Best time of year to see tigers in India?
Best time of year to see tigers in India
After 20 years visiting India and enjoying wonderful tiger safaris in so many beautiful national parks, we feel we are well placed to give honest, first hand advice on the best time to see tigers. As with all aspects of our carefully customised tiger safaris, we are not going to give you information that any basic website on India wildlife tours will provide – that would be doing you a disservice. We are going to go into much deeper detail and give you the facts about the different months of the year you can see wild tigers in India. With this expert advice and knowledge and understanding in your hearts what type of tiger safari experience you are looking for, you will be able to make a proper informed decision on what is the best tiger safari in India for you.
The tiger viewing season explained
For anyone planning their first tiger safari in India, their main concern is seeing a wild tiger and having, for just a short moment, the chance to enjoy being in the same space as one of the most magnificent animals on our planet. However, as with many things in life, if you take the time to study closely the life style of your ‘prey’ you will find that he or she will behave very differently depending on the time of year you visit his or her Kingdom. I have been in the misty jungles of Panna national park - teeth chattering and fog all around me – as I searched for wild tigers. I have sweated in the humid jungles of South India looking for the mighty ‘Bagh’ as he stalked Sambar Deer. So which of these seasons gave be the better chance to see tigers?
We can roughly divide the seasons in India to winter, summer and the monsoon. Although we have visited certain tiger sanctuaries like Tadoba national park during the monsoon, for the moment we will not go into too much detail about this amazing period in India; as most of the best tiger sanctuaries in India are closed during the Monsoon. So we will instead focus on the winter and summer months in India’s best national parks.
Best time to see tigers in India – The cold thrills of an Indian winter
It’s hard to explain to a first time visitor to India the joy of ‘welcoming’ the winter months in India and the difference it makes to your tiger safari. During the monsoon and the humid months of September and early October, even the morning game drives are warm and there is little escape from that ‘sticky’ envelope of chaleur. That first genuine cold morning – when you have to search for the fleece jacket – is a joy and the senses somehow are more sharp and primed. Even the tiger, with its amazing physiology, which allows it to operate in a temperature range from minus 20 to well over 40 Celsius welcomes the arrival of the Indian winter. The Indian wildlife photographer who has ‘stalked’ his or her prey for a generation also knows that if they are lucky they will take some wild tiger photos that will illuminate their camera and hearts and will out shine any harsh light summer capture. It is with this knowledge that drivers, guides and photographers alike, don their woolly winter hats and go in search of the magnificent Bengal Tiger.
Best time to see tigers in India – The Indian summer heat that is never ending!
I know I have been a little disparaging of seeing tigers in India during the summer, but I can promise you if perfect light is not an issue for you, then visiting India in the summer can give you the most exhilarating tiger encounters you will ever experience. So that summer heat affects both the tigers and its prey, as ultimately they all need regular visits to those ‘disappearing’ water holes just to survive and that can lead to some interesting encounters over a drink of aqua. We have regularly visited India in April, May and June and seen grey langurs dangerously careless due to a desperation to drink, throw caution to the wind and end up as an appetizer for the resident tiger. For sure the tigers know this is a prime period for surprise attacks and for a big cat who does not like to run too long a distance, this is an opportunity it will not pass up.
As well as the opportunity to witness a tiger kill, there is the more pleasurable activity of ‘following’ the life of a tigress and her cubs in India’s best tiger parks. She knows she must keep her young tiger cubs close to the water, which means that for the privileged wildlife photographers and tiger groupies; they get the chance to enjoy the company of a beautiful tiger family from day to day. If several tigresses have cubs in multiple zones then you have the opportunity of a lifetime to witness the future tiger generation growing up before your eyes.
Best national parks in India to see tigers?
To be honest during the summer months all of the best tiger sanctuaries some to live in terms of the regularity of sightings and that is the Number 1 reason why you mainly see the serious wildlife photographers travel at this time. We would recommend visits to Ranthambhore national park, Bandhavgarh national park and Tadoba national park.