In the lap of the Aravalis and Vindhyas , lies one of the greatest abode of Royal Bengal Tigers in World. Thats Ranthambhore National Park, which is part of the Ranthambhore tiger reserve covering an area of 1,334 sq. km in the Sawai Madhopur of the princely state of Rajasthan. Once private hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur, it is now a strong hold of the big cats. Under the governance of the former Prime Minister of India Smt. Indira Gandhi, it was one of the 9 parks chosen for Project Tiger in 1973. The park gets its name from the famous Ranthambhore fort, whose history is unknown. Many rulers who ruled this land at different periods had the fort under their control. It is also believed that the Mughal Ruler Akbar was one of the rulers to have reigned over the Ranthambhore fort. Even today, the myriad landscape of the park is dotted with historic monuments like arches, domes, mosques, temples, chhatris and not to forget the magnificent fort atop the hill. The ancient structures are a testimony to the fact that man and nature together have created a paradise that awaits our arrival. If history and natural history were to converge at one place, then that's Ranthambhore. The landscape consists of Dry deciduous forests dotted with historical monuments dating back a few centuries, which was built by different rulers for hunting. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh were in Ranthambhore for a winter shoot as the guests of Maharani Gayathri Devi – the Rajamata of Jaipur. Former Honorable President of USA Bill Clinton was on safari in Ranthambhore during his Indian visit.
The park’s main attraction is Tigers. About 60 tigers roam within the boundaries of the park. Being one of the most charismatic felines in the animal kingdom, there is no wonder why people keep coming back to see them. Tigers are India's pride; they are the nation's national animals. Tigers maybe the main attraction, but they aren't a single attraction in the park. It harbors a healthy population of Leopards and Jungle Cats, which are occasionally seen. Sloth Bears, Jackals and Foxes are the other predators in the Park. Herbivores include Sambar, Spotted Deer and India's largest Antelope the blue bull or Nilgai are common sights. Also, Wild Boar are seen all around. The shy Indian Gazelle or Chinkara is a prized catch in the park. Civets, Hyenas and Mongooses are seldom seen. It is home to a wide variety of birdlife numbering over 300 species. India's national bird the Peacock is difficult to miss, sometimes offering the opportunity to photograph both the National animal and the national bird in one frame. Francolins, Flycatchers, Bulbuls, Doves, Buzzards, eagles, owls and a lot more call this park their home.
Park opens in October after the monsoon and the weather is pleasant through the end of November. In December and January, it is the coldest period. February can be cold during the morning and evenings. In March, the mornings are chilly and in the evening it is pleasant. During both months, the mid day heat can be moderate, but that is the time for action as tigers are moving for water. In April and May, it is hot and dry the whole, with temperatures soaring above 37 degrees Celsius. Rain can be expected at anytime of the year. So be prepared with protective covering for the cameras.
We would arrive in Delhi and travel to Jaipur by air. The domestic flights have a strict weight regulation of 15kg (check-in baggage) per person and 7 kg (hand luggage). To carry more gear, an extra seat can be booked on the plane. It is expected that we may travel either in an Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 type aircraft. Between Jaipur and Ranthambhore, we will use air-conditioned Toyota Innovas or similar SUVs.
Ideally a lens in the range of 300-400mm will be considered necessary. 100-400mm, 70-200mm or a 300mm with a teleconverter will be a good option. Although have a longer lens like a 500mm/600mm can have advantages, it may not be very spacious to use from the vehicle. A wide-angle lens if available will be great to capture the picturesque landscape and if lucky, with a cat against the monuments.
We would be using open top 4x4 Suzuki Gypsys with not more than 4 guests or 3 guests and 1 tour guide in 1 vehicle with 2-seat configuration. In addition, there will also be a forest department guide seated besides the driver. Every person is ensured to have seat by the side, thus offering unobstructed views for photography. We are expected to secure full day permits that allows zone free access across the park from sunrise to sunset.