Central India's Parks

The best wildlife Areas in Central India from Kanha to Satpura

Venture into dense jungles, the inspiration for Kipling's Jungle Book, and the final stronghold of the Bengal Tiger

When it comes to wildlife, this region of India gives Africa a real run for its money.

Each of the region’s six national parks has its own distinct character and offers unique opportunities for wildlife viewing whether it’s by open jeep, canoe, boat or elephant back. With such a huge range of indigenous and migratory species to see it never ceases to amaze us how this diversity has been kept secret for so long.

We aim to get you to the right areas at the right time of year – and most importantly, with the right people who share a genuine passion for conservation and all wildlife. Naturally, variety is the spice of life (this is India after all!) so we offer lots of ways to get you closer to nature: a tented camp, a simple lodge or a luxurious safari complex – there’s something for everyone.

As well as amazing wildlife, these are the little visited former kingdoms of the Deccan plateau to explore. And, after all that activity, we highly recommend pairing your trip with a stay in laid-back Goa. Leave the camera and binoculars in your bag and enjoy some well-earned R&R. 

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Wildlife experiences

Tiger Safaris

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Wildlife experiences

Asia's top Wildlife

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Tiger hotspots in Central India

Bandhavgarh, Kanha & Tadoba

BANDHAVGARH - Prior to becoming a national park, the jungles of Bandhavgarh in the Vindya Hills of central India were maintained as Shikhargarh, the private hunting grounds of the maharajas of Rewa.

An ancient ruined fort, from which the park takes its name, complete with a small active temple situated high on a sandstone plateau, rugged terrain and rolling hills provide a dramatic backdrop to Bandhavgarh’s grasslands, marshes, sal and deciduous forests watered by streams and springs. It has one of the highest concentration of tigers in India and is understandably popular as a result.

Though rarely sighted, leopard co-exist in abundance. Wild boar, golden jackal, several varieties of deer, antelope and monkeys are commonly seen and with patience, luck and the skills of your naturalist, sighting of dhole (Indian wild dog), sloth bear and even wolf are all possible. Bandhavgarh has bird life galore - both migratory and resident bird species – totalling around 250 species including vultures.

KANHA - Located in Madhya Pradesh in the heart of central India, Kanha National Park is the country’s largest tiger reserve.

The scenery at Kanha is gorgeous, a wonderful mix of river valleys and steep rocky escarpments, highland forests and stands of bamboo, dense lowland forests of evergreen sal and rolling grasslands.

We prefer to work with small owner managed lodges and camps and although walking is not permitted within the park, these lodges will also take you on hikes in the forests around them and perhaps along the banks of river Banjaar which creates a natural boundary between the unfenced core and surrounding buffer forest; it's a beautiful setting for a walk and viewing smaller wildlife.

TADOBA - Less well-known than some of central India’s other national parks, the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve is currently one of the region’s most exciting providing visitors with excellent regular sightings of tiger, including cubs, in the last couple of seasons. It is also one of the few parks that are open all year round, offering keen nature lovers the opportunity to visit in the monsoon season.

Morning and afternoon safaris are made by jeep, sometimes along a road lined with pillars, once hung with bells to alert people to the approach of the Gond kings who ruled these forests in the 12 -18th centuries. With your naturalist and some good luck you’ll see everything from butterflies to big cats including tiger, leopard, striped hyena and jungle cat, not to mention a rich birdlife.  

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India's lesser known wildlife areas

Satpura, Panna and Pench

Satpura is not the best place in India to see tiger which is probably why it is among the quietest and least visited national parks in Central India, with only a limited number of lodges outside the park and vehicles within it. 

It’s a striking and beautiful place to spend several days or more, with rugged hills clad in dense forests of teak and sal, criss-crossed by streams and steep-sided nullahs.

We work with a couple of small lodges with excellent naturalists and using a mixture of ways to get around together you can track wildlife through a variety of habitats. Sloth bears are commonly seen here – sometimes drunk on the fallen fermenting flowers of the mahua tree, and this is also a good place for seeing leopard, packs of wild dog and jackal, and mugger crocodile on the banks of the lake. The birding in the national park and the surrounding area is superb.

Panna shouldn't be overlooked as it offers the chance to explore the quiet forests, grasslands, gorges and River Ken in central India's Vindya Hills and their wide diversity of wildlife. Panna has five other species of cat as well as hyena, wild dog, jackal and wolf, and deer. It is an excellent birding destination with more than 200 species recorded including a high density of Paradise Fly-catcher. Between mid October and June morning and afternoon safaris can be made by jeep.

Pench is situated in Madhya Pradesh to the south of the Satpura hills in central India the rolling terrain is dominated by mixed deciduous forest, teak and small areas of open grassland. With such variety of habitat Pench supports a high density of herbivores such as chital and sambar deer, important prey species of tiger, as well as large herds of gaur (Indian Bison), packs of wild dog and more than 170 species of birds.

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NATURAL HIGH SHINES RAYS OF ADVENTUROUS LIGHT INTO SOME OF THE LEAST EXPLORED, MOST EXCITING CORNERS OF THE WIDER WORLD.”

- FINANCIAL TIMES

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Top camps in Central India

Jamtara Wilderness Camp

Small luxury tented camp in Pench National Park

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Top camps in Central India

Forsyth Lodge

Environmentally friendly lodge set within acres of jungle on the edge of Satpura National Park

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Top camps in Central India

Tree House Hideaway

Secluded, natural and rustic tree houses

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Top camps in Central India

Reni Pani

Small lodge in the buffer zone of Satpura Tiger Reserve

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Top camps in Central India

Denwa Backwater Escape

Small intimate lodge on the banks of the dammed Denwa River

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Top camps in Central India

Flame of the Forest

Stylish lodge close to the Kisli entrance to Kanha National Park

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Top camps in Central India

Shergarh

Small tented camp owned and run by experienced naturalist

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Top camps in Central India

The Sarai

Relaxed and homely eco-friendly lodge

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Top camps in Central India

Baghvan

Hidden among the teak and banyan trees on the very edge of Pench Tiger Reserve

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Our experienced travellers include:

Alex Edwards
Alex Edwards
Olly Williams
Olly Williams
Catherine Ronan
Catherine Ronan

It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.

All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.

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