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Old 4th November 2016, 10:16   #16
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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My experience from 3 safaris in Ranthambore is that the guides and drivers of the Gypsies are all focused on showing the tourist only one animal - the tiger. Throughout the safari they keep looking for just one animal. Perhaps it is our collective fault because most of us want only that.They say a lot of lofty things before the safari like how important it is to enjoy the jungle as a whole but when it comes to it they don't care to stop for the smaller birds or other animals.
You see, this is the reason why I prefer to go with a conducted photo tour from a company like Toehold. I'm sure other companies also have very similar arrangements. This ensures four things. You are accompanied by a very good naturalist (from the organising company) who knows a lot about the forest in general, its inhabitants and their behaviour. You are in the company of like minded people, who are quite serious about photography and not just see as many tigers as they can. You are assured of the best possible guides (although in Ranthambore the drivers are not constant and work on a rotation basis) who keep track of animal movements over a period and ensure that we are on the best possible routes. Last but not least, all other things like stay, permits, etc are taken care of and you can just concentrate on filling up your memory card with photos!

Although we still get people in the group who want to chase only tigers, we generally stop for other interesting fauna too. I always make it a point to tell my co-enthusiasts that I want to shoot anything that is interesting and not just the cats. Bu all said and done, there is nothing quite like the sight of tiger walking towards you like it owns the place.

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Old 4th November 2016, 10:53   #17
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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Although we still get people in the group who want to chase only tigers, we generally stop for other interesting fauna too. I always make it a point to tell my co-enthusiasts that I want to shoot anything that is interesting and not just the cats. Bu all said and done, there is nothing quite like the sight of tiger walking towards you like it owns the place.
Tell me about it. All they want to see is a Tiger. Such kind of people are better off going to a Zoo. And there are other who are super excited when they spot anything, be it a bird or a deer. They talk loud, use flash when taking pics. What not. It is pretty much necessary to go along with the right group, a good naturalist and a very good driver who knows how to spot and how to stop the vehicle when an animal is spotted.
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Old 4th November 2016, 11:22   #18
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

The problem is you cannot choose your driver and guide in Ranthambore. Everything is allotted to you by the Park management. I don't know if the big hotels can manipulate it. But I am the Jhumar Baori kind of tourist. Of course going with an organised agency is a different ball game.

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Old 4th November 2016, 11:32   #19
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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The problem is you cannot choose your driver and guide in Ranthambore.
This is true if you go on your own, since you will have no control over the allotments. But some people in our group were carrying visiting cards of particular guides and were mentioning that they can hire his services for a fixed number of safaris. The drivers are on a roster, but not guides. I'm told that this is reverse in Bandhavgarh, where you can have a particular driver but the guides keep changing. Haven't been there yet myself.

Again, the benefit of the organized tour is that these things are taken care of. You do end up paying that bit of premium for such services, but IMO it is worth the extra expense.
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Old 4th November 2016, 11:44   #20
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

Mine was a self drive family trip (as opposed to my other birding trips which I often do with other birders) and I organised the things on my own. Photography was not the principal objective of the trip. My point is the drivers just need to be given a little orientation course. They first need to be convinced that there is a lot beyond tigers in Ranthambore.
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Old 4th November 2016, 11:44   #21
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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This is true if you go on your own, since you will have no control over the allotments. But some people in our group were carrying visiting cards of particular guides and were mentioning that they can hire his services for a fixed number of safaris. The drivers are on a roster, but not guides. I'm told that this is reverse in Bandhavgarh, where you can have a particular driver but the guides keep changing. Haven't been there yet myself.

Again, the benefit of the organized tour is that these things are taken care of. You do end up paying that bit of premium for such services, but IMO it is worth the extra expense.
At least in South, the drivers are on a roster duty for 3 days continuously and they get a break for the same number of days. They would be assigned other work of patrolling and stuff. With Kabini, I know the drivers and just check before going so that I get the right guy for the safari.
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Old 4th November 2016, 11:59   #22
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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They first need to be convinced that there is a lot beyond tigers in Ranthambore.
See, it is all about the tips they get at the end of the drive. They are quite knowledgeable about the forest and its inhabitants, but they won't get good tips for showing you a Nilgai in amazing light. They will get a hefty one if they manage to spot a tiger, even if it is lurking in the bushes. This is especially true in a place like Ranthambore, where foreigners outnumber Indians. Obviously the tips they can get from a "gora" is much more than what we normally part with.

The math is simple. If you don't spot a tiger, the tip is 50/- per safari. A tiger fetches 100/- or even more, depending on how good the sighting was. From a foreigner, it is far more of course.

A funny anecdote when we returned to our resort (Tiger's Den, almost at the entrance of the forest gates) after a safari.

A German tourist: Did you spot any tigers?

We: No, not this time

Another German tourist: Not even one?

Like they are queued up as in a zoo or something!

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At least in South, the drivers are on a roster duty for 3 days continuously and they get a break for the same number of days.
Yeah, Kabini and even Bhadra do this strictly. I feel JLR runs things far, far more professionally than any other park in India. No wonder they show a huge profit year after year.
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Old 4th November 2016, 12:22   #23
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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See, it is all about the tips they get at the end of the drive. They are quite knowledgeable about the forest and its inhabitants, but they won't get good tips for showing you a Nilgai in amazing light. They will get a hefty one if they manage to spot a tiger, even if it is lurking in the bushes. This is especially true in a place like Ranthambore, where foreigners outnumber Indians. Obviously the tips they can get from a "gora" is much more than what we normally part with.

The math is simple. If you don't spot a tiger, the tip is 50/- per safari. A tiger fetches 100/- or even more, depending on how good the sighting was. From a foreigner, it is far more of course.

A funny anecdote when we returned to our resort (Tiger's Den, almost at the entrance of the forest gates) after a safari.

A German tourist: Did you spot any tigers?

We: No, not this time

Another German tourist: Not even one?

Like they are queued up as in a zoo or something!



Yeah, Kabini and even Bhadra do this strictly. I feel JLR runs things far, far more professionally than any other park in India. No wonder they show a huge profit year after year.
Agree on tips part. That will drive the urge to spot a tiger even if its far off.

On a side note, JLR has become way to expensive and the VFM rules it out completely. I have ditched the JLR and stick to Forest depart safaris. Equally good sightings and they go to all the zones as they do not have restrictions.
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Old 4th November 2016, 18:47   #24
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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Agree on tips part. That will drive the urge to spot a tiger even if its far off.

On a side note, JLR has become way to expensive and the VFM rules it out completely. I have ditched the JLR and stick to Forest depart safaris. Equally good sightings and they go to all the zones as they do not have restrictions.
Completely agree. JLR cottage charges for a couple was approx INR 11K/day for a couple (all inclusive) when I started visiting Kabini. I also acknowledge that their drivers, naturalists & safari experience is top notch. But that does not justify the steep hike their tariffs in the last couple of years. The tariffs have doubled.

The government safari in Kabini is VFM but if you are used to JLR safari experience then you will feel this is a big let down. Having just 1 safari bus (not even jeeps) in the most happening wildlife place of the state is a joke. Though they cover both the zones, the drivers are the most disinterested lot. Sighting in that bus is mere luck. There is no effort put in by the driver to track wildlife (especially cats).

The Bandipur government safari is very well organized. More over they have a good number of gypsies for safari now at affordable prices. The drivers are much knowledgeable, courteous, put an effort to track wildlife & have the intent to make your safari experience a memorable & pleasant one. The safari experience can be matched to what JLR provides. The resort mafia in Kabini will never allow the Bandipur safari model to be implemented in Kabini because if that happens it will affect their revenue.
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Old 4th November 2016, 18:51   #25
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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The government safari in Kabini is VFM but if you are used to JLR safari experience then you will feel this is a big let down. Having just 1 safari bus (not even jeeps) in the most happening wildlife place of the state is a joke. Though they cover both the zones, the drivers are the most disinterested lot. Sighting in that bus is mere luck. There is no effort put in by the driver to track wildlife (especially cats).
This is true to some extent when they need to do 2 trips. On a weekday with little crowd, they are pretty good for the money we pay.

Agree on the fact that they are not even introducing a 2nd Bus, forget jeeps. Wondering what approach to convey this to the government will help in fixing this.
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Old 4th November 2016, 20:55   #26
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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The government safari in Kabini is VFM but if you are used to JLR safari experience then you will feel this is a big let down. Having just 1 safari bus (not even jeeps) in the most happening wildlife place of the state is a joke. Though they cover both the zones, the drivers are the most disinterested lot. Sighting in that bus is mere luck. There is no effort put in by the driver to track wildlife (especially cats).
Totally agree with this. I've always been to JLR whenever I visit Kabini, so I've never taken the govt safari bus. But I've had personal experience with these vehicles and their drivers many times inside the forest.

For example, see this photo:

Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more-kbndec501tbhp.jpg

We had tracked this leopard and were following it for nearly 30 minutes. At about 5:15 pm, along comes this bus being driven fast. We tried signalling the driver with head lights, arm waves and finally whistles, but nothing doing. He just kept coming on at good speed. The leopard vanished almost instantly. The driver didn't even bother to stop to ask us what was happening, he just swerved to one side and drove away without a care. The people inside the bus also didn't look too bothered about this, they were yelling and laughing their head off as though this was some highway.

I wouldn't want to be on one of those buses even if I were just a tourist with just a cell phone in hand. For a photographer, no way!

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Old 7th November 2016, 13:05   #27
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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It is generally true that sightings are better in Zones 1 to 5, but that is mostly because of the territory and the lay of the land. Not because of the tiger density in these zones. See this link for a better idea of tiger distribution in zones. It isn't a fully updated, as of now information, but will give you a fair idea of where you can find tigers best.
Completely agree with you Stryker that sightings depends on the territory and land. Last time, when I was in Ranthambore during March, I had sightings at zone 10 which is not a favorite zone for tiger sighting. There is zone which can guarantee sightings, it depends on multiple factor.


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Very good photo-logue, interesting narration Jaisimha. Appreciate your enthusiasm to click smaller animals and birds.

Never disappointed with any of these safaris for not seeing the cats, but each safari was thrilling and enjoyed every moment. Few snaps from my Bandipur trip is in the below link,

Mysterious Bandipur (A tryst with the mysterious Bandipur)
Great pics Josebi. I completely agree that we should enjoy forest/nature and our enjoyment should not be driven by tiger sightings.

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My experience from 3 safaris in Ranthambore is that the guides and drivers of the Gypsies are all focused on showing the tourist only one animal - the tiger. Throughout the safari they keep looking for just one animal. Perhaps it is our collective fault because most of us want only that.They say a lot of lofty things before the safari like how important it is to enjoy the jungle as a whole but when it comes to it they don't care to stop for the smaller birds or other animals.

I think the park management should do something to really educate the drivers on how not to chase away birds while driving.
It is us who actually needs to be blamed not the guides/drivers. I have seen people coming back disappointed, why because they have not seen any big cats even though they have sighted other animals. Satisfaction factor is achieved only when big cats are sighted otherwise no. We need to educate ourselves to enjoy the forest. Whenever I visit any forest, I made a point to go for multiple safari - one with others and another one only me, by booking the entire jeep/gypsy so that I can enjoy the nature.
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Old 7th November 2016, 19:13   #28
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Tigers and more

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Ranthambore. Just the name conjures up images of tigers, bold & unafraid, uncaring of the dozens of tourists clicking away on everything from cellphones to those big bazookas. I visited the place ...
Excellent pictures and crisp narrative. The close up with the tiger was simply fantastic. Its so tempting to visit the place!
Would be delighted to have info about the stay experience during the trip along with your recommendations!
Thanks in advance.
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Old 8th November 2016, 09:22   #29
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Would be delighted to have info about the stay experience during the trip along with your recommendations!
We stayed at the Tiger Den Resort. This place is less than a kilometer outside the gates for Zones 1 to 5, so it is ideally situated for safaris. The downside is that if you are part of a group that is spread across resorts then rest assured you will be the last ones to be picked up! But we are in Gypsy vehicles all the time, so that didn't matter to us. It is a very good place, with great food and excellent, very well maintained rooms.

But Ranthambore is full of resorts and places to stay. I'm not exaggerating when I say that almost every building in Sawai Madhopur (the nearest town) is a Hotel or Resort. There are places to suit all budgets, so you can pick what you want.

Last edited by Stryker : 8th November 2016 at 09:23. Reason: Spell check
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