We used a Canter for all but one of our Safaris. Only a limted number of Jeeps ( or Gypsey's as they call it) are permitted in the park . Canters seat about 20 people . Its OK if you get a good seat....some in the middle or in the back make it hard to see . Although we had fun , we were stuck with the very back and when a Tiger was spotted , it left us struggling to get a look.
I would try to reserve a Jeep if at all possible.
I have to say though we had Tiger sightings twice while in a Canter and not at all in the jeep.
We took the Golden Temple train from Delhi to Sawadi Madapur . This train station is a much smaller place than Dehi and easier to manoever. We followed the crowd out of the station and spotted our driver with our name card. We climbed in to the back of his jeep and after a very breezy and bumpy and dusty drive through town we arrived at our Hotel. It was an interesting ride passing mode of transportation ...including motorbikes, trucks , and elephants!
Its worth it to take the help of the porters. They know exactly where your car and coach will be and were a huge help carrying our bags right to our car!
There are trains from Delhi that stop at Sawai Madhopur. Journey is about 5 hours.
How to Reach Sawai Madhopur by Air: Sawai Madhopur does not have an airport of its own. The nearest airport is at Jaipur. Several airlines service this domestic airport by regular flights and connect it to other important airports like Delhi, Mumbai.
How to Reach Sawai Madhopur by Road: The town of Sawai Madhopur is well networked by road to many important cities in north India, like Jaipur, Delhi and so on.
How to Reach Sawai Madhopur by Rail: The town has a railway station of its own. A well-laid rail network links Sawai Madhopur to major railway stations of the country like: Delhi, Jaipur and many others.
To get to Castle Baori Jhoomar:
take a taxi from train station along Ranthambore Road, for 7 km. Turn into gate, steep uphill drive to Hotel
othercontact: info booth at Sawai Madhopur rail station
There are two types of vehicle that one can commandeer for their "safari" in Ranthambhore. There are small five-six passenger jeeps that are called "gypsies", and there are larger twenty seat vehicles called "canters".
Not surprisingly, you'll have a better look at and a better chance for sighting animals - including the main attraction, the tiger - if you're in the smaller, less-obtrusive "gypsy". And as you'd guess, this means the "gypsy" is much more popular. Many tour books will tell you that specifically booking a gypsy in advance is becoming difficult, or near to impossible. If you want to take a chance on getting a jeep and haven't managed to nail down previous booking, you can line up at either 5 am (for the morning safari) or at noon (for the afternoon safari) over at the RTDC Information Center, at the Vindayak Hotel. If there is extra space on any of the jeeps, you can "negotiate" with the guys who are organizing (tongue in cheek comment there, organization is severely lacking as I understand). Good luck. The cost for hiring a gypsy is 1050 Rs per jeep, plus an additional charge of 325 Rs per person for park entry.
If you will notice my tip concerning Ranthambhore Tours and Travel, I will tell you that these guys are very effective at getting advance booking for a smaller jeep (gypsy). It's worth working on, you'll definitely have a more personal and productive visit.
As for the canters, I'm told that you can actually find booking on one of these a day or two in advance. Bookings can be set up through your hotel. You CAN get a slightly better deal (you may save 50 Rs or so) if you go over to the RTDC Information Center at the Vindayak Hotel. (but seriously, 50 Rs is only about $US 1, so do it the easy way, get some help from your hotel staff) One note about the canters....they are operated by private contractors, and the level of expertise and quality in the tour can vary a great deal. The jeep/gypsy vehicles, on the other hand, are operated by the park staff and generally have a consistenly high level of both driver and naturalist guide competence.
As for the cost of the canters, it's generally 350 Rs, which includes your park entry fee. So as you can see, the canters ARE less expensive.
My advice is to find a way to get yourself into one of the jeeps. It'll satisfy the "gypsy" spirit that has brought you to Ranthambhore in the first place. :) And bottom line on a per person basis, it'll only cost you about 200 Rs more than the canters.
Jeeps which take 4/6 people at a time, apart from the driver and guide are available at the entrance to Ranthambore National Park. Small open-backed trucks called Canters run by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, which take up to 25 people at a time for a tour of the park, are also available for hire.
At a given time not more than 2 jeeps can travel on a particular route and not more than 16 vehicles are allowed into the park. Open vans called canters, which carry up to 25 passengers, are also used to convey larger groups of people through the park. Those determined to see a tiger are recommended to reserve months in advance one of few jeeps scheduled during the day of arrival at the park. The twice daily schedule permits a limited number of jeeps and buses to designated trail routes. The buses are slow, loud, and therefore less likely to spot a tiger up close. The jeeps are quicker and with a good wildlife guide, the tiger is more likely to be found; however, it seems that if both morning and afternoon safaris are reserved, the choice of trail may depend upon whether or not you were successful during the morning safari. That is, all vehicles meet at the ranger station, and the authorities decide then just which trail will be used by who. However, bear in mind that as soon as one jeep finds a tiger, others jeeps will be radioed and everyone will converge on the lonely female, male, or if really lucky, family of tigers. Expect the driver to be jerky and unaware of your needs as a photographer. You are not allowed to leave the jeep at any time, so prepare to shoot images or take video under duress. The Izusu sidekick may be a bit crowded in the back if more than four people are part of your party. The best time to go is in the early morning run, when the general landscape is quite beautiful and the wildlife generally awake and feeding. See the on-line booking form and additonal information from the link below.
There's a train station at Sawai Madhopur, but then one needs to arrange a lift out to the National Park. We had a car and driver, and in the process were able to take a route from Agra that stopped for a couple hours at Bharatpur, the wonderful bird santuary lagoon. Then, we continued by dirt road, in some places, quite muddy road, past a number of interesting villages, and eventually arrived by evening at our lodge at Ranthambhore. In general, the road leading to Ranthambhore is a narrow and bumpy strip of asphalt, that requires both vehicles to put wheels in the ditch to pass. Villages along the way are quite poor. When we stopped to give some boys some oranges we felt were being wasted, they left the pool they are playing in and came running naked to the car. The boys immediately ate the oranges as if they hadn't eaten in a week, but they didn't appear underfed. Overall it was a pleasant ride into such an important national park.
Sawai Madhopur is an 8 hour drive (450 kms) from Delhi- via Jaipur and Tonk.
From Agra, its 8 hours, via Bharatpur.
A convenient way to get here is by train. There are plenty of trains available, since it lies on the Delhi- Bombay route. Ranthambore National Park is approx. 12 km from the Sawaimadhopur Railway station.
The train journey is faster and also cheaper than taking the road option.
The closest airport is Jaipur (165 kms).
For your trips into the park, you can opt for renting seperate vehicles (the gypsy jeeps) or travel in a larger- shared one (the canters), which seats about 15-20 people. The shared option is cheaper of course, and seats dont need to be booked in advance usually.
The routes marked out are roughly the same for both vehicle options, but if you are a professional photographer perhaps, you may want to do it all at your own pace and prefer the jeep.
To avoid crowding, only 18 jeeps are allowed into the park at one time. So its advisable to book jeeps well in advance.
The bookings are made thru the forest department.
The quickest way to reach Sawai Madhopur from Delhi, is by train. We travelled on the "Golden Temple Mail" - a journey of some five hours. This is a sleeper train that goes from Amritsar (hence the name) to Mumbai, and during the day, the couches lift up to reveal seats.
Travelling by train through India is an interesting experience, and one I would wholeheartedly recommend. All through the journey, hawkers will trawl through the carriages selling newspapers, chai, tomato soup, canned drinks, coffee, samosas, crisps and snacks and cooked meals.
The railway lines outside Delhi have to classify as the world's biggest latrine. All along the lines, men (and sometimes women too) would be doing their morning constitutional as we passed. I think we passed maybe 40 or 50 people with their bottoms exposed.
There are two ways to see the park, either a jeep or the larger Cantors. Basically a topless bus, the Cantor offers great all-round visibility, despite the number of passengers. The seats are reasonably comfortable, but the suspension leaves a little to be desired.
Most Cantors hold around 18 passengers.
Hire a jeep or a small bus to show you around. The jeep is (obviously) more mobile and you can go where (no man has gone before!?) the bus cannot.
The bus has its advantages though. There's a smoother ride, and the guides are probably better. however, the buses are more expensive.