India is home to around 100 national parks, 40 tiger reserves and 450 wildlife reserves. Once, a number of these were the hunting grounds of Indian royal families. Today, these reserves are home to nearly half of the remaining wild tiger population in the world. While sighting these Royal Bengal tigers is the main draw for safaris in India, the country’s wildlife sanctuaries are also abundant with a plethora of native wildlife such as Asian elephants, Asian wild dogs, golden jackals, Himalayan tahr, Indian rhinos and snow leopards. Additionally, a number of comfortable hotels offering earthy lodges and luxury tents are located in or around these national parks, providing guests with an immersive stay experience. Here are our 5 favorite places in India for wildlife viewing.
Here are 5 best wildlife safari vacation destinations in India
1. Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Kaziranga National Park is a five-hour drive from Guwahati and home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinos. Situated on the banks of the majestic Brahmaputra River, this serene sanctuary was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. The elephant meadows, swampy lagoons and dense forests of the reserve are a spectacular setting to see rhinos at one horn, Royal Bengal tigers, wild elephants, monitor lizards and waterfowl such as the spotted pelican, bar-headed goose and gray-headed lapwing. Currently, Kaziranga National Park is open and accepts a limited number of safari jeeps per day.
When to visit: November to March
Where to stay: The Wild Mahseer is a British-era heritage hotel with 18 rooms spread over 22 acres and surrounded by tea gardens. Perched on the banks of the Diphlu River, Diphlu River Lodge features thatched-roof cottages that can accommodate only 24 people at a time. This quaint hotel hosted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2016.
2. Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
At 1,334 square kilometers, Ranthambore National Park is one of the largest national parks in India. A three hour drive from Jaipur, this park offers a unique blend of nature, history and wildlife. He is renowned for his surreal landscapes and for spotting the Royal Bengal tigers. A former hunting ground of the Maharajas, the park includes rugged hills, grassy fields, pristine lakes, and even an ancient fortress. Along with tigers, the park is also home to crocodiles, hyenas, Indian foxes, jungle cats, jackals, leopards, sloth bears, and wild boars. Wildlife tends to congregate around the park’s three lakes – Padam Talao, Raj Talao, and Milak Talao, making for some spectacular photos!
When to visit: October to March
Where to stay: The Oberoi Vanyavilas Ranthambore offers well-appointed tents inspired by the lavish caravans of the royal families. The property’s fine Rajasthani restaurant, The Dining Room, is a must-visit. Aman-i-Khas is a Mughal-inspired glamping hotel. It includes 10 luxurious tents, a dining tent, and even a spa tent with a secluded pool modeled after the area’s ancient stepped wells.
3. Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Spread over 2,200 square kilometers, Kanha National Park is one of the largest and most picturesque parks in Madhya Pradesh. This wildlife sanctuary is India’s finest tiger reserve, where author Rudyard Kipling was inspired to write The Jungle Book. The closest airport to Kanha is Jabalpur Airport. This national park is home to around 80 tigers and has vast open grasslands where the chances of spotting wildlife are high. Other easily spotted animals in Kanha include the mongoose, leopards, wild boars, golden jackals, hard-land barasingha, striped hyenas, and over 300 magnificent species of birds.
Also Read: Best WildLife Sanchuaries In The World
When to visit: October to June
Where to stay: Banjaar Tola, a Taj Safari Lodge, stretched along the Banjaar River in the heart of Kanha National Park has 18 tented suites. We love farm-to-table meals in the nature, rustic architecture and picturesque surroundings of this property. Kanha Earth Lodge offers eco-friendly villas built from locally available materials and a serene infinity pool overlooking Kanha National Park. Located on the outskirts of the park, Kipling Camp has a number of charming cottages.
4. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
Jim Corbett National Park is India’s first officially recognized national park perched in the foothills of the Himalayas. About a 5-hour drive from New Delhi, this wildlife sanctuary is well known for its scenic landscapes including rocky hills, swampy depressions, riparian belts, vast grasslands and even a pristine lake. Besides a good population of Royal Bengal tigers, guests are also likely to spot chital, Himalayan tahr, jackals, jungle cats, leopards, sloth bears, wild elephants, serows, sambal and barking deer during their safaris.
When to visit: March to June
Where to Stay: Located on the edge of Jim Corbett National Park, Jim’s Jungle Retreat is the perfect base to kick off your wildlife safari experience. This resort has 18 charming cottages, lodges and safari tents. The Taj Corbett Resort and Spa is home to 61 rooms in a cluster of cottages on a 10-acre property. Don’t miss a traditional Kumaoni meal of gahat ke parathe and rasbhat and a relaxing swim in their outdoor pool. Spread over 9 hectares, the 44 aesthetically designed villas, suites and residences of Lebua Corbett are well furnished.
5. Nagarahole National Park, Karnataka
Also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, this wildlife lover’s sanctuary is one of the best places in the world to spot leopards and wild elephants in their natural habitat. Part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the park boasts of diverse terrain including fragrant sandalwood and teak, thick bamboo groves, and a number of meandering streams, waterfalls, and lakes. At Nagarahole National Park, guests also frequently spot tigers, sloth bears, striped hyenas, waterfowl, and crocodiles. This national park is about a 5 hour drive from Bengaluru town.
When to visit: October to February
Where to stay: Serai Kabini is located at the southeast end of Nagarhole National Park, along the Kabini River. Here, guests can choose from 16 riverside villas or residences with private pools. Bison Kabini also offers an exceptional experience in its luxury waterfront tents, rustic machans, bush tents and cottages.