A wildlife safari in India is quite different to one in Africa. Tourists often combine a culture and wildlife safari and there are many opportunities for both.
African safaris are usually in open savannah areas whereas in India most are in well forested areas. Don’t expect the savannah experience.
In India, most safari goers want to spot the iconic tiger and seeing one is quite breath taking. However, there is much other wildlife and the terrain itself is very beautiful.
Almost all opportunities to spot a tiger are in the government owned national parks. Whilst some do offer all day safaris, the usual format is game drives in the morning and evening.

You need to be in the right place at the right time. Some parks stay open during the monsoon (mid-June to September) but many are closed. During this time the forest cover is lush, and sightings are more difficult, although big cats often use the roads. The most popular times are November to May. April and May often offer the best sightings as the forest is very dry, vegetation is thinner, and wildlife is abundant around the waterholes. It is also very hot at that time during the day.

Beating the heat

Lush during the rains

Wildlife has the right of way

Camps and lodges are varied and at different price points. Almost none are in the parks themselves and some are located some distance away from the park gates – this can mean wasted time getting to and from the gate. Some gates have long queues and knowing the location of a camp and the time it takes to get to a good wildlife viewing area is important.
A few camps are uniquely located and are surrounded by wilderness and have wildlife including tigers, bears, leopards, wild dogs and crocodiles within the camp grounds. Sitting in a hide or on the deck of your tent knowing that you can spot wildlife is quite a buzz.
Some camps quote prices on a bed and breakfast basis and meals are extra. Some camps offer activities outside the normal game drives such as walks, boat trips or using specialist photography hides. Game drives are usually managed by the national reserves and are an extra to the price quoted by camps and have to be booked in advance. Be aware that sometimes slots are not available on the days you want to visit as vehicle numbers are usually restricted.

Game Drives

Safari vehicles need to be very manoeuvrable and are usually small so that they can manoeuvre easily. National parks do not allow off-road driving, but tigers and other wildlife often use the roads and lie up next to them.
Most parks restrict tourism to 20% of the park – some have been more innovative on how this is calculated.

Good guiding

Whilst big cats often appear out of the blue their movements are usually heralded by alarm calls from herbivores, monkeys and peacocks. The frequency and type of call can tell what a predator is doing and where it is moving. An experienced guide will interpret these and the paw prints at the side of the road to decide where to position you with the best opportunity for a sighting.

More than just drives...

The main way of seeing tigers is daily game drives in the national reserves. However there is more to enjoying an Indian safari than this. Consider a boat safari, game walks, spending a night in a hide or ‘machan’, sitting by a waterhole, visiting a local village.

Tailor-made trips, unique destinations, enthusiastic expert guides, up close & personal with wildlife, night-time excursions and the bush by foot

The safarinut experience