India’s ultimate National Park

With 450 national parks within India, for a first time visitor choosing the best place to relish in the natural heritage can seem like a daunting task. But ask anyone who has stepped even a foot in the country and they will send you straight to Ranthambore. Famous amongst residents and globe-trotters, Ranthambore is renowned for the tigers that reside in the park who make more frequent appearances than is usual for the typically lazy animal. Of course, the danger in visiting such an admired place is that, like all tourist hot-spots, the authenticity of the experience can easily be spoiled by getting packed onto the same tourist trail with every other visitor also trying to catch a glimpse of the beloved tiger, or worse, tripping up on the finer details like where to stay.

Luckily, there is a way to avoid getting stuffed into a double-decker bus with 30 other tourists (hire a jeep), or worse, finding yourself with Delhi belly mid-safari thanks to the hotel’s “continental” breakfast. The first place to start is the accommodation, and nowhere offers luxury camping while retaining the authentic charm of the jungle like Sher Bagh. Once the Maharaja of Johpur’s hunting lodge, Sher Bagh is an excellent step back into time with only 12 tents and communal dinners held around the campfire, and a great introduction to the riches of the park. Enquire with enough rigour and you might get to hear stories from the off-season when the site becomes an anti-poaching base. Adding to their ethical credentials, Sher Bagh holds a strong commitment to keeping their carbon footprint down by sourcing produce from their own organic farm. Enough to keep the eco-warriors and PETA fans happy.

Beyond the comforts of the camp, the riches of the park are the main attraction, and the tiger is not the only star. Home to panthers, leopards, crocodiles, wild boar and 400 species of birds to name but a few, the treasures of Ranthambore’s jungle are endless. If you aren’t lucky enough to see a tiger then catching a glimpse of the other inhabitants is equally captivating. Add to this the thrill of heading into the wilderness as the sun begins to rise over the hilltops, and you soon realise the real enchantment of Ranthambore is experiencing the wild landscape in its natural form.

What few people also know is that Ranthambore is the home to one of the oldest forts in India, and one of the few remaining that are still inhabited. Standing tall on the top of a hill looking over the entire park, the fort casts a magnificent site across the lush landscape. Inside, ancient temples, abandoned royal banquet halls and man-made swimming pools paint a grand picture of the days when maharajas resided.

Some of the nicer hotels in the park, such as the predictable Oberoi Vanyavilas or Taj Vivanta boast excellent restaurants and may prove a nice change of pace in the evenings. But with some of the most beautiful natural landscape and diverse variety of wildlife, you won’t need much more to enjoy yourself than the beautiful surroundings, some of the best that nature has to offer.

Marilyn MacDonald is the Head of Marketing at Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…

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Comments (1)

  1. It’s really difficult for me to comprehend what you meant by:
    “Luckily, there is a way to avoid getting stuffed into a double-decker bus with 30 other tourists (hire a jeep), or worse, finding yourself with Delhi belly mid-safari thanks to the hotel’s “continental” breakfast.” That sounds way too anachronistic. :-))

    I really haven’t heard of a Double Decker Bus ride inside a National Park if that’s what you mean. But apart from that your write up is really informative and interesting. From a wildlife resort like Sher Bagh, it is expected that they will keep their carbon footprint in check and kudos to them for doing that.

    I definitely agree with you when you say that Ranthambore is one of your best bet to spot tigers in India. One of the reasons that you can spot tigers easily is the geography and the flora of this national park. But this time of year, it is virtually impossible to spot a tiger in any of the national park in India – I am counting on the fact that you are not going to camp there for a month though. But I totally agree that, morning glory inside Ranthambore National Park is simply mesmerizing.

    The only place where I believe one still has a chance of spotting a tiger with a probability above 90% is the Bandhavgarh National Park. But it shouldn’t deter one from going to Ranthambore as there’s much to this national park than tigers. I recently visited Sariska and had my money’s worth just because of the number of bird species I spotted and captured – in my camera – during the visit.

    And when it comes to accommodation, Ranthambore definitely has the edge over other wildlife sanctuaries in India. With reputed groups like the Oberoi and the Taj having their deluxe properties there stay and cuisines is a visitor’s delight. And what better romantic break than call of the wild with rejuvenating massages and in the lap of nature amidst laid back languidness.

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