don’t wait…book now for Ranthambhore and Tadoba
With safari reservations now open for most National Parks and Tiger Reserves, including Ranthambhore, Tadoba and Corbett (also see Madhya Pradesh update), the good news is that vehicles quotas, available zones and booking processes have remained largely unchanged across the board.
Ranthambhore again had a fantastic season, zones 6 to 10 have remained open through July, August and September, and all zones will be open once more from 1st October. Safari reservations opened in September 2018 for visits 365 days in advance (for Ranthambhore and Sariska). Since this change in procedure we have noticed significant easing of the mad rush to book, where jeeps seats were previously sold-out within mere hours of the reservation window opening.
However, this does mean that if you plan to visit Ranthambhore in peak periods such as Diwali, Christmas/ New Year and Holi you need to ready to confirm your visit many months in advance, but we can still hope to find 1 or 2 jeep seats or secure a last-minute cancellation. (The three zones of Sariska, accessible through either the Sariska or Tehla gates rarely sell out, except festival dates)
Currently jeeps in zones 1 to 6 of Ranthambhore are nearly sold out from 1st October until early December, but seats in canters remain available (in zones 1-6) as do jeeps in zones 7 to 10, this is the case again between 21st December and 5th January. Availability of jeeps is currently OK (zones 1, 5, and 6-10, few seats in zones 2/3/4) from around the 6th till 20th December, from 6th January until 8th February and the last week of February till early April, and much better from mid-April till the end of June.
Tadoba National Park has rather uniquely grown in size with the relocation of further villages, and the addition of further of buffer zone areas. These buffer zones have remained open during the monsoon period and the core park zones will open on 1st October. This year-round approach has meant that cubs born over the last few years have become habituated to the presence of vehicles, enabling some spectacular sightings in this semi-buffer zones – it’s not only all about superstar Maya and Matsukar!
Bookings have opened for reservation 4 months in advance (currently open till mid-January). Very few jeeps remain in Kolara and Mohurli (core zones) between 1st and 14th October and from 27th October to 3rd November, but outside of this there is reasonable availability of jeeps for weekday safaris and until 23rd December. New Year dates are sold out for Kolara, but currently OK in Mohurli, Pangdi, Kolsa, Navegaon (and buffer) zones, this is likely to change rapidly.
Nagzira National Park and Pench Tiger Reserve (the Maharashtra side of Pench) are bookable through the same system as Tadoba. The tourism zones of Nagzira will be open from the 16th October, with the same Thursday closure, this day you can either visit the Chandrapur Wildlife Sanctuary (Koka) 40km away or enjoy guided birding walks nearby. Pench TR safaris are not yet open for reservations but expected very soon.
Sasan Gir opens from the 16th October, and jeep reservations are currently open up until 23rd December (3 months in advance). Availability is currently good with the exception of the Diwali long weekend (25th Oct to 1st Nov). If you are planning to visit Gir over Christmas/ New Year we strongly advise to confirm ASAP.
Corbett reservations are just opening up for the season ahead, the Bijrani zone is set to open from 15th October and Dhikala will not open until the 15th November. Jhirna, Dhela and Sonandi zones have remained open through the monsoon months – subject to weather conditions of course. Reservations for stays inside the park (at Dhikala FRH) are currently only open until 30th November, and December stays will need to be confirmed ASAP.
Kaziranga safaris are not subject to the same rush to book online, but you do need to book early for certain preferred lodges. Traditionally Kaziranga is open between 1st November and 30th April, but last year the central and western ranges were partially opened on 12th October, and the park usually closes on 30th April – no official announcements have been circulated to date. Given the heavy monsoon once more in this area it is hard to foresee to an early opening this year.