Best Time to Visit India
India is a huge land of contrasts, not only with the people, languages and their faiths, but also the geography and incredible range of temperatures and weather you can experience in this unique country. Our India wildlife holidays can take you from the high Himalaya’s with temperatures below minus 20C, to the summer heat of central India, where temperatues hover just below 50C. The climate and in particular the annual monsoon also influence animal and bird movements within the country, so a scientific approach needs to be taken to make sure we put our clients in the right place at the right time of year.
January – A magical month in India for photography and wildlife observation. This is the peak month for migratory birds and also provides photographers with that golden light that shines through in your photos. During the winter, the window for great light in the morning in particular is much longer and the comfort factor in the afternoon for people who struggle with the hear is greatly appreciated. The early morning mists add further atmosphere, but can cause occasional travel disruption to the trains and flights. Expect very cold nights and mornings and multiple layers of clothing required. We recommend combining Bharatpur bird sanctuary with a visit to Ranthambhore tiger reserve.
February – The cold mornings continue in the north and central regions, but afternoon safaris are a joy with average temperatures in the mid-70’s Celsius and tiger activity can increase. The local villagers are more active with their crops and certain areas explode into glorious yellow, as the mustard crop ripens. If you are lucky enough to have a two week family holiday in this month, it is a great time to take the kids to India; something we have done many times. We recommend heading to Kaziranga and Manas for Gibbons, Hornbills and tigers.
March – March is an unpredictable month for temperatures and it is during this month that the famous festival of Holi is celebrated; marking the transition from winter to summer. If the heat arrives early, you can expect temperatures in the early 40’s by the end of the month and tiger activity increases greatly around the few remaining water holes inside the parks. We recommend a longer stay in India and combining the Big 3 of Ranthambhore, Bandhavgarh and Kanha.
April – The dry heat of the north and central India is here to stay and photographers looking to maximise their tiger encounters start to arrive into the famous tiger sanctuaries. Depending on the monsoon strength from the previous year, there may be only a few areas of the parks with water remaining and female tigers with cubs will need to stay close to the life giving water to ensure the survival of the family. With a longer stay at just one park and lots of luck, it is possible to follow the life story of a tiger family over multiple days – which is just a joyful experience. We recommend a minimum of 1 week at the big hitters, like Tadoba, Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh.
May – It is important to note that some famous parks in the North East and in the South can start to be affected by early monsoon rains in May. Infact, Kaziranga in Assam shuts at the start of May and you should expect the odd heavy shower in southern parks, like Nagerhole and Bandipur. The tigers cope with the extreme heat by spending more and more time in the water holes and their human followers do the same in between safaris at the hotel pool. We have also heard that Kingfisher can have miraculous hydration properties! It can get busy in May with the Indian school holidays starting, so for people looking to get off the beaten track and avoid the crowds we recommend a visit to Satpura national park, where as well as the chance to see tigers, you have an excellent opportunity for sloth bear and leopard as well.
June – All bets are off now, with a few days of heavy rain showers not uncommon at all the tiger sanctuaries in India and this can be both a positive and a negative. If the rain happens just before you arrive – as it did on a recent trip I made to India – the forest and grasses will actually ‘green up’ incredibly fast and this makes a much more attractive backdrop for your wildlife and scenery photos. However, too much rain and given the fact that only approximately 20% of each national park is open to tourist vehicles, could see the tigers moving away from key water holes, as water is now available throughout the park. We recommend a comfortable good quality resort in Ranthambhore, like the Regency, with a pool, cold drinks and access to some of the best naturalists in the park.
July – So why would you travel to India when all the tiger sanctuaries are shut? Well you may have been told that, or seen it online, but actually several parks remain open during the Monsoon and capturing a photograph of a tiger or leopard in that lush, green wonderland, is really something very special. Add to that very few visitors and more comfortable temperatures among the few heavy showers and you have a very interesting tiger safari dynamic. We recommend a visit to Ranthambhore to explore zones 6 to 10, or heading south to Nagerhole for leopards, tiger and wild dogs.
August – So what are we all going to do in August? Head to the mountains for some interesting birding and endemic wildlife, or stay in the jungles of southern India for the chance to see wild dogs and their cubs? Generally the monsoon will not have a major effect on your travel plans, but don’t expect rain free days, as heavy showers are a common occurrence. To experience the full glory of the monsoon we recommend a road trip and combining a few of the national parks which remain open; like Ranthambhore, Tadoba and Nagerhole.
September – Is the last month before the major tiger sanctuaries open and still a good time to head to the hills and maybe be lucky with some snow leopard action before the crowds arrive for the blue sheep rut in October. The district of Bera in Rajasthan, which is famous for its magnificent leopards and Rabari traditional goat herders, is open all year round; so our suggestion for September is to head to Varawal tented camp and enjoy some private leopard safaris.
October – OK great, the tiger sanctuaries have re-opened, so let’s rush down there and get some epic photos of the tiger families? No, that would be a mistake, as we know from experience that although many parks re-open in October there is often plenty of work still going on inside the reserves to get them ready for the new tourist season. In practical terms, this means that you have road gangs inside the park still repairing trails and that human activity and noise affects the distribution of the wildlife. We recommend waiting until at least mid-October before booking your safari and looking at locations less affected by the monsoon, like Ranthambhore for tigers and Sasan Gir forest for Asiatic lions.
November – For all our clients we recommend later November for their tiger and leopard safaris for the simple reasons than festivals such as Diwali at the end of October tend to increase the number of visitors to national parks in a significant way. We have had considerable success promoting the end of November/early December season in both the tiger sanctuaries of central India and southern India. It can also be a good time to go looking for gibbons, rhino and tigers in Assam; by visiting the beautiful wildlife sanctuaries of Kaziranga and Manas.
December – We have been blessed to visit the wildlife sanctuaries of India every month of the year, but we have never enjoyed a Christmas morning with the wild tigers of this amazing country and that is an omission we intend to fix in the near future. Please be aware that this is quite a popular activity for wildlife lovers in India and abroad, so you need to book your favourite wildlife lodge in India well in advance. Again, like January, expect really cold mornings, where you will always regret not packing that extra warm windproof fleece and heat before travelling. The tiger sightings can happen any time of the day, as there is no heat to escape from and the number of migratory and resident birds is at it’s maximum.
Tigers, Tigers Everywhere – But Where to Go on Your Indian Tiger Safari?
We are undoubtedly in a golden period for wild tigers in India. We can say that with more than 20 years of experience visiting India’s tiger parks and having seen our first wild tiger in Ranthambhore national park way back in February 1997. Every wildlife photographers Facebook page seems to be adorned with yet more photographs of tigers with their cubs and tiger sanctuaries like Ranthambhore, Tadoba and Bandhavgarh have ‘too many tigers’ to sustain within the core and buffer areas of the main national park – so what does this mean for you, if you are currently planning your tiger safari in India?
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.
A Mini Yala for Leopards in Southern Rajasthan, India
It was way back in 2004 that I first heard about the wild leopards of Bera, Rajasthan. I had been visiting many of India’s best wildlife sanctuaries since 1997 and I had enjoyed plenty of luck when it came to seeing tigers in the wild, but a sighting of the elusive Asian Leopard had eluded me. This in part can be explained by the obvious fact that leopards are very cautious around tigers, so a sighting inside the best tiger parks, such as Ranthambhore or Bandhavgarh would be very lucky indeed. In addition, leopards are much more nocturnal in their behaviour – when compared to tigers – so the reality is you are leaving the national parks, just when leopards are starting to be more active
Walking in the Footsteps of Jim Corbett
There are probably fewer iconic parks in India than Corbett; named after the legendary English hunter – turned photographer and conservationist – Jim Corbett. One of the first national parks in India to be given Project Tiger status and a place with so much wildlife and human history wrapped up in its origins, that a visit here just to hear about Jim Corbett; let alone see the wildlife tigers he helped conserve, is both enriching and fascinating at the same time.
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’.
Tiger and Leopard Safari in India and Sri Lanka – Which Parks to Visit?
Sadly when we first visited Sri Lanka back in 2002, the civil war that had torn the country apart for decades was still very much ongoing and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the North of the island were very much off-limits. While travelling around Sri Lanka I spoke directly with naturalists and leopard researchers who told be about the ‘golden days’ of Wilpattu national park; when it was the ‘go to’ place for seeing the biggest leopards in Asia.
Snow Leopard Tour in Ladakh India
It’s minus 20 degrees Celsius outside and I slip on my fleece lined North Face slippers and venture out. I am greeted by a Tolkienesque type scene outside our simple Ladakh homestay. A half-circle of mountains surrounds us and snow envelopes the hill sides like newly washed linen.
India Wildlife Tour – So Much More than Just Tigers
India Wildlife Tour - is a car and your own driver the best way to see India? After enjoying my first tiger safari in Ranthambhore way back in 1997, I can fully understand how this wonderous animal attracts so many people to take an India wildlife holiday.
India Tiger Safari, Ranthambhore – Is This the Best Park for Tigers?
Is Ranthambhore the best place for a tiger safari on your India wildlife holiday? One of the most common questions we get asked here at Wildlife Trails from people planning their India wildlife tour is ‘which is the best tiger sanctuary to visit?’.
My First Ever Tiger Safari in India!
Rewind to January 1997. I was 26 years old. My ‘round the world trip ticket ‘had been paid for, I was flying out to Nepal to attempt the Everest Base Camp Trek before flying on to Thailand to start my Padi diving course on the beautiful Island of Koh Samui; after that Lao, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Bali and a working visa in Australia.