Sariska is one of the closest vacation places from Delhi barely three hours away from Gurgaon. Known for its Tiger Sanctuary and the adventurous jungle tour, here is what you need to know about Sariska National Park Jungle Safari.
Things you should know-
Experts advice that the best time for jungle safari is morning, which has high probability of sighting a tiger. However, nobody can guarantee spotting a tiger in Sariska any time, because the forest is their home, not ours! We left from the resort before sunrise to reach the safari ticket window as early as possible. It was indeed surprising to see the place bustling with enthusiastic guests on a chilled winter morning.
Have at look at the timings-
Bookings are made at the window. Alternately you a make bookings online to save time. By the way the website mentioned on the board does not work- https://sso.rajasthan.gov.in/signin
The ticket rates as mentioned on the board are as follows-
However, these are not the updated rates on the board. We hired a full gypsy for ourselves and paid Rs 580 at the window. Rs 2880 was to be paid to the guide. (Payment to the guide is made separately after the safari ends).
SOME DO’S AND DONT’S
Though the rules are simple, no body really cares. How difficult is it to respect the jungle rules? The top most ones are are- Be silent (which people find very difficult), do not wear loud or bright colored clothes, smoking drinking prohibited, do not litter plastic waste, do not feed animals and NEVER get off your jeep/canter.
Our guide Seetaram, toured us through the forest while providing valuable info about the forest. Spread over an area of 866 square kilometers, Sariska is home to large variety of birds and animals species, the most common ones being spotted deer, swamp deer (barah singha), neel gaai (blue bull), peacock, jackal (siyaar). Seetaram said there are 14 tigers in Sariska sanctuary and most of them are radio-collared. Among them, ST6 is the biggest and oldest male tiger while ST7 is the largest and most photographed tigress. Only 20% of the forest is open for safari and divided into three zones. Zone 1 has the highest probability of tiger sighting, though its a matter of sheer luck.
INTO THE WILD
Be it the sandy trails, bumpy roads or dense trees, each element leaves you feeling excited. Our driver took us to a spot where a leopard had killed and dragged a deer on a treetop. This tree had stirred up a lot of excitement among all visitors. For a moment I felt sorry for the deer, but that is the law of nature.
Visitors are NOT allowed to get off their jeep/canter anywhere. The only place where it is allowed is at the rest stop where the drivers take a break. Blabber birds and the beautiful orange Rufous Treepies flock to all jeeps here as if asking for food.
A visit to Kankwara lake is also a part of the safari. This lake is a dwelling place for crocs as well as large number of birds. January is a good time to watch the migratory birds bask in the Sun. We moved out after a stoppage of fifteen minutes.
SIGHTED A VARIETY OF FAUNA
As I mentioned, spotting a tiger is quite difficult, we still had our senses alert, hoping to catch a glimpse of our national animal. We spotted all animals but a tiger.
Spotted deer, blue bulls (neelgai) and peacocks shying away is a very common sight.
A swift and angry jackal also crossed our way.
TWIST IN THE STORY
Suddenly, all gypsies and canters were made to halt at a place where the guides told that two mating tigers were heard roaring from a distance. Obviously, all the hype melted in few minutes when nothing was heard by visitors. Our driver showed us a tiger paw mark on the way, claiming to be a mark from last night. Well, who knows what the actual story is? After-all, one is interested to see a tiger and not the latter.
As the day progressed, our hopes of seeing a tiger were fading, when Seetaram met a fellow guide from another gypsy who informed about a female leopard near a pond. Without wasting a single minute. we rushed to the spot.
The beautiful leopard looked straight into the camera while we clicked her. Surprise, surprise..she was with her two cubs. Sensing threat, the leopard left the place soon, hence upsetting those who missed that lovely sight! The disappointment of not seeing a tiger was overpowered by the joy of seeing a leopard, which is a rare sighting indeed.
The three hours jungle safari of Sariska National Park came to an end and a shy Seetaram reluctantly posed for the camera.
Whether or not you spot a tiger, the safari itself is a thrilling experience. It is a must visit for wildlife photographers and nature enthusiasts.
PS- This post is from my trip to Sariska Tiger Reserve in Jan 2017