What Is Ranthambore National Park Famous For?

As culturally significant as it is beautiful, Ranthambore National Park was once the hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. Today, the 150-square-mile nature reserve is a huge conservation success story. Tiger numbers are steadily increasing (more on that below), making it one of the best places to observe and photograph Bengal tigers in the wild. The park occupies a rugged area between the Aravalli and Vindhya hills, with jungle scrub bordered by steep, rocky ridges and highland plateaus dotted with lakes. Within Ranthambore, you’ll find more than 300 different plant species sprinkled throughout a largely dry deciduous forest. This sparse vegetation makes it easier to spot tigers and other wildlife.

What Animals Will I See in Ranthambore?

Tigers aren’t the only star of the show in Ranthambore. You can expect to see sloth bear, spotted deer, nilgai, jackal, chinkara gazelle, wild boar, rhesus macaques, sambar, chital, langur monkeys and leopards, too, if you’re very fortunate. Birders should keep an eye out for more than 300 species in the reserve, including crested serpent eagles, paradise flycatchers, painted storks, peacocks and more.

Close up of a young male Cheetal (also known as spotted or axis) deer in morning mists - Ranthambore National Park.

Where Can I See Wild Tigers in India?

Without a doubt, Ranthambore is where to be if you want to see wild tigers in India. You’ll need patience when you venture out on a dedicated Ranthambore National Park tiger safari in search of the world’s last remaining wild Bengals. Coming face to face with these elusive animals is a rare privilege reserved for those in the right place at the right time. To improve your chances of seeing these charismatic cats, choose a reputable travel company such as Natural Habitat Adventures, that has created and timed their safari to increase your odds of seeing not only a Bengal, but the myriad other native India wildlife in the national park.

What Is It Like to Go on an Indian Tiger Safari?

Here’s what you can expect when you go on an Indian tiger safari in Ranthambore National Park:

A Dedicated Week of Tiger Tracking

Prepare for heat – the tiger safaris in India’s legendary Ranthambore National Park in eastern Rajasthan are timed to give you the best chance of seeing the big cats, but it’s during one of the hottest parts of the year. Your stamina will be richly rewarded when you watch the tigers emerge from the shade and seclusion of the bushes to drink water twice a day. It’s at these waterholes that you’ll have your best opportunity to see and photograph the wild cats. Other wildlife makes its way here for hydration, as well, so you’ll likely see an array of native species. The flip side to traveling during these hot months is that it’s generally considered the off-season and is overall less expensive than traveling to a Rajasthan safari camp than during other times of the year.

Portrait of a Bengal tiger. Ranthambore National Park. India. An excellent illustration.

Small Groups that Make the Least Impact

You can expect that your Ranthambore safari will cap out around 6-8 travelers, with a couple of guests in each safari vehicle. This guarantees a less intrusive presence overall, in addition to personalized attention from your naturalist guide. After all, this is your expert-in-residence, the person who knows Ranthambore inside and out and how and where to get the best viewing experiences.

Knowledgeable Guides

Speaking of guides, a truly great one will elevate your entire jungle safari in Rajasthan. When you travel alongside a highly trained and certified naturalist guide, who has an in-depth knowledge of the Indian bush, you’ll be privy to their insider knowledge of wildlife where , what and how. And since you’ll want to take a lot of photos, most guides are well-trained photographers as well and can assist you in capture the best shots.

A Typical Day on Tiger Safari

You can expect to set out in the early morning and/or late afternoon in a 4×4 vehicle. At these times, the temperatures are a little cooler and wildlife is more active. Plus, for shutterbugs, the light conditions are more optimum for photography.

If you’ve been on an African safari in the past, you’ll find that the wildlife is not as easy to find in Ranthambore. But it’s there! The tigers will come out of hiding from under trees and bushes to drink water and seek relief from the heat. You’ll be traveling with a seasoned pro, trained to follow the animals’ leads, listen for sounds and watch for signs that may reveal a tiger’s location.

During the middle of your day, you can expect to return to your Rajasthan safari camp to relax and cool off in the lodge or the swimming pool, before potentially setting out again in the late afternoon.

Young tiger female in a beautiful place full of color/wild animal in the nature habitat/India/big cats/endangered animals/close up with tigress

A Word on Conservation

As more and more adventure-minded travelers are seeking authentic and remote experiences, particularly when it comes to wildlife, one might pause to wonder, “Am I doing more harm than good?” When you travel with a conservation-minded organization, you can have faith in the fact that your interest is helping boost the number of tigers in Ranthambore. Tiger numbers were steadily dropping for a long time but have been trending upwards in recent years. The country’s 2018 quadrennial tiger census counted 2,967 tigers, a 33% rise over the 2014 census, which itself was up 30% from 2010. When conservation-minded travel operators and their guests practice responsible ecotourism, they are benefiting local communities, which in turn offers people an incentive to protect the wildlife.