Tiger spotting in India
By India specialist Samantha
Tigers are a huge draw for travellers to India. The country is estimated to be home to around 70% of the world’s tiger population; with India’s Environment Minister recently announcing a 30% increase in numbers, there has been no better time to visit. With almost a third more tigers than four years ago, catching a glimpse of these beautiful and elusive creatures is now more likely.
As if to reinforce these statistics, Audley clients Mr and Mrs Granger have just come back from Ranthambhore with some wonderful close-up photographs of tigers.
Audley client photos from Ranthambhore
A tiger photographed in Ranthambhore National Park by Audley client, Mrs Granger
One of India's most renowned national parks for spotting tigers, Ranthambhore is located in southeastern Rajasthan in Northern India. As well as tigers, there are leopards, striped hyenas, deer, jackals, sloth bears and several monkey species. It's also a good destination for birdwatching.
A tiger at rest at a waterhole in Ranthambhore
Tigers can be spotted during the day in Ranthambhore - at the right time of year
Parks which are good for tiger-spotting
Ranthambhore National Park
The former hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur, Ranthambhore derives its name from a 10th century fort that sits high on a craggy outcrop. Set routes, usually in shared vehicles, are used for early morning and late afternoon game drives, with deer, monkeys, and colourful birdlife all frequent sightings. Although reports show a declining tiger population, Ranthambhore remains one of the best places to view tigers in the wild.
Kanha National Park
Reached from Raipur and Nagpur airports or Jabalpur train station, Kanha National Park has a healthy population of tiger. In addition it has over 200 bird species and 22 species of mammal, including leopard, the Indian wild dog and swamp deer. There is also sloth bear present although the bear’s crepuscular habits mean it is rarely seen outside the hours of dawn or dusk.
Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh National Park are the most well-known areas, and are very popular with visitors. They have great tiger-sighting opportunities but as a result they have understandably become much busier. The government tries to restrict and regulate numbers but in peak season the volume of jeeps can still seem quite high.
Bandhavgarh is one of the oldest parks in India; it was first set up and opened with a conservation programme in the 1960s. It’s a beautiful place to visit and works well as part of a trip combined with Kanha due to their close proximity. As a result of the high numbers of tigers in these parks, your sighting chances are inevitably increased – especially from February through to May.
Tadoba National Park
Tadoba National Park is a hidden gem in central India. It has only two lodges and the highest density of tigers but it is not yet as well known as the neighbouring parks. Private game drives are possible, which is an added bonus to those with specific interests.
The park is relatively easy to access and we’ve heard exciting news from Audley travellers and our guides on the ground who have reported recent sightings of cubs.
The best months to see tigers
Although it's pleasant to visit before the Christmas period, vegetation is still dense from the summer monsoons, which can make sightings a little more difficult.
If you are able to travel in Spring, the vegetation has started to die back, making for better views.
If you can tolerate the slightly higher temperatures in April and May, you might be rewarded with fantastic tiger sightings at the watering holes.
Tigers in Ranthambhore, taken by an Audley Ground Agent
More wildlife images of India
Tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park
Mother and baby Langur in Kanha National Park
Female tiger and her cubs, Ranthambhore National Park
A tiger rest during the midday heat in Satpura
Sloth Bears, Satpura National Park
Bandhavgarh National Park, India
An adult male Bengal tiger resting in a water body
Royal Bengal Tiger
We scrambled through the bush. Unfortunately there were no tigers on this occasion – just the large paw prints a cat had left behindIndia specialist Samantha