The Best Places to See Wildlife in India
Many of my travelers dream of visiting Antarctica or the Arctic and once they travel there, they become hooked on wildlife viewing. In all honesty, this has happened to me as somehow the young person I was who loved fashion and philosophizing in smoky cafes has morphed into a passionate animal lover. Go figure!
There are so many fantastic places all around the world to see wildlife and today we’re looking at India’s national parks and what we might find in each one. Animal Aficionados, you're going to be amazed!
RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK - TIGERS!
Located in the state of Rajasthan in northern India, Ranthambore is known for being an important tiger reserve. There has been a 45% increase in tiger populations and in 2021, the count was up to 86 tigers, up from 66 in 2019. In addition to tigers, the park is also home to leopards, nilgai (blue bulls), sambar and chital (spotted deer), and various species of birds including the Rufous Treepie, the Red-wattled Lapwing and the Painted Sandgrouse. The deciduous forests and rocky terrain make for a stunning landscape and a remarkable visit.
How to get there: Fly into Sanganer Airport, located in Jaipur and drive 150 km to the park.
KANHA NATIONAL PARK - ROYAL BENGAL TIGERS!
Kanha National Park is located in central India in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It offers the largest habitat on the planet for Bengal Tigers. Some 500 of the world’s 6000 tigers live in Kanha. Kanha has helped to protect a swamp deer species known as Barahsingha from extinction. Kanha is also home to leopards and many bird species including the Indian roller, the Scarlet minivet and the Paddyfield pipit. Kanha’s landscape is lush with Sal forests, bamboo and open meadows.
How to get there: Fly into Jabalpur Airport, about 165 km from the park.
Kaziranga National Park is located in northeast India in the state of Assam. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its protection of the Indian rhinoceros. You can also see elephants, tigers and various species of deer including the large swamp deer, Barahsingha, and the extremely rare white hog deer. Bird species at Kaziranga include the Grey-headed fish eagle, the Asian openbill and the Blue-bearded bee-eater.
How to get there: Fly into Guwahati airport and travel the 217 km to the park
JIM CORBETT NATIONAL PARK - TIGERS!
Jim Corbett National Park was named after the famous hunter turned conservationist, Jim Corbett who played a key role in setting up this land as a national park. Travelers visiting Jim Corbett can see a variety of wildlife including more than 50 species of mammals and 600 species of birds! The park is known for its rocky cliffs, grasslands and dense tropical forests. There are over 252 tigers hiding in these forests, the most dense population anywhere in the world. You can also see elephants, leopards, deer and various species of birds including the Great hornbill, the Kalij pheasant and the Ruddy shelduck.
How to get there: Fly into Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi and take a domestic flight to Pantnagar Airport, about 50k m from the park.
SUNDARBANS - TIGERS & CROCODILES!
Sundarbans National Park is located in the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal. It is located in the state of West Bengal and borders the Sundarbans Reserve Forest in Bangladesh. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its unique mangrove forest ecosystem and for being the largest mangrove forest in the world. When visiting here you can see a population of 96 or more Bengal tigers, saltwater crocodiles, spotted deer, and various species of birds including the Mangrove whistler, the Fulvous-breasted woodpecker, and the Small minivet. Many more tigers, up to 400 live in the nearby Sundarbans Reserve in Bangladesh.
How to get there: Kolkata Airport is about 105 km from the park.
PERIYAR - COBRAS!
Periyar is located in southern India along the banks of Periyar Lake in Kerala. The lake was created by the Mullaperiyar Dam built in 1895. The park is home to a variety of animals such as elephants, tigers, leopards, sambar, gaur, wild boar and various species of birds. The park is also home to many species of reptiles, including cobras and vipers, as well as a variety of fish species in the lake. Boating on the lake to see wildlife is a great way to spot animals along the shoreline. There are also great hiking trails.
How to get there: Fly into Cochin International Airport and drive 140 km to the park.
As you can see, you might need to take an extended trip to India to see all the wildlife these fantastic parks have to offer. If you don’t have quite that much time, we recommend the India Tiger Quest offered by one of our favorite operators which focuses on Ranthambore National Park. We also have a fantastic, conservation-focused operator who is standing by to create your custom India wildlife adventure. Contact us and we’ll help you see all the tigers, rhinos, crocodiles, and birds you could ever hope to see in India!