A Guide to Seeing Tigers in India

There are many reasons to visit the incredibly diverse country of India, though for many, seeing tigers in the wild is a true highlight.

India is home to a number of outstanding nature reserves that work hard to protect one of Asia’s most famous big cats. This offers visitors an exceptional opportunity. So, how do you make the most of a tiger-spotting trip?

Why is India a good place for seeing tigers?

Currently, around three-quarters of the world’s wild tiger population resides in India. While you might think this is a lot, it unfortunately still only adds up to around 3,000 tigers.

But, it’s not all bad news for these beautiful big cats. Despite being classified as endangered after years of their population dwindling, the number of wild tigers does appear to be rising again.

This is, in part, thanks to the conservation efforts that work hard to protect them – many of which are in India.

So, while visiting India gives you a good chance of spotting a tiger, it also offers you the chance to support the national parks helping to restore their numbers. By learning more about these magnificent creatures when you visit them in India, you can do your bit to support them in return.

Tigers in India

How many tiger reserves are there in India?

There are currently 51 tiger reserves across India. The first, Jim Corbett National Park, was established back in 1936 in an attempt to save the endangered Bengal Tiger.

Luckily, many more reserves followed, drawing in wildlife fans and cat lovers from all over the world!

When is the best time to visit India’s tigers?

Generally, the best time to see tigers in India is between October and April. This is the country’s ‘dry’ season, during which tigers tend to gather around the few remaining waterholes. This makes it easier to predict where they will be. What’s more, as the wet season’s lush vegetation dries out under the heat of the sun, it’s easier to spot them from afar.

You should also note that during monsoon season, many of India’s tiger reserves are closed to visitors as this is breeding season for many of the wild animals. The heavy rains also make it difficult to navigate the tracks – plus, it would be hard to see the animals in the distance, too!

Tiger by the Water in India

How to book a tiger safari in India

Tigers are highly protected in India, and for good reason. So, visitor numbers are limited at any time of day.

For this reason, it is vital that you book well in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on the incredible opportunity to see a tiger in its natural habitat while in India. Some tiger reserves are booked up over six months in advance. Choose which tiger reserve you want to visit and when, then make your booking as soon as possible.

What to expect from a tiger safari

Will you definitely see a tiger?

Nobody can guarantee that you will see a tiger while on a safari. If a tour tells you that you 100% will, they may not be entirely trustworthy.

However, the best parks and reserves have highly experienced guides who will be able to look out for signs of them. You’ll be amazed to learn about the sights and sounds that suggest a big cat is nearby!

To maximise your chance of spotting one yourself though, it is recommended that you make a couple of visits during your trip – perhaps even to two different parks.

Nevertheless, even if a tiger doesn’t show its stripes, there are plenty of other beautiful sights for you to enjoy. Whether it’s a herd of elephants, a leopard, hyena or crocodile, India’s tiger reserves have an array treasures to display.

How long does a safari last?

When you arrive for your safari, you will board a jeep or similar vehicle with your tour guide. The animals’ welfare is the top priority, so speed limits and pathways are limited – you won’t be able to drive yourself or go ‘off road’.

Most reserves offer safaris either first thing in the morning or in the afternoon. The reserves have strict closing times, too, so you will need to be out of the gates on time.

Tiger in the grass in India

Where are the best places to see tigers in India?

So, exactly where can you find the best tiger reserves and safaris in India? Take a look at our top 8 recommendations below…

1. Ranthambore National Park

The wonderful Ranthambore National Park is perhaps one of the most famous places to see tigers in India. While it was officially declared a national park some forty years ago in 1980, it has been established since 1955.

It’s also one of the biggest tiger reserves in India, covering over 1,300 square kilometres of a former royal hunting ground used by maharajas from Jaipur and Karauli. Today, 71 tigers roam the plains and, since they are more active here in the daytime than is usual, it’s a great place to see them in action!

Located in Rajasthan, Ranthambore also has a very convenient location for travellers to the Golden Triangle.

Tiger Safari, Ranthambore National Park, India

2. Bandhavgarh National Park

One of the highlights of the state od Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh National Park is a little out of the way for many visitors. But for those who do make the journey out there, a fantastic experience awaits.

Another former hunting grounded turned into a conservation site, Bandhavgarh is thought to have the highest Bengal tiger population density in India, making your chances of spotting one more likely. It’s also famous for being the place where white tigers were first seen, though none have been spotted in the park for some decades now.

As with all of India’s best tiger reserves, there is a host of other wildlife to keep an eye out for too, including sloth bears, leopards, wild deer and many, many more.

3. Kanha National Park

A few hours south of Bandhavgarh National Park, just outside the city of Mandla, lies another of India’s best places to see tigers – Kanha National Park. Having been a dedicated wildlife sanctuary since 1933, and declared a national park in 1955, Kanha is a true paradise for wildlife.

There are more than 60 adult tigers across the park, which is a healthy density when it comes to your chances of seeing one. Even if you don’t though, there are 22 other beautiful species of mammal that are sure to make your day feel special.

Tiger in Kanha National Park, India

4. Jim Corbett National Park

Famed as being India’s oldest national park, the tiger reserve of Jim Corbett was where Project Tiger was first launched to protect these endangered species.

Located in the north of the country – just over a five-hour drive from New Delhi – it’s popular spot for many visitors. Enveloped by verdant hillsides, Jim Corbett National Park is a hive of life and colour, thriving with trees, plants and flowers, while the Ramgana River provides precious water reserves.

However, it is the sheer number of tigers that reside in Jim Corbett National Park that makes it so renowned. With upwards of 200 of the big cats, it has one of the highest tiger populations of reserves in India.

5. Pench National Park

Located in the state of Madya Pradesh, in the very heart of India, Pench National Park is renowned as one of the best tiger reserves and safaris. It also has an extra-added claim to fame, having inspired Rudyard Kipling to bring India’s animals to life in his stories from The Jungle Book!

Covering a sprawling 758 square-kilometres, Pench is another of the biggest reserves in India. It’s home to some 40 Bengal Tigers, offering visitors a very good chance of spotting a real-life Sher Khan during a safari here.

Along with its tigers, Pench is also admired for the 1,200 beautiful species of plants and flowers that grow here, along with an array of other mammals and birds that have made this park their home.

Tiger drinking water at Pench National Park

6. Periya Tiger Reserve

If you are planning on visiting the tropical south of India, a visit to Kerala’s first tiger reserve should be on your list of things to do. Named after the River Periyar that runs through the park, it’s also known for it’s scenic man-made lake that was created by the British in 1895. Guests can now board a boat for a cruise across the waters.

As for tigers, an approximate total of 40 Bengal Tigers live here, though the park is also recognised for the herds of 2,000 elephants it also cares for. Take a trek or safari through this fantastic tiger reserve and you’ll also enjoy a magical display of the array of plants and trees that grow here too.

7. Satpura National Park

Named after the rugged mountain range that surrounds it, Satpura National Park is one of the lesser-known tiger reserves in India. However, because if this, it is something of a hidden gem.

The tigers are a little more elusive here than in bigger name parks such as Ranthambore and Pench. But as the park has such fewer visitors, you can enjoy a much more private experience when you do see one. The peace and quiet means you might even hear a bear or tiger roaring in the distance!

Aside from Tigers, Satpura National Park is largely famed for its stunning scenery of rugged sandstone peaks. There is a plethora of other wildlife too, such as leopards, bison and an array of birds.

Tiger on road in Satpura National Park

8. Tadoba National Park

As the state of Maharashtra’s biggest tiger reserve, Tadoba National Park is well worth visiting for those exploring central India. Divided into three forest ranges, with two lakes and a river flowing through them too, this reserve is rich in stunning wildlife. The woodland is particularly beautiful, which is known for its towering teak trees.

There are around 40 adult tigers residing in the park, though many visitors are almost as excited to also spot the shy sloth bear in its natural habitat, too!

Are you planning a trip to see tigers in India? You can contact us at Inspiring Travel Co. to speak to our Travel Specialists. They can help you design your own bespoke itinerary.

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Ceri Foulkes
I love anywhere Mediterranean, especially the Balearics and Greek Islands - though Italian food also draws me in every time! A beach and a book is what makes me happiest.

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