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Top 3 Parks To See Wild Tigers

If you want to see wild tigers, I recommend you visit one of the reserves listed below. Why? Their numbers in the wild are very low and it is a very elusive cat despite its massive size. These reserves offer the best chance of seeing them in their natural habitat.

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  • You don't have to spend hours reading trip reports, articles and forums on the net to sift through all the parks where tigers still occur. I have already done that for you.

    According to the WWF, the total world population of wild tigers (5,000-7,000) occur across India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Malaysia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia (Sumatra), Lao PDR, North Korea (few left), Russia (Far East), Thailand and Vietnam. Some countries have more than others, and not all host the same of the 5 sub-species that still exist (there used to be 8).

    It doesn't come as a big surprise that the top 3 parks to visit are all in India, since more than half of the total wild tiger population in the world today live there.

    Conservationists are working very hard to protect the different sub-species of tiger. However at present your best chance of seeing a wild tiger is to visit one of the tiger sanctuaries below where the Bengal tiger still roams wild:

    Top 3 Reserves To View Wild Tigers

    1. Bandhavgarh National Park, India (trip reports & reviews)

      Because of the high density of tigers in Bandhavgarh, this park offers probably the best chance of seeing wild tigers. Some people are lucky enough to see tigers on their very first game drive into the park, others have to be satisfied with paw prints at first but most do end up having at least one tiger sighting over two days or so. If you're especially lucky you may even get to see cubs.

      Style: Game viewing is done via elephant back (early mornings) or jeep (all day).
      Bookings: You can either book into a lodge outside the park and let them organise your game drives into the park, or you can book a more general tour of India and make sure you spend enough time in Bandhavgarh to undertake at least 3 game drives.
      Other game: Nilgai, chausingha, chital (spotted deer), samber deer, chinkara, wild boar, fox, jackal and hyena.
      Where: 197km north-east of Jabalpur, in the Madhya Pradesh province of India, in the central part of the country.

    2. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, India (trip reports & reviews)

      Although Ranthambore contains less wild tigers than Bandhavgarh, it is still an excellent reserve to spot them in the wild.

      The park's network of streams and lakes offer the perfect environment for these water-loving felines.

      Style: Game viewing is done via jeep or canter trucks. Although people have been lucky to spot tigers on the latter, going by jeep is the better choice as they are less noisy. Make sure you book in advance as the jeeps are more popular but space is limited.
      Bookings: You can quite easily arrange a visit to Ranthambore yourself by booking game drives through the Project Tiger office at Sawai Madhopur which arranges guides, or if you're planning a longer tour of the country, make sure you spend at least 2 or 3 days in Ranthambore and go on multiple game drives.
      Other game: About 30 mammal species like sambar, chital, nilgai, gazzelle, boars, mongoose and Indian hare; 12 reptile species including monitor lizards and marsh crocodiles; and over 270 different birds.
      Where: 145km from Jaipur in the eastern part of Rajasthan province in the north of India.

    3. Kanha National Park, India (trip reports & reviews)

      The famous Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling was inspired here, so expect to be mesmerized by the open grasslands and lush forests of Kanha.

      Don't expect to see masses of tigers but you should be rewarded with at least one sighting across four game drives.

      Style: Game viewing is done via elephant back or jeep. Sometimes these two are combined - you will search for tigers in a jeep and once near an actual tiger, may transfer onto elephant back for a more silent pursuit.
      Other game: Bison, gaur, nilgai, swamp deer (barasingha), barking deer, black deer, blackbuck, chousingha, mouse deer, sambhar, chital, langur (monkeys), mongoose, sloth bear, jackal fox, porcupine, hyena, jungle cat, python, pea fowl, hare, leopard and 175 bird species.
      Where: 175km south east of Jabalpur in the Madhya Pradesh province of India. If you're absolutely set on seeing wild tigers, it's a good idea to combine Kanha with Bandhavgarh NP, 250km away.

    When To Go

    The best time to visit the above parks in India, with the hope of seeing the magnificent Bengal tiger in its natural habitat, is from mid-November, or even February, to June.

    It is summer in India then and a very hot time of the year indeed. Temperatures rise up to 46°C (115°F) coupled with a high humidity.

    WHY IS IT BETTER IN SUMMER?

    Although the temperatures in winter are much more manageable (low 20s °C/around 70°F), it is also the monsoon season.

    Due to the monsoon rains, Bandhavgarh National Park is closed from July to October, Ranthambore from July to September, and Kanha from July to mid-November.


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