The national park is open for visitors from the 1st October to the 30th June every year. There are two safaris a day from October to June, one starting in the morning and the other late in the afternoon. Generally speaking, the morning safari starts half an hour after sunrise and the evening safari finishes half an hour before sunset. As a result, the timings change slightly every 2 months or so. Each safari is for a duration of three to three and half hours.
There are two modes of transport for safaris in Ranthambhore - the 4 wheel drive jeeps called "Gypsys" (which seat up to 6 visitors) and 16 or 20 seater safari buses called "Canters". A maximum of 40 vehicles, 20 Gypsys and 20 Canters, are allowed into the park at any one time. All these vehicles are attached to the Forest department and owned and run by local people. Vehicles that are not attached to the forest department are not permitted into the park. Gypsys and Canters are booked in advance and visitors are strongly advised to book their safaris, particularly Gypsy safaris, well in advance, over 100 days or more. To book the safaris we need the full names of all guests who would be going for the safari along with an identification proof. The only identification proof that is accepted for foreigners is the passport number. For Indian nationals the identification proof that are accepted are any one of the following - Voters ID / Passport number / Driving license number / Pan card number / School ID / Government ID / Employers ID. A copy of the identity proof is required to be submitted before every safari, so please carry multiple photocopies of the identification proof, along with the original.
There are 10 different zones for tourists inside the tiger reserve, numbered from 1 to 10. At the time of entry, each vehicle is allotted a zone and it not allowed to stray from their allotted zone. Within the zone the vehicles can go anywhere on the network of tracks that exists in the zone. With in Zone 1 to 5 and 6 to 10, you can request for a change of Zone and you will be charged a sum of Indian Rupees 1,000. It is up to the authorities to accept your request for change of zone or not.
Special Safaris – Half-day and Full-day safaris
The standard wildlife safari that visitors get to do in Ranthambhore are for three and half hours in the mornings and afternoons. Visitors get to enter the reserve half an hour after sunrise in the morning for three and a half hours or enter in the afternoon and leave the reserve, after spending three and a half hours, half an hour before sunset. The areas of the reserve that visitors are permitted to visit are divided into ten zones. In these safari visitors are allotted a zone that they can choose at the time of booking the safari in advance and during the safari they are not permitted to go outside the allotted zone.
Recently the Reserve management has changed these rules to allow a special safari to a select few number of vehicles that permits visitors to stay on safari for six or twelve hours. These are known as “Half Day” (for six hours) and “Full Day” (for twelve hours) safaris. Both these safaris are more expensive than the regular safari but they offer far more flexibility to the visitor. The advantage that these two special safaris have over the regular safaris are as follows:
1. More time in the reserve – During the half-day safari one gets to spend 6 hours in the reserve, from sunrise to noon or from noon to sunset, while in the full-day safari one can spend 12 hours in the reserve, from sunrise to sunset. In the standard safari one only gets to spend three and a half hours in the reserve.
2. Flexibility of zones – During the half-day and the full-day safari visitors are not allotted a particular zone that they have to stay in. They can go to any zone that they choose and can even go from one zone to another as many times as they want. Though they do have to stay within the part of the reserve that is open to tourism.
3. Roster free vehicles - The park management through a “roster system” of the vehicles, allots, the safari vehicle in the standard safari. In other words, visitors cannot choose the vehicle or the driver that they want to use, unless they pay an extra fee. During the half-day and full-day safaris, visitors can choose the vehicle and the driver that they want to use.
The above three advantages that these special safaris offer makes these special safaris far more flexible and productive. Visitors get to spend much more time with wildlife, while they are not constrained by a fixed zone and they can choose the best drivers and vehicles. In real terms this makes a huge difference to the quality of the safari specially for photographers and for visitors with special and specific interests.
DO'S AND DONT'S FOR VISITORS TO THE RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK
Maintain silence inside the Park. Take care of your children. Dress comfortably and soberly. Maintain a safe distance from the animals. Follow the instructions given by Forest Officials. Park vehicles only in parking areas and road layoffs.
Litter Swim or fish. Disturb the animals. Play music or make noise. Use spotlight, flash etc. Smoke, light a fire nor cook. Take pets inside the park. Carry weapons, explosives not toxic chemicals. Over speed, overtake nor honk inside the park. Get off the vehicle, except at specified places. Deviate from the allotted route. Crowd more than two vehicles at a spot. Overstay beyond the scheduled timings. Enter the park without proper entry permits. Encourage your driver to stay parked at one place. The entire park is exotic and tigers are found all over the park.