Best places to spot tigers in India during jungle safari!

This blog is in continuation to my earlier blog about doing jungle safaris with expectation of seeing tigers. Well to start off I would like to share that no one can guarantee a tiger sighting in safari. This blog essentially would help you to prepare for jungle safaris, to see a tiger.  I will also share some of my experiences and facts that should help you to decide where you should go to see tigers.

If you really want to see a wild tiger most important thing that is required is time and patience. By time I’m referring to doing more safaris (more days off work :P) and by patience I’m referring to stay at one place during safari when nature is giving you signs indicating the presence of a tiger.

Let me share my experience of Corbett. I have been there twice. Both times in Dhikala zone. 1st time I had been there in April 2016 during peak summer and second time in peak winters of February 2018. In February 2018, I did 8 safaris and saw only one tiger (hind portion) and missed many sighting by whiskers. In my first experience April 2016, I did 7 safaris and saw 5 tigers. Two of those sightings lasted few seconds. In one of these two sightings we knew tiger was sleeping inside the thick lantana growth. In hope of seeing that huge male tiger we waited on this road called as Sambhar road for almost 2 hours. While other safari vehicles kept coming and going, I stood ground. Luck rewarded me. When tiger came out of lantana he growled looking at my gypsy and crossed the road and entered the thickets only to disappear. But that growl and expression was spine chilling and etched in my memory for life time.

Patience is key. He made us wait for almost 2 hours before coming out of thickets. Image looks dulls as the shot was taken in extremely low light and summers had dried out the backgrounds. This is male tiger of Sambhar road. Dhikala, Corbett National Park, April 2016

Okay let’s assume you go have time and patience, what next? It’s the season and local weather. To increase probability ideal time to go jungles is April-May-Mid June. Since tigers love water and in summer’s water level is low, they are bound to visit watering hole. That’s when you can sight them easily. However if it has rained heavily or lot of water is available (for example after monsoon) inside jungle then chances of sighting tiger will go down drastically. That’s why no point in going into jungle after monsoons to see tiger. However if you are photographer this period (post monsoon) could give you the best frames of contrasting colors of orange with black stripes, green foliage and blue skies. Some national parks are open in monsoon and that’s different experience altogether. I will share my monsoon safari experience in different blog.

Winter safaris have less chances of tiger sighting but for photography it’s best. You can get amazing backdrops, foregrounds and contrasts. This is special one for me. Taken in winters. Tala Zone, Bandhavgarh, November 2017

Now the most important question, which national park should I go to? In India we have many tiger reserves with presence of tigers. But for higher probability of sighting tigers, I will recommend forests of central India like Tadoba in Maharashtra, Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh, and Ranthambore in Rajasthan in same order. While other parks like Kanha in Madhya Pradesh, Corbett in Uttarakhand, and Kaziranga in Assam also have tigers, chances of seeing them are less cause of topography. In fact Kaziranga and Corbett have highest density of tigers in India but for topography. In southern India, state of Karnataka has highest number of tigers but probability of seeing them is low because of topography. So best place to see tigers is jungles of central India.

Want to see tiger? Plan well. It is more critical especially when the ONLY objective is TIGER. Jungle tourism is unlike most tourist businesses where you decides dates, freeze itinerary and do bookings. Whenever you want to go to jungle with expectations of seeing a tiger, make sure you plan well in advance with help of expert. Experts are generally people who have experience of going to jungle regularly and have passion for nature. These experts can help you with not only planning your safaris but also assist in ensuring best operational efficiency, local support and stay arrangements.

Last but not least going in wild to see tiger is game of luck. Whatever happens during safari, I’m sure you will come out of the jungle with wonderful memories. Memories that you and your loved ones will cherish for life. To summarize all I would advise is that while going into jungle be prepared. If you see a tiger you will fall in love with gentle beast and if you don’t see a tiger, you might still get addicted to the thrill. Either ways I’m sure you will come back to jungle.

You might not see them but they watch your every move.
Image composed at Zone 4, Ranthambore, October 2018

Don’t get disheartened if you don’t get to see tiger because the spirit of wild has been watching you since you entered jungle.

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