Ranthambore National Park
Best for: Tigers, spotted deer, wild boar, jackals, painted storks (300 bird species overall), plus impressive ruins, forts, and temples
Logistics: A former royal hunting preserve, Ranthambore lies 111 miles south of Jaipur and 285 miles southwest of New Delhi. Access to the park is strictly limited to just 15 government-operated safari Jeeps per day, and you must make reservations two months in advance directly through the park (which can be a hassle). But if you do show up without a booking, most local concierges can find an available Jeep without much lead time. Tiger Tours, an outfitter in the nearby town of Sawai Madhopur, is another alternative if you must gain last-minute park entrance (07462-222251; www.tigertoursindia.net). May when to see cats; the park closes from June to October.
Accommodations: The Oberoi Vanyavilas sets the standard for opulence, with teak-floored tents, four-poster beds, and on-site Ayurvedic treatments. Contact the Oberoi in advance to arrange park tours; the hotel has its own fleet of safari vehicles (doubles from $850; oberoivanyavilas.com).
Tip: Hold out for a government-run six-seat Jeep rather than a 20-seat canter. These noisy, open-air, bus-like vehicles leave twice a day from the state’s Vinayak Tourist Complex on the road to Castle Jhoomar Baori; seats are first-come, first-serve and cost $8-$47. Jeeps pick up the guests directly from The Oberoi Vanyavilas, while canters leaves twice a day from the Vinayak Tourist Complex.