Best Place in India to See Tigers. Top 5 Tiger Reserves in India

Best place in India to see Tigers – Top 5 Tiger Reserves in India

India is blessed to be in a ‘golden period’ of tiger safari tourism; with more and more tiger reserves being run in a more professional manner and the number of tiger sightings increasing year on year. Here at Wildlife Trails we are lovers of all wildlife and like to encourage you to visit some of the Indian national parks which are ‘off the beaten track’. However, we recognise the passion that tigers ignite in your soul and one of the most common questions we receive from clients organising their India wildlife holiday is ‘Where is the best place to see tigers?’ So, as regular visitors to India’s best tiger reserves since 1997, we thought it only right to showcase our Top 5 tiger reserves in India.

Ranthambhore national park

So, what do you want for your all time iconic photograph of a tiger? What about a female and male tiger ‘fighting’ after mating right by the largest lake in Ranthambhore and with a gorgeous 10th century fort in the background – will that do? It’s interesting that Ranthambhore seems to get a lot of bad press – both offline and online – but for me, having seem my first tiger there in 97, it will always be a special place. Maybe those with negative views only visited for a short time and were not blessed with a tiger sighting, or their tour operator put them in one of those awful, noisy canters – Wildlife Trails clients only ever travel in jeeps! Either way, you can be sure they did not get the real Ranthambhore experience and that is a real shame. This is park that currently has female tigers with cubs in every one of the 10 zones. When you consider a lot of visitors only consider visiting zones 1-5 – because that is what they read on Trip Advisor – they are actually missing out on seeing the whole beauty of this amazing park.

What makes it different?

Incredible photographic opportunities which combine tigers, lakes and forts.

Chance to photograph Black Buck Antelope just outside the park.

Stunning variety of accommodation option for all budgets.

Book Now – check our superb 7 day Ranthambhore tiger safarior our special combination of a tiger safari to Ranthambhore, Kanha and Bandhavgarh

Bandhavgarh national park

Home to some of the greatest tiger ‘legends’ of all time, this is a park that National Geographic made famous, with their incredible photos of iconic tigers such as Sita and Charger; who created a veritable tiger dynasty, who were to fascinate visitors to Bandhavgarh tiger reserve in the early 2000’s. It was not just Bandhavgarh that was famous around the world, a part of Bandhavgarh called the ‘Tala Zone’ was known my all serious wildlife photographer, as ‘the place’ to photograph tigers. At that time it had nearly double the density of tigers of any other tiger reserve in India and I have to say it also have a pretty scary number of jeeps ‘rumbling’ around the same roads!

However, Bandhavgarh did fall on some hard times in the last few years and has only just started to come back to it’s very best. I will not use this blog to talk about the problems, as they are complex and varied. What I can say is that this is a park in the hotter months (April to June) that can produce an extraordinary number of tiger sightings and many Wildlife Trails clients who visited in April/May 2018 came back with double digit tiger encounters, from an average of 8-10 game drives inside the park.

What makes it different?

Tigers here are incredibly bold and some of the large males very photogenic

Over the years, first or second best place to see tigers in India.

Tiger resorts have more of a wilderness feel here.

Book Now – check our epic 8 day Bandhavgarh tiger safari or our 11 day tiger safari to Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh

Kanha national park

Wildlife Trails has always attracted clients, who although their ambition may be to see a wild tiger, are more interested in the quality of the sighting, rather than the quantity. So, to be specific, there are tiger reserves in India which are a little quieter than the BIG 3 of Ranthambhore, Bandhavgarh and Tadoba; especially if you avoid the holiday periods and take your tiger safari at one of the less busy entrance gates. So to be clear, many of the tiger reserves in India have multiple gates through which you can enter and for Kanha national park, these are the Mikki Gate and Kisli Gate.

When we first started promoting tiger safaris to Kanha national park back in 2000, there was only a few lodges built on the Mukki side of the sanctuary and therefore the visitor traffic was much less. So, we decided we would only send our guests to wildlife lodges near Mukki and ensure that they had the best possible wildlife experience. At that time, you might only see tiger on half of your game drives, but the sightings wee often long, intimate and without the crowds of other vehicles. This is where visiting and knowing the individual attributes of each park is so important when selling India wildlife holidays and tiger safaris.

What makes it different?

More intimate tiger encounter from the Mukki side of the park

Stay at wildlife lodges with a great history and attachment to the park – like Kanha Jungle Lodge

Chance to see Indian Wild Dogs (Dhole) and enjoy very different forest and grasslands.

Book now – check out our stunning 8 day tiger safari in Kanha national park or follow the path less travelled for our 12 day two sides of Kanha and Nagzira tiger safari

Corbett national park

As well as the incredible history of one of the first parks to become a Project Tiger reserve and it’s association with Jim Corbet – hunter turned photographer and conservationist – you have one of the most beautiful wildlife sanctuaries in India, nestling along a beautiful valley, just before the Himalayan foothills. Travel from March onwards and you will witness the elephants migrating down from the forested hills to the grasslands and riverbed and have the chance to see both tigers and wild elephants in the same park.

Many of India’s national parks and tiger reserves have colonial buildings from around the 1930’s. These simple, but often beautifully located ‘forest bungalow’s were used by hunting parties. or forest officials to stay in during their visits. We have been lucky enough to stay in both the Dhikala and Sarpduli bungalows – on one occasion as a family – and it bring a whole new level of wildlife experience to your India tiger safari. To actually hear the jungle at night and then be in the prime position to start your jeep safari in the morning is an opportunity not to be missed.

What makes it different?

A chance to see wild elephants and tigers in the same park

Enjoy a wonderful stay in a Forest Bungalow – Basic, but charming at the same time.

Add on an extension to a hills station like Nanital for cool air and incredible birding

Book now – We have a very popular 7 day Corbett wildlife holiday, as well as a longer combination, which is an 11 day Corbett tiger safari and Himalayan foothills

Tadoba national park

It’s hard for people not to get emotionally connected with the wild tigers they have the privilege to see during their India wildlife tour. In addition, with the explosion of social media in recent years, once visitors return home, they can often keep up with the exploits of tigers through the eyes of Indian wildlife guides. So, it is no wonder that many people prefer tigers to have names – rather than boring letters and numbers – and then to a degree humanise their behaviours. Therefore it is no wonder that we end up with ‘Superstar Tigers’ and at the moment there is no bigger start than Mya in Tadoba. We were lucky enough to see her in May 2017, as she mated with the huge Matkasur near waterhole 97 and for sure she is a very special tigress.

So, if we ask the question why so many wildlife photographers are flocking to Tadoba now, it is not simply a question for tiger numbers or density. Both Kaziranga and Kanha have large tiger populations, but they are no know as ‘the best place to photograph tigers’; so what is the X factor they are looking for? It is simply the fact that some tiger are incredibly comfortable around jeeps and humans and if that happens to be a female tiger, then you also know that when she has cubs – as Mya does at the moment – she will continue to be comfortable with the jeeps and allow photographers to have some lifetime shots. Unfortunately this can result in some photographers being too casual and getting too close and in my opinion this needs to be managed by the park authorities themselves, with fines and suspensions from the park; but that is a whole other blog.

What makes it different?

Incredibly confident and charismatic tigers which provide amazing photographic opportunities

Very easy to reach from Delhi or Mumbai by internal flight and short transfer

Chance to see both leopards and wild dogs, as well as tigers.

Book now – Want to get some great tiger photographs then head out on our 7 day Tadoba tiger safari, or what about this very interesting combination of a 9 day Pench and Tadoba India wildlife tour