November 10, 2021
Top 10 Tiger Safari in India

Based on the 2018-2019 census, India has 2,967 royal Bengal tigers – the highest number of tigers in the world and 50% of the world’s tiger population, with the numbers increasing steadily. With 433 tigers, Russia ranks second, and Indonesia with 371 tigers ranks third. India’s current tiger numbers are a credit to its Project Tiger reserves. In all, there are 50 tiger reserves – all overseen by the Government of India.

We have prepared a curated list of 10 tiger reserves with a large concentration of tigers in the wild. These are the best tiger reserves for spotting the royal Bengal tigers in their natural habitat.

Top Indian Tiger Safaris

1. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

Number of tigers: 252 tigers
Best months to visit the park: November to February
Best time for tiger safari: Early morning 6 am to 9 am, Evening 3 pm to 6 pm

Jim Corbett National Park, previously known as Ramganga National Park and Hailey National Park, got its name in 1957 after the naturalist Edward James Corbett. Before he became a naturalist, Edward James Corbett hunted man-eating tigers and leopards. Jim Corbett is located in Nainital – a popular hill station in Uttarakhand. In 1973, Project Tiger was first launched in Jim Corbett National Park, which has the highest number of royal Bengal tigers in India. Based on recent data, the tigers are flourishing in the indigenous forests within the park. Based on the 2021 update, there are 14 tigers per 100 kilometers in Jim Corbett, which increases the chances of tiger sightings. Tigers are also often seen in the Dhikala and Bijrani zones of the park.

Other wildlife attractions: Over 600 bird species, amongst which are rare species such as Himalayan grey-headed fishing eagles, Khaleej pheasant, black partridge, black drongo, and Himalayan pied kingfisher. Other animals include elephants, wild boars, sloth bears, langurs, Asiatic black bears, barking deer, chitals, nilgai, Indian grey mongoose, jungle cats, and two crocodile species – gharial and muggers.

2. Bandipur National Park, Karnataka

Number of tigers: 173 tigers
Best months to visit the park: March to May
Best time for tiger safari: Early morning: 6 am to 8 am, Evening: 3 pm to 5 pm

In 1974, Bandipur National Park became a tiger reserve, created by adding 800 square kilometers of land to a smaller sanctuary known as the Venugopala Wildlife Park. Bandipur National Park’s geographical location lies between the Deccan Plateau and the Western Ghats. The park is at a high altitude measuring 680-1,454 meters, which means it has several ecosystems, ranging from dry deciduous forests to shrublands. According to the last census done in 2018, there was an upward trend in the number of tigers in Bandipur. Based on the official data of past tiger assessments, the tiger density is 11 per 100 square kilometers, which means visitors have a higher chance of spotting tigers in the park.

Other wildlife attractions: It has over 2500 Indian elephants, 300 Indian leopards, 200 bird species such as scavenging red-headed vultures and Indian vultures, and over 100 varying butterfly species including, blue pancy and blue admiral. It also has a large population of deer species such as chital and sambar. Other predators include jackals, mugger crocodiles, Indian cobra, and monitor lizards.

3. Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Number of tigers: Over 150 tigers
Best months to visit the park: April to May
Best time for tiger safari: Early morning: sunrise to 10 am, Afternoon-evening safari: 3:30 pm to sunset

Kanha Tiger Reserve lies nestled within the Maikal – a range of hills in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. In 1973, Kanha National Park and numerous others were turned into a sanctuary for tigers. There are several ways visitors can tour the serene jungle within the park. including jeep safaris and elephant safaris. Based on the 2018 census, at 526, Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers in India. Recent data has suggested that Kanha National Park, in particular, has seen an increase since the 2018 census from 108 individuals to over 150. Kanha is one of the three tiger reserves in India known for its frequent tiger sightings.

Other wildlife attractions: Indian elephants, Indian leopards, blackbucks, foxes, wild dogs, jackals, and sloth bears. Over 300 bird species including two eagle species – crested serpent eagle and steppe eagle.

Suggested Safari: Tiger Trial with Khajuraho

4. Tadoba Andhari National Reserve, Maharashtra

Number of tigers: Estimated 115 tigers
Best months to visit the park: April to May
Best time for tiger safari: Early morning: 5:30 am to 10 am, Evening: 3 pm to 5 pm

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, located in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, includes Tadoba National Park and Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary. In 1995, these two sanctuaries were merged to form the present tiger reserve. Tadoba, like numerous other Project Tiger initiatives, has successfully seen a growth in the number of tigers over the years. In 2012, there were around 49 royal Bengal tigers in the park, and since then the numbers have increased steadily with few setbacks. Today, there are an estimated 115 royal Bengal tigers in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve.

Other wildlife attractions: Predators such as Indian leopards, striped hyena, and marsh crocodile. Over 195 species of birds such as black-naped blue flycatcher and lesser golden-backed woodpecker. Over 74 varying butterfly species including monarchs and pansies.

Suggested Safari: Estate of tiger Temples

5. Sundarban National Park, West Bengal

Number of tigers: 96 tigers
Best months to visit the park: October to March
Best time for tiger safari: Weekdays (8 am to 6 pm)

Sundarbans National Park is far more than a tiger reserve.

  • In 1973, it became a tiger reserve
  • In 1977, it was declared a wildlife sanctuary
  • In 1984, it came to be known as a national park
  • Since 1989, it has been considered a biosphere reserve

During 2018-2019, there were 88 tigers in the national park. A year later, the numbers increased by 8, and now there are at least 96 tigers in the Sundarbans. Despite the destruction caused by the super cyclone Amphan, the tigers in West Bengal have persevered. There are numerous spots to watch tigers in Sundarbans, both the Sanjnekhali and Sudhanyakhali watch towers allow 25 people at a time. Two other places to spot tigers in Sundarban National Park are the Burirdabu and Dobhanki camps.

Other wildlife attractions: Leopard cats, jungle cats, fishing cats, foxes, and wild boars. Birds include Pheasant-tailed jacanas, golden plovers, and Eurasian whimbrels. Marine life includes starfish, common carp, silver carp butterfish and sawfish while common toads, tree frogs, and skipping frogs are also spotted together with estuarine crocodiles, monitor lizards, chameleons, king cobras, and checkered keelbacks.

6. Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka

Number of tigers: 93-101 tigers
Best months to visit the park: April to May
Best time for tiger safari: Early morning: 5:30 am to 10 am, Evening: 3 pm to 7 pm

Nagarhole National Park covers a vast territory over the Mysore and Kodagu districts of Karnataka. It became a tiger reserve in 1999 and based on the Karnataka forest department’s scientific journal, Nagarhole National Park has a density of 8.6 tigers per 100 square kilometers. This means that for every 100 square kilometers, there are around 8-9 tigers present. Although the number of tigers in Nagarhole may not be as high as that in Jim Corbett or Bandipur, the high density within 100 square kilometers makes spotting tigers during safari very likely.

Other wildlife attractions: Indian leopard, jungle cat, leopard cat, golden jackal, slender loris, Indian giant flying squirrel, porcupine, European otter, stripe-necked mongoose, Indian pangolin, and chevrotain. Over 270 bird species, including the rare Nilgiri wood-pigeon.

7. Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan

Number of tigers: 53-70 tigers
Best months to visit the park: April to June
Best time for tiger safari: Early morning: 6:30 am to 9:30 am, Evening: 3pm to 7 pm

Ranthambore National Park, one of India’s most popular Project Tiger reserves, is located in one of the most vibrant and royal states of India, Rajasthan. Like numerous other Project Tiger reserves, it was established as a tiger reserve in 1973. Ranthambore’s spectacular scenery is a natural artwork entwined with the open grassy meadows, dry deciduous forests, and over 539 flowering plants. Ranthambore Fort, like many other formidable forts of its time, takes us back to the bygone era of Maharajas. Based on recent data, Ranthambore has 70 tigers, of which there are 33 tigress, 21 tigers, and 18 cubs. The data combined with past visitors’ experiences suggests the chance of spotting tigers in Ranthambore is high.

Other wildlife attractions: Rhesus macaque, mugger crocodile, Indian leopard, wild boar, striped hyena, sloth bear, nilgai, chital, sambar, chinkara, common mongoose, small Indian mongoose, small Indian civet, common palm civet, Indian porcupine, and five striped palm squirrel.

Suggested Safari: 10 Day Rajasthan and Wildlife Safari

8. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Number of tigers: 60 tigers and increasing
Best months to visit the park: April to May
Best time for tiger safari: Early morning: 6 am to 9:30 am, Evening: 3pm to 7 pm

Bandhavgarh National Park was established in 1968. After two decades of its establishment, in 1993, the government of India added it to the Tiger Conservation Project and Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve was born. Decades before the establishment of the park, the region had white tigers, but they haven’t been seen since 1951. As of 2021, the park has a healthy population of royal Bengal tigers, and amidst the Covid lockdown, the tiger population has flourished. The ideal time for spotting tigers in Bandhavgarh is during the summer when the vegetation is scarce, making it easier to spot wild animals.

Other wildlife attractions: Leopard, Asiatic wild cat, Indian wild dog, wolf, jackal, Indian fox, hyena, honey badger, Indian porcupine and over 300 bird species including, and two bat species – great eastern horseshoe bat and fulvous fruit bat. Reptiles include poisonous snake species such as spectacled cobra, Russel’s viper, and banded krait, as well as harmless critters such as green whip snake, common rat snake, red boa, and sand boa.

Suggested Safari: India Tiger Photography Tour

9. Pench National Park

Number of tigers: More than 53 tigers
Best months to visit the park: March to May
Best time for tiger safari: Early morning: 6 am to 11 am, Evening: 3 pm to 6 pm

Pench National Park existed long before the government came up with a tiger conservancy project and was established in 1977. Pench Tiger Reserve came into existence in 1992 and today the reserve has around 53 tigers living within its boundary and an additional 80 Bengal tigers that utilize the reserve. Pench has a tiger celebrity in the mix, named Collarwali Tigress; she is also called Matram or Queen. The tigress played a child cub in the documentary – Tiger Spy in the Jungle. Langadi, Patdev, Trishul, and L-Mark are some of the other well-known tigers in Pench. Rudyard Kipling, the author of The Jungle Book, based the forest in the fictional jungle book on the Pench National Park, connecting it to people across the world. The chances of spotting a tiger in Pench is not as high as the other parks on the list, but Touria is one of the most ideal zones for tiger sightings.

Other wildlife attractions: Indian leopard, jungle cat, wolf, striped hyena, golden jackal, chital, gaur, nilgai, sambar, chinkara, chousingha, wild pig, and black-naped hare.

Suggested Safari: Estate of Tiger Temples

10. Satpura National Park

Number of tigers: Last known count was 50 tigers
Best months to visit the park: October to June
Best time for tiger safari: Early morning: 6:30 am to 11 am, Evening: 3:30 pm to 5 pm

Satpura National Park, located in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh, became a tiger reserve in 2000. It is named after the Satpura hill range, which translates to seven mountains. It is one of the most biodiverse tiger reserves in India. Although a premier attraction of Satpura, the royal Bengal tigers can be quite elusive. At present, there are around 50 Bengal tigers in the Satpura Tiger Reserve. So, although not the first choice for a tiger safari, visitors can still get lucky with a tiger sighting in Satpura.

Other wildlife attractions: Indian leopard, fox, chinkara, chital, blackbuck, sambar, and Indian muntjac. Over 254 bird species such as waterbird and serpent eagle and 30 reptiles including Russell’s viper, stout sand snake, common cobra.

Suggested Safari: Tiger Temple Ancient Caves

Here’s a fun fact before you move on:

Did you know that before 2000, there were no tigers in Africa? Africa has its share of big cats, but tigers aren’t one of them. However, in 2000, a few hybrids of Indian tigers were reintroduced to the Laohu Valley Reserve near Philippolis, located in the Free State province of South Africa. In 2002, they also reintroduced south-Chinese tigers. Some people believe introducing tigers to the African ecosystem may affect it adversely.

About author

MD and Co-Founder. Born in Zimbabwe, Robin has a long history in Africa, and safaris in general, from running lodges to marketing. He is always on the look out for new ideas and products from around the safari world.

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