Where to See Tigers in India ?
Where to See Tigers in India ?
The Bengal Tiger is Indias regal national animal. Sadly the number of tigers in India has been declining over the years, particularly due to the threat of poachers. India now has 25 tiger reserves, located in national parks across the country, under Project Tiger. The tigers roam free in these protected reserves, and visitors are able to take guided jeep or elephant back safaris through the park with the hope of seeing them. The safaris take place in the early morning from sunrise, and again in the afternoon until sunset, from October to July. Those who can bear Indias scorching summer heat will also have an excellent opportunity to see tigers by visiting in April or May, when the animals come out in search of water. The chance of seeing a tiger greatly depends on the size of the national park and the number of tigers. The following parks offer visitors the best chance of spotting a tiger.
1. Bandhavgarh National Park ---:
While it can be surprising to see a tiger in some of Indias national parks, it would actually be a surprise not to see a tiger in this one! The park is one of the smallest in India but it also has the highest density of tigers. Theres one tiger for around every 4.5 square kilometers of area thats accessible to visitors. As well as tigers and other animals, the park has some incredible scenery of dense Sal tree forests, green valleys, and rocky hills. Bandhavgarh is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India, an overnight train ride from Delhi or a 4-5 hour drive north east from the nearest airport in Jabalpur. The nearest train stations are Umaria, 45 minutes away, and Katni, around 2.5 hours away. The parks out of the way location is a drawback, but the chance of seeing a tiger makes the journey well worthwhile. Entrance to the park is by jeep and visitors can hire their own from the nearby town of Tala, or make arrangements with a tour operator. Expect to pay around 3000 rupees [$75 USD] per jeep for a safari, including the hire charges, park entry fee, and guide. Each jeep can fit up to 6 people and is assigned to one of four routes through the park. Elephants are also available for tiger tracking in the mornings or treks into the forest in the evenings.
2. Ranthambore National Park ---:
Not only is this park the second best place for tiger spotting in India, it also has a rich history complete with an historic fort that was built in 994 AD. The park is located on the Great Boundary Fault and comprises steep rocky hills, dry deciduous forest, and grassy open meadows, lakes and rivers. Its home to around 30 tigers, in addition to a diverse range of other flora and fauna. The density of tigers is also relatively high at this national park, with visitors often seeing a tiger within one or two visits. Ranthambore is located in Indias desert state of Rajasthan, around 180 kilometres from Jaipur. It can easily be reached by train from Jaipur, Delhi or Agra, with the nearest railway station being in Sawai Madhopur, 11 kilometers away. Unfortunately, this parks accessibility also makes it a very popular destination and entry to the park is highly regulated. Private vehicles are not admitted, and the Rajasthan Tourism Department provided jeeps usually book out months in advance during the peak season from December to March. These can be reserved over the internet at the Rajasthan Tourism Department website. Expect to pay around 800 rupees [$20 USD] for a seat in a jeep or 400 rupees [$10 USD] for a seat in an open air truck [called a canter] during peak times. Elephant rides are not available at this park.
3. Kanha National Park ---:
This park also offers a good chance of seeing a tiger, although two or even three visits are likely to be necessary. The park is one of the biggest in India, with a core area of 940 square kilometers and surrounding area of just over 1000 square kilometres. Rudyard Kiplings classic novel, The Jungle Book, was set in this national park which is rich in vegetation and wildlife. Kanha is also located in Madhya Pradesh in central India, with the closest airport and railway station being Jabalpur. Similar to Bandhavgarh, the park is a 4-5 hour drive from Jabalpur, but in a southerly direction. In addition to going on a jeep safari through the tiger reserve, its possible to drive from one side of the park to the other as the park has two entrances - one at Kisli and the other at Mukki. The Kisli entrance is the most popular and has the most flora and fauna. Visitors shouldnt miss taking in a sunset from the Bamni Dadar plateau or exploring the surrounding forest in the parks buffer zone. Jeeps can be hired from the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation at either park entrance for around 700-900 rupees [$18-22 USD] per day. The entrance fee to the park for a safari is 2000 rupees [$50 USD] per jeep, and the cost of a guide is 150 rupees [$4 USD].