The place to see Tigers
India is a big place. I had three
in the country and I knew I couldn't see everything (in fact, I
couldn't see a quarter of it), so after I picked a few of the obvious
things (Taj Mahal
, a Camel Trip
recommendation of a friend), I was
quite surprised to find I had lots of time and not a lot of things to
do. I started looking into wildlife and discovered safari's.
has several famous national parks, but
part of India I picked for this trip (the North West bit) Ranthambore
National Park kept
getting mentioned. The park is famous for tigers, but it's also
scenic with ruins from hunting forts. I did the trip adviser
thing, found a resort/hotel with good reviews from photographers and
took the plunge. They gave me more detail of the bookings and we
decided on 4 nights and approximately 7 safari's.
My original plan was to arrive by train, but I
would up arriving by
car. Just after I arrived, I got into an impromptu tour in a
Canter (a large truck like vehicle that holds about 30 guests) and got
a sense of the park. The canter stops at a number of the large
hotels picking up a few tourists at each stop and then pulls up to the
gate of the park. The park is split into 5 distinct zones and the
staff give each vehicle a "zone" that they are allowed to drive in for
the morning or the afternoon.
Different zones have different features. Early December is still
pretty wet so animals aren't drawn to water holes. Zone 3 has
large lakes which make for some beautiful bird watching. Zone 4
is hilly but still has some nice water. Zone 2 has little water
and some fields, but in the 4 days I was there, no tiger
sightings. You don't get to choose your zone - the guide is given
the zone as he enters the park. Caught in the wrong zone?
The guide, the driver and their vehicle get banned - perhaps a week,
maybe a month I got different answers.
when there are no tigers, the guides do a
good job of trying to keep it lively. Since the guides are here
every day, they know the favorite perches and where to look for
birds. Some of the smaller predators like jackals can show up
pretty much anywhere.
Some of the birds are pests in India (the same way we
see sea gulls or crows) but to the untrained westerner they seem quite
pretty and a prize to see. I was quite excited to see this bird
(trying to get a snap) until it flew up to the vehicle to check me our.
Other birds (herons) seemed to me out of place. Why is a bird I
might expected to see in Canada hanging out here? There seemed to
be many more species here than what I'm used to seeing around
Vancouver, but it's probably because I'm so used to the Vancouver
The park has an impressive selection and density
During the wetter seasons there is a lot of food available so herds of
animals form. The park is quite large (the area traveled by the
jeeps is actually only about 10% of the park) so there are lots of
places for animals to go. The prey species are very used to the
jeeps riding by, although they apparently get nervous if the jeep just
sits there, like they are waiting for something to happen.
After your first few safari's you no longer stop to take pictures of
the prey animals unless they are in good light or have a lot of
visibility. It can actually be annoying to be in a jeep with
newbies when they point at every spotted deer and you just want to go
find tiger, even if that means waiting somewhere for an hour while
listening to alarm calls.
Everybody goes to Ranthambore to see the
tigers. At the end of each safari the people in your hotel
will ask you if you saw tigers. There are no guarantees and you
are unlikely to see a tiger on any particular trip, but given enough
safari's (the number seems to be about 6) you will get a
sighting. Not necessarily a good sighting, but a sighting.
I had my first sighting on safari number
were in a jeep that crossed into the wrong zone (intentionally) to
follow a hint that the park wardens had given us. The tiger
turned out to be in thick bush and the best sighting was as he crossed
the road between vehicles. I was quite disappointed with the
photos I got - most had unacceptable amounts of shake or were just two
far away. My Nikon 200 F2.8 was defiantly outclassed by the Canon
100-400 IS lens in the jeep. I really hoped that wasn't going to
be my only sighting.
Safari 7 (of 8) and we were going into zone 3 (probably the busiest,
but with the most water) and made it perhaps 100m into the zone before
we stopped - there was a tiger sleeping on the road. Sensitized
by my first experience shooting, I took lots of frames of a bum facing
tiger on the road. Every moment felt like a blessing. The
tiger was far from full frame, but there was enough there to get a good
shot. Our jeep was #2 into the zone so we had a really good
shot. Larger vehicles stacked up behind us but because there was
only one way into the zone (this road) no one could pass.
After about half an hour, the tiger got up,
and started walking. I expected this tiger to move off the road
and be lost in the brush, but she didn't. She kept on
walking. Bum shots generally aren't compelling so while I was
happy to see the tiger, I wasn't getting great shots. As the
tiger walked down the road, she passed a fork and then another.
The collection of vehicles behind us were unleashed and everyone
jockeyed for a safe but good view. My driver was brilliant - he
went further ahead than other vehicles, but set us up for good shots as
the tiger walked by. These shots in the dry scrub are some of my
The tiger found another nice piece of ground and went for another
nap. We waited for probably 45 minutes while this tiger
napped. We hoped she would attack some of the nearby sambar, but
she didn't seem interested. After her nap, she again got up and
walk, and again we were positioned brilliantly for the walk by.
The tiger walked nearer to the shore of the lake and into the taller
grasses. Again, jeeps tried to get in front and get the
best shot and my driver did well in mix. Eventually, this harried
tiger walked into the taller grasses near the lake and because
unreachable. As she disappeared, we could hear monkeys giving
alarm calls - no luck for the tiger.
The next morning, the park was closed. The courts had ordered it
closed because the ministry of tourism in Rajastan was not addressing a
lawsuit in a timely manner. The park remained closed for more
than a week so I was very fortunate to have had the experiences I did
when I did.
Tags: India(36), safari(35), bird(14), fort(1), grass(1), bird in flight(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > India > Ranthambore
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > India > Ranthambore
Beautiful photographs, especially of the tiger.
Useful information and facts about the park.
Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 07:29:13
the photos are nice
Monday, April 4th, 2011 at 08:03:47
beautiful shots.... very creatively taken....specially love the pictures of the tiger....
Monday, April 25th, 2011 at 20:20:46
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 01:18:02 Edit
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