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Best Tiger Reserves in India for Planning Wildlife Safaris plus Covid-19 Guidelines

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Tiger Reserves in India: An Introduction

India is quite popular destination when it comes to planning a wildlife holidays. Tiger Reserves of India are one of the major reason for this popularity. In all, there are 50 tiger reserves in India which are managed and governed under the Project Tiger initiative.

List of Top 5 Tiger Reserves in India According to Population & Tiger Density

Tiger ReserveLocation (State)Tiger Population/Density

Corbett Tiger Reserve

Uttarakhand

231/14 tigers/sq kms

Nagarhole Tiger Reserve

Karnataka

127

Bandipur Tiger Reserve

Karnataka

126

Bandghavgarh Tiger Reserve

Madhya Pradesh

104

Kaziranga Tiger Reserve

Assam

104

Project Tiger Initiative: An Introduction

Project Tiger was launched in 1973 in India to conserve the rapidly falling numbers of tigers. The project aims at safeguarding the population of endangered tiger population. The project tiger started with an initial count of 9 tiger reserves across India and since then has put the critically endangered tiger population on a commendable road to recovery.

Although conservation work is going on to save the big cat population, spotting a tiger in their natural habitat is possible only in a handful of select tiger reserves across India. In this article, I will try try to cover the best tiger reserves in India where the probability of sighting these big cats are highest if not assured.

Tigers at Ranthambore

Tigers at Ranthambore

Oberoi Vanyavilas, A Luxury Jungle Lodge near Ranthambore

Oberoi Vanyavilas, A Luxury Jungle Lodge near Ranthambore

Ranthambore National Park - Top Tiger Reserves in India

Overview:

A hunting ground of erstwhile Maharajas of Jaipur, Ranthambore is one of the largest National Parks in India under the purview of Project Tiger Reserve. The reason one could easily spot the big cats in their natural hunting ground is the typical dry deciduous forest and open bushland vegetation which allows visitor clear sightings. Ranthambore National Park was established as a game sanctuary in 1955 and became a national park in 1980. Ranthambore National Park is spread over 400 sq km of area. The park has a large diversity of flora, animals, birds and reptiles within it. Species list inside the park includes 300 trees, 50 aquatic plants, 272 birds, 12 reptiles including the Marsh Crocodile & amphibians and 30 mammals. Wildlife Safari in Ranthambore is one of the most popular things to do in India and is a favored by both Indians and visitors from overseas.

Temperature:

Minimum 4 Degree Celsius and Maximum 47 Degrees

Main Species:

Tiger, Leopard, Caracal, Chital, Nilgai, Gazzelle, Boars, Sambar, Blue Bull, Chinkara, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Jackal, Hyena, Monitor Lizards, Common fox and a large number of avifauna.

Safari: Safari inside Ranthambore National Park are conducted in two ways. There are 20-seater canters and or 6-seater gypsy to choose from.

Canter Safari in Ranthambore

Canter Safari in Ranthambore

Jeep safari in Ranthambore

Jeep safari in Ranthambore

Wildlife Safari Schedule in Ranthambore

Ranthambore National Park is open from October till May and remains closed for the visitor from June till September every year.

MonthsMorning ShiftAfternoon Shift

From 1st to 31st October

06.30 Hrs to 10.00 Hrs

14.30 Hrs to 18.00 Hrs

From 1st November to 31st January

07.00 Hrs to 10.30 Hrs

14.00 Hrs to 17.30 Hrs

From 1st February to 31st March

06.30 Hrs to 10.00 Hrs

14.30 Hrs to 18.00 Hrs

From 1st April to 15th May

06.00 Hrs to 9.30 Hrs

15.00 Hrs to 18.30 Hrs

From 16th May to 30th June

06.00 Hrs 9.30 Hrs

15.30 Hrs to 19.00 Hrs

Ranthambore Safari Cost and Charges

Cost of single Seat occupancy for canterdiesal and petrol in Indian Rupees for wildlife safari in Ranthambore National Park.

Tariff per seatCanter (Diesel) In INRCanter (Petrol) In INR

Indian

75.00

78.00

Non-Indian

475.00

478.00

Royal Bengal Tiger, India Safaris

Royal Bengal Tiger, India Safaris

Ranthambore National Park - Wildlife Safari in India

Ranthambore National Park - Wildlife Safari in India

Additional Charges for Ranthambore Safari

At the time of collection of boarding pass at the entrance of Ranthambore National Park, visitors need to pay additional charges.

Vehicle Rent (Per Person/Per Trip)Charges in INR

Gypsy

INR 330.00

Petrol Canter

330.00

Diesel Canter

300

Guide Fee in Ranthambore

Guide Fee (Per Person)In INR

Gypsy

67.00

Petrol Canter

25.00

Diesel Canter

20.00

How to Reach Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Visitors looking to travel to Ranthambore could get there through all 3 means of transportation. Ranthambore is located near Sawai Madhopur which is well connected by road and rail from major cities in India.

By Train: Nearest railway station from Ranthambore is Sawai Madhopur at a distance of 11 km.

By Air: One can not directly reach Ranthambore by air. The nearest airport is at Jaipur, which is about 145 km away.

By Road: Sawai Madhopur is connected by road to major Indian cities and one can take a state transport bus to reach Ranthambore.

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

An Overview of Bandhavgarh National Park

Located in Madhya Pradesh, tiger reserve in Bandhavgarh is considered to be one of the best national parks in India to spot tigers in wild. People even go as far as to say that one needs to be really out of luck to visit Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve and not spot big cats. Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve also boasts of the highest density of Royal Bengal Tigers in the World. Tigers in this park are very famous and several documenters by leading wildlife tv channels have been made in this park.

As opposed to Ranthambore National Park, foliage of this tiger reserve is more of lush green type which could be attributed to moderate climate and favorable topography. The forest is dry deciduous type with large variety of plant species. Spread over 446 sq km, Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve offers captivating view of the landscape with 32 hills and dense vegetation. The rich foliage also supports diverse animal and bird species. In total there are over 300 plant species inside this national park of India.

Top Tiger Reserves in India - Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Wildlife in Bandhavgarh National Park

Visitors could explore a large variety of animals and reptiles in the dense tropical forests of Bandhavgarh. Earlier this area was a favored hunting ground of maharajas of Rewa and white tigers were also found in wild. The last reported capture of a white tiger from Bandhavgarh was in 1951 by Maharaja Martand Singh.

The major animals to be found in Bandhavgarh are Chital, Sambar, Tiger, Leopard, wild dogs, Hyena, jackal, Asiatic jackal and fox among others. The major reptilian population inside the park consists of Cobras, Kraits, Vipers, Python and lizards.

The park is also home to large population of resident and migratory bird species with over 242 species of birds spotted. Peafowl, Grey Hornbill, Common Teals, Red Wattled Lapwing, Crested Serpent Eagle, White Breasted Kingfisher, and even Sauras cranes have been reported to have been spotted inside Bandhavgarh.

Royal Bengal Tigers are the main attraction in Bandhavgarh

Royal Bengal Tigers are the main attraction in Bandhavgarh

Many variety of antelopes are present in the park

Many variety of antelopes are present in the park

There are over 250 species of birds in Bandhavgarh National Park

There are over 250 species of birds in Bandhavgarh National Park

Distances of Bandhavgarh from Major Cities

CityDistanceTransportation By

Umaria

35 km

Road

Khajuraho (Nearest Airport)

270 km

Road

Jabalpur

190 km

Road/Rail

Katni (Nearest Railway Station)

102 km

Road Rail

Gwalior

565 km

Road/Rail/Air

Delhi

978 km

Road/Rail/Air

Mumbai

1250 km

Road/Rail/Air

Jaipur

810 km

Road/Rail/Air

Ranthambore

540 km

Road/Rail/Air

Zone wise Vehicle Allocation in Bandhavgarh National Park

The park has been divided into 4 zones and only limited number of vehicles are allowed to enter into a specific zone. Mentioned above is the number of vehicles allowed.

Safari ZoneTalaMagadhi Khitauli Panpatha

Vehicle Allowed in each shift

25

66

35

35

Safari Timing inside Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

Safari Timings15th October to 15th Feb16th Feb to 31st March01st April to 30th June

Morning Shift

06:30 - 11:00 Hrs

06:00 Hrs to 11:00 Hrs

05:30 Hrs to 10:00 Hrs

Afternoon Shift

14:30 - 17:30 Hrs

15:00 Hrs to 18:00 Hrs

16:00 Hrs to 19:00 Hrs

Charges for Entry Fee for Wildlife Safari in Bandhavgarh

Security Deposit of Rs. 10,000/- (Ten Thousand) per day is also applicable for commercial photography/filming purposes beyond the time and away from the routes for ordinary tourists.

ActivityAreasCharges for IndianForeigners

Gypsy (Per Round)

All Tiger reserves and reserved areas

1000

2000

Gypsy (Per Round)

Pachmarhi View Points

250

1500

Gypsy (Per Round)

Van Vihar National Park

150

600

Elephant Safari

Entire Park

500

1500

Other then tourist pupose away from tourist routes and beyond the time

For Filming and Photography

5000

15000

Guide Fee

Applicable per round

200-500

300-900

Useful Information: Bandhavgarh Tiger Safari

  • Weather in Bandhavgarh vary from 47 degrees in summer to 4 degrees during winter
  • Afternoon jeep safari is not allowed on Wednesdays in Bandhavgarh
  • No safaris are allowed on occasion of Holi, a festival which is celebrated every year in the month of March
  • You can choose from Elephant or jeep for wildlife safari in Bandhavgarh
  • ID proof is required for safari which could be any of these documents: Passport, Driving License, PAN Card or Voter ID
  • You are not allowed to get down from your vehicle during safari
  • Smoking and campfires are not allowed inside the park
  • Wear natural or light colors inside the park which blends easily with surroundings
  • Carry warm clothes during winter season (November - February)
  • Carry Sunscreen lotions and hats to fend off sunlight during summer
  • Carry binoculars for better view and cameras for shooting wildlife
Boat Safari in Periyar National Park

Boat Safari in Periyar National Park

Corbett Tiger Reserve

Corbett Tiger Reserve or the Jim Corbett National Park is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India located in the Terai Region of Himalayas in Uttarakhand.


It is also the first national park to be established in India. It was from here that wildlife conservation story of India began in 1936.


In the most extensive survey conducted under project tiger initiative in India by the government in 2018, it was established that Corbett Tiger Reserve has the highest tiger density as well as population in India.

There were a record 231 resident tigers found in Corbett Tiger Reserve with density of 14 tigers per square kilometers.

For more information, visit this extensive guide on how to plan a jeep safari in Jim Corbett National Park.

Tigers of Corbett Tiger Reserve

A Royal Bengal Tiger in Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve

A Royal Bengal Tiger in Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve

Periyar Tiger Reserve

Located in the southern Western Ghats in the Cardomam & Pandalam Hills, Periyar Tiger Reserve is one of the finest places to spot tigers in India. It was brought under Project Tiger in 1978 as the 10th Tiger Reserve in India. Later in 1982, an extent of 350.54 sq. km was notified as Periyar National Park.

At a Glance

  • Area: 925 Sq. Km
  • Latitude: 9017’ 56.04” - 9037’10.2N.
  • Longitude: 76056’ 12.12” - 770 25’ 5.52”E.

Climate: The temperature ranges from 15º C in December and January and up to 31º C in April & May.

Boundaries

  • North: Peerumedu taluk
  • South: Pathanamthitta district
  • East: Theni, Thirunelveli & Ramnad District of Tamilnadu
  • West: Kottayam district

Periyar National Park Tourist Information

Biodiversity

Periyar Wildlife Reserve is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered species of flora and fauna. Over 300 species of avifauna, 167 species of butterflies, 45 species of fishes, 48 reptile and 29 amphibian species and 66 species of mammals including Royal Bengal Tigers and the Indian Elephant have been recorded in this national park.

The important mammal species found in the park are the Gaur, the Sambar, the wild pig, the highly endangered Nilgiri tahr, Nilgiri langur, Lion-tailed macaque; Malabar giant squirrel; the endangered Small Travancore flying squirrel; Large flying squirrel and the endangered and endemic Fruit bat.

Eco Tourism & Activities for Visitors

Nature Walks

This is an interpretive programme offering excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Different nature trails traversing diverse habitats form the trekking routes, generally 4 to 5 km in length.

Program description in brief

  • Guided day trekking program for two-and-half hours.
  • Time slots: 7:00AM, 7:30AM, 10AM, 10:30AM, 2:00PM and 2:30PM.
  • Group size: Minimum of four, maximum of six individuals Rs. 200/- per person (Minimum Rs. 800/- per trek).
  • Only children of 12 years and above are allowed to participate in the above program.
  • Bookings are confirmed against 100% payment. Ticket rates do not include Entrance fees

Cloud Walks

The is a long guided trek program for approximately 3 to 4 hours which starts from Gandhi Park at Kolathupalam, passing through the Kurisumala view point, gets down to the Tribal Heritage Museum located at Mannakudy Tribal settlement and concludes at Anavachal.

Program description in brief

  • Guided, three hour trek, providing a birds’ eye view of the Periyar landscape.
  • Time slots: Bookings taken between 7AM and 3PM.
  • Group size: Up to 6 individuals @ Rs.300/- per person (Minimum Rs.600 /- per trek).
  • Only children of 12 years and above are allowed to participate in the above program.
  • Bookings are confirmed against 100% payment.
  • Ticket rates do not include Entrance fees.

Green Walk

This is an interpretive program offering excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife in the Anavachal/Anchuruli area, accompanied by a trained tribal guide.

Program description in brief

  • Guided day trekking program for three hours.
  • Time slots: 7am, 7.30am, 10am, 10.30am, 2pm and 2.30pm
  • Group size: Minimum of four, maximum of six individuals @ Rs. 200/- per person (Minimum Rs. 800/- per trek)
  • Only children of 12 years and above are allowed to participate in the above program.
  • Tickets are available at the Information Centre. Bookings are confirmed against
  • 100% payment. Ticket rates do not include Entrance fees.

Border Trekking

This is a conservation-oriented hard trek taking up a full day and covers 15km distance. The route passes through undulating terrains with attitudinal variation of 900 meters to 1300 meters.

This trek offers beautiful vistas of the lofty ridges bordering the park watershed and the lush plains below. Gaur, sloth bear, elephant etc. are often sighted along this route along with numerous birds and butterflies. The trekkers are accompanied by two guides and an armed forest guard. Vegetarian refreshments are provided along the route.

Program description in brief

  • Guided, full day hiking program; food provided.
  • Time slots: Full day program, from 8AM to 5PM.
  • Group size: Two groups, each having four to six people @ Rs. 1000/- per person (Minimum Rs. 4000/- per trip)
  • Only children of 12 years and above are allowed to participate in the above program.
  • Bookings are confirmed against 100% payment. Ticket rates do not include Entrance fees.

Bamboo Rafting

This is a dawn-to-dusk range hiking and rafting program through some of the richest forest tracts of Periyar Tiger Reserve.

Program description in brief

  • Guided, full-day trekking and rafting program; food provided.
  • Time slots: Full day program, from 8am to 5pm
  • Group size: One group of two (minimum) to 10 (maximum) people @ Rs. 1500/- per person (Minimum Rs. 3000/- per trip).
  • Only children of 12 years and above are allowed to participate in the above program.
  • Bookings are confirmed against 100% payment. Ticket rates do not include Entrance fees.

Tiger Trail

One of the most sought after tour program inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Tiger trail is an adventurous trekking and camping itinerary. The most interesting thing about this program is that it is being conducted by a team of rehabilitated poachers and tree cutters of the park.

A maximum number of six tourists are taken at a time accompanied by five guides and one armed forest guard. Normally, 20 to 35kms of trekking distance is covered.

Program description in brief.

Program I

One night and two days, @Rs. 4000/- per person (Minimum Rs. 6000/- per camp)

Program II

Two nights and three days, @Rs. 6000/- per person (Minimum Rs. 9000/- per camp)

  • Camping inside the forest, starting at 9AM. Accommodation in tents; food provided
  • Time slots: Twice a week, starting at 9AM.
  • Group size: Six per group
  • Only children of 12 years and above are allowed to participate in the above program.
  • Bookings are confirmed against 100% payment. Ticket rates do not include Entrance fees.

Jungle Scout

This unique ecotourism program intends to entertain those who are desirous of experiencing the wilderness during night and contribute towards forest protection by joining the regular forest protection party as a paid volunteer. Jungle Scout program starts every night at 7PM and ends at 4AM.

Program description in brief

  • Guided, night-time trekking.
  • Group size: Two groups of six people each, at three time slots/night @Rs. 750/- per person (Minimum Rs. 1500/- per trip).
  • Only children of 12 years and above are allowed to participate in the above program.
  • Bookings are confirmed against 100% payment. Ticket rates do not include Entrance fees.

Safari Timings at Periyar Tiger Reserve:

Boat Cruise in jungle for half an hour:

7:25 AM, 9:15 AM, 11:15 AM, 1:30 AM, 4:00 AM

Jeep Safari:

Night safari: 11.00 PM to 03.00 AM

Full Day Safari: Max 03.00 PM Last entry

Elephant Safari:

Every day for Half an Hour: 06.00 A.M. to 05.00 P.M.

Best Time to Visit Periyar

The best season to visit Periyar wildlife sanctuary is from the months of October to June.

How to Reach Periyar National Park

By Air: Kochi (Cochin) at 200-kms or Madurai in Tamil Nadu at 140-kms is the nearest airports from Periyar.

By Rail: The nearest railhead is at Kottayam 114-kms away.

By Road: The nearest town of Kumily in Thekkady is well served by both state and private buses from Kottayam, Ernakulam and Madurai in Tamil Nadu.

Website for more information: http://www.indianholiday.com/wildlife-india/periyar-national-park.html

Best Place for Tiger Spotting in India

Covid-19 Guidelines for Planning a Trip to Tiger Reserves in India

1) All Visitors including drivers and guides will be scanned for temperature with contact-less thermometers

2) If a visitor's temperature is higher than normal, he/she shall be isolated immediately in a appointed room and will be taken to nearby health facility for testing.

3) It is mandatory to wear mask all the time for all visitors

4) It is mandatory to carry sanitizers in all vehicle

5) All visitors must use sanitizers at the time of boarding and alighting

6) Visitors are requested to maintain social distance from others as much as possible

7) All vehicles used for jeep safari must be disinfected at all entry gates.

8) Entry won’t be allowed to kids below 10 and adults above the age of 65

8) Seating capacity for jeep safari in all wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and tiger reserves has been reduced by 50 percent.

9) Use restroom at the entry and exit gate before & after the jeep safari as will be allowed to get down of their vehicles inside the reserve.

Comments

The Safarist on November 21, 2016:

Though there are many National Parks in India but three of the best parks in India are - Ranthambore National Park, Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks for viewing Tigers. Also other animals found here other than Tigers like striped hyenas, langurs, rhesus macaques, jackals, jungle cats, caracals, blackbuck. These Parks have a variety of wildlife and all have something different to offer.

Nikhil Chandra (author) from New Delhi on August 16, 2013:

Hey Kadjul. Thanks for liking the article. There are 2 tiger reserves in Rajasthan which you could reach from Delhi. One is Ranthambore which will open in November this year. It is the best when it comes to spotting the tiger in their natural habitat. And the another one is Sariska where it would be miraculous if you do spot a tiger. In fact, there were no tigers a few year back due to illegal poaching in Sariska although authorities are trying to relocate some Royal Bengal Tigers in Sariska.

The best thing would be to wait till November if its the tiger that you want to see.

Kadjul on August 12, 2013:

Nice article.

would you know if there are any tiger reserves en route from Delhi to Rajasthan that will be open in early to mid September ?

Nikhil Chandra (author) from New Delhi on March 30, 2013:

Hey atein. I have done what you suggested. Thanks for your feedback.

atein on March 30, 2013:

Hi Nikhil , this is an excellent hub . Please include the Google Map for Ranthambore NP .