India is well regarded as the land of the tigers across the world as it houses maximum tiger population in the national parks, tiger reserve, and wildlife sanctuaries.
According to the recent tiger census, India now houses over 3000 tigers, third more than 2,226 tigers in 2014. In 2018, it was 2,967. India is estimated to have up to 70% of tiger population in the world. By 2022, there is a target to doubling the population of tigers, according to PMO India.
According to the latest censes, Madhya Pradesh tops the list for having India’s highest number of tigers, with total of 526 tigers, followed by Karnataka at 524 and Uttarakhand with 442 tigers.
With that said, here is the list of the top tiger safari destinations in India –
Bandhavgarh National Park is India’s largest tiger reserve located in Umaria district and was announced as National Park in 1986. Tala zone 1 is known as the best region to spot tigers. You can also spot other animals like Sambhar Deer, Chittal, leopard, wild dog, blue bull, Indian bison, Indian fox, sloths, and monkeys in this diverse natural reserve. This national park houses over 242 species of birds.
In this reserve, the best time for tiger spotting is from April to June. Bandhavgarh National Park offers the best jungle safari experience in India and is one of the country’s largest attractions for wildlife tourism.
Best time to visit – From March to 15 June for tiger spotting. The park closes on Wednesdays afternoon.
Timing – From 5.30 AM to 10 am and from 4 PM to 7 PM.
Nearest airport – Jabalpur, i.e. 197 km from the park
Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is well regarded as the backdrop for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. You are highly likely to spot tigers as most of the area in this park is covered by lush meadows. Along with tiger spotting, you can also spot palm squirrel, gaur, striped hyena, mouse deer, chinkara, jackal, black buck, sambar, porcupine and other animals. You can take the safari early morning from Mukki zone to spot tigers.
Best time to visit – From April to June.
Safari timing – From sunrise to 10 am and from 3.30 pm to sunset
Nearest airport – Jabalpur, i.e. 175 km from the park
Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park is among the largest national parks in India and is much hyped by wildlife photographers. It is a wildlife conservation zone for tigers and the leading tiger reserve. Some of the major animal sightings are Indian fox, tigers, crocodiles, leopards, jackals and sloth bear. You can usually spot tigers in Bakaula zone, which has several watering holes and dense greens.
You can hear a lot of interesting tiger tales from local guides here. The national park is known to have had world’s longest surviving tigress. Machli, the queen of the park, lived 20 years in the park. It is a lot higher than a tiger’s average life of 10 to 15 years. The tigress also became the leading tourist attraction here and won lifetime achievement award. Ranthambore National Park has ten safari ones and you can spot highest tiger population in zone 4.
Best time to visit – From April to May
Safari timing – From 7am to 10.30 am, and from 2.30 pm to 6pm
Nearest airport – Jaipur, i.e. 132 km from the park
Jim Corbett National Park
Jim Corbett is among the most popular and prestigious national parks in India and among the oldest as well. Jim Corbett National Park is located well in the serene foothills of Himalayas and is spread over diverse landscapes. It is very favorable for a lot of animal species to grow. Some of the common animals to spot here are tigers, fishing cat, sloth bear, goral, leopard, chital, and barking deer. Visit Bijrani zone in the east of the park to spot tigers. You can also get the serene views of the park and spot tigers by reaching the top of watch towers located in Dhikala region.
You may spot tigers in natural habitat by staying in forest rest houses located in Dhikala zone. You can spot the highest density of tigers in Bijrani zone. Tigers are seen most frequently in Jhirna zone. It is also popular for bird watching.
Best time to visit – From March to June
Timing – 6.30 am to 10 am and from 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm
Nearest airport – Pantnagar, i.e. 50 km from the park
Tadoba National Park
Tigers are predators by nature and they know how to camouflage, lurk and survive silently. It is worthless to expect this type of animal to come up when a long row of safari jeeps and canters are moving into the jungle. Hence, only 12 vehicles are allowed in Tadoba National Park in a day. Sonbhadra River is the best place here to find the big cats.
Tigers are used to swim in the river to cool down during hot summers. It is one of the few tiger reserves in India where you can go for walking tours. You can also spot wild boars, porcupines, chital, chinkara, gaur, hyena, leopard, and black buck.
Best Time to Spot Tigers – From April to May
Timing – From 7 am to 11 am
Nearest airport – Bhopal, i.e. 135 km from the park
Pench National Park
Spread over 758 sq. km, Pench National Park is well positioned in the heart of India. Its boundaries have over 43 tigers. Some of the best spots to find tigers are lake regions. It houses the diverse beauty of wildlife. Along with Bengal tiger, you can also find hyena, barking deer, Indian leopard fox, wild boar, sloth bear, and wild dog. There are seven safari zones here. Turla region is very popular for tiger sightings, especially in summer season. You can also enjoy night safari here. Jeep and canter safari are available t explore this region.
Best time to spot tigers – From March to June
Timing – From 7.30 am to 10.30 am and 4 pm to 6.30 pm (timing varies as per the season)
Nearest Airport – Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, i.e. 92 km from the park