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Best Zone for tiger sightings in Tadoba – what a silly question to ask!


Best Zone for tiger sightings in Tadoba – what a silly question to ask!

As a lover of ‘real’ wildlife and avid watcher of some of the most stunning and ground breaking wildlife documentaries ever made, it is difficult for me to look back and reflect at the negative aspects of such intimate portrayals of the planets apex predators – but actually, it is important that we do. In this particular wildlife safari blog, I will touch on how such wildlife films have impacted on visitors pre-conceptions when visiting tiger sanctuaries in India’s tiger sanctuaries. Such films use a ridiculously powerful zoom lens that your own camera can never hope to replicate and are often shot over several months and then edited into a 45-minute film. Yet, you turn up for 2 tiger safaris in Ranthambhore tiger reserve and expect to enjoy the same encounters – please?

Even worse, we now have on-line ‘mania’ about tiger sightings all over the internet. ‘There is no point even going to Ranthambhore unless you are visiting Zones 2 and 6!’ we hear from online wildlife experts on Trip Advisor. Please, I implore you to step away from all this social media nonsense and to book your India wildlife holiday with a company that has ethics and transparency in its very DNA and does not GUARANTEE tiger sightings. Book with a company that sees wildlife for what it really is; unpredictable, frustrating, absent, magnificent, life changing and above all……………………..’truly wild’. For those interested in guaranteed sightings, please visit the many zoos around the world that will accommodate your demands for selfies and close-ups and leave the wildlife sanctuaries for those who live and breath wilderness and respect the distance that most wildlife populations prefer between themselves and man – that is really key.

Let’s start again – the magic of a tiger safari in Tadoba national park

The year was 2008 and I was in the middle of a month long India road trip with good friends from India and the UK. We had enjoyed some incredible tiger encounters in Ranthambhore, before seeing hundreds of endangered vultures high in the cliffs; as part of our private Chambal river safari. We drove in an open jeep, with temperatures touching 45C before eventually arriving at the far from luxurious surroundings of the MDTC government accommodation at Tadoba national park – don’t worry; we have a lot of beautiful Tadoba wildlife lodges available for you to stay in.

By this time, we had gathered quite a mix of interesting characters in our Anglo/Indian safari group; from central India gunslingers (don’t ask!), to East London India bird flu worriers and the chance of an early night to prepare for a 05:00 start the following morning was looking unlikely. Fortunately, I had my main man, Vipul Jain, with me to help with the organisation of a packed breakfast and to improve the overall quality of the wildlife guides available at the park; which back in 2008 was very limited. The following day, we dragged ourselves out of bed to find the boys from the Kitchen asleep on the breakfast tables and it soon became apparent that Vipul would have to add ‘cooking skills’ to the list of his many qualities. The fact that the ‘early bird catches the worm’ was rather lost on the three bleary eyes local lads and our initial anger, soon turned to laughs and an appreciation that this was all part of our India tiger safari adventure.

The early bird catches the worm!

Our hope to be at the front of the ‘car queue’ at the entrance to Tadoba was soon squashed by the appearance of a local car (at that time, they were also allowed to enter the national park) in front of us and we had to ‘eat some fumes’ from the back of its rearranged bumper until the gates officially opened and we were free to enter the park and start our tiger safari. We did not have to wait long for our first tiger sighting as barely 20 minutes into the drive we briefly spotted a tigress walking within the forest alongside the beautiful Tadoba Lake. She kept a constant distance between herself and the waiting jeeps and rather than wait along with the other vehicles we decided to explore a park that our eyes and ears were enjoying for the very first time - and what a park it was! Not only do you have two beautiful large lakes with huge meadows encircling them, the forest is completely different from any other park I have visited, especially the sheer abundance of Bamboo, which as it goes through its various life cycles, creates diverse habitats for mammals and birds alike.

 On the afternoon drive, there were fewer visitors and we chose to explore the park as fully as possible so we had knowledge of all the different areas. Tadoba is one of India’s largest tiger sanctuaries so you can chalk up some considerable distances exploring all its different habitats and dispersed wildlife populations. We enjoyed close up sightings of large numbers of Gaur and Wild Boar and just as dusk approached and we were about to leave the park we had our second close encounter with a Sloth Bear of the trip; who proceeded to climb up a fallen tree as if enjoying the attention of the two jeeps observing close by. Birding was also excellent with good sightings of Black Ibis, Spoonbill, White-Eyed Buzzard, Shikra, Indian Pitta, Paradise Flycatchers, Racket-Tailed Drongos, Grey Hornbills and Golden Backed Woodpeckers.

How to book your tiger safari at Tadoba national park

A tiger safari in Tadoba national park continues to be one of the best places to see tigers in India. However, as with all our tiger holidays in India, we ask you to please consider staying four full days and enjoying a minimum of 6 to 8 safaris. In this way, you will put less pressure on the wildlife guide to ‘show me tiger’ and have the time to enjoy the rest of the resident wildlife. If you would like Wildlife Trails to create a personalised India tiger safari for you, then please email us at [email protected] or contact Allan on WhatsApp.

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