4 Most Common Mistakes People Make on an Indian Tiger Safari
Every year we receive numerous emails from clients who have already booked flights and maybe part of an India tiger safari holiday; but did not prioritise booking the jeeps. They then realise when they try to book the game drives online that all of the main zones are sold out and they basically don’t have a viable option to enter the park.
Trying to book tiger safaris last minute
Every year we receive numerous emails from clients who have already booked flights and maybe part of an India wildlife holiday but did not prioritise booking the jeeps. They then realise when they try to book the game drives online that all of the main zones are sold out and they basically don’t have a viable option to enter the park. So, let’s be very clear on this, when your dream is to see tigers in the wild in India, the very first thing you should be doing – before you even look at flights or Indian wildlife lodges – is to ‘lock down’ your dates for the jeep safaris inside the park. It’s crazy to think that you can simply rock up at the tiger sanctuary or send a few emails a couple of weeks before your arrival and organise the best experience inside the national park; that is never going to happen. In addition, you leave yourselves wide open to unscrupulous travel agents promising you the world and delivering next to nothing when you arrive.
To be clear: You should be planning your India tiger safari 12 months in advance and have an extended, wide-ranging dialogue with an expert company like Wildlife Trails before committing to an itinerary for your India wildlife tour.
Choosing the wrong tiger reserve to visit
This is a common mistake by clients who have prepared rushed itineraries and not really done their research on the many different options in India for your tiger safari. One ‘park experience’ does not fit all and where sometimes a park delights a photographer with daily tiger encounters, the other clients are left ‘cold’ by the crowded experience and the lack of focus on other species, birds or the beautiful landscapes. You should be speaking to a specialist tour operator who regularly visits the tiger reserves and who can give you the very latest reports on sightings, jeep booking schedule, best India wildlife lodges to stay in and how long you should stay at each park. Here at Wildlife Trails it is very common for us to be asked to design a 2 or 3 park itinerary, with at least one of the national parks visited not being dominated by the quest for the tiger. Including visit to Satpura national park and Nagzira tiger reserve are two examples of this philosophy.
Travelling at the wrong time of year
Having been lucky enough to see wildlife tigers in every month of the year from October (when most tiger reserves re-open) until June; when the heat can be unbearable for some; we can find magic in all the different seasons, but it is 100% sure that many clients should not be travelling in April to June if they struggle with the heat. Believe us, if you don’t have an umbrella when visiting Tadoba in May, there are not many places to escape the heat; apart from in the hotel swimming pool! We take our clients through the tiger safari experience in India month by month and match the timing of their India wildlife holiday with their target species and temperature preferences. For birders, it would be crazy to visit outside of the migratory season (late November to February) and for a full on tiger photographer, the summer heat is best for ‘sometimes’ continuous daily tiger action. Check out our month by month guide to the best time of year to see tigers in India.
Not spending enough time in the tiger reserves
Our whole philosophy on ethical longer stays at national parks when on your tiger safari in India was based on Allan Blanchard first visit to India, back in February 1997. He spent 3 months visiting many of the national parks and tiger sanctuaries and was amazed to come across ‘exhausted’ photographers and birders in the Indian wildlife lodges, who had visited 7 or 8 different sanctuaries in 2 weeks. 1 night here, 2 nights there, but never a ‘proper’ stay at the tiger reserves; to not only get a real feel for the diversity of wildlife and scenery; but to also recharge their own batteries, after often long and arduous road journeys. We adopted a simple rule of a minimum stay of 3 nights and 6 safaris for our bespoke India tiger holidays. In fact in practice, it is often more common for our clients to take 8 safaris over 4 days in each of the tiger parks.
If you don’t want to avoid these mistakes when planning your own tiger safari in India, then Allan, Kirsty and the team at Wildlife Trails would welcome the opportunity to design a bespoke India wildlife holiday for you and your loved one. You can contact us here. We very much look forward to sharing our knowledge and love of India’s wildlife sanctuaries with you.