Ranthambore is a tourist processing plant. Think Agra. The ticketing system is insane. You either queue yourself at 4.30am for a booth to open at 6ish to be dictated an area you can visit or you pay way over the odds for some hotel staff to do most of the queuing for you (as arranged by your fleecing hotel) after which you slip in with your passport to make the actual purchase. Again you have no choice as to which area you can visit and you still have to get up early.
Zones 1 - 6 in a canter appear to offer better tiger opportunities but never take a gypsy jeep as they send the majority of these to zones 7-8 which mostly offer a busy main road, children playing, cows, people going about their everyday business. Good luck with spotting any wildlife as it's clearly not 'wild' if all this is going on. You certainly wouldn't see this in zones 1-6.
Apparently most of the tickets seem to be set aside for VIPs. My husband queued from 4.30am and was first in the queue but was astonished to see people suddenly arrive as the booth opened and were served before him in the VIP queue. By the time he got served the only allocations left were for zones 7 and 8. They are known locally as buffer zones and offer no wildlife that you can't spot from your car driving along the main rd with the hotels on.
And yet the Park quite happily sells expensive jeep tickets to foreign tourists and sends them all to zones 7 and 8 knowing full well these people have come a long way to see wildlife. We were comically shown 2 dead cows laid neatly side by side with no signs of an animal kill, one had a precise slit along its throat, the other had no obvious marks and were told that this was a leopard kill. Quite why a leopard would kill 2 cows and lay them neatly where a jeep could drive past them escapes me.
Ranthambore commerce only exists because of the Park but it is badly managed, with lack lustre guides some of whom speak so little english that they might as well not be there. If you really must go to this place, take a canter and make sure you are in zones 1-6 and if possible find out where the tigers are likely to be for the time of year you are visiting.
My husband also mentioned he would not have been happy for me to have queued so early in the dark as it was full of jostling local males and it did not feel a very safe place for a lone woman. Go in a group, take someone with you but if they can't sort out a sensible safe ticket purchasing system to a part of the park that might actually contain a tiger I don't really see the point.
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