Ranthambore National Park

Many of our clients ask us ‘which is the best tiger park to visit?’ We have been lucky enough to visit nearly all of them in our 17 years of travelling to India and enjoyed some of the best tiger safaris in parks as diverse as Corbett, Bandhavgarh and Tadoba. However for us, and many of our clients, it is Ranthambhore which is the King of all tiger sanctuaries. It is not just the legendary wild tigers such as Machli, Bamboo Ram and Broken Tail that have enchanted us over the years. What enthrals us is the sheer excitement of the drive towards the park in the cool early morning on your very first safari, a glimpse of the 10th-century fort looking down over this wildlife paradise and the first alarm call of the day; which raises your heartbeat a little and makes your eyes alert as a child, as you hope you will be the first to spot this most beautiful of large cats.

People talk about the best parks to see tigers and this often means the ‘most reliable’ parks to almost guarantee sightings, but for some clients, it is not the number of tigers seen on a safari that defines a successful trip, but more the quality of the individual sighting or the overall wildlife ambience in the park. Ranthambhore with its 3 large lakes and scattered ruined palaces,  provides a spectacular backdrop for photographers, birders and general wildlife enthusiasts alike. So from our experience, this is a park that suits all wildlife lovers, not just the ‘tiger centric’ travellers. In addition, close by, there are some beautiful tribal villages, lakes and more arid farmlands, where the magnificent Blackbuck antelope can be viewed.

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Big Tigers of Corbett National Park

Corbett National Park was the first park to be brought under the ‘Project Tiger’ umbrella due to its magnificent scenery and large unspoilt wilderness area, which in turn supported a healthy tiger population. The reality for many visitors over the years had been occasional sightings glimpsed on elephant back and a feeling that the park is a better location for birders than more general wildlife enthusiasts; based on our visits in April 2006, April 2010 and March 2011 and our clients trips, we can confirm this view point is now completely redundant.

Not only does this beautiful park afford the visitor an excellent chance to see tiger, it also provides spectacular elephant sightings in the hotter months, with groups as large as 30 animals making the daily crossing over the Ramganga river. It is possible to view both wild elephant and tigers in a jeep safari from Dhikala, and the real highlight, is the rare chance to stay inside a Tiger Sanctuary at one of the simple lodges and you have a wildlife experience that rivals anything else in India.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 7
Activity Level
When to Go
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Price (Excl. flights)
£1380
Black Panther Wildlife Tour and Safari in Nagarhole Kabini Wildlife Trails

Black Panther wildlife safari in Nagarhole national park

Sometimes circumstances come together at just the right time in the world of wildlife travel and big cat safaris, to inspire you to put together a specialist photography wildlife tour that will focus on just one species; and this is exactly what we have here with this small group Black Panther safari in Nagarhole national park. Not only was I lucky enough while in India during May 2017 to make contact with a wildlife guide who has seen and photographed the Black Panther on a number of occasions; but he also agreed to be our main guide for the entire stay at Nagarhole national park – this is crucial to the success of the Black Panther wildlife tour due to the ‘intense’ bureaucracy in India’s national parks. Not only do we need to apply for special permissions to have the right type of vehicle for our photography group; we also need a wildlife guide at Nagarhole that can optimise our choice of zone or route in order to maximise our opportunities to see the Black Panther in Nagerhole.

Best time to see Black Panthers in Nagarhole national park?

According to sources in Nagarhole national park the best time of year to see the Black Panther is March and April, so on this basis we have meticulously planned our dates to (1) Avoid the very busy Easter Holidays and (2) Avoid some local holidays in South India to be at the park at a ‘relatively’ quieter time. This is relative, as with such a longer, specialised safari lasting 7 days, it is impossible to avoid the weekend; which is what we would normally do.

Nagarhole national park – what did we see during the March 2018 and 2019 tours?

Both trips in 2018 were a huge success, with both groups enjoying a single sighting of the Black Panther which was the main objective of the trip. However, even more enjoyable was the almost constant action inside the park, as we enjoyed up to 7 tiger sightings, 5 leopard encounters and multiple superb encounters with a pack of 8 wild dogs, that were an absolute joy to photograph. It is important to point out that a rapidly growing tiger population could make seeing leopards in general (not just the Black Panther) more difficult in the future, so we would strongly suggest visiting ASAP. We just completed our third trip for the Black Panther in March 2019 and this time we missed out on a sighting of the melanistic male leopard. However, the great combination of good quality tiger and leopard action continued for our group members.

Client feedback from 2018.

Seeing 6 tigers ( 3 very good sightings) and 4 leopards (one amazing sighting) in Nagarahole (including the one with the all important black features) was truly beyond our expectations. Arjun was really very helpfull in managing the jeep safaris into the park. We only had to go on a boat safari once and the 2 last days he even arranged it so we could go both morning and afternoon drives into zone A. Thanks Arnie

Just a brief note to thank you for a superb trip to Nagarahole. We were fortunate to see the black panther, albeit briefly, early on during the trip. It was not through lack of trying that we didn’t see him again but had excellent big cat sightings of leopard and tiger as well as other wildlife including elephant, squirrel, mongoose, otters and python. Good food and great company with Richard, Arnie and Edith. Thanks John

Style - Small Group
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 8
Activity Level
When to Go
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Price (Excl. flights)
£2710
Lions, Wolves & Asiatic Wild Ass

India is famous in wildlife circles as the place to see wild tigers, but is also home to some lesser known but even rarer and more endangered species like the Asiatic Lion, Asiatic Wild Ass, and Great Indian Bustard. India also boasts an impressive array of canids including the Striped Hyena, Indian Wolf, Jackal, Indian Fox, and Desert Fox. This bespoke Gujarat wildlife holiday will take you to an India which few explore and will reward you with rare wildlife, stunning landscapes and a tribal culture that shines brightly in the desert.

Style - Small Group
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 16
Activity Level
When to Go
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Price (Excl. flights)
£3350
Luxury Tiger and Leopard Safari in Rajasthan

Back in the early 2000’s, rumours drifted across from rural southern Rajasthan, that there was a new big cat paradise in India and this was one where the Leopard – not the Tiger – ruled! It is important to remember that tiger sanctuaries are far from the best place to see leopards as they are out competed by their striped cousins. A visit to the Bera region of Rajasthan, is like stepping back in time two hundred years. The traditional Rabari trbes still make a living from their colourful goat herds and it is these goats that form a large part of the Leopards diet. Astonishing levels of tolerance by local villages to see beautiful spotted cats have created an unofficial sanctuary for leopards and it has become one of our very favourite wildlife locations in India – Yes, we are regular visitors!

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 9
Activity Level
When to Go
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Price (Excl. flights)
£4680
Panna and Bandhavgarh Tiger Safari with the Temples of Khajuraho

Wildlife Trails first visited Khajuraho and Panna tiger reserve way back in 2002 and during the last 17 years there have been more ‘downs’ than ‘ups’ in this beautiful reserve bordering the idyllic Ken River. Like Sariska, Panna lost all its tigers in the mid-2000’s and it is now one of the main recipients of translocated tigers from famous tiger reserves like Bandhavgarh and Kanha, as they attempt to recapture former glories. For us, Panna was never just about the tigers, as we enjoyed starting our trip with time wandering around the beautiful temples at Khajuraho, before the short drive to our wilderness lodge at Panna. Here we will not just enjoy morning and afternoon jeep safaris, but also boat safaris on the Ken River and two nights of nocturnal drives in the buffer area – not permitted in most national parks in India. From there we head to the world famous Bandhavgarh tiger reserve – on a much better road these days thankfully – before enjoying 7 jeep safaris in a park that is just exploding at the moment with tiger action.

Safari vehicles will have a maximum of 4 guests per jeep.  At Bandhvagarh we have handpicked a specialist local naturalist to accompany all safaris.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 11
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
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Price (Excl. flights)
£2490
Primates, Rhinos & Hornbills in India

After spending 30 days in West Bengal and Assam during April 2018, Allan Blanchard and his friend and expert wildlife guide, Avijit Dutta, wanted to bring together the very best wildlife experiences these two beautiful states have to offer and put together a completely unique and unmatched Wildlife Trails small group wildlife tour of North East India. The result is a beautiful overland trip, visiting some of the regions most iconic wildlife sanctuaries; including Gibbon Sanctuary, Kaziranga, Manas, Pakke and Nameri. Far fewer international and domestic visitors make it across to these beautiful national parks and as a result we have the chance to enjoy the amazing wildlife without the crowds that can affect your enjoyment in north and central India.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 16
Activity Level
When to Go
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Price (Excl. flights)
£3490
Ranthambhore Safaris and Culture with Ramathra and Taj Mahal

We have been visiting Ranthambhore since 1997 when the owner Allan Blanchard spent a month there looking at conservation projects in the buffer zone areas the park. His fascination and love for the area brought him back many more times, and along with local guides that are now close friends, he has developed many interesting side trips away from the park to help spread the income from tourism further afield. There is a great road from Ranthambhore which takes you to the village of Bhoori Phadi and the small but beautiful Banas River; which forms one of the boundaries of Ranthambhore National Park. There are activities here organised by local people, such as boat and camel safaris and the chance to camp wild for the more adventurous. In addition, you can take a wonderfully rural 4-wheel drive route from Ranthambhore to the imposing Ramathra Fort, and create a tiger safari with a twist. Don’t just go to Ranthambhore with a standard tour operator and stay locked behind your hotel walls when not on safari. Go with Wildlife Trails and see a side of this park and the surrounding country that few get to see.

The historic Ramathra Fort stands on the Daang plateau between Ranthambhore and the Chambal River Valley, with spectacular views of the villages and countryside below.  The surrounding landscape is characterised by a network of gorges, scrubland and small traditional farms, and on evening drives there is a chance to see Indian Fox, Jackal and Hyena. It is just 10 minutes away from a large lake which attracts a wide variety of bird species and on which a leisurely boat safari can be taken.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 9
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
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Price (Excl. flights)
£1790
Rhinos and Tigers of Kaziranga National Park

In terms of timing Kaziranga has a relatively short season compared to the north and central parks; it reopens after the monsoon in November and closes at the end of April.  The main migratory bird season is mid-November to late February.  During late December and early January the early morning chill can result in some rather misty conditions that can hamper wildlife viewing (lifted by midday), and Christmas/ New Year is best avoided due to increased domestic and international visitors.  During January the process of grass burning begins, working on contained patches the elephant grass (and any invading trees) are burned, so for a short time mammals become more visible as they graze and move more openly on the new growth but within a few months it regains its enveloping height, meanwhile vegetation levels in the forest and riverine areas become more sparse. So on balance the best times can be mid-November to mid-December (if birds have a strong appeal) or mid February to late March (for increased mammal visibility) – the rhinos can be seen in all months.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 7
Activity Level
When to Go
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Price (Excl. flights)
£1470
Snow Leopard Safari in the Spiti Valley

In the last few years, the mountainous Spiti Valley in the state of Himachel Pradesh has become a hotspot for sighting Snow Leopards. Although a winter trip to this valley, presents serious logistical challenges and is not for the faint-hearted; the rewards are considerable – when it comes to photography of this beautiful feline. I have seen many amazing photos of Snow Leopard taken by our Indian guide in Spiti and am very confident that this trip will produce some exceptional sightings. However, it is not uncommon for there to be delays reaching the valley due to weather conditions and road closures due to landslides, so people joining this Snow Leopard safari, need to have a flexible, open mind and a real sense of adventure. Once we reach the valley, we will have a very comfortable, heated local homestay; which we will use as our base to explore the mountains. Expect a lot of long walks and the need for patience, as we try to track down the grey ghost of the mountains.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 13
Activity Level
When to Go
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Price (Excl. flights)
£1990

Best time to visit Ranthambore National Park

We feel the best time to visit Ranthambore National Park for tigers is either early winter (late November/early December); after the busy festivals of Diwali but before the really cold weather that can suppress tiger sightings in late December/early January. Alternatively, you could wait until early February, if you want that beautiful golden light and magical tiger photographs; with the impressive backdrop of Ranthambore Fort.

Although the light is very harsh from April onwards, the reason why professional wildlife photographers visit at this time of year and consider it to be the best time to see tigers in Ranthambore is the relative lack of water in the park (it varies from year to year depending on the strength of the Monsoon!) and to a degree, tiger activity is ‘concentrated’ near the remaining water holes inside the park. In particular, a tigress with young cubs at Ranthambore National Park will need to regularly visit such waterholes to ensure the tiger family remains healthy. We have also witnessed tiger kills near these same water bodies, as desperately thirsty deer and grey langurs lower their normal.

Wildlife in Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore National Park is rightly famous for its legacy of charismatic and photographic tigers, like the legendary Machli and her progeny like Arrowhead, Lightning and the two current queens of Ranthambore National Park, Riddhi and Sidhhi. However, it is also home to many other Indian mammals, such as leopards, jungle cats, leopard cats, sloth bears, mongoose, Nilgai (Blue Bull), Spotted Deer, Sambar and the exquisite small antelope, Chinkara. The birdlife in Ranthambore is also spectacular with more than 400 species, including Brown Fishing Owl, Brown Francolin and yellow-crowned woodpeckers.

Best Safari Lodges in Ranthambore

Of course, as a company who specialises in tailor-made and custom India tiger safaris, it is for us to provide first-hand knowledge to our clients on the best wildlife lodges in Ranthambore – most of the mid-range and above – so different clients; whether they be single traveller, a couple on a honeymoon, or an extended family can make the right choice of the lodge for them. What we can say as a summary is that many of the resort/hotel type properties are not located near the park itself or any forest areas. So if you are after a good price and incredible service with a smile then our hotel of choice is the Ranthambore Regency. However, if you want to have more of a wilderness feel and a luxury tiger safari experience, we recommend either Sherbagh tented camp or Aman-i-Khas

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