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First Impression..Shouldn't be the Final Impression!!

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Ranthambore National Park!!

To be honest, after my first safari to Ranthambore, my view about this park was terrible! I had almost decided not to visit this park ever again considering the chaos that happened during one of my safaris in March 2015!!

We were in zone 3, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful areas of the park!!

We had been patiently waiting for at least an hour and a half for Krishna (the tigress) and her 3 cubs to come out in the open and give us a glimpse of their royal walk!

Just 30 minutes before our evening safari could get over, our patience finally paid off!! Krishna came out and we could capture some striking shots of her crossing the lake with her cubs!!

As Krishna moved closer towards the overly excited crowd, the site abruptly turned into a fish market!! All the Tourists, Drivers, Guides in and around the area started shouting each other’s name, moving vehicles, jumping on seats, standing on the bonnet of the vehicle... it was a complete hullabaloo!!

Because of the sudden turmoil, I could literally witness the confident gaze of the cubs transform into horrified and anxious looks!! Even when I was at a perfect angle and having superb light to shoot, I didn’t feel like shooting those disturbed cubs!!

I decided to pack my bag and get out of that place. In that chaotic situation, the least I could do was remove my, however small and inactive share, from that mess and possibly reduce the disturbing impact it had on the wildlife!! I returned home unhappy and decided not visit Ranthambore ever again!!

This is the only picture I have from that safari!! Shot this with 300 mm, You can imagine how close he was!!

For Tigers, I decided to concentrate on Tadoba instead. Being easily accessible from Mumbai, it was effortless for me to visit Tadoba once in every month!!! Yes you read it right. Except for the 4 months when the parks are officially closed, I visited Tadoba each and every month of the years - 2015 and 2016, untill one of my friend finally succeeded in convincing me to visit Ranthambore again!!

In may 2017, I visited Ranthambore once again!! Having negative feelings about this park, I was the most inactive member in the gypsy!! I had preconceived notions that just like the last trip, I won’t be able to get decent pictures this time as well!! Our first two safaris went dry!! We couldn’t even spot a tail of a Tiger!!

While stepping into the vehicle for the third safari, our driver exclaimed looking at our sad and unsatisfied faces,“Let’s find a Tiger for you all” and ignited the vehicle!!

Peacocks, Spotted deers, and langoor welcomed us in the National park at 6 in the Morning.

3 kms into the park and suddenly our gypsy stopped. Just when we were about to start searching for something, our driver pointed towards the flattened tire.

It was only a few minutes before, that our Gypsy was the first one to rush towards the waterhole and now we were left behind with nothing but waiting and cursing, as we saw all other vehicles pass by.

Our driver and guide quickly changed the tire and we were back in the game. That happened unbelievably quickly. Both, the driver and the guide, were immensely experienced and were well prepared for tackling such setbacks.

The search for the big cat was on..! Checking each and every lake/pond, we kept on moving rather running.

The second disappointing moment came right along..!! We saw very fresh pugmarks of Tiger going in the opposite direction. We traced them for about 200 - 300 meters and stopped to check if there were any alarm calls to confirm the presence of the Tiger. But as expected there were none. The Tiger had already crossed the road.

Just to try our luck, we turned our gypsy around to a nearly lake.

The moment we reached there, Chinmay yelled, “Tiger ni kill kelay..!!” After waiting for few seconds, we saw the Tigress - 'Lightening' clearly. We missed the kill by few minutes only!

The tigress was totally in a different mood. Dragging her fresh kill, she kept on walking towards us.

The next half hour was full of action..!! The tigress kept on dragging the heavy kill. Luckily there were only two gypsy’s at the location including ours. The tigress was walking by our side and we followed her pace. For about 20 minutes, after walking 20-25 ft, she kept on stopping for few seconds and posing for us. After reaching an open area, she decided to sit down and relax from the exhausting kill and placed her prey at a perfect spot. (for us )

Finally after clicking a plethora of photographs, we decided to leave her alone and let her enjoy the lunch.

This sighting changed my opinion about Ranthambore entirely!! Since then, I have been visiting this park twice in a year and getting stunning pictures every time!! Lets see what’s waiting for us this time in June 2019!! Stay tuned! The best is yet to come!

Wordings : Tejal Patankar

Narration : Saleel Gharpure

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