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Ranthambhore revisited May/June 2019 : HOT but very rewarding

Filip A

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Being blown away by our first “tiger safari” experience in October 2018, we were convinced to return to Ranthambhore someday. I contacted Wild World India at the end of April 2019 and asked them if it was still possible to organize a trip to Ranthambhore before the end of the 2019 season. The park closes at the end of June because of the monsoon.


Abhishek Sharma (Wild World India) told me that I was rather late with my inquiry (😊) but he said he would give it a try. A few days later he sent me a possible itinerary. He also stated, that, although this period could be very rewarding for

tiger sightings, it was going to be very hot. I’ll come back to that later.


This time my family couldn’t join me, but it was very easy to convince two friends. Abhishek would also join us to take on this adventure. As we all were limited in time (approx one week) and we had to deal with some restrictions regarding possible game drives, our itinerary looked like this :


May 28th              Evening flight from Brussels to Delhi via Dubai (Emirates)

May 29th              Arrival in Delhi and transfer to Ranthambhore

May 30th              Morning and afternoon game drive

May 31st              Full day game drive

June 1st               Half day game drive + afternoon game drive

June 2nd              Full day game drive

June 3th               Half day game drive + transfer to Delhi

June 4th               Morning flight from Delhi back to Brussels (Emirates)


T109 Veeru



T84 Arrowhead with cubs





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Like on our first trip in October 2018 we stayed in Hotel Ranthambhore Kothi. A nice hotel with very friendly people, huge and clean rooms with a perfect working airco (important during this time of the year),

a swimming pool and very tasty food.


The location of the hotel, only a few minutes away from the main park entrance, is a huge advantage.


Even more important was the fact that Mr Himmat Singh was our driver again for this trip.

As stated in my previous trip report , he is for sure one of the best drivers in Ranthambhore. His driving skills are unparalleled, he always seems to be on the right place at the right time, he knows everything

about the tigers and he stays very friendly and very calm in all circumstances.


People who already experienced an Indian tiger safari will surely know what I mean, sometimes it can be really frantic !


Safari timings during this period are as follows : the morning drive starts at 6.00 am until 9.30 am, the afternoon drive starts at 3.30 pm until 7.00 pm.

When you book a half or full day game drive you can stay for 6h (half) or for 12h (full) in the park.










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Brian's Art for Animals

very nice. I might go in 2021 in May as I was told better chance to see tigers (although I have seen them in Feb, March and Nov in various parks.) How hot is it? And are the parks crowded?

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One important remark about the weather / temperature: it is hot, really HOT !!


During daytime (in between 11.30 am and 15.00 pm) we experienced temperatures between 45 and 49° C (between 113 and 120° F).

In the evenings and during the night the temperature "dropped" to 28 – 32°C or 82 – 90° F.  


The 3 of us (I don’t count Abhishek because he is used to it 😉) coped with the heat very well (and we are not used to these temperatures in Belgium).

Of course we had some difficult moments but they didn’t have a negative impact on our experience.


In pretty good shape in the morning …







… a few hours later ...





and in the afternoon :blink::blink:





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36 minutes ago, Brian's Art for Animals said:

very nice. I might go in 2021 in May as I was told better chance to see tigers (although I have seen them in Feb, March and Nov in various parks.) How hot is it? And are the parks crowded?


Based on my three visits to Ranthambhore (October 2018 - May/June 2019 and February 2020) I would say that February and October are comparable.

The weather is dry and nice (cold in the morning but pretty warm during the day).

In May/June however it is really hot, the whole day long.


In general you have a better chance to see tigers in May. Because it's so hot, tigers are often found nearby the few remaining water pools.

Because of this heat, they don't move a lot, so sometimes, you have to be very patient !


The park was not crowded during our stay last May. I think the heat frightens a lot of tourists. Most of the people we met in the park were local people from India.

Apart from our jeep, we only saw one other jeep with people from France and there was also a television team from England who were doing some recordings about tiger cubs.

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During the full day and half day safaris, our main focus was zone 3, a beautiful zone with the three lakes and the fort always in the background and of course home of T84 Arrowhead and her two cubs who were around 6 months old in June 2019.


Although we spotted this family on three different occasions during our stay, it was not that easy. As the cubs were still relatively young, a part of zone 3 was closed by the forest department, in order to protect these cubs, mainly against jeeps and canters, according to our guides. So when the tiger family was “home”, it was impossible to see them.


For our first day in the park we opted for a morning and afternoon drive, so we could not choose our zone but luckily we had zone 3 for the morning drive. We soon got the message that Arrowhead and her cubs were in the "protected" area ( :( ). We decided to drive around the lakes and then come back and wait for the family to come out, hopefully before the end of our morning drive.
















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The tiger family decided otherwise, so no tigers on our first drive.


For our afternoon safari we had zone 4, the zone of T19 Krishna and her three (sub) adult cubs, two males and one female. They recently had split up from each other but the two male tigers were still together.

Daughter T111 Shakti was making her own territory down by the river in zone 4. Himmat decided to go the river and there she was ...


T111 Shakti













We stayed with her for more than an hour, and during this sighting there were only three or four jeeps.


On our way back to the gate we had a brief sighting of one of her brothers.







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@Filip A So nice to see another trip report from India. Never been to Ranthambore, but visited Bandhavgarh and Kanha in early march 2019 and had a great time.  But that was very cold in the morning, so I would easily swap the cold with some higher temperatures (even if 45-49 degrees is extremely hot). There is just something about seeing a tiger in the wild, it is just amazing. Looking forward to the rest of the trip report :) It seems you had some great sightings :) 

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I think Abhishek is a miracle worker, nice that you got to travel with him. Boy, I definitely couldn't handle those temperatures. I do like the camo umbrella though, we could've used one of those, especially in Tadoba. You've certainly started off well. 

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33 minutes ago, JayRon said:

@Filip A So nice to see another trip report from India. Never been to Ranthambore, but visited Bandhavgarh and Kanha in early march 2019 and had a great time.  But that was very cold in the morning, so I would easily swap the cold with some higher temperatures (even if 45-49 degrees is extremely hot). There is just something about seeing a tiger in the wild, it is just amazing. Looking forward to the rest of the trip report :) It seems you had some great sightings :) 


@JayRon Thx, you should definitely visit Ranthambhore, it's a beautiful park. And I do agree, even after multiple safaris in Africa, a tiger sighting in the wild, remains unrivaled.

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36 minutes ago, Zubbie15 said:

I think Abhishek is a miracle worker, nice that you got to travel with him. Boy, I definitely couldn't handle those temperatures. I do like the camo umbrella though, we could've used one of those, especially in Tadoba. You've certainly started off well. 


@Zubbie15 Abhishek organised our three safaris we did in Ranthambhore. It was great fun to have him aboard.



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For the second day of our trip we had a full day safari.

Like I mentioned earlier, our daily routine was to start in zone 3, just to see if Arrowhead and the cubs were out.

Afterwards we went to other zones (as we were free to choose during our full day safaris) depending on the sightings and information we got from the other cars.


No luck in zone 3 so we went to zone 4 again. The day before we had a wonderful sighting of T111 Shakti so we hoped she would still be there.


No sign of her but instead we saw her mother T19 Krishna and the other brother T113 Pie.


T19 Krishna






T113 Pie






They both disappeared very quickly so we decided to move on to zone 6.


Although zones 1 to 5 are considered as "prime tiger zone", we also spent a lot of time in zone 6.


Zone 6 was at that time the zone of T8 Ladli and her two (almost) adult sons T108 Jai and T109 Veeru.

Also frequently seen in this zone was T34 Kumbha (the father of Jai and Veeru) and T39 Noor, who had been forced out of zone 1 and 2 by her own daughters. A mother tiger life can be hard :(


The first tiger we saw in zone 6 was T109 Veeru, resting and hiding in the shade.


T109 Veeru








We stayed with him for half an hour but he wasn't planning to move so we decided to take a break and to find some shade for ourselves.


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The hotel brought our lunch and the necessary bottles of water to the entrance gate of zone 3. We took our lunch in the building next to the gate. At least we were in the shade !




At midday temperatures were around 48°C, so for the afternoon, we decided to go to zone 2.


Unlike zone 3 and zone 4, which ar very open, the vegetation in zone 2 is very thick (even this time of the year) and for most of the time you can drive in the shade.


Zone 2 is the zone of T105 Noori, daughter of the famous tigress T39 Noor. And although no sightings were reported that morning, it didn't take long before Himmat found her.


T105 Noori








A few minutes later she got up.

She had made a kill and now she was a little bit hungry …










In less than 15 minutes she had eaten this (baby) spotted deer, really unbelievable.


And she ate it all …






After this meal she was thirsty.








What an end to our first full day safari, more to come.


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The next day : a half day safari from 06h00 - 12h00, take some rest in the hotel, afternoon safari from 15h30 until 19h00.


We started in zone 3 again, but just like yesterday, it was very quiet. No sign of Arrowhead and the cubs, no fresh pugmarks, no alarm calls … just silence and some peacocks right outside the gate.













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Time to move on.

Our plan was to explore zone 1, then take the shortcut from zone 1 to zone 6.


Like zone 3, zone 1 was very quiet this morning so, very quickly we were driving into the direction of zone 6.

Suddenly we noticed some movements behind the rocks on a dry river bed, a sloth bear !




The sighting didn't last very long but Himmat positioned the jeep in a perfect way so we were able to shoot some nice pictures.












It was still early in the morning, so there was enough time to explore other zones. From other cars we got the message of a tiger and a leopard sighting in zone 4. Not together though but still worthwhile to go

and have a look :).


As leopards are very shy and don't show up very often because they are afraid of tigers, Himmat proposed to try and find this leopard first. Thereafter we would go for the tiger.


The leopard lay down in a dry riverbed, far away from the road. As it is forbidden in Ranthambhore to go off road, we could only take some pictures from this position.








For sure, our leopard was not Mr Nice Guy, but seeing all the scars on his face, he clearly must have survived some battles !


OK, after the sloth bear and the leopard, time to move on to the tiger B).


T111 Shakti, the tigress we saw on our first afternoon drive, was waiting for us.


T111 Shakti









As it was already 11h30, we had to go and leave the park.


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Spectacular sightings, what a Tigers paradise!

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5 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

Spectacular sightings, what a Tigers paradise!

@michael-ibk thx, you are absolutely right, Ranthambhore is indeed a real tigers paradise.

I cannot compare with other parks in India because I've only been to Ranthambhore but on the three trips I did, each time I had some incredible sightings.

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While we were cooling down in the hotel and waiting for our afternoon drive, we got a phone call from the reception.

Our guides were already there and they wanted to leave as soon as possible because they got the message that T84 Arrowhead and her cubs were out of the protected zone. It was way too early to enter the park but we wanted to be in first in line when the gates open at 15h30.


I still don’t know how it’s possible but, that afternoon, it seemed that all the jeeps and all the canters were allowed to go to zone 3. As soon as the guards opened the gate of zone 3, all hell broke loose. All the cars were literally racing to the other side of the lake to have a view of the tiger family.


Image of the afternoon, in total I guess there were more than 15 vehicles around. It was the first, and luckily the only time, we encountered a situation like this.




The tigers were resting nearby the lake where the vegetation was very dense, so it was almost impossible to have a good view.  We waited the whole afternoon for them to move, but we had no luck.


Poor quality picture of the two cubs, very far away at the other side of the lake.




At least some nice birds came closer :)











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Two days to go and still no (clear) sighting of mother and cubs.


In the morning, Himmat proposed to have a look at the few remaining water holes of zone 6. This zone is very dry, so tigers do come often to these water holes to drink and to cool down.


I didn’t take us very long before we encountered this handsome fellow, T109 Veeru, a two and a half year old male tiger.

I also saw him during my first visit in October 2018, when he and his brother T108 Jai, were still together with their mother T8 Ladli.

Together with his brother he occupied a large part of zone 6.


T109 Veeru









Like I said, he was thirsty and then it was time to take some rest … A few sambars were around, making a lot of noise, but he wasn't interested.












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He put up quite a show for us that morning. The sighting lasted for almost three hours, and the last two hours, it was just us with only two other jeeps.

The tiger decided it was time for a walk and Himmat knew exactly where to position the jeep to experience an amazing sighting.


T109 Veeru













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Then it was time to come down, and stroll further down the dry riverbed.









A few months later, in October 2019, we received the tragic news of the death of this incredible tiger.

He was very badly injured after a fight for territory with another male tiger, a few days later he succumbed to his wounds.


This is the last picture I took of him before he disappeared behind some rocks. RIP Veeru.




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21 hours ago, AfricIan said:

Stunning @Filip A, simply stunning. Such a shame to hear of his demise.


@Africlan , thank you very much.

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No time for breakfast yet. We got a message from another (full day safari) jeep in zone 3 that Arrowhead and the cubs were out.

We rushed to zone 3 and finally we could see the mother with the two (female) cubs.


At first they were well hidden under the threes in the long grass but after a while they got up and began their journey back to the protected part of zone 3. 

By one o’clock the family was back at the den and the sighting was over. What a wonderful morning !












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Out of the long grass, on their way back home ...


T84 Arrowhead with cubs





















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