(Location: Rajasthan, India)
Ranthambore isn’t easy to get to, but it is one of the more likely places to see wild tigers so it’s been on our list for several years. Despite numerous challenges, we finally made it there and had some great sightings.
The first challenge that we encountered was visa-related. When I’d planned this trip several months back, I was excited to see that tourist visas for American citizens were now granted on arrival. When we arrived at the airport, we were a little confused when they asked for our visas. Uh oh… It turned out that “on arrival” actually means “apply online no less than four days ahead of your trip”. We would not be able to board the plane without proof of a granted visa to pick up “on arrival.” Crap.
No worries. We’d figure this out. The plan was to apply online using my computer, and then wait in Thailand (we were flying to Delhi via Bangkok) until the visas cleared. Much to our surprise, the visas had been granted by the time we landed in Bangkok, so we were able to check in for the connecting flight with no disruption. I’ll write a whole separate blog post about the visa process 🙂
We spent one day in Delhi en route to Ranthambore. We stayed at the Sheraton and just lounged around most of the day. The Sheraton is quite nice and is across the street from a giant mall (with mostly American stores).
The train was definitely an adventure. The first challenge was getting past all of the people wanting to help us with our luggage (which made no sense because we each had one small wheelie and a camera bag). We found track 2 easily, but weren’t really sure where to stand, and there was nothing train parked on the track. When our train arrived, we were at the wrong end, so had to run the length of the train to find our cabin. We had 1st class AC on the way there and 2nd class AC on the way back. 1st class AC was fine (only surprise was a mouse in our cabin), and 2nd class AC was acceptable. I’ll write a whole separate post about navigating the train terminal 🙂
After about six hours, we arrived in Sawai Madhopur, which was MUCH less crowded than the Delhi train station (though surprisingly there are 1.3 million people in this airport-less city). We spent five nights at The Ranthambore Bagh. The tents looked super nice, but as there is down time in the day between safaris, we opted for a blissfully air conditioned room. All meals were included, and if (like me) you can’t handle spicy, they go out of their way to accommodate. We loved the fresh chapati at lunch, and the naan at dinner, as well as many dishes we had never tried before.
We had booked the photo tour with Aditya (Dicky) Singh and went on ten safaris. Tigers are rare and difficult to find, so we wanted to make sure we gave ourselves enough time. All but one of our safaris were in the premium zones, but it rained twice (which is supposedly unheard of in April). We saw tigers on three of the ten safaris, and had some GREAT sightings. Would we go back? You bet.