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India wildlife holiday – Bandhavgarh tiger reserve back with a BANG!


India wildlife holiday – Bandhavgarh tiger reserve back with a BANG!

Bandhavgarh national park is famous throughout the world as one of the best places to see wild Bengal tigers. Legendary tigers such as Charger and Sita once roamed this project tiger reserve and their offspring, such as the huge male tiger B2, dominated the beautiful Sal forests - and the Tala zone in Bandhavgarh had a density of tigers double that of most other tiger reserves in India.

However, from around 2013/2014 bad news started to be reported from Bandhavgarh national park. Tigers were disappearing and although the reasons for this loss of tigers were not solely related to poaching incidents; personal visits to the park, clearly showed poor management of the park, indifference to visitors who paid to visit and huge conflict between the park authorities, lodge owners and jeep providers – Bandhavgarh tiger reserve was in a mess and some people, especially photography groups, stopped visiting.

Bandhavgarh National Park – and now the good news!

Unfortunately, in India’s tiger reserves, it sometimes takes a national park to reach rock bottom, for there to be a ‘strong reaction’ and a more united approach to ensure not only the protection of tigers in the park – which should always be the priority – but also to provide a better experience for international and domestic visitors. Why should people pay a lot of money to visit Bandhavgarh national park; only to find the forest guards themselves (or park employees) disturbing the tigers. Why walk through a park on foot just before the first jeeps depart in the morning and cause resting tigers to move. These are incidents we have personally witnessed; but of course, this does not reflect many of the park guards in India, who do amazing work to protects India’s wild landscapes.

So, firstly let us talk about the state of Madya Pradesh, which is home to some of the best parks to see tigers in India. We are talking about places such as Kanha national park, Pench national park and of course, the mighty Bandhavgarh national park. If as a state you are investing money and efforts into promoting tiger tourism, you are not going to be happy with poorly run tiger reserves! So, although changes did not happen overnight, a combination of pressure from the Indian public (many Indian photographers are well connected), NGO’s and Indian government officials; who are now much more interested in wildlife experiences, contributed to positive changes in the running of the tiger sanctuaries. By 2015/2016 visitors saw a big increase in tiger sightings and in particular, female tigers with cubs in the main zones of Bandhavgarh national park. Now was the time to include Bandhavgarh as part of your India wildlife holiday and enjoy some spectacular tiger sightings.

Best time to visit Bandhavgarh national park for tigers

For full on tiger action in Bandhavgarh most wildlife photographers and tiger fanatics would wait until the heat of the summer was in full effect before visiting. Although this time of year definitely does not give you the best light due to the limited ‘golden period’. It makes up for that will almost constant action at the few remaining water holes in the park. It is not unknown for an unwary, tired and thirsty grey langur to misjudge the distance between itself and a tiger and for a kill to me made by a mother looking to feed her hungry cubs.

However, when it comes to deciding the best time to plan your Indian wildlife holiday we look at a wide variety of factors and not solely based on big cat action. Take a look here at our personal thoughts on the 'Best time to visit India for Tigers'

How to get to Bandhavgarh national park

In the good old days ourselves and our clients enjoyed taking the overnight train from Ranthambhore national park or Agra, to reach the rail stations of either Umaria or Katni and then enjoy a 1-2 hour road transfer to the jungle lodges on the outskirts of Bandhavgarh tiger sanctuary, However, now that flight travel has substantially reduced in cost and there is a ‘more direct’ service from delhi to Jabalpur; more and more tiger lovers are choosing this option as the best way to visit Bandhavgarh. If you have the time to extend your tiger safari in India, then why not add on another tiger sanctuary to your tour and for example, enjoy a India wildlife tour visiting Bandhavgarh and Kanha.

We hope this small personal blog has shed a little light on the magic of Bandhavgarh national park and you will one day visit this very special tiger sanctuary with Wildlife Trails.

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