugs.


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After what seemed like mere formality of killing the remainder of our time and finishing the route, we made our way to the park exit. The silver lining was our optimism on our remaining two safaris in the afternoon and the next morning. We parted ways with or companions on an optimistic note and went back to the resort to rest, recoup and ready ourselves for the afternoon sojourn.

Having come back from the morning Safari, we treated ourselves to a hearty breakfast and a lazy sitting in the resort's beautiful lawn. The other two groups staying at the resort were much better off as both had a sighting in the morning. In fact the only sightings of the morning were in zone 2 and zone 4. There was this female in zone 4 (Not aware of her details) that had given birth recently and was consistently being sighted in zone 4.

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My immediate concern though was to arrange ourselves a gypsy safari and that too in a favourable zone. Here I would like to mention that since mine was a trip planned at a very short notice, none of my safaris were pre booked. I managed the morning gypsy, courtesy the field Director of RTR and so it was to him that I rushed before the bookings opened for the afternoon safari. He was an extremely courteous man and came across as a helpful citizen unlike many other govt servants that we encounter these days. He generously offered to take us along in his own vehicle for the afternoon safari in a bid to guarantee us a sighting. Moreover, as he added, the vehicle was fitted with a wireless set that kept updating him on the sightings in different zones and obviously the vehicle could hop from one zone to another in a jiffy.

Armed with this positive development, I went back to the resort, had a quick bite and started for the park entrance in my own vehicle. I parked my car at the entrance and hopped into the forest vehicle. This time though, we were more or less certain of sighting the Big Cat as the scales were tilted largely in our favour.

Thus began our afternoon safari in the forest vehicle accompanied by the Field Director. As we entered the park, it was decided that we start with zone 3 and then look to exploring zone 2 & 4. It was an interesting ride as we interacted extensively with the forest officials and clarified the many doubts that lingered on endlessly in our amateur minds.

Initially we crossed Padam Talao and circumvented Raj Bagh too and proceeded towards the boundary between zones 3 & 4.

While we were exploring the other side of Raj Bagh, the wireless crackled and news of a sighting in zone 3 sent waves of excitement through our spines. Apparently a Tiger was spotted in the gap between Padam Talao and Raj Bagh and was resting in some thickets.

Where is she? Somewhere there?

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We immediately rushed to the spot and found that there were quite a few canters and gypsies already waiting patiently for the tiger to come out of the bushes. We joined the waiting milieu without knowing where she was sitting and relaxing. The initial 15 odd minutes was quite funny as we all had our own theories of where the cat was resting and most of us were obviously way off the mark.


The Waiting Audience

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Finally we saw some movement in the bushes and thus came to know the exact location. Thereafter it was a waiting game as we hoped desperately for her to give us a royal show. After about 30 minutes, she got up and started moving towards Padam Talao. Immediately our driver identified her as T-19. The next 30 minutes was pure pleasure as T-19 gave us a memorable first sighting. As most of you would agree, nothing can match the joy and excitement of a first ever sighting. The same was the case with us as we were totally mesmerized by the magnificent animal that was giving us all such an excellent view of a wild cat in its natural surroundings. I will let the pictures do the talking.

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Finally after obliging us all for more than 30 minutes, she decided to spend some solitary time and moved off the track into the thicket towards the Jogi mahal.

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Exhausted after sighting the Big Cat, My Son takes an energy drink.


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And now, he's ready to cause havoc again.


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The Field Director asked me whether we had enough for the day or wanted more. I obviously said ' Ye Dil Mange More'. So off we went to Jogi Mahal in a hope that T-19 would surely be surfacing in the near abouts. Jogi Mahal was a great place. Too bad it’s not open to the tourists any longer. At Jogi Mahal we were accompanied by the ACF, Mr. Daulat Singh Shaktawat. He is the same forest official who was injured in an attack by T-7 in Aug 2010. My wife asked him all about that particular incident and he very kindly explained the circumstances which led to the unfortunate incident. What was amazing is that even after such trauma and shock, he was back to Ranthambore among the wildlife and the tigers. Such passion is truly commendable.

Mr. Daulat Singh Shaktawat


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A Roofus Treepie at Jogi Mahal


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After waiting for about 15 minutes it was concluded that T-19 was unlikely to show up and we decided to make a move from Jogi Mahal.


As we came out of Jogi Mahal, news came in that a tiger had been sighted at Phoota banda. But as it was already 5 PM and was getting darker by the minute, we all thought it wise to make an exit from the park.



Our afternoon safari was an absolutely memorable and out of the world experience. We could not thank the Field Director enough for giving us such a fabulous opportunity. But for him, we would not have been able to have experienced such unadulterated joy. We went back to our resort a happy and contended couple.


Little did I know that the next day would surpass all my expectations!
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Old 22nd June 2015, 08:36   #2
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Beautifully captured! And its amazing to experience how one's own discovery of the same place with age brings out so many hidden flavors.

And the expression on the little one's face: Priceless!
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Old 22nd June 2015, 15:24   #3
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Nice write-up Hunter3077.

After reading this thread, I went up and googled more on T19. Here's something interesting that I found: https://www.tigernation.org/tigers/unnis

Just out of curiosity, could you share the incident that led to the T-17 attack in 2010?
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Old 22nd June 2015, 19:25   #4
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Nice write-up Hunter3077.

After reading this thread, I went up and googled more on T19. Here's something interesting that I found: https://www.tigernation.org/tigers/unnis

Just out of curiosity, could you share the incident that led to the T-17 attack in 2010?
Thank you S2.

The link that you mentioned is indeed a very informative site to check out the various cats in RTR. Reading about each one of them does feel exhilerating.

The incident that I mentioned regarding the attack on Mr Daulat Singh happened some time in 2010. Apparently, T-7 was spotted in a peripheral village of the reserve and had already attacked a calf in the early hours. The villagers got wind of it and surrounded the area (mostly agricultural fields) in a possible attempt to either shoo him away or in worse case scenario, to kill him.

The forest officials reached the site and were trying to tranquilize T-7 so as to get him back to the confines of the park. In the meanwhile, media and the local hoteliers started gathering too and the human presence started increasing. The tiger was presumed to be hiding in the millet crop which hindered visibility due to it's considerable height. No one was quite sure as to the actual location and to add to the miseries of the forest officials, the villagers started pelting stones on the tiger.

Amidst this ensuing chaos, Mr. Daulat Singh along with a few more of his forest rangers was trying to locate the tiger and administer the tranquilizer. The moment he got close to the actual location, T-7 pounced upon him and caught him unawares. Fortunately, a ranger who was nearby had the sense to immediately throw a bamboo stick on to the tiger and succeeded in shooing him away from Mr. Daulat Singh. Had it not been for the prompt interference, the gentleman wouldn't have survived to tell the tale.

The State government promptly evacuated the injured ACF by sending a chopper and the timely medical aid saved his life. T-7 was later tranquilized and shifted to the reserve.

After getting over the scars of this encounter, Mr. Daulat Singh returned to the reserve to resume his duties with the same fervour and passion. He does'nt even hold a grudge against the tiger as he feels that the constant stone pelting and harassment by the villagers had driven the cat to do what he did. Some spirit that.

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Beautifully captured! And its amazing to experience how one's own discovery of the same place with age brings out so many hidden flavors.

And the expression on the little one's face: Priceless!
Thanks Ampere.

Very true. Probably at 7 months, he did not have any clue what he was doing 350 kms away from home in an entirely different set up. But he sure had a jolly time in whatever sense he could.
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Old 22nd June 2015, 21:05   #5
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Well laid out travelogue. Thank you for the pictures of the cat in its natural surroundings.

Listening to the story of Mr. Daulat Singh from his own mouth must have been a chilling experience for you and your wife. He is a true gentleman in that he holds no grudge against the cat which almost killed him.
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Old 23rd June 2015, 00:07   #6
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First thing I did upon reaching our resort was to call up the Field Director and convey our thanks for such a beautiful experience. In the same vein, I also requested him to kindly arrange for a morning safari for the next day as we had planned our departure post lunch. He readily agreed to my request. My wife had no plans on accompanying me for the morning safari as the love of the morning sleep was greater than the love for wildlife! In any case, she had had her fill and was quite content. Moreover exposing our toddler to the harsh cold for a second successive day did not appeal to our senses.
After a good night’s sleep, I got up early to ready myself for the next foray into the wild. Since I had already had a glimpse of the majestic cat, my aim was to enjoy the wild, click some photographs and take in the beauty of the surroundings without having to endure the pressure of a sighting.
The gypsy promptly arrived at the appointed hour with four passengers already seated along with a kid of theirs. After exchanging the customary pleasantries and chatting for a while, I came to know that they were avid wildlife enthusiasts who had covered a number of Tiger reserves but never had the fortune of sighting a single cat! They also let me know that it was only reluctantly they had agreed to accommodate me in the gypsy, having booked it entirely for themselves. Only a promise by the Field Director to provide them with the best of the guides and driver and a favourable zone did they accede to his request of taking me in as a co passenger!

Greeted By the Rufus Treepie.

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The Huge Banyan At The Entrance.

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Zones 2 & 3.

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The Familiar Pug Marks.

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My Favourite Photo. The Reflection Is Too Good.

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Ranthambore Fort in The Background.

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Random Click.

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All in all they were a good company. We merrily swapped stories of our experiences and cribbed about the lack of time from our respective job profiles. The guide and the driver were indeed very experienced and sincere. We kept following the trail and the calls of the wild in our pursuit of the Tiger. But even after traversing Zone 3 from end to end, we did not chance upon an encounter and time was fast slipping by. With only half an hour left for our safari to end, the guide skillfully maneuvered us to a location with high hopes and confident demeanor. It was the boundary between Zones 3 and 4. He told us that he was pretty sure there was a Tiger lurking around the corner and might surface anytime.

As if on cue, we could spot a horde of gypsies slowly inching their way towards the boundary from Zone 4. By the looks of it, they were following a prize catch but we could still not fathom who. All of a sudden, amidst the deathly silence, emerged the huge bulk of a male. Resplendent in all its glory, he was strutting towards us with carefree abandon. Since no one is allowed to hop from one zone to another, we stayed on our side of the boundary and the gypsies on the other side, to theirs. But it was quite evident that the Tiger was contemplating to enter our zone, which sent shivers of anticipation down our spines!

There He Is!

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Taking His Own Sweet Time.

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What’s The Fuss Folks?

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Finally after an agonizing few minutes (which felt like hours) T-24 inched his way into zone 3 and passed dangerously close to where we were seated. We could not have asked for more. Each stripe on his well toned body was visible to us as if magnified. We decided to keep pace with him and followed him deeper and deeper into our zone. Slowly and steadily a couple more gypsies from our zone entered into the fray and we followed in the wake of the King.

To Cross Or Not To Cross?

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Enjoying A Solitary Moment.
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Will You Leave Me In Peace?

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The next 30 minutes were pure bliss as T-24 (Sitaara) put up a grand show without a care in the world. Words cannot do justice to the plethora of emotions and exhilaration that we, as spectators experienced in that period with one of the best males of Ranthambore. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Ok. Follow Me.

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The Deadly Roar.

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Make Way For The King

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Having been supremely satisfied with our tryst with Sitaara, we made our way out of the park. Posing in between to take a snap of the successful team, we left the gates of RTR behind us with a truck load of beautiful memories that can be cherished for a lifetime.

The Happy Smiles

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Adieu.

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Post lunch, we packed up, bid adieu to the management at Tiger Machaan and drove on to Delhi, with a promise of coming back for a rendezvous with the Tigers of Ranthambore. I hope you all enjoyed the experience as much as I enjoyed putting it down.

Till next time, cheers!

Last edited by Hunter3077 : 23rd June 2015 at 00:14.
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Old 23rd June 2015, 00:12   #7
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

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Originally Posted by arunkumarsarat View Post
Well laid out travelogue. Thank you for the pictures of the cat in its natural surroundings.

Listening to the story of Mr. Daulat Singh from his own mouth must have been a chilling experience for you and your wife. He is a true gentleman in that he holds no grudge against the cat which almost killed him.
Thank you for the appreciation Arun.

Yes it was indeed a chilling experience to have heard of the near fatal attack from the horse's mouth. It speaks volumes about his dedication that even after such a harrowing experience, he is back to where he belongs without nursing a grudge. People such as him are rare and are to be commended.

Last edited by aah78 : 23rd June 2015 at 00:15. Reason: Post note merged with above pictoral.
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Old 23rd June 2015, 07:29   #8
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Excellent travelogue, I was in Ranthambore for my first visit there 2 weeks back, really awesome place - 3 tiger sightings over 3 days, though my luck with leopards at Bera was better.
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Old 23rd June 2015, 08:00   #9
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Excellent travelogue, I was in Ranthambore for my first visit there 2 weeks back, really awesome place - 3 tiger sightings over 3 days, though my luck with leopards at Bera was better.
Thanks Surya.

Three sightings over three days is an envious achievement. Which all Cats did you manage to see? I'm sure the fact that you visited in peak summers was a boon in sighting more.

Have heard a lot about Bera but haven't had the opportunity of giving it a visit. Do share your experiences with us all.

Cheers!
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Old 23rd June 2015, 19:55   #10
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Beautiful travelogue there, my dear friend. Photographs are not doing enough justice to what you have percieved personally(judged that from your excitation and your thorough description of each tiger and their zones).

Btw the Gypsies seem to steal the show. The Military Green Colour, Jungle Camo Interiors and the "KING" on the quarterpanels. Looks as if the "KING" found its place in the wild. Great write-up
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Old 23rd June 2015, 21:46   #11
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Beautiful travelogue there, my dear friend. Photographs are not doing enough justice to what you have percieved personally(judged that from your excitation and your thorough description of each tiger and their zones).

Btw the Gypsies seem to steal the show. The Military Green Colour, Jungle Camo Interiors and the "KING" on the quarterpanels. Looks as if the "KING" found its place in the wild. Great write-up
Thanks a ton DieselWheels.

You are quite right. The photographs do not actually give the true feel of the prevailing circumstances. Partly because of the 20-50 lens which I primarily used to shoot them and partly because it's next to impossible to capture the beauty in a relatively insignificant photo. The real feel is only in physically experiencing it.

Yes, the gypsies do look at home in the wild surroundings. In my opinion , make or mar is the crew you get. The guide and the driver are singularly instrumental in giving one an opportunity of enabling a sighting. I'm sure many among this forum would have found a guide or a driver who would have been least bothered whether or not the passengers get a glimpse of the coveted cat.
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Old 24th June 2015, 07:48   #12
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Nice travelogue there Hunter3077. I find it pretty eloquent and informative. Those beautiful pictures added a tinge of buzz to it. Rating your travelogue a well deserved 5-stars

BTW, I'd like to know if private vehicles are allowed for safari inside Ranthambore ?

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Old 24th June 2015, 08:10   #13
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Nice travelogue there Hunter3077. I find it pretty eloquent and informative. Those beautiful pictures added a tinge of buzz to it. Rating your travelogue a well deserved 5-stars

BTW, I'd like to know if private vehicles are allowed for safari inside Ranthambore ?
Thank you Pferdestarke.

Private vehicles are not allowed inside the park at Ranthambore. Only the park run Gypsies and Canters are allowed to carry tourists inside the park. One can book the same on the official website of Rajasthan tourism.

Even if you don't get the safari bookings online, not all is lost. They can booked after reaching RTR also.

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Old 24th June 2015, 09:46   #14
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Excellent narration Hunter3077.

The majesty and grandeur of the KING is truly difficult to capture in words and snaps, but you have done an excellent job.
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Old 24th June 2015, 10:43   #15
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Excellent narration Hunter3077.

The majesty and grandeur of the KING is truly difficult to capture in words and snaps, but you have done an excellent job.
Thanks a lot MotoNanu.

It is indeed a challenge to describe the wild and it's inhabitants. Mainly because one does tend to take them for granted while viewing on print or electronic media but in real time, they are simply awe inspiring. One has to feel it for themselves to register the moment.

Cheers!
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