India wildlife tours with Meraki Travel
Top four safari and wildlife experiences in India
If you’re looking to track a tiger or tail an elephant, India is the place to go. A country rich in diverse landscapes – from undulating grasslands and swampy marshlands to dense jungles and rocky outcrops – there are plenty of opportunities for a wild adventure.
The national parks and reserves are renowned for their biodiversity, offering the chance to see an abundance of exotic and endangered mammals, birds and plant life. Whether it’s the sight of a striped tail as it slinks behind the foliage, the swooping sound of an eagle taking flight, or the shadowy silhouette of a samba grazing on the horizon, the rush of excitement you get from wildlife-spotting is hard to beat. And with 104 national parks and more than 500 wildlife sanctuaries, you really are spoilt for choice.
To help you narrow down your options, here’s our pick of the top four wildlife experiences and safaris in India.
Bandhavgarh National Park
For the chance to catch a glimpse of nature’s most formidable predator, Bandhavgarh National Park clinches the top spot. Spread over more than 400 square kilometres of expansive grasslands and lush forests in the Vindhya Hills, the park has the highest population of Royal Bengal tigers in India. It’s also home to the largest breeding population of leopards - so your chances of getting your big cat-kicks is high. And if that’s not enough animal encounters for you, on a Bandhavgarh safari you can expect to see elephants, sambar, chital, nilgai, wild boar and hyenas roaming around, plus 242 species of birds, including vultures and eagles.
It’s not all wildlife at Bandhavgarh National Park though. With a 2000-year-old fort, crumbling temples and mysterious hand-carved caves, there’s plenty of opportunities to release your inner Indiana Jones. If you want to learn about how the locals live too, you can take a tour of some of the rural farming villages around the park. Many of the villagers work as guards or guides and can share their expert knowledge of the flora and fauna with you.
Ranthambore National Park
If you’re eager to see India’s king of the jungle, Ranthambore National Park is an obvious choice. The park’s diverse natural habitats of forests, grasslands and water bodies are ripe with endemic species - the most famous of which is of course, the tiger. If you manage to take your eyes off the jungle cats, a Ranthambore safari offers the chance to see a plethora of other animals, including hyenas, chital, nigail, wild boar, crocodiles, lizards and snakes. More than 300 species of birds have made the park home too. The sightseeing opportunities really are endless!
Of course, the tried and tested way to see the park’s wildlife is in the back of a 4x4 - but there’s also another option. Towering over the tropical landscape is the UNESCO-listed Ranthambore Fort, which offers some breathtaking panoramas from the top. Watch in awe as birds of prey circle in close range and see deers, bears and boars gathering at the waterholes. If you’re lucky and keep your eyes peeled, you may even spy a tiger prowling the edges of the forest in search of its next meal. Be sure to bring your zoom-lens camera to make the most of this spectacular vantage point.
Kanha National Park
Believed to be the inspiration behind Rudyard Kipling’s well-loved tale ‘The Jungle Book’, Kanha National Park is a treat for both nature enthusiasts and literary lovers. Renowned for its scenic beauty, the park is also one of the best places to spot tigers in India. Feel the thrill of spotting the real-life Shere Khan as you travel across forests, meadows and ravines and follow in the footsteps of Mowgli, Baloo and Bagheera.
Besides tigers, there are plenty of other wildlife-spotting opportunities on a Kanha safari, including leopards, sambar, sloth bear, jackals and wild dogs, to name just a few. Thanks to the park’s stringent conservation programmes, several endangered animals have been saved from near extinction and can be seen today - the most notable being the swamp deer, which is the only one of its kind in India. Bird-watchers won’t be disappointed either, with around 300 species to look out for, while horticulturalists can marvel at more than 1000 types of flowering plants, including the striking Indian Ghost Tree which can be found hidden in the depths of the forest.
One of the best spots for viewing the park’s natural splendor is Bamni Dadar, a.k.a. Sunset Point. What better way to round-off the day than watching grazing animals against the backdrop of a crimson sunset?
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Set in the picture-perfect Cardamom Hills of the Western Ghats, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary offers something a little bit different form the national parks of the north. As well as the chance to see favorites such as Bengal tigers and Indian elephants, this greener-than-green park, known locally of Thekkady, is home to many unique and endangered species that cannot be seen elsewhere in the country. Highlights include the Indian giant squirrel, Travancore flying squirrel and the Nilgiri langur.
As well as your typical jeep safari, visitors can go on guided hikes around the park with a local villager or hop on board a boat to explore life around the water’s edge. Or if you really want to ramp up your wildlife experience, thrill-seekers can try their hand at being a jungle scout or go bamboo rafting.
So what are you waiting for? Get ready to don your hiking boots and grab your binoculars – it’s time to take a walk (or drive) on the wild side. To find out more about the animal experiences we offer at Meraki Travel, why not browse our website further? Whether you’re visiting the culturally-rich state of Rajasthan or exploring the Western Ghats of Kerala, you can choose from an assortment of safaris and wildlife tours as part of our itinerary builder.