Tiger. It’s the Holy Grail of Indian wildlife, the majestic cat that every wildlife lover longs to spot during a safari in the subcontinent. The good news is that tiger numbers are slowly increasing in India, with the latest census showing 2226 tigers – nearly a 30 percent rise in the last three years.
But there is more to India than just tigers. Its wildlife is as varied and intriguing as any other place on earth, and with over 100 national parks and more than 200 wildlife sanctuaries spread throughout the country, there’s a good chance you’ll see something that will take your breath away.
Here is our pick for the top must-see parks in India:
1.Ranthambore, Rajasthan: With sparse vegetation and rocky plains, this historic park offers arguably the best viewing of tigers in the country. The former hunting grounds of the maharajas of Jaipur, there are around 22 Bengal tigers in the reserve, most of which are famous with well-documented histories. (Check out our Taj, Tigers & Palaces Private Tour)
2. Corbett NP, Uttarakhand: Established in 1936 by legendary tiger hunter turned conservationist Jim Corbett, this was India’s first national park. While it has a large and healthy population of tigers, they can be elusive in the thick vegetation. The 520 sq km park also houses 650 species of birds, rare otters and crocodile, while it’s a great place to view elephants on a jeep safari tour. (Our Himalaya Elements Experience is the best way to see this amazing reserve)
3. Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh: This pretty, topographically-varied park – the former hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Rewa – has incredible biodiversity, with the highest concentration of tigers in India – 51 found in 105 square kilometres (sadly down from 58 in 2010). (Check out Wild Heart of India Safari Experience Group Tour)
4. Sunderbans, West Bengal: A tangle of mangrove jungle, the Sunderbans is spread out over 54 islands and extends into Bangladesh. Only accessible by boat, it offers a unique safari experience with potential sightings of crocodiles, wild boar, macaques and even aquatic Bengal tigers.
5.Kaziranga National Park, Assam: As well as a high density of tigers, this park also boasts 70 percent of the world’s one-horned rhinoceroses population, as well as elephants, water buffalo and swamp deer. Elephant-back safaris are a popular way of viewing wildlife in the tall grasslands. (our Big 5 Tour will take you here!)
6. Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala: Although this park has a healthy population of tiger, they are hard to spot in the dense jungle. Known for its natural beauty, walking safaris conducted by rangers allow an intimate view of the wildlife and is a more rewarding experience than the more popular boat tours on the lake. (Check out Kerala Elements)
7. Hemis NP, Ladakh: The largest national park in India, this is home to rare high altitude species including around 200 snow leopards, Tibetan wolf, Great Tibetan sheep, Eurasian brown bear, Red fox and golden eagles.
8. Panna NP, Madhya Pradesh: Panna is a study in excellent wildlife management, having successfully replenished its tiger population from zero in 2009 to 30 after Tigress T-6 gave birth to three cubs in March 2015.
9.Erivukulum, Kerala: This tiny park near the hill station of Munnar is home to the largest population of endangered Nilgiri Tahr (a type of mountain goat) in the world, which are easily spotted close to the park entrance.
10. Gir Forest National Park, Gujurat: This dry, deciduous forest is home to the last remaining wild Asian lions in the world (523 as of the 2015 census, up 27 percent from the 2010 census).
Interested in visiting some of these amazing National Parks? Visit our Wildlife Safari & Adventure Tour page to get inspired 🙂
Have you visited India’s National Parks? Tell us about it in the comments below.