Expert advice on how to catch sight of the world's critically endangered big cat; where and when to go on a tiger safari in India away from the crowds
Tracking tiger in their natural environment is a hugely exhilarating experience and a good sighting of this powerful beast is enough to make every hair on your body stand on end. India’s national parks are tinycompared to those in Africa and face a variety of pressures; selecting where and selecting where and when to go to India, choosing intelligently guided safaris and small camps run by passionate conservationists gets you away from the crowds - and gives you the best possible tiger safari.
On safari in India's royal reserves
Some of India’s tiger reserves, such as Ranthambhore and Tadoba, are former hunting grounds of maharajas and the ruins of their deserted forts and palaces provide a regal backdrop to the tiger’s jungle domain. Using small lodges and camps we use jeeps to cover large areas of the parks in the company of people who are passionate about all wildlife and will interpret the sights and sounds of the jungle to track their hidden inhabitants.
Tiger safaris on elephant back
While you’re still in bed in Kaziranga, Bandhavgarh or Kanha national parks, mahouts are already preparing their elephants for the day ahead. Listening for alarm calls as the jungle awakes, they know if a tiger is in the area. Seated in a howdah on atop your trusty pachyderm there are no barriers as you lumber through the undergrowth in search of tiger on an elephant back safari. If your timing is right - and with some luck too - you may literally get just a few meters away from this majestic creature.
Safaris by boat
Boat safaris and canoeing are part of the mix at Tadoba and Satpura reserves giving access to inlets, bays and islands otherwise hidden within the forest. The open grassy banks at Tadoba regularly prove to be a photographer’s dream as tiger come to the waters’ edge to drink, bathe and even play, oblivious to their awestruck admirers.
In Nagarhole in the south of India we work with expert naturalists who have a real understanding of the whole social structure of the jungle. While exploring along the banks of the Kabini River by small motorised boat rarely leads to a clear sighting of a large predator like tiger or leopard, the views are magical, bird life is prolific and elephant sightings are common. It's a wonderfully relaxed way to search for tiger and other incredible wildlife.
Walking safaris in India are a relatively new idea and if you can we recommend that you take the chance to experience the jungle on foot. Walking is usually for a half day from camp and often in the park ‘buffer zone’ where you can expect to encounter a variety of smaller species, birds and insects rather than tiger. For most, this is a relief rather than a disappointment.
Choosing how you make your safari can be the difference between one that’s ordinary and one that changes your life forever so get in touch if you’d like us to plan your tailor-made trip.