Whether you want to spot the tiger, click the Siberian Crane, or simply enjoy those forests and parks at their best, we’ve got you covered. Here’s your ticket to India’s most spectacular wildlife destinations, with month-by-month suggestions on where to go and what to expect:
The Birds & Tigers of Kanha National Park
District Mandla, Madhya Pradesh
Nearest Town: Jabalpur
The tropical climate at Kanha makes it quite cold in January, but this is the peak month for watching migratory birds. Some 300 species of domestic and guest birds are here—carry a strong pair of binoculars along!
The pride of the Park, of course, is the Royal Bengal Tiger. Take an elephant-back safari; it lets you get close enough for some great photo ops. Also keep an eye out for barasingha and wild dog, wild pig, sloth bear, Indian cobra, fan-throated lizard and panthers.
Wow Factor: With its lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and crystal-clear streams, Kanha was Rudyard Kipling’s inspiration for The Jungle Book.
The One-Horned Rhino at Kaziranga National Park
Nearest Town: Jorhat
Largely rain-free and not too cold in February, this UNESCO World Heritage Site will treat you to easy tiger sightings, besides of course introducing you to its most famous resident, the one-horned rhinoceros. Also starring: Tigers, elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.
Wow Factor: More than 2200 one-horned rhinos live here. That’s more than two-thirds of their total worldwide population!
The Fearless Tigers of Ranthambore National Park
Nearest Town: Sawai Madhopur
In March, the weather is pleasant and the grass is bare, letting you spot tigers more easily! This is a wildlife photographer’s fondest dream come true: capture leopards, striped hyena, langurs, sambhar, bison, a stunning variety of birds and flowers on your lens!
Wow Factor: The Park is home to “diurnal” tigers, who are known to hunt in full view of humans, without fear.
Snow Leopards at Hemis National Park, Ladakh
Leh, Jammu and Kashmir
Nearest Town: Leh
While summer sears the plains, Leh-Ladakh is cool and lovely in April. Hemis National Park is home to that rare wild cat, the Snow Leopard. Other exotic residents include Tibetan argali sheep, Ibex, Blue sheep, chukhar, snow cocks, golden eagles.
Wow Factor: Besides its spectacular mountain setting, the Park also houses the famous Hemis Monastery, a place of great charm and calm.
The Elephants of Kabini National Park
Nearest Town: Mysore
The sun is harsh this month, so the artificial reservoir here attracts thirsty animals, treating you to abundant elephant sightings. The Park is richly populated with leopard, panther, sambhar, monkeys, bison, sloth bear, spotted deer, cheetal, antelope, crocodile, and more than 250 species of birds.
Wow Factor: Its location beside the sprawling Nagarhole National Park and the lovely Kabini River makes it the perfect day-long trip
Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh, District Umaria, Tala, Madhya Pradesh
Nearest Town: Khajuraho
The crowds have thinned out, and the tigers are easier to spot this month. Size-wise, this is a small reserve, but hosts the country’s highest concentration of tigers. That’s great news for you—you won’t return without spotting one! Also keep an eye out for leopards, nilgai, hog deer, wild boar; they abound here.
Wow Factor: There’s a picturesque old fort on a hillock here. According to legend, Lord Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana, gave it to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch over Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka). Which is how it gets its name—Bandhav (brother) Garh: (fort).
Feathered Flocks at Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Kottayam district, Kerala
Nearest Town: Kottayam
July rains and flooding make several Indian wildlife parks inaccessible, but right now, Kumarakom blooms with birds! Hundreds of migratory birds flock here, joining local species such as cuckoo, flycatcher, egret, heron, teal and water fowl. This is breeding season for our feathered friends, so expect a chirpy, action-packed trip! The backwaters are so scenic that you’ll find it difficult to leave…
Wow Factor: The guest birds here include some that have flown in from the Himalayas and even as far as Siberia
Dachigam National Park
Jammu and Kashmir
Nearest Town: Srinagar
The upper reaches are not easy to reach in winter, so this is the ideal month for you to explore this two-level Park. It harbours the last viable population of the endangered Hangul or Kashmir Stag. You will also see the Himalayan Black Bear, Long-Tailed Marmots, Mouse Hare, Leopard, Common Palm Civet, jackal, red fox, yellow-throated Marten and Himalayan Weasel. Some of India’s prettiest, most colourful birds reside here.
Wow Factor: This is India’s highest and most picturesque forest reserve, named “Dachigam” after a cluster of 10 villages that were relocated to create it.
Fish Fiesta at Gobindsagar Wildlife Sanctuary
Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh
Nearest Town: Bilaspur
The weather is superb this month, the foliage lush, and the Gobind Sagar Lake is filled with the fish that this sanctuary is famous for: Singhara, Catla, Jhalli, Grass Crap, Kuni Rohu, Guj, Ticto, Sarina, to name a few. reptiles and mammals.
Wow Factor: The majestic Bhakra-Nangal Dam sits at the banks of the Lake. It is one of the highest gravity dams in the world.
Wild & Verdant Manas National Park
Barpeta-Manas Road, Barpeta, Guwahati, Assam
Nearest Town: Guwahati
The monsoons have tapered off and the weather is glorious this month. Wildlife is out, and in full view. On a the sloping foothills of the Himalayas, where wooded hills lead you to alluvial grasslands and tropical forests, the Manas sanctuary is home to tigers, water buffalo, rhinos, (wild) elephants, golden langur or orange-furred monkey, and the Bengal florican. Unique residents here include rare, endangered species such as Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog.
Wow Factor: Manas National Park is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger Reserve, an Elephant Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve.
The Royal Bengal Tiger at Sundarbans National Park
Dayapur, Gosaba, West Bengal
Nearest Town: Kolkata
This is festival month in West Bengal. The cities sparkle with Durga Puja celebrations, and the forests offer spectacular wildlife. In the mighty Sunderbans roams the Royal Bengal tiger. There are hundreds of birds, reptiles and invertebrate species like the salt-water crocodile! Ridley Sea Turtle, Fishing Cats, Leopard Cats, Macaques, Wild Boar, Indian Grey Mongoose, Fox, Jungle Cat, Flying Fox, Pangolin, and Chital, all throng this eastern Indian wilderness.
Wow Factor: It’s the world’s largest mangrove forest, with the world’s largest population of tigers.
Elephant Watching at Betla National Park
Palamu district, Jharkhand
Nearest Town: Daltongunj
Now until the water holes start drying up in March is the perfect time to see hordes of elephants. The Park also has tiger, leopard, chital and sambhar. River Koyal runs through the forest. Virgin waterfalls and hot springs, lush sal and bamboo trees make this one of India’s most alluring wildlife reserves.
Wow Factor: There are two historical forts inside the Park. One of them dates back to the 16th century.
Now that we’ve toured you through India’s wildlife secrets, explore a bit of Africa’s wild wonders with expert Hans Dalal!
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