Here Are the Best Places to See Tigers in India
Around 70% of the world’s tigers live in India, which means that there are an abundance of different areas where it’s possible to catch a glimpse - or if you’re lucky, far more. Venturing to India will not guarantee you a tiger sighting, but it’s definitely possible, especially in certain locations. While seeing tigers in the wild was once a truly rare sight, there has been a sharp increase in the number of tigers in recent years, which is excellent news in terms of conservation. With the growing populations, there has never been a better time than now to get out there to see tigers ethically, without being confined to captivity.
One must remember that while tigers are majestic, sublime creatures, they are ideal for observing from a distance. We must always respect nature, and note that these animals, while breathtaking, are a predatory force to be reckoned with. Always follow local advice, and never venture out alone.
We have collated a list of places for intrepid animal lovers to go for the best opportunities and higher chances of an encounter. Upon arrival, you will see that many seem like they have been lifted straight from the movies!
THE BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK, MADHYA PRADESH
If you’re searching for a sanctuary with a high density of tigers, the Bandhavgarh National Park is a very safe bet. You’ll find it in the Umaria district of the Madhya Pradesh region, which can be found in Central Northern India. It’s an area that is relatively remote, but still easily accessible with a long (yet worthwhile) drive from the nearest airport. It’s been a national park since the late ‘80s, and before that, it was known as the “land of the white tiger”. Sadly, in 1951, the last one was captured.
The park is divided into specific sections, and the best to spot the tigers themselves is called Tata Zone 1. Tickets need to be reserved in advance, and the best times to see the tigers is between April and June.
In the meantime, while you await your big sighting, there are plenty of other animals to keep you occupied. Expect to see two different kinds of deer, leopards, sloths, rhesus monkeys and literally hundreds of species of birds. Set to a mountainous backdrop, you won’t be disappointed in the scenery either.
KANHA NATIONAL PARK, MADHYA PRADESH
The Kanha Tiger Reserve is also located in Madhya Pradesh, but it has a somewhat different atmosphere. Its sprawling, huge open meadows allow the animals to freely roam, which is truly a sight to behold. The whole place looks like it’s been lifted straight from the scenes of The Jungle Book - which makes sense, because this is where it was actually set!
In addition to tigers, Kanha National Park is a real wildlife haven, and even features the Barasingha deer, an endangered species which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. In addition, you can also see jackal, wild pigs, striped hyenas, leopards, porcupines and many more. The best way to see these animals is by opting to do a safari; this way the animals are the most uninhibited. Despite the open plains, tigers are rather genius at blending into the scenery. When you do eventually spot one, it will feel well-earned.
You can combine a visit to the Kanha National Park with a visit to Bandhavgarh, both because of the location and the fact that both parks are best visited at the same time of year.
PANNA NATIONAL PARK, MADHYA PRADESH
In the ‘90s, efforts we made to protect the tigers here at this reserve, but by 2008, there were no tigers to be seen anymore. However, things have changed yet again, thanks to a tiger reintroduction programme which has proven successful.
It is now said that these tigers are quite the adventurers themselves, having been found roaming far, far away from the park itself! This is an attempt to carve out their own territories, but many still remain actually in the park.
For those who have a similarly audacious spirit, you can find tigers and their cubs here, if you look hard enough. However, you must consider that some of them may not wish to be found!
Stay focused, and a sighting is within the realms of possibility. Don’t let your quest allow you to get too distracted in the meantime - Panna National Park is one of the best places for wildlife in India, and it would be a shame to miss out on the rest!
SATPURA NATIONAL PARK, MADHYA PRADESH
Established in 1981, this park is a relative newcomer, as far as national parks actually go. However, given that it’s approaching the 40 year mark since its designation, it’s still keeping a surprisingly low profile - yet this is part of its inherent appeal.
The park’s lack of tourists may explain why you’re actually allowed to walk around here, but perhaps not. There’s something extra exhilarating about being in the only park in the country where a jeep safari is not required, and you can actually set off (with a guide, of course) on foot. This is a park where another warning about safety seems pertinent; always respect nature and the local people, and you shall be rewarded for doing what you are told.
Hidden among the rich forest ecosystem you’ll find plenty of wildlife, including leopard cubs, wild boar and, here’s hoping, tigers (which a particular penchant for swimming in the Sonbhadra River).
If you’re visiting, you’re only a three hour drive from the closest airport, Bhopal. There are plenty of luxury accommodations in the vicinity, and the best time to visit is between October and March.
PENCH NATIONAL PARK, MAHARASHTRA-MADHYA PRADESH BORDER
Pench National Park can be found along border of two regions, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. It’s not one of the most well-known reserves, but what it lacks in fame, it more than makes up in other ways.
The park is accessible, yet it remains quiet and secluded, with absolutely incredible views. Among the stunning landscapes you’ll find an abundance of game, including, of course, the tiger. Your likelihood of spotting one remains high during the summer months, but here it’s said that they can be a little more elusive, so you’ll have to be patient.
The wait, however, will not be boring. There are 32 mammal species living among the meadows and the lakes, and over 200 species of bird - plenty to keep you occupied!
It may not have been on many people’s radar until recently, but the Tadoba Andhari Reserve in Maharashtra has quite recently taken off in a big way. It’s one of the biggest up-and-coming parks in the country, largely in thanks to the fact that the population of tigers has been growing year on year.
Like many of the other areas where you can hope to see a tiger, your likelihood increases during the summer months. That likelihood is particularly high as well, with estimates placing the total number of potential tigers there at a staggering number in excess of 100. More conservative estimates suggest there are 70, but either number is far higher than at many other reserves.
Here you’ll be charmed by forests and bamboo, and fewer lodges which means that you’re guaranteed an authentic and almost untouched experience. Of course, you need other wildlife to occupy your time during your stay while you await, and you can find that in abundance. Leopard, cloth and sambar all await you, but there are others which make for rarer sightings as well. Ornithophiles will appreciate the variety of birds of prey to be seen, including the crested serpent eagle, the changeable hawk eagle and the grey headed fish eagle.
RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK, RAJASTHAN
Wildlife photographers will be in their absolute element here; the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is a location which highlights almost everything that the Indian wilderness has to offer. Not only does it make for a marvellous place to embark on a tiger safari, it also boasts some fantastic landscapes for you to appreciate while awaiting a sighting, either with a camera or without.
The picturesque nature of the park needs to be seen to be believed, and visitors can enjoy the contrast of steep, rocky hills, never-ending fields, forest and lakes. Plenty of tigers call this absolute beauty spot their home, and we don’t blame them.
Sadly, nature is unpredictable and you can never say for certain exactly what you might see, but here, your chances are as good (if not better) as anywhere. This place is no secret, so it’s no wonder that it remains one of the most popular parks in India. Don’t worry though, while it is certainly busy, the recent expansion and sheer size of the area means that it does not feel overcrowded, and your first sighting makes it all worth it.
Of course, while you’re waiting in anticipation, those with a keen eye and an appreciation for other animals can admire the likes of hyenas, Indian foxes, wild cats, leopards, sloth bears and even crocodiles. The wildlife tend to congregate around any of the three lakes within the sanctuary.
After a day out searching for Tigers and exploring the city we recommend both Aman-i-Khas and Sher Bagh respectivly for a luxurious hideaway in Ranthambore. Aman-i-Khas is embedded in a picturesque, sun- dappled, brushwood forest, this Mughal- style tented camp is the perfect combination of luxury and nature. Positioned for utmost privacy, each of the tents offers beautiful living space and all are decorated with classic furnishings. The dining area is wonderfully lit by the lamps and the moonlit barbeques, campfires and finest food, prepared with the vegetables from the resort's organic garden, will truly provide you with an unforgettable experience. Sher Bagh which boarders the Ranthambhore National Park promotes sustainable tourism, is ecologically friendly, provides high levels of service and a faultless Ranthambhore experience. This is camping in style with fully equipped and spacious tents, kept cool in the summer and warm in the winter. There is an attention to detail and thoughtfulness with Sher Bagh that is rare to find.
For the best chances of a sighting, it’s best to visit in April or May.
SUNDARBANS NATIONAL PARK, WEST BENGAL
Home not only to tigers, Sundarbans National Park is also famed for hosting the biggest mangrove forests in the world. It should come as surprise that a park of this size should also feature plenty of other endangered animals, such as the Ganges river dolphin. You may also see saltwater crocodile, river terrapins and turtles galore. Due to its gigantic nature, much of the park isn’t accessible, but the part that is gives visitors fairly good chances of spotting tigers, and plenty else to work with!
They do say that good things come to those who wait, and that’s particularly true here. You’ll need to play the long game in most cases, as very often mist descends onto the forests in a manner that’s almost frustrating at times - but it makes for far bigger thrills when you finally do spot one! It’s said that as many as 100 tigers roam on the Indian side of the park, with its boundaries extending far into Bangladesh, where there are possibly 100 more.
The tigers here are rumoured to be somewhat more vicious than tigers elsewhere, which is perhaps why spotting one here is considered an unadulterated experience. Don’t worry though - providing you venture out with an official guide, you will stay safe. The best time to visit is between November and February.
CORBETT NATIONAL PARK, UTTARAKHAND
Named for the deeply complex Jim Corbett, a man who once hunted majestic animals before turning to conservation, this beautiful park is truly magical. Found among the Himalayan foothills, you’ll see everything from forests to rivers, and every natural wonder in between.
This is India’s oldest and possibly most prestigious national park, and it had the honour of being the first involved with Project Tiger, which launched in 1973. The programme - overseen by the Indian government - ensures conversation efforts are of the utmost importance across India, and many of the nation’s parks. These animals must never be allowed to face the brink of extinction ever again.
Unfortunately, dense vegetation can make things difficult sightings wise, to say the least. The terrified shrieks of other animals in the jungle are often a strong indicator that these fierce predators are nearby. Your best chance of a sighting is during the winter months, between October and February.
While awaiting your lucky break, there’s plenty to keep you entertained, including wild Asian elephants and other safari animals. Plus, the bird situation is one of the best in Asia.