Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest and most renowned national parks in Northern India; it’s located in the Sawai Madhopur district, in the southeastern corner of the state of Rajasthan, around 130km from the capital Jaipur. In the past it was a former hunting ground for Maharajas, but now the abundant wildlife here is protected, and their habitat preserved. The Ranthambore National Park is widely regarded as one of the best places in the world for wildlife photography, particularly for photographing tigers, so be sure to bring your camera with you! Here’s a guide to exploring some of the best areas in the Park.
Before thinking about where to explore in the park, you need to plan how you’re going to explore. To enter the park you must have an approved guide, with an approved vehicle. You also have to arrange to enter the park during certain times, namely between 6am and 10:30am, and between 2pm and 7pm. No safaris are allowed to take place outside of these times in order to maintain the habitat and wellbeing of the wildlife. The park is divided up into 10 zones, with the majority of the tigers living in zones 1 through 5, and a few in zone 6. While zone 8 doesn’t contain much of the kind of wildlife you’d travel miles to see, it does contain some beautiful temples so is well worth a visit. There’s a limit to how many vehicles can be in each zone at one time, so it’s strongly advisable to book online before you travel to the park – you should do this as early as possible to make sure you get a ticket for zones 1-5, as these sell out quickly.
Once you get inside the park there are a few must-see areas. The Bakaula area is dotted with little water holes and thick foliage, meaning that even in the stifling heat of summer it feels like an air-conditioned room compared to the rest of the park. As well as the excellent forest cover and abundance of water, this means it’s a haven for the park’s wildlife, who need to cool off. Tigresses with young cubs are often seen near the water holes, as well as a huge array of colourful birds and small animals like moneys and squirrels scampering through the trees. Once you’ve seen some of the spectacular wildlife here, move on to visit the Raj Bagh Ruins – located between the Padam Talao and the Raj Bagh Talao lakes. The ancient stone structures here include arches, domes, and steps, and with the jungle foliage surrounding them there’s a unique almost magical aura to the area. The combination of the ruins, the lakes, and the wildlife makes the Ranthambore National Park one of the most picturesque parks in the world – visiting here is a genuine once in a lifetime experience.