Safaris in India can usually be made from November to June, although there are some exceptions to the general rule. Each month offers up its own advantages and disadvantages. Careful planning is needed to make the most of your holiday.
A few parks, such as Nagarhole in south India remain open all year round, while those in central India including Kanha are closed to the public during the monsoon when exceptionally heavy rains fall from July to October. In north-east India, Kaziranga is open for just a short season from November to April.
In November there can still be some rain which makes it difficult to get around on the dirt tracks through the parks. Still, the jungles are fresh, lush, green and very beautiful.
The winter months from late November to February are the most comfortable time to visit in terms of climate, with pleasant midday temperatures, but vegetation remains dense and can make wildlife spotting challenging. It can still be VERY cold first thing in the morning and night, particularly in December and January when sudden frosts can kill the grass and hat, scarf and gloves are needed to keep warm in the early morning and evening on game drives in open jeeps.
By March midday temperatures in the open start to climb to 40’C+ though fortunately it’s noticeably cooler in the shade of the forests. In March and April the rolling grasslands are dry and the chances of seeing wildlife increases as animals can usually be found near waterholes and ponds. In Kanha, tigers rest near the marshy meadows. Sloth bear sightings, particularly in Satpura, also often increase between February and April when the Indian Butter Tree is in fruit. The bears find them irresistable.
In May and June most western travellers find India’s heat unbearable, and some accommodation closes, but this is the time that the most serious wildlife enthusiasts head on safari. If you like it hot (50’C) you are likely to have the parks, including the generally busier Bandhavgarh and Ranthambhore pretty much to yourself.
All parks occasionally close for random dates for the Forest Department to conduct a wildlife census – sometimes only very short notice is given. Most parks are closed to the public one day per week but we always try to plan your itinerary so that you make the most of your time.
Posted by: Alex