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Top 10 destinations for wildlife safari

Feel the thrill at these popular jungle safari destinations in India

As a 90s kid, I remember the famous ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling and the associated characters whenever I hear the word ‘Jungle’. And the excitement to spot my favourite creature takes me to the best tiger reserves in India that recreate the same magic. With numerous wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves and national parks across the length and breadth of the country, you can rest assured of incredible wildlife holidays in India.

Home to snow leopard, royal Bengal tigers, black-spotted dear, one-horned rhino and many more, India flaunts diverse faunal species.  From Jim Corbett in the North to Periyar in the South, take your pick from the following list and embark on a wildlife safari in India.

Nestled in the heart of India, Bandhavgarh National Park presents one of the most dramatic landscapes in the country and rank #1 as best tiger reserves for tiger safaris in India. Reckoned as one of the best destinations for tiger safari in India, the park is home to ferocious royal Bengal tigers. Besides those big cats, you can spot elephants, nilgais, chital, deer, jackals, etc. Additionally, you can opt for a birding tour. When you’ve travelled so far, it would be an icing on a cake if you visit the Bandhavgarh Fort too.

Best wildlife safari destinations in India

Location: Madhya Pradesh

Safari Timings (It differs in summer and winter):

  • Morning safari – Between 6:00 am and 10:30 am
  • Evening safari – Between 2:30 pm and 7:00 pm

Best time to visit:

The park remains open from 15th October to 30th June. But the best tie to spot the tiger is between March and May.

How to reach:

  • By Air – Jabalpur Airport (210 km)
  • By Train – Umaria Railway Station (37 km)
  • By Road – Umaria (37 km)

Mystic beyond description, Kanha National Park is the place that inspired Rudyard Kipling to pen down his famous book the Jungle Book. Although you will find a wide variety of faunal species like python, leopard, barasingha, etc. alive here but Sher Khan (Bengal Tiger) steals the limelight. Undoubtedly it is one of the best places for tiger safari in India. Embark on an exhilarating jeep safari and witness your children excited to the next level as they spot wild creatures up close in their natural habitat. While on the trip don’t forget to observe the Sal trees that add charm to the place.

Best wildlife safari destinations in India

Location: Madhya Pradesh

Safari Timings (It differs in summer and winter):

  • Morning safari – Between Sunrise and 11:00 am
  • Evening safari – Between 2:00 pm – Sunset

Best time to visit:

October to Mid-June

How to reach:

  • By Air – Jabalpur Airport (170 km)
  • By Train – Jabalpur Railway Station (165 km)
  • By Road – Jabalpur (165 km)

3. Tadoba National Park

Flaunting unique natural scenic beauty, Tadoba National Park beguiles the visitors for many reasons. Also famed as Todoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, this national park is the oldest and the largest in Maharashtra. Plan an exciting safari to spot wild denizens like rusty spotted cat, leopard, sloth bear, gaur, barking deer, etc. Additionally, rare ones like flying squirrel, ratel and pangolin also share space with other faunal species. Not to forget, the presence of those wild tigers makes this park one of the best tiger safari destinations in India.

Best wildlife safari destinations in India

Location: Maharashtra

Safari Timings (It differs in summer and winter):

  • Morning safari – Between 6:00 am – 9:00 am
  • Evening safari – Between 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Best time to visit:

February to May

How to reach:

  • By Air – Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport (134 km)
  • By Train – Chandrapur Railway Station (45 km)
  • By Road – Chandrapur (45 km)

4. Ranthambore National Park

Once a royal hunting preserve, Ranthambore National Park sets the standards for exceptional wildlife safari holidays in India. Known for bird watching tour and tiger trails, the park is the best place to sight an incredible variety of flora and fauna. Enjoy watching the vultures soaring in circles high above or spotting the crocodile basking in the sunshine. From elusive Indian wolf to the blue bull antelope, you will find them all here. But it is the elusive tiger that remains the highlight. Don’t forget to listen to the historical legends associated with the noteworthy Ranthambore Fort located nearby.

Best wildlife safari destinations in India

Location: Rajasthan

Safari Timings (It differs in summer and winter):

  • Morning safari – Between 6:00 am – 10:00 am
  • Evening safari – Between 2:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Best time to visit:

Early October till June is the time when the park remains open. However, the summer season is the best time for tiger sighting in Ranthambore.

How to reach:

  • By Air – Jaipur Airport (180 km)
  • By Train – Sawai Madhopur Railway Station (14.6 km),
  • By Road – Sawai Madhopur (11 km)

5. Jim Corbett National Park

Entitled as Asia’s very first National Park, Jim Corbett is a distinguished resident of the Tigers. For this reason, it is one of the most visited tourist places in India. Inheriting its name from very popular British naturalist and writer Edward James Corbett, the park lures visitors from far and near. Apart from Bengal Tiger, the park accommodates 488 different species of plants and other faunal species as well. Notably, yellow-throated martens, crested serpent eagle, barking deer, blossom-headed parakeet, Indian elephants, sambar deer and Indian python can also be spotted here. Gharials and crocodiles can be sighted lazing along the Ramganga River.

Location: Uttarakhand

Safari Timings (It differs for jeep and canter in summer and winter):

  • Morning safari – Between 6:00 am – 11:50 am
  • Evening safari – Between 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Best time to visit:

November to June

How to reach:

  • By Air – Jolly Grant Airport (147.8 km)
  • By Train – Ramnagar Railway Station (15 km)
  • By Road – Ramnagar (15 km)

6. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Treat your eyes, ears and nose to some of the best sights, sounds and smell at Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Dive into this wonderful and wild place to behold the sight of elephants which is the main attraction and tigers as well. The ethereal beauty of the Western Ghats that surrounds the sanctuary adds to its charm. To put it differently, the park is a haven for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. When here taking a boat ride on Periyar Lake is an absolute must.

Location: Kerala

Safari Timings (It differs from time to time):

  • Morning safari – From 6:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • Night safari – After 8:00 pm

Best time to visit:

November to February

How to reach:

  • By Air – Madurai Airport (150 km)
  • By Train – Kottayam Railway Station (100 km)
  • By Road – Kottayam (100 km)

7. Bandipur National Park

Your quest for those big cats will surely lead you to Bandipur National Park. Inhabiting a rich biodiversity, the park is obviously one of the best destinations for wildlife safari in India. Offering a lifetime of experiences, the tiger reserves keeps you busy not just with jungle safari but also with bird watching. If sighting of vulnerable and endangered species like gaurs, Indian elephants, changeable hawk-eagle, tigers, Indian rock pythons, etc. excites you then Bandipur is definitely the right place for you.

Location: Karnataka

Safari Timings (It differs for bus and jeep):

  • Morning safari – Between 6:10 am and 9:45 am
  • Evening safari – Between 2:30 pm and 6:30 pm

Best time to visit:

October to May

How to reach:

  • By Air – Coimbatore Airport (84 km)
  • By Train – Mysore Railway Station (84 km)
  • By Road – Mysore (80 km)

8. Sunderbans National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sunderbans is a place where tigers are a hot topic. Rumours are whether you might have spotted a tiger or not but he has surely spotted you. Besides those elusive cats swimming in the water, you will sight macaques, fishing cats, Olive Ridley turtles, wild boar, etc. while crossing the dense mangroves. Counted as one of the best tiger reserves of India, the marshland is part of Ganges delta, the world’s largest delta. Thus, no wonder beautiful estuaries and roaring rivers make the place more magical.

Location: Kolkata

Safari Timings (Only boat safari is conducted here):

  • Morning safari – Between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm
  • Evening safari – Boats are not allowed after 6:30 pm

Best time to visit:

November to March

How to reach:

  • By Air – Kolkata Airport (54 km)
  • By Train – Sealdah Railway Station (108 km)
  • By Road – Godkhali (48.9 km)

9. Kaziranga National Park

Nestled in the heart of Assam, Kaziranga National Park holds the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Surprisingly, the place is renowned for inhabiting the largest population of the Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros in the world. Furthermore, the park is the best place to pacify your adrenaline rush for wildlife safaris. Numerous water bodies in the park provide exciting opportunities for wildlife sightseeing. In addition to rhinos, you can spot elephant, Asiatic water buffaloes, tigers, swamp deer and many avifaunal species among others.

Location: Assam

Safari Timings (It differs in summer and winter):

  • Morning safari – Between 5:30 am – 7:30 am
  • Evening safari – Between 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Best time to visit:

November to April

How to reach:

  • By Air – Jorhat Airport (97 km)
  • By Train – Jorhat Railway Station (90 km)
  • By Road – Jorhat (90 km)

10. Gir National Park

Last but not the least in the list of best wildlife safari destinations in India, Gir National Park is a place to be at if you want to hear the roar of the Asiatic Lions. A sparkling gem in the crown of Gujarat, the park is blessed with rich biodiversity. So, grab an opportunity to go for a wildlife safari to see jackals, leopards, hyenas, the Indian fox and crocodiles in their natural habitat. Add to it the amazing floral species that you’re going to witness here. A wide variety of birds also flock here to amuse the guests.

Location: Gujarat

Safari Timings (It differs in summer and winter):

  • Morning safari – Between 6:00 am – 11:30 am
  • Evening safari – Between 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Best time to visit:

October to May

How to reach:

  • By Air – Keshod Airport (70 km)
  • By Train – Junagadh Railway Station (55 km)
  • By Road – Veraval (45 km)

So these were some of the best destinations for wildlife safari in India in a nutshell. There are a lot many. But as for now, without much ado, book your tickets and get ready to admire the Indian wilderness like never before.

By Diksha Khiatani

A writer by day and a reader at night. Emerging from an Engineering background, Diksha is a travel freak and anxious to explore different cultures and religions. Inclined towards the off-beat places, she wishes to uncover the secrets on her Scooty (if possible). She always grabs some time to take a quick nap, listen to music, skating and eat a brownie.

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