Jhalana national park in Jaipur is one of its kind in India as it is the only park with leopards as the apex predators. In a state dominated by tigers, forts and deserts, leopards have made a gala entry. Within a short span of three years (2013-2016), leopard population in this protected area grew from a mere eight cats, to a whopping thirty.
The very first Jhalana leopard safari was conducted in May 2017 based on the tiger tourism module in other parks. Nowadays, up to 10 jeeps are allowed per morning and afternoon safari daily inside the Jhalana forest reserve.
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What to Expect on a Jhalana Leopard Safari
Jhalana has around 30 leopards in an area of 75 sq. km so chances are sightings will be extremely good. In fact, as most guides and tour agents claim, you have over 90% chance of spotting the elusive leopard in this park. However, with wildlife there are never any guarantees, so visit with an open mind and enjoy the jungles.
There are several reasons which lead to Jhalana being one of the top parks for leopard sightings in India. The primary reason is that leopards are apex predators in this forest. As such they have zero competition for prey and are much more confident and less shy. The other reason is the size of the park, if you compare it to tiger reserves in the state, Jhalana is way smaller so the leopard density per sq. km is pretty high, giving you better chances of sighting one in the wild here.
For me, personally, after decades of safaris in tiger reserves all over India, I had only ever managed to spot the elusive leopard cat a handful of times. However, in Jhalana – we had not just one but three excellent sightings. Plus, thanks to the expert guidance of Anurag from TigerWalah , we were almost always the very first ones to sight the cat.
Anyone who has ever been in a wildlife park in India can pretty much vouch that it is no fun sighting a tiger or leopard with 20 jeeps surrounding it and several loud people scurrying around their jeeps to find the best spot/angle. So private sightings are that much more rewarding, and with the trained eyes of Anurag, we got lucky not once but thrice in one day!
Watching that elusive hunter no more than a few meters away from my jeep, made this one of the best days in the bush for me. Speaking from three decades of experience, scouring the jungles of India, I can confidently say the people behind TigerWalah know wild feline behavior and have tracking down to the T.
Check out this video for an idea of what to expect, though I must add it took a lot of luck and good tracking work by Anurag for us to catch this wild cat having some fun by the water –
Alongside leopards, you can also spot an array of foxes, blue bulls, wild boars and several species of birds in Jhalana forest. This jungle is also home to two wild hyenas but you have to be extremely lucky to spot them. We did find their footprints near a water hole but had no luck spotting them.
With two operational gates in Jhalana, one has a better habitat for leopards but the other happens to be the best for sightings. Unlike at other parks, you can move around freely here within the stipulated safari time frame (without any zone/ gate restrictions).
Best time to Visit Jhalana Park?
Jhalana is the only national park in India, which is open throughout the year. This makes it a good option for those yearning for the jungles during the monsoons and sightings are excellent throughout the year.
How to Book Jhalana Leopard Safari?
In order to book your Jhalana leopard safari with TigerWalah, simply fill out the booking request form and you will get a custom quote based on your dates and requirement.
You can easily get the Jhalana leopard safari price and book online on the official government website. However, I would highly recommend going through an expert like TigerWalah for the best safari experience. Their quotes would include services of an experienced guide trained to track wild cats, Jhalana safari entry fee, Jhalana safari charges and fun anecdotes of the wild to keep you entertained.
Where to Stay in Jaipur for Jhalana Safari?
The pink city of Jaipur offers all sorts of accommodation options for every budget and travel style. Since Jhalana is a small park and doesn’t exactly have any wildlife lodges popping up around every corner, I would recommend staying in a nice hotel.
Usually, everyone who visits Jhalana, flocks to Malviya Nagar which is just a couple of kms from the entrance gate. Since we always prefer doing what most don’t, we chose the luxurious property of Fairmont.
Even though it is relatively far from Jhalana, most safari operators offer free pick and drop from any hotel in Jaipur (best to check this with your operator prior to booking). Also, isn’t it way better to stay further from the crowds? For me, it’s always a big plus to have a serene location.
Fairmont Jaipur Review
Set in the lovely backdrop of Aravalli hills, Fairmont Jaipur is simply exceptional. Its close proximity to Delhi makes it a favorite for Delhites looking for a peaceful, luxury getaway.
My parents and I were given two huge deluxe rooms with a view to die for. As soon as I stepped into my room, the feeling of Rajputana royalty and grandeur overwhelmed me.
It felt like I was stepping into a time machine and back to the Mughal era. Everything oozed opulence, from the jharokhas I could see from my window to the sumptuous room and the spacious bathroom with the biggest bath tub I have ever seen.
Such grand settings, made me want to spend more time in the hotel than actually in Jhalana (which is a lot to say as wildlife is my number one love).
My second favorite part of the hotel was the lovely setting by the sprawling swimming pool and its adjoining grounds.
The gold lounge has special access for members only. I got super lucky and was allowed to take a quick peak and it was surely worth it. The views from the lounge veranda were undoubtedly the best.
My top dining experience at Fairmont was at the fusion restaurant – Zarin. Everything from the impeccable decor to the delectable fare surpassed my expectations.
We also enjoyed a few delicious meals at the all day dining restaurant – Zoya and the buffet breakfast spread was so extensive that I seriously considered shrinking my plans for the day and just overdosing on calories. Alas, my hankering for adventure won out.
From the smiling staff to the ever helpful management, Fairmont gave us one of the best luxury hotel experiences we had all year. As it is Rajasthani royalty and charm cannot be surpassed and Fairmont ticked all the right boxes.
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Disclaimer – This trip was in beautifully orchestrated with the help of TigerWalah and Fairmont Jaipur.