Two highlights that attract people from all over the world to India are the Taj Mahal and the Tiger. One in the realm of civilization and the other the king of the wildnerness.
If you have not yet given your child a flavour of the exciting wild side of India and wish to make a trip into the Indian Jungle, Ranthambore will likely figure on your list. And here are some tips and insights into making your visit to Ranthambore with your child a fruitful and enjoyable experience.
Before planning a trip into the jungle, I do suggest that you hone your child’s skills, allow them to spend time in nature, listening to bird sounds, acquiring an interest in flora and fauna. Here are some tips to begin – Getting Children to Enjoy Nature Walks.
Getting back to Ranthambore – the ideal time to visit is between April and June as the best sightings happen during the summer months. Should you choose to go during this period, it is likely that with a school- going child, you will end up there in the month of May, which happens to be the hottest month of the year. Temperatures soar to over 45°C. You need to pack well and take necessary precautions to protect your child in this harsh weather.
Here are some tips you might find useful for your Ranthambore safari…
- If you’re going in Summer, make sure your child is covered from head to toe in dull cotton clothing.
- Make sure the clothes for the summer are thin cotton, allowing air to pass through. In winter you will need several layers and woollens.
- Hat with a wide brim which has a draw-string/pull-string to tighten around the head. A cap or hat without a string is likely to get blown off in the jeep.
- In winter, your child will need a monkey cap, mufflers and gloves. Its cold. Bitterly cold.
- Sunglasses to protect the eyes from the harsh sun in summer.
- Full-sleeve t-shirts in summer so the hands don’t get sun-burnt.
- Buffs around the face and neck. If you don’t have buffs, you can use a small -sized T-shirt to cover the child’s face which also covers up the neck. This helps to keep the face and neck covered from the sun and also protects against the dust blowing at you. Check out the home-made buffs in the picture below.
- Apply Sunscreen half an hour before you leave during the summer months. The sun is very harsh.
- Make sure your child drinks plenty of water and lots of extra bottles of water on the safari. Especially in the summer months, your throat will go dry in minutes and you will feel an insatiable urge to keep drinking water.
- Carry dry food/fruits/energy bars/dry fruits with you during the safari. You will not find anything to eat inside the Park. Children do get hungry and cranky during the 3.5 hour-long safari.
- Pack an extra set of camera batteries. You don’t want to be in the middle of a super sighting to find your camera has run out of battery.
- Don’t carry excess luggage. The jeep has a capacity of 6. There is no space for other luggage.
- If you must carry something to keep your child entertained, DO NOT carry a noisy toy along. DO NOT encourage them to play video games or watch videos on your phone. The ride is bumpy and one needs to keep silent. Besides, you’re there to experience the forest. Don’t give them these alternative entertainment options.
And here are some more ideas to get your child excited about the visit before you Go…
- Tell your child about Ranthambore
Before going, tell your children about the place they will be visiting. What is Ranthambore? Where in India is it? Why does it have such a rich density of tigers and wildlife? How are you going to travel to get there? Keep them in the loop. They will be more engaged and involved if you keep them informed and updated.
- Tell your child what they will see in Ranthambore.
It is always useful to know what one can expect to see at the Park. Find out more about the animals and birds you are likely to see at the Park and share the information with your child. Find out how one can identify them on the field. What does a tiger pug mark look like? What does the call of a tree-pie sound like? Discover it together with your child. It helps build up the excitement to visit the Park. And don’t obsess over the tiger. There are many more things to see and experience in a jungle. To introduce your child to some Signs and Signals of the Jungle, click here.
Here is a short list of what you are likely to see there. Of course, there are many more creatures to be found at the Park. Before you go Read up about these animals with your child, show them pictures, listen to their calls…–
- Mammals – Tiger, leopard, sambar, spotted deer, nilgai, chinkara, sloth bear, caracal, mongoose, jungle cat.
- Birds – Rufous Tree Pie, Bonelli’s Eagle, Jacana, Brown Fish Owl, Dusky Horned Owl and more.
Knowing in advance how these animals and birds look and what sounds they make, will surely help enhance the jungle experience for your child.
Here is a simple hand-written story book I made for my kids with pictures from magazines and newspapers. It introduced them to Ranthambore and what they would see and what they won’t see there. They learnt about different types of habitat and understood what kind of animals are found in which places.
- Befriend the Park Tigers
The Ranthambore National Park has had some glorious Tigers like Ustad and Lakshmi, Sundari and Machli who have spawned generations of great looking tigers. The website of the National Park provides you plenty of information about them and about the Tigers that are currently in the Park. You will get to know their lineage, marks to identify them, their behaviour, their peculiar habits and more. Reading up about these tigers before going, helped my children to know the tigers more intimately even before they got there, increasing the anticipation and excitement.
- Read stories about animals and wildlife to your kids to create an interest. Not only do they make for great stories but the child also learns a lot about habitat, animal behaviour, predator-prey relationship, life in the jungle and more. While some stories like the Man-eater of Kumaon by Jim Corbett may have to be watered down and told to them, others like stories by Ruskin Bond and Gerald Durrell are treats they can read and re-read. Here are some authors I would recommend.
For more Jungle Reading Recommendations read – Why the Jungle Book is not Jungle Book
I would also recommend that you do not focus excessively on the Tiger as there is much more to the Indian Jungle. When you give up your tiger-centric focus, you will see, experience and enjoy much more. To understand how you can expand your view and experience more in the jungle, read – Wont you Listen? The Forest is Talking.
And if you still need some convincing or need reasons to convince your spouse/friends to plan a trip to the Wilderness, this might help – Ten Reasons to Take your Child into the Wild and What my Kids Learnt in Ranthambore
So apart from blocking your dates and tickets, checking hotel reviews and making your bookings, be sure to prepare your child for a visit to Ranthambore. You will see that he/she will enjoy the trip at a whole new level.
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