India is home to about half of the world’s tiger population (about 2,226 individuals), most of which roam free in the protected environments of national parks. Visiting one, or several, of these national parks on your holidays to India is the very best way to see these beautiful creatures up close and in their natural habitat. By paying the national park fees, as part of a safari experience, you’re also contributing to protect tigers – who doesn’t love a win-win situation!
There are 47 tiger reserves across India which also shelter a wealthy of other wildlife. Prime season to spot any of it, including tigers, is November to January when the weather is cooler and the animals more active, or Feb and March, when it’s getting hotter and the vegetation is dying back, though this can expand to October to April, depending on your park of choice.
Here are our top 7 national parks to go tiger spotting!
Ranthambore National Park
India’s most famous and the most conveniently located of India’s tiger reserves is Ranthambore. Once the hunting grounds of Maharajas, considered to have one of the most successful conservation programmes and is dotted with old ruins, including a grand fort, which the animals use for shelter. One of the largest national parks in the country, the terrain is made up of forest and open meadows; three lakes provide watering holes for the park’s residents.
Just 132 kilometres from the city of Jaipur, the third apex of India’s Golden Triangle route, Ranthambore can easily be added onto an itinerary that includes Delhi, the Taj Mahal and Jaipur – our Inspiring India tour is the perfect example.
Bandhavgarh National Park
The national park where the episode of the BBC’s Dynasties with David Attenborough was filmed, Bandhavgarh has the highest density of tigers in India, meaning that you are even more likely to spot one. Watched over by the hilltop Bandhavgarh Fort, this green landscape of tropical forest and lush valleys also provides a home for leopards, sloths and rhesus monkeys.
Located in Madhya Pradesh, one of India’s central states, the closest airport is Jabalpur which is 4 hours by car. Bandhavgarh can also be combined with any or all of Pench, Kanha and Satpura national parks for veritable tiger extravaganza!
Kanha National Park
Straight off the pages of Rudyard Kipling’s classic ‘The Jungle Book’ (quite literally, it is said to have been set here) Kanha is one of India’s oldest national parks. Stretches of lush, open meadows and deep forests that host chital, leopard, mouse deer, leopards and hyenas, as well as tigers. A huge park of spectacular vistas, you’ll have to work hard for your tiger spot, as they blend so well into the undergrowth!
Kanha is located 4 hours’ drive from Bandhavgarh and 3 hours from Jabalpur airport.
Jim Corbett National Park
Named for a hunter-turned-conservationist, Jim Corbett National Park was established in 1936, tucked amongst the foothills of the mighty Himalaya. The park encompasses a diverse range of landscapes from forest to marshland and is famous for its population of wild elephants. This is where India’s tiger conservation project ‘Project Tiger’ was launched in 1973, and it now has the second highest number of tigers of all the parks in India. Handy watchtowers dot the park, the perfect spot for wildlife viewing.
In the northeastern state of Uttarakhand, the closest airport to Jim Corbett is Patnagar, though it is only a 5-hour drive from Delhi.
Satpura National Park
A lesser known tiger reserve option, Satpura is scenically stretched over the hills of the Satpura range. With only a limited number of vehicles allowed to enter the park at a time, this relatively new park has a much more undiscovered feel to it, especially because you can take part in walking safaris and kayaking on its reservoir. The likelihood of spotting tigers here is quite low – you’re actually more likely to see leopards and wild dogs, but for those looking for adventure with their animal spotting, this is a great option.
Also in Madhya Pradesh, the closet airport to Satpura is Bhopal, about 3 hours’ drive, whilst Pench National Park is about 6 hours away by road.
Pench National Park
Another park with a The Jungle Book claim to fame (this park is said to have inspired it), Pench is also a lesser-known park meaning less people to share your experience with. With a mix of terrains, with forest, meadows, rivers and lakes, Pench can boast 200 bird species and 30-odd other species of mammals alongside our striped friends. Tiger numbers are on the rise here, thanks to the rich array of prey available, and fairly spottable amongst the dry forests.
Pench National Park is served by both Nagpur Airport, a 2-hour drive, and Jabalpur, a 5 hour drive.
Bandipur National Park
The only entry in southern India, Bandipur’s lush forests shelter over 100 species including tigers, elephants and leopards. Draped across the hills of the Western Ghats the park was also once a royal hunting ground, until the maharaja turned it into a sanctuary in 1931 – in 1973 it was establised as a tiger reserve under Project Tiger. Bandipur and the adjoining Nagarhole National Park, Mudumalai National Park and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary are all part of a biosphere that is the largest protected area in southern India.
Conveniently located just over an hour from Mysore in the state of Karnataka, Bandipur is easy to combine with Kerala’s backwaters and beaches.
Did you know? Wendy Wu Tours has a fantastic tailormade service with a dedicated, expert team who can create you your very own dream tour! Any of these tiger reserves can be woven into your perfect itinerary, all you have to do is give us a call.