Uday works as a naturalist and birding guide in India. His love for wildlife and nature encourages him to blog and write articles.
The word tiger safari in India has become a common term for touring to see the big cat in the wild. This does not connote the usual tiger safari that takes place in zoos or private sanctuaries as in the USA and other parts of the World.
Most of the safaris in protected areas in India are on open jeeps only, since trekking is not allowed. The organizers book the entry at the park gate. One has to pay the requisite fee for the excursions. The jeeps are provided by local taxi owners for a charge based on a per-kilometer basis. These are driven by expert drivers capable of driving on rough jungle roads.
The safari is organized two times a day. The morning excursion is from dawn to eleven thirty while the evening one is from post lunch to dusk. Timing differs from one reserve to another. During the excursion in the forest, one can enjoy the panoramic splendor. The safaris offer a good chance to sight wild animals and birds. The most thrilling sight is that of the endangered tigers in their natural habitat.
At many reserves, you can have a full-day safari without interruption. The rate in this case is higher, and you may have to pay as much as three times more. This option is most preferred by wildlife photographers and filmmakers.
In Indian reserve, the entry has to be paid for and it is called a gate fee. In many reserves, a guide fee has to be paid as well.
Tiger in Wild
Tiger Safari Parks
The best places to see the tiger in the wild are in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The State has many parks called tiger reserves which are best for safaris. The parks have a large number of big cats which can be frequently seen on a jeep safari.
The tourism infrastructure in the reserves is well organized. Apart from tigers, the reserves are excellent bird habitats with more than 250 species. Other wild animals seen are leopards, sloth bears, bison, swamp deer, barking deer, spotted deer; sambar deer, four-horned antelope, wild dogs, wild boars, langur, and nilgai. The reserves abound in reptiles and butterflies.
For visitors, accommodation is available near the buffer zone on the outskirts. The hotels range from five-star to budget category. Most of the resorts are well-equipped and serve excellent Indian cuisine. Some of them offer naturalist guide services who are excellent birders and can track tigers with their experience and skill. Some popular National Parks are:
- Kanha Safari Park
- Bandhavgarh Safari Park
- Pench Safari Park
- Sanjay Dubri National Park
- Panna National Park
One can also make a trip to these parks on package tours. Since the parks are at a motor-able distance it is possible to include more than one in the itinerary.
It is however advised not to visit the preserves during the holidays as the rush is very high and accommodation is difficult to get. Summers are the best for animal watching but it gets too hot after March.
New upcoming wildlife-watching areas are Ratapani Tiger Reserve near Bhopal in Raisen District and Satpura National Park near Hosangabad both in MP. The latter is near the Pachmarhi Sanctuary and it along with Bori WLS and Satpura NP forms the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve.
Map Kanha National Park
Bandhavgarh National Park
Pench National Park
Open Jeep Safari
The most exciting animal to see in the wild is the majestic Indian Tiger. The animal was once abundant in the jungles of India. In recent times due to habitat loss and poaching the numbers have come down drastically and it is on the verge of extinction.
It is not only because of the plight that the tiger is facing, it is also the charisma the animal beholds that people from all over the world wish to see. Watching this graceful and extremely beautiful cat in the wild is a treat to the eyes and your camera. An unforgettable moment that you will cherish for the rest of your life.
The best places to see the tiger in the wild are Kanha, Bandhavgarh, and Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh in India. Ranthambore and Corbett are also a good bet. But since I am visiting the former three on regular basis I know for sure that sighting tigers in the wild are most successful here in these parks.
The top wildlife resorts and hotels in reserves arrange safaris themselves for the comfort of the visitors. They provide luxury stays as well as budget accommodation. .
One must book the tours in advance and through a proper channel. There are agents who specialize in tiger tours. Many safari agents are online operators through their websites. They provide the best packages offered by the resorts at Bandhavgarh and other tiger reserves.
Best wildlife tour packages in India offer tiger safaris to top National Parks. Many tour packages include sightseeing as well as wildlife watching in one itinerary. There are many tour companies in India, one can search for their websites on the Internet.
One must be careful while traveling to tiger reserves since they are situated in remote areas. Hence credit cards and travelers' cheques may not be acceptable there so carry cash. Carry medicines required by you and beverages that you like.
Be equipped with binoculars, spotting scopes, and books on birds and mammals. Read books on nature to enjoy the place. Get hold of a good naturalist if possible.
The most popular form of tracking tigers in the wild is on elephant backs. The long and short elephant safaris are not available in many parks. But wherever available, it is worth going for. The adventure may last for two to four hours and you experience the jungle life from close.
At many wildlife refuges in India tiger show is held. This is a very short ride to the spot where the tiger has been located and then after a good view the ride back to your jeep follows. This is a good way of enjoying an exotic safari on elephants while paying less charge.
The tourists climb on elephants using a ladder or from a machaan which is a wooden platform. They sit in a wooden cradle called Howdah and are secured by a rectangle steel rod set up as enclosure. One has to hold the rods in order to avoid falling down. With trained Mahout and elephant, this is a safe ride.
*Please note these rides are no more available and they have been replaced by a short fun ride in the park.
Wildlife Images Kanha
Wildlife watching is fun and exciting. But it is also a learning experience. We learn about the food chain concepts and ecosystems and how they affect humans. We learn how the interlinked chain reaches down to us and delivers fresh water, food and energy. We derive all this from nature, hence we should protect it. Unlike a holiday in a beach resort or elsewhere, wildlife watching involves a degree of seriousness and responsibility.
As responsible tourists, our first duty is to follow green-friendly policies. We should encourage the service providers - tour operators, lodges, transportation services, etc to do so. Our foray into eco-tourism should be beneficial to local communities to whom the heritage belongs.
There should be an effort to go green and use alternative eco-friendly energy resources. This can happen when we care for it. Conserving our natural resources is important for life on Earth to sustain.
In responsible tourism, benefits should flow to locals and it should be participatory in approach. There should be substantial involvement and encouragement for local culture and their mores.
When at the parks indulge in local shopping, visit villages, and interact with rural people. Visit rural schools, and hospitals and perhaps make contributions of some kind. This is the right way forward. The recourse to alternative eco-friendly sources of energy should always be preferred. Besides the tourist responsibilities, the establishment should limit the use of energy. They should encourage hotels to make an effort to use recycled resources.
Wildlife of India
- Tiger - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
About tiger species
Tiger on Safari at Kanha
The Best Park
How to Book Tiger Safari?
Tiger Safari in National Parks of Madhya Pradesh can be booked online at MP Online Portal. You have to book in advance as there is a limitation on vehicle entry into the parks. Advance booking insures your entry into the park when you reach there. This way you can plan as to which zone to explore.
You can also ask your hotel booking agent to make the necessary arrangements for jeep hire.
The safaris are conducted twice a day, once in the morning and another in the early evening hours. Trekking is not allowed, the trips are organized in open jeeps registered with the forest department.
A professional equipment fee is applicable so keep the necessary cash. Six tourists are allowed on board, so if you are alone or less than six you can share the vacant seat/seats and divide the expense.
The naturalist accompanying you is counted as a member of the group and not exempted from the charges. A forest guide is a compulsory accompaniment with each vehicle.
At the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in the Umaria District of MP and Kanha Tiger Reserve near Mandla, the tourism area is divided into zones. Your jeep safari is limited to this area. On a long trip, you can choose to visit all the zones in order to make your tour more interesting.
Map Madhya Pradesh
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2008 Uday Patel
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