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India tiger safari, Pench - When and why should you visit?

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India tiger safari at Pench tiger sanctuary

Pench national park is one of the most critical tiger habitats in central India. Not only does it provide a protected area for a good number of resident tigers, it also links, by forest corridors, several other key sanctuaries including Satpura, Kanha, Nagziri and Melghat.

Indian tiger safari in Pench national park

Pench tiger sanctuary is said to be the forest that inspired Kipling's 'Jungle Book' and it achieved more recent fame in a wonderful BBC wildlife documentary called 'Tiger – Spy in the Jungle'; where elephants and 'boulder cams' were used, to get up close and personal with an amazing tigress and her 4 young cubs.

Pench has a beautiful landscape of large open meadows, rolling hills and dense forests; primarily teak, which drop their leaves in April, making for a very dry looking forest; but also easier to see wildlife as a consequence

Best time to visit Pench for tigers

For those interested in all mammals and in particular birds, you would be advised to make a visit to Pench tiger sanctuary between November and early February, when the main bird migration is underway and the parks avian population is swelled by many new species. It is also a time when you will still enjoy the green forests and cooler pleasant temperatures for safaris.

Mid-March onwards brings the hotter temperatures which can touch the early 40's by May and it is this heat and the declining number of water sources, which brings more regular tiger sightings and attracts professional photographers from around the world.

Wildlife you will see in Pench national park

Pench is famous for its packs of Indian wild dogs (Dhole) and they can still be seen regularly in the park, often avoiding the best tiger habitats to avoid the conflict that could ensue. Another great wildlife moment is the experience the slightly comical, lumbering gait of a Sloth Bear, who are often more visible from April onwards, as they enjoy the flowers of the Mahua tree.

Indian Bison or more commonly described as Gaur are the largest prey species found in the park and would provide a tiger family with food for many days. Often seen browsing the lower branches of trees in the forest in small groups; despite their size, they do blend into the forest remarkably well.

Best wildlife lodges to stay in at Pench tiger sanctuary

There are a huge number of wildlife lodges and camps now located near the main gate of Turia and having visited in July 2014, I would say that not all of them are catering for the genuine wildlife enthusiast. We feel that Pench Jungle Camp is hard to beat for that combination of comfort and price and it also scores highly with 'Tour Operators for Tigers' on a sustainable and ethical front. Two other lodges on this side of the park we like the look of, are the newly built Tribal Camp and for the budget client Kipling Court; both located in green forested areas and built to blend in with the landscape, rather than dominate

If you are after a more tranquil experience in Pench, with less focus on tigers and more on other wildlife such as Sloth Bear, Wild Dogs and Leopard; then we would strongly recommend the beautifully located new camp called 'Jamtara Wilderness Camp'; which gives easy access to the gate it is named after, as well as another gate called 'Kharmajhiri', which is only 8km away. Both these gates atract far fewer vehicles as they are further away from Nagpur and until this camp arrived, there was no where to stay. Great opportunities at this property for walks in the buffer, visits to nearby local villages and even a chance to sleep overnight on a purpose built Machan close by.

So why not check out our India tiger safari to Pench national park and enjoy an India wildlife tour in Kipling country.

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