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Old 18th December 2017, 16:10   #1
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Default Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers

Every time I saw Tiger documentaries shot in Ranthambore on NatGeo/Animal Planet, the desire to visit this legendary Tiger reserve of India only became stronger. The landscape, terrain, climate & fauna of this place is just mind blowing. No wonder majority of Tiger documentaries are shot here.

Finally the time had come to quench my thirst to visit this place & 4 of us did this trip from 06th to 09th Dec 2017. 2 of us were visiting Ranthambore for the first time. The best time to visit Ranthambore to enjoy (with eyes & camera) the overall beauty of this forest is between Oct-Dec. The climate is pleasant, lakes nullahs & other waterholes have good amount of water & the autumn colors of orange, brown & green with clear blue sky highlight the beauty of this forest. The summer months will yield good tiger sightings but the beauty of the forest is not the same as what it is from Oct-Dec. All landscape images are shot with iPhone SE & all images of fauna are shot with Nikon D7200 & Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6 VR.

The Ranthambore Fort

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-01-ranthambore-fort.jpg

We stayed at Ranthambore Tiger Home. The place is very homely, hygienic, well maintained with awesome tasty food served. The service is top class. Would highly recommend if anyone is visiting Ranthambore. Took the Bangalore-Jaipur flights (up & down cost was INR 10K). Taxi was arranged by the owner of Ranthambore Tiger Home to pick us up from Jaipur airport. It took us almost 3 hours to reach Sawai Madhopur from Jaipur. All our safaris were booked in advance. The park has good tiger density & has 10 zones. Zone 1 to 6 are the most preferred but if you want to see the current biggest tiger of Ranthambore then you got to visit zones 8-10 which is less frequented by tourists.

The entry to Zone 2 & 3

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-02-zone-2-3-entrance.jpg

It rained throughout our first safari due to which there was hardly any movement of animals. It is unusual to rain in Dec in Ranthambore & probably it was due to the cyclone effect in Gujarat. This was kind of was a bummer & we did pray that the conditions should improve the next day. The rain gods did listen to our prayers & thankfully from the next day till the end of trip we had clear skies. Zone 3 is the prime real estate of Ranthambore. The Jogi mahal, Rajbagh lake & meadows, padam talab, malik talab which are shown in each & every Tiger documentary are in this zone. This is where the legendary Machli (T16) ruled for years. This area is now ruled by Arrowhead (T84) who is the grand daughter of Machli.

Arrowhead walking the ramp of Rajbagh Lake

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-09-arrowhead-island.jpg

In the morning, a couple of jeeps had seen Arrowhead cross the safari track & resting in the tall grass. We had to wait for almost 2 and a half hours to get this sighting. This was my first tiger sighting opportunity in Ranthambore & what an opening it was. You cannot ask for more than seeing a tiger walking up on a natural stone bridge from one end to the other of the famous Rajbagh lake. Arrowhead blessed me by walking on that bridge & crossed the lake.

Tiger in midst of hills & water

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-06-arrowhead-island.jpg

This zone teems with all kinds of fauna due to the 3 lakes (Padam Talab, Rajbagh & Malik Talab). In the evenings you will see large number of sambars in Malik Talab feeding. The water in this Talab has turned purplish due to algae. Below are a couple of panoramic images of Padam Talab & Malik Talab taken by phone in late evening.

Malik Talab

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-07-malik-talab-pano.jpg

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-08-malik-talab-pano.jpg

A safari track between Rajbagh & Malik Talab

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-05-rajbagh-safari-track.jpg

Arrowhead finally decided to come out of the Rajbagh meadows in the evening & walk the track. She was hungry & even stalked a wild boar. Have got few images of this but yet to process them where in the wild boar is not in the frame but the tigress can be seen stalking as both were on either sides of the safari track. However she gave up the chance & did not even charge at the wild boar due to the line of gypsies. The wild boar was completely unaware of her presence though. She put in her appearance multiple times by crossing safari tracks.

Arrowhead in the evening (mobile click)

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-03-arrowhead-mobile.jpg

Padam Talab

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-04-padam-talab-pano.jpg

The day started & ended on a high with multiple sightings of Arrowhead & enjoying the scenic beauty of zone 3. Returned back to the homestay, had a tasty & simple dinner & hit the bed wondering about what is in store for us the next day.


The next morning we started by entering Zone 1. There was slight fog & the morning golden light was not up yet though it was 7 AM. We heard a couple of spotted deer alarm calls in a couple of places accompanied by fresh pug marks of a tigress on safari tracks. We reached the sultanpur chowki & were told by the forest guard that there were alarm calls in & around the chowki. So we took a right at the chowki junction & continued a little further only to see pug marks of a male tiger but there were no alarm calls through. This got us in a catch 22 situation whether to follow the male tiger's pug marks or to follow the tigress.

Nilgai

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-15-nilgai.jpg

By then we saw a gypsy coming from the opposite direction. Our driver & guide were quick enough to realize that going further ahead might not be worth taking the risk. Hence we backed up & were a little ahead of Sultanpur chowki where 2 gypsies had parked & were waiting. We heard spotted deer & Langur alarm calls. Within 10 minutes we saw Noor (the tigress of whom we had first seen pug marks earlier) & her 3 sub adult female cubs emerging out of the bushes. Probably she returned to her cubs from her routine patrolling. They crossed the safari track & walked towards the Pahadi. For the next 2 hours or so we were able to get glimpse of the cubs in intervals walking on the rocks.

Somewhere in zone 4 during the trip

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-11-zone-4-landscape.jpg

Later in the day the mother (Noor) along with her 3 cubs relaxed on the safari tracks & even walked around a bit. 2 of the cubs were trying to prove their dominance & had mock fights. Will post an image of this by this weekend as I am yet to process it. A couple of images from this sighting which I have processed.

2 out of the 3 female sub adult cubs of Noor

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-15-noor-cubs.jpg


Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-21-noor-cubs.jpg


Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-22-noor-cubs1.jpg


With this our day ended & we were on top of the world. The next day was the last day of our trip & were hoping that our luck continued & we could end the trip with a bang.

Somewhere in Zone 2 during the trip


Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-14-zone-2-landscape.jpg

Cormorant

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-12-cormorant.jpg


Somewhere in Zone 2 again

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-16-landscape.jpg

The next day we entered the gate at 7 AM. Looked around for T19 Krishna (Arrowhead's mother) but there were no signs of her movement anywhere. Arrowhead was seen in Zone 3 by few gypsies. We decided to check out for T60 (a tigress with sub adult cubs) & Noor again. We did see few old pug marks of T60 & her cubs. We were heading back to Noor's territory & when we were about 50 meters from a T junction, we see Noor appear suddenly & 3 of us in gypsy say "Tiger". She was again patrolling & scent marking her territory. As our's was the only gypsy we could reverse & maintain a good distance as she kept walking head on to us. She walked for almost 1 hour 15 minutes with a small break of 10 minutes where in she rested.

Noor Head On

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-18-noor-headon.jpg

Desert Fox during our trip

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-23-desert-fox.jpg

Thus ended my first trip to this glorious park which will be etched in my life forever. A few more parting shots & thank you for reading this travelogue.
Attached Thumbnails
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Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-10-malik-talab.jpg  

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-13-zone-4-landscape.jpg  

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-19-t60s-territory.jpg  

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-20-landscape1.jpg  

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Old 18th December 2017, 16:54   #2
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Default re: Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers

I have just returned from my Ranthambore Trip a week ago. Have taken the safari to both Zone 1 and Zone 3. While I didn't have a single sighting in Zone 3, Zone 1's tigress and her 2 cubs (Both she) were quite brave, and they were around our Canter the whole time. My pics were not good enough though, this was the first trip I really felt I miss a DSLR in my life.
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Old 18th December 2017, 17:01   #3
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Default re: Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers

Fantastic report, stunning pictures!

The pictures of the tiger tip-toeing near the water, Nilgai and those with the two sub-adults are brilliantly captured! How far were you from the two sub-adults while clicking?

You seem to have had quite some luck with the sightings and proximity!

We've been to Ranthambore '13 and had a sighting in only one (the first) of six safaris. Even that was just a teaser: we spotted the tiger about 200 ft away and word spread so quickly that every jeep was at the spot carrying people that did not seem to believe such moments are to be enjoyed in silence. To make things more irritating, we went during the day(s) when the temple atop the hill is visited so that route was awfully chaotic.

Attaching a picture, hope you don't mind!

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-dsc02863.jpg
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Old 18th December 2017, 17:25   #4
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Default re: Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers

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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
Fantastic report, stunning pictures!

The pictures of the tiger tip-toeing near the water, Nilgai and those with the two sub-adults are brilliantly captured! How far were you from the two sub-adults while clicking?

You seem to have had quite some luck with the sightings and proximity!

We've been to Ranthambore '13 and had a sighting in only one (the first) of six safaris. Even that was just a teaser: we spotted the tiger about 200 ft away and word spread so quickly that every jeep was at the spot carrying people that did not seem to believe such moments are to be enjoyed in silence. To make things more irritating, we went during the day(s) when the temple atop the hill is visited so that route was awfully chaotic.

Attaching a picture, hope you don't mind!
Thank you for liking the trip report & images. The sub adults were ahead of us walking the track & there were 4 gypsies following them. Ours was the 2nd gypsy & when the tigers decided to take a break by sitting on the track we were may be 25 to 30 meters away from them. Couldnt reverse as there were 2 more gypsies behind us.

Adding a picture you took adds value to this thread. No problem

Last edited by Torque123 : 18th December 2017 at 17:26.
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Old 19th December 2017, 15:22   #5
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers

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Originally Posted by Torque123 View Post
All our safaris were booked in advance. The park has good tiger density & has 10 zones. Zone 1 to 6 are the most preferred but if you want to see the current biggest tiger of Ranthambore then you got to visit zones 8-10 which is less frequented by tourists.
Nice clicks and you are lucky to get these many sightings on your first visit! If you don't mind - how much did the safari cost and what is the best way to arrange these? Through the guest house/hotel? Thanks in advance.
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Old 20th December 2017, 13:31   #6
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers

Boy! Some really excellent pics there.. Watching a tiger in the wild is the ultimate, i had seen a couple of them during the visits to Kabini last year. Never visited the parks in central India, hopefully next year.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 12:01   #7
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers

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Originally Posted by Traveller Nayak View Post
Nice clicks and you are lucky to get these many sightings on your first visit! If you don't mind - how much did the safari cost and what is the best way to arrange these? Through the guest house/hotel? Thanks in advance.
Thank you for liking the images. We visited as a group of 4. The total trip cost was INR 60K per person (all inclusive, flight costs too) & all our permits were booked by the home stay. Normal safari permits at Ranthambore can be booked 120 days in advance. It is impossible for one to book all your safari permits online for Ranthambore, as the moment the booking opens for the 120th day from today within 2 minutes all permits are booked. The way safari permit bookings work there is not very transparent & it is kept that way intentionally. We did 3 full day safaris & 1 half day safari.



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Originally Posted by KAUBMW7 View Post
Boy! Some really excellent pics there.. Watching a tiger in the wild is the ultimate, i had seen a couple of them during the visits to Kabini last year. Never visited the parks in central India, hopefully next year.
Thank you for liking the images. Yes, the experience of seeing a big cat in wild is something explainable. Do visit Tadoba or Ranthambore this season. They are rocking at the moment.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 16:27   #8
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers

Excellent report, Torque123. Great pictures of Noor's cubs too. They've grown quite a bit since I last saw them. Arrowhead at Rajbagh lake is a regular sighting now. Pacman used to be here too, but seems to have moved elsewhere. I had a very close encounter with him last year, close enough that I could capture only his head at 200 mm!

I see that your gear is same as mine, a D7200 and a 200-500.
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Old 5th January 2018, 19:29   #9
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers

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Excellent report, Torque123. Great pictures of Noor's cubs too. They've grown quite a bit since I last saw them. Arrowhead at Rajbagh lake is a regular sighting now. Pacman used to be here too, but seems to have moved elsewhere. I had a very close encounter with him last year, close enough that I could capture only his head at 200 mm!

I see that your gear is same as mine, a D7200 and a 200-500.
Thank you for liking the travelogue & pictures. Yes, Noor & her cubs are the main attraction now at Ranthambore. Yes, I use the same camera gear as you
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Old 17th January 2018, 16:29   #10
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Default Re: Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers

Processed a few more images of the trip last week. Hence uploading the same.

Noor cubs fighting

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-noor-cubs-fighting.jpg

Noor on Track

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-noor-afternoon1.jpg

Noor Head On

Ranthambore - Land of Forts, Hills & Tigers-noor-afternoon.jpg
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