Nothing will prepare you for the extraordinary thrill of seeing a tiger in the wild. That first encounter where you lock eyes with the world’s biggest cat will leave an indelible imprint on your memory. In India, the Bengal tiger has been the country’s unspoken mascot for centuries, yet its population is continually threatened by poaching and fragmentation of habitat. However, thanks to the unrelenting conservation efforts from philanthropists, local communities and responsible tourism, the wild tiger population is finally on the rise for the first time after nearly a century of decline.
Home to over 70% of the world’s tiger population, the central state, Madhya Pradesh, is one of the best places on the planet to see these beautiful creatures in the wild, so in true celebration of International Tiger Day we’ve rounded up the 3 best National Parks in India to do just that.
Bandhavgarh National Park
Once known as the hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Rewa, Bandhavgarh National Park is now one of the most popular Parks in India. Boasting the highest density of tigers within their relatively small 453 sq km territory, you’ll have a great chance of catching a glimpse of one of these beautiful creatures prowling across the reserve’s core zone. Currently, the park has a healthy population of approximately 60-70 tigers.
But that’s not all! Bandhavgarh National Park has growing populations of wild boar, sloth bears, gaur (Indian bison), sambar deer, chital deer, jungle cat, langur monkeys and even a few elusive leopards wandering around its forests, rugged hills and grasslands. This area also hosts up to 150 species of birds. You can catch regular sightings of bird species on their migratory trail, such as the Steepe eagle. On your journey, you may even find remains of an ancient hilltop fort that dates back to around 800 BC.
Take the opportunity to explore this spectacular national park for yourself on days 10-12 of our Indian Tiger Safari, where you can enjoy 6 exhilarating game drives over 3 days and stay in a Nature Heritage Resort come evening.
Kanha National Park Madhya Pradesh
Covering approximately 1,945 sq km, Kanha National Park is a vast, undulating terrain of expansive grasslands, epic plateaus and rocky escarpments that are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the Bengal tiger. Recent research indicates that Kanha’s sal forest holds a healthy growing population of up to 125 tigers, making it one of the best parks in India for tiger sightings in the wild. You can venture deep into the forest for a true safari experience.
Located in the central Indian Highlands, Kanha National Park was recognised as a wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and gained National Park status in 1955 thanks to its outstanding wildlife management. The park’s tiger reserve also signifies the start of India’s attempt to protect Bengal tigers from poaching. German conservationist, George Schaller also took interest in Kanha National Park in the 1960s and conducted one of the first studies into the social behaviour and movements of big cats.
Aside from spotting Kanha’s majestic nocturnal predators, the network of streams and swamps in the region has attracted huge populations of antelopes and approximately 400 southern swamp deer, known as barasingha, that does not exist anywhere else in the world. Kanha National Park is also home to over 100 leopards, langurs, jackals, Indian bison, and over 260 colourful bird species.
During day 6-8 of our Indian Tiger Safari trip, we get to explore this fantastic area teeming with wildlife for ourselves with 5 game drives in 4WDs.
Pench National Park
The third of Madhya Pradesh’s trio of tiger reserves may not be known to many, but the mystical forests in Pench National Park are said to have inspired Rudyard Kipling’s famous children’s novel, “The Jungle Book”. Situated in the districts of Seoni and Chhindwara, the deciduous teak forest of Pench holds an estimated 60 tigers within its sprawling 758 sq km national park. At times, it may feel like you have the whole jungle to yourself and your group of like-minded travellers.
One of the best places to catch glimpses of Bengal tigers in the wild is on the Madhya Pradesh side, as it’s part of the tiger reserve’s core area. But even if you don’t get to see that flash of fiery orange in the undergrowth, Pench National Park has enough charismatic mammals to keep you thoroughly entertained, from the four-horned antelope and the Indian wolf to nilgai (blue bulls) and jungle cats.
On our India Tiger Safari holiday, we travel to the southern reaches of the Satpuda Hills to explore Pench National Park and see some of these fantastic animals for ourselves on day 3-4 of the trip. Keep your eyes open for that tell-tale flash of orange-and-black on 4 thrilling game drives while you’re here.
Home to over 3,000 tigers, India is undoubtedly one of the best places to catch glimpses of these majestic creatures in the wild. Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench National Parks are teeming with a variety of incredible wildlife, with each reserve having something unique to offer its visitors, making the region of Madhya Pradesh a must-visit.
With 15 epic game drives for viewing both predator and prey, our India Tiger safari in Madhya Pradesh offers ample opportunity for seeing Bengal tigers in the flesh. To find out more information click here.
Worth More Alive X
At Exodus Travels, we vow to tread lightly across the world, giving back to nature and local communities that inspire us. And this includes protecting the endangered Bengal tigers. We’re passionate wildlife enthusiasts and are determined to keep the momentum going in the fight for the conservation of the world’s largest feline with our campaign, Worth More Alive X.
Championed by our award-winning wildlife photographer, expert guide and conservationist, Paul Goldstein, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the conservation of Bengal tigers and to raise much-needed funding for two schools that are in desperate need of repair on the border of Bandhavgarh National Park.
Though Paul had to put some of last year’s fundraising activity on “paws”, he is now back on track towards his biggest challenge to date. To raise money for the Bengal tigers and the two schools near Bandhavgarh National Park, Paul will first run the Brighton Marathon on 12th September 2021 shortly followed by the London Marathon on 3rd October before tackling the world’s highest marathon, the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon on 29th May 2022 which starts at the Everest Basecamp in Nepal. And to add even more intensity, he’ll be wearing his iconic, fourteen-foot-tall Bengal tiger suit during each of these marathons, a suit that he first donned over a decade ago at the London Marathon to raise awareness for the Bengal tigers.
To find out more information and support this avid conservationist’s fight for the protection of Bengal tigers, and help to preserve this remarkable species for generations to come, click here.