Ranthambore, the name brings a feeling of grandiosity and opulence. A kingly site in the state of Rajasthan was a game sanctuary in the early 1950s was later established as a National Park and subsequently as a Tiger Reserve. This place also hosts the magnificent Ranthambore Fort which was built in the 10th century.
Ranthambore Tiger Reserve covers an area of around 350 sq. km and is home to a wide variety of habitats and its denizens. The land features dense tropical dry forest, open bushland and rocky terrain interspersed with lakes and streams.
The place boasts of a very healthy population of Tigers in India and is one of the most wonderful places to sight one too. That was the plan for a group of like-minded folks who decided to venture on a trip to Ranthambore.
Though the rains in Ranthambore begin by late June and the park gets closed, early June is still summer and intense heat was expected. However, as we got closer to our date of travel, we kept hearing from our contacts that there had been intermittent thunderstorms and they were pretty surprised too. Anyways, the fickleness of the weather notwithstanding, we are all set and on our way.
As we checked into our place of stay, as is typically the case, we started to hear about the way things have been in terms of the sightings over the past few days. The news wasn’t very encouraging. The intermittent rains had played havoc and the sightings had become very erratic and more unpredictable than they usually are! There was a group there who were on a stretch of zero sightings for the past three days!! Our guide also indicated towards the same, that the sightings had significantly gone down over the past week due to sudden changes in the weather!
Anyways, now that we were there, we had to take things as they came.
For me personally though, as I have constantly reiterated, Tigers are not the end-all of a safari. There is so much more in Nature that one can observe and enjoy. Yes, a few Tigers along the way are always welcome 🙂
It was June, the rains were already there and it seemed like every bird in Ranthambore was getting into a full-on breeding mode. Peacocks were at their best. The whole jungle was echoing with their loud calls. To be honest, I had never seen Peacocks in such huge numbers in any other park! Males were dancing everywhere, putting in their best moves and trying to woo the females around.
One such male was able to successfully capture a female’s attention and he grabbed the opportunity with elan.
Golden orioles had gone a step further and were flying around in pairs, gathering material to get their nests readied.
The amazing skill it takes to build a sturdy nest! It was wonderful to watch the bird at work.
There were plenty of the beautiful Indian paradise flycatchers around, again flying in pairs.
Indian paradise flycatcher (male)
Indian Paradise flycatcher (female)
A large number of Indian Pittas too. Their calls could be heard all over the jungle. The Pittas were flying around in pairs with a few of them working on gathering nesting material as well.
Even, outside the jungle, right at our place of stay, Red-vented bulbuls were nesting.
Red-vented bulbul (nesting)
Cats were definitely on the wish list for all of us who had endeavoured on this journey. Though the initial information coming through wasn’t very encouraging, luck did favour us and we were blessed with some wonderful sightings over the span of 3 days.
The very first sighting and the best in terms of photography was on the very first safari! The beautiful tigress Siddhi gave me some wonderful opportunities to make images.
Sightings didn’t die down post this wonderful encounter though. Lucky for us, we continued on our streak of sighting a tiger on almost every one of our safaris. Overall, we counted around 12 individual Tiger sightings. That is a stunning number, to say the least.
A collage of a few images here:
On the last safari of the trip, we happened upon a Jungle cat too.
Cats are no doubt wonderful to sight on a safari. Am sure no one can deny the exhilaration of encountering the majestic Tiger or any of the lesser cats.
However, there is so much more to a safari than just driving around looking for the cats. Every once in a while one must stop and imbibe the wide variety of treasures that nature has to offer.
Slowing down allows us to take notice of so many interesting things transpiring around that we end up being oblivious to. OK, enough Gyan 🙂
Some images that go beyond the cats:
We also had an incredible sighting of an Indian rock python with an Indian hare kill. This arguably is rarer than sighting a tiger in the wild.
An incredible trip dotted with many incredible moments. Goes without saying that we were all extremely satisfied and happy to carry back some wonderful memories. Ranthambore was roaring indeed!
Hope you enjoyed reading through 🙂
Feel free to let me know your thoughts by dropping a comment below.