Nice experience with a wonderful Naturalist. We enjoy the visit to the Jungle but couldn't see the tiger.
Hi Katherine, Responding to each question: Q: I know you said mornings were best, we plan to be there mid Feb, As per usual, the options are a morning safari or afternoon safari, 1/2 day safari and full day safari? A... More
Hi Katherine, Responding to each question: Q: I know you said mornings were best, we plan to be there mid Feb, As per usual, the options are a morning safari or afternoon safari, 1/2 day safari and full day safari? A: Mornings are best. February should be good weather not just for the beautiful cats but also for us humans. Chances of spotting enhance during Mornings. I spotted 3 in my visit last month, 2 sub adult males and one Mother. The sighting was for a good 45 minutes and I decided to move on since Ranthambore has not just Tigers, but is known for its bio-diversity as well. It will be good to explore as much as you can in the limited safari time that you would have. If it's a full day safari that you opt for, I think there are tour agents probably who arrange for that (not entirely sure), then pick the right route - gate. I believe Gate 2,3,4 & 5 are best known for spotting these magnificent cats. You can also refer to an official link for tiger sightings. Just try a google search and it should be easy to find. Q: Would you imagine it to be physically taxing to be out in a jeep on dirt roads all day? We are sturdy people but if we went all day and didn't see a single tiger, I'd be miffed. A: Quite a few tourists are miffed :). If there's one thing which anyone can guarantee you about sightings, it's that they cannot guarantee it at all! While I was there, there were about 10 groups I spoke with in 3 days and they could not spot a single Tiger, whereas I spotted 3 in just one safari. Just plain lucky or blessed, I'd say! Have never been disappointed with a single safari elsewhere across India, so I like to believe I have a connection with Animals:). The jeeps are standard, irrespective you book via the hotel or booking agents or the Government site directly. Its a maruti Gypsy and they are pretty alright. But then again, it's the forest, the Jungle. Do expect a bumpy ride. As for the dirt, again it's the Jungle, so you know the answer already, I suppose. Q: On the flip side, I'm thinking that if we did a whole day jeep tour, there might be fewer jeeps in the park mid day when most return to drop off their hotel guests. A: You will be accompanied by other jeeps, irrespective for a single 3 and a half hour safari or the full day. Probably moments where they would leave and other ones would come is your best chance, but that won't be too long. Everyone who ever does a Safari wants this. However, if you think that moving jeeps along your route would hamper the Big cats movement, it really would not. These animals are pretty used to having us around in the jungle and they DON'T REALLY CARE, to be honest. Unless of course, you decide to step put a foot down in their territory! Q: Secondly, sine we are scheduled to be in Ranthambore in February, so for the purpose of taking photos, would the lighting be better in the early morning or late afternoon? A: Neither. Just mornings, when the sun is out. Actually, it would not really matter. For photographs, it depends on the setting of the environment, the camera you use etc. I'd suggest you try and master the trick of photography before your visit since you have about 3 months still to go. Q: Do tigers typically sleep at certain times of the day? A: Picked this up from a site in behavior or sleeping habits of Tigers. Hope it helps to answer your question - > In the wild most tigers are active only at night; this is one thing that makes them so difficult to track and count. The Bengal tigers of Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in India are a surprising exception, being frequently active during the day. Q: Lastly, is it worth it to let the swanky hotel schedule the tiger safari in their proprietary jeeps designed with better shocks which in theory are more comfortable but come at a hefty price? A: As mentioned in an earlier question earlier, the jeeps / gypsy's are mostly the same. Maybe the shock absorbers are a tad bit better, but I doubt it would make too much of a difference. The Jeep I refer to is essentially one that is the lowest possible model you would find for a 4 wheel drive in India. Hope this helps understand this better. You enter the wild, expecting a rough road ahead. Bumpy rides and dust are all what makes nature stand apart. My recommendation, leaving aside a few apprehensions, just get in the Park and watch the Tiger in full glory. Trust me, if you get lucky and spot one or more, you would cherish the moment for a lifetime. They are MAGNIFICENT! Also, do not miss out on the bio-diversity. I am personally a Crocodile lover. And I spotted one during my safari - a good 9-10 marsh crocodile. There were also Owls, different species of Birds I was able to spot. And the deer as well, which is most common in any park. Hope the above helps. Finally, beware of rates that are quoted by tour agents who book these safaris. They would charge you a bomb, if given the chance. Do negotiate with them. It's just how we Indians are. And we aren't wrong in doing so. Since birth, we are taught negotiations. And hence, keep varying and fluctuating prices, depending on the situation. Plus, people there earn only when the park is open. So they try and maximize every earning opportunity that comes their way! A Warm welcome to you and you friends / family to India in February 2018!