To see a tiger up close in the wild is truly thrilling – and rare. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are only about 3,900 wild tigers in the entire world. One of the best places to spot these majestic creatures is Ranthambore National Park, which is home to 62 Royal Bengal tigers. Set in the Sawai Madhopur district of south-eastern Rajasthan, about 80 miles from Jaipur, Ranthambore is one of the biggest and most renowned national parks in Northern India. Once the hunting ground of Maharajas, the Park, sprawling over 100 miles, revolves around the 10th-century Ranthambhore Fort, surrounded by ancient temples and mosques, hunting pavilions, crocodile-filled lakes, and burial tombs succumbing to vines.
Easily camouflaged, tigers move freely through the Park’s dry deciduous forest, bush land and rocky hills, and among the hauntingly beautiful stone ruins that allude to the ancient kingdoms that once thrived there. For the best chance to see a tiger, book two private jeep safaris a day (morning and afternoon) – and we have drinks and snacks at the ready to enjoy on your adventure.
Start the day early (we can provide breakfast beforehand) then jump aboard your private jeep. Our super knowledgeable English-speaking guides are experts in tracking tigers here. There are, of course, no guarantees, but the hope is a tiger will saunter past your jeep, rewarding you with an up-close look at its muscular body, long powerful tail and handsome face. Males can easily weigh more than 400 pounds, yet these huge cats in their silky, striped orange and black coats are exceedingly graceful.
There are plenty of other wild animals to encounter: Striped Hyenas, Sambar deer, Langurs, Jackals, Jungle cats, Caracals, Sloth bears, Indian Wild Boar, Yellow Bats, Indian Flying Foxes, Porcupines, Longeared Hedgehogs, vipers, marsh crocodiles and Mongoose among almost 40 mammal species and over 320 species of birds. Along the way, don’t miss Rajbagh Lake, the perfect spot for bird watchers while crocodiles float leisurely along its shores. The stunning Rajbagh Palace, once a Maharaja’s hunting lodge nestled in the trees, is a must-see, too.
An explore around Ranthambore Fort is a great way of topping off your trip. The fort was gifted by Mughal Emperor Shah Alam to Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur in 1754 AD and eventually maintained as a private hunting preserve. From a distance, the magical 10th-century Ranthambore Fort is almost indiscernible on its hilltop perch – as you get closer, it seems as if it is growing out of the rock. The Fort covers an area of 4.5 sq km, and affords phenomenal views from the disintegrating walls of the Badal Mahal (Palace of the Clouds), on its northern side. The ramparts stretch for more than 4 miles, and seven enormous gateways are still intact.
At the end of the day, return to your luxury hotel. We have a range of wonderful accommodation options including Dev Vilas, owned by Balendu Singh. Set in three and a half acres of land, among mango and guava orchards, Dev Vilas in its Indo-Saracen style takes a cue from the Shikaar or hunting lodges built by the Maharajas. A stone’s throw from the entrance of the National Park, there are 21 individually-decorated suites and seven tented bungalows. A former honorary Warden of Ranthambore National Park by the Government of Rajasthan, Balendu is a true expert on the wildlife in the jungle knowing the entire history of the tigers and their lineage. Furthermore, he is a brilliant photographer which means there are plenty of stunning photographs to admire around the hotel.
Fateh’s Bar is the ideal place for pre-dinner drinks (and for hearing about Balendu’s adventures). Named to celebrate Thakur Fateh Singh Rathore, a living legend among tiger conservationists, the bar’s artwork, painted by artists from the Ranthambore School of Art, is a wonderful celebration of the tiger. The Audubon dining room is an equal delight, serving fine Indian and continental cuisine with al fresco dining beside the swimming pool. The perfect way to end the most incredible wildlife experience.
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