Ranthambore National Park is a fascinating blend of history and nature. Inside the park is a formidable fort that was built in the 10th century and coveted by many rulers due to its strategic position between north and central India.
The park itself is situated at the joining of the Vindhya Plateau and the Aravalli Hills, and is characterized by rocky plains and steep cliffs. It supports a diverse range of flora and fauna, including around 30 tigers.
In India’s desert state of Rajasthan, 450 kilometers (280 miles) south west of Delhi and 185 kilometers (115 miles) from Jaipur. The main gate and fort are 3 kilometers inside the park.
How to Get to There
The closest airport is in Jaipur, four hours traveling time by road. Alternatively the closest railway station is at Sawai Madhopur, 11 kilometers (7 miles) away. It’s easily reachable by train from Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra.
Tours to Ranthambore
This 14 day Tigers, Temples & Wildlife Adventure small group tour offered by G Adventures includes visits to both Ranthambore and Bandhavgarh (another top park for seeing tigers in India). It starts from and returns to Delhi. Ranthambore is also included on the itinerary of Indian Railways' new Tiger Express Tourist Train.
When to Visit
The most animals are seen during the hot months of March through to June, when they come out in search of water.
However, it’s more comfortable to visit during the preceding cooler months. Be sure to bring warm clothes if visiting during winter.
The park is open from sunrise until sunset. Safaris run for two and a half hours from 7 a.m. and again from 2 p.m. The core zones 1-5 close from July 1 to October 1 due to the monsoon rain.
However, the remaining zones on the outskirts of the park stay open for safaris. They're not good for spotting tigers though.
The park has 10 zones (the tenth one was opened in January 2014 to try and lessen the tourist pressure on the park). Zones 1-5 are in the core area, while the remaining 5-10 are in the surrounding buffer area. Tiger sightings in the buffer zones are much rarer than in the core zones.
The Rajasthan Forest Department offers safari seats in a canter (open-topped truck seating 20) or a gypsy (open-topped jeep seating six). Park entry fees are additional to this.
Entry fees have been increased, effective March 20, 2015 (see notification), and are as follows:
- Park Entry Fee: 100 rupees per person for Indians, 800 rupees per person for foreigners. Discounts are offered for students.
- Private Vehicle Entry Fee: 800 rupees for a gypsy, 375 rupees for a car or jeep, 50 rupees for a motorcycle.
In addition, safari charges are as follows:
- Gypsy Safari Fee: 244 rupees per person for Indians, 984 rupees per person for foreigners. Children under five years old are free.
- Canter Safari Fee: 129 rupees per person for Indians, 869 rupees per person for foreigners.
Each person also has to pay vehicle rent charges of 400 rupees in a gypsy and 350 rupees in a canter, as well as a guide fee of 83 rupees in a gypsy and 30 rupees in a canter. These rates are for both Indians and foreigners.
It's preferable to take a gypsy than a canter -- it's much more comfortable, plus there are fewer people, and the gypsy can navigate better and go faster. Private vehicles are allowed inside the park but are only permitted to go up to Ranthambore Fort and the Ganesh temple.
How to Book Safaris
When booking you have the option from choosing a safari in the core zones or other zones. Unfortunately, seats go very fast in the core zones as hotels make most of the bookings.
Alternatively, you can go to the booking office (located near the Taj Sawai Madhopur Lodge hotel) a couple of hours before the safari starts. Be prepared for huge and aggressive crowds though. Plus, you can only book whole vehicles, not individual seats. The easiest, although not the most cost effective, way of going on a safari is to let your hotel take care of the arrangements.
Where to Stay
Deciding on a Ranthambore hotel can be difficult. There are all kinds of properties in the area, ranging from resorts with luxury tents to simple guesthouses.
To get an idea of what's on offer, check out these 10 Recommended Ranthambore Hotels for All Budgets.
This national park is very popular (and crowded) due to its proximity to Delhi and the fact that tigers are relatively easy to spot here. Traffic into the park is highly regulated the number of vehicles allowed to enter is restricted. Some zones, particularly two and three, are better than others for seeing tigers. Zone one is highly avoidable. However it’s not possible to choose your route. Selection is carried out by forest officials. This has given rise to reports of bribery to get a preferred route.
The fort is really interesting, so do take some time to explore it. If you don't have your own vehicle to reach it, vehicles (cars, jeeps and gypsies) can be easily hired from Ranthambore Circle and Sawai Madhopur.