Satpura is the first national park to offer a full safari experience in India. As well as the usual game drives by jeep it’s also possible to make a walking safari, take a boat trip or elephant back safari and take cover in a nocturnal hide. There's even the opportunity to spend more time with the domesticated pachyderms and learn how to bathe an elephant.
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. Taking its name from the Satpura Hills range it covers an area of 524km², and along with the adjoining Bori and Pachmarhi Sanctuaries provides a total 1427 km² of unique Central Indian Highland ecosystem packed with wildlife.
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 – seasonal watercourses gouged by the monsoons – and broad meadows beside the vast Tawa Reservoir.
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.
For those who really want to stretch their legs it is possible to trek through Satpura and into the hills beyond to the hill station of Pachmari. The trail follows in the footsteps of Captain James Forsyth who explored the region 1800's and whose book The Highlands of Central India; Notes on their Forests and Wild Tribes, Natural History, and Sports remains a quoted resource.
Satpura is an amazing place to enjoy Indian wildlife at a leisurely pace but if its only tiger sightings you are after, you should head elsewhere. Satpura can be combined with safaris in other central Indian parks such as Tadoba, Pench, Kanha or Bandhavgarh, and the city of Bhopal with flight connections to other regions, is a 3.5 hour drive.