Jungle Safari in India
Jungle safari is one of the most riveting experiences that you can have in India. Blessed with an exceptional faunal diversity, India offers you a chance to live “The Jungle Book”. Be it the Tiger trails of Karnataka, or Asiatic lion in the Gir Forest – a safari through the India’s forests is unforgettable. So, get ready to read about these thrilling escapades in the Indian Jungles.
Jungle Safaris in the South
South India is where you find the world’s hottest biodiversity hotspot – The Western Ghats. No wonder it is home to beautiful forests. Mainly famous for tiger sighting, South Indian jungles also offer you an opportunity to see many other endangered species like the Nilgiri Tahr, Lion-Tailed Macaque and Nilgiri Langur.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve
Bandipur, Nagarhole, Wayanad (Kerala) and Mudumalai (Tamil Nadu) are four national parks spread across 3 states of India. Together this interconnected group of national parks form the largest free habitat of tigers in India and the whole world. Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Mudumalai, aka Masinagudi are so close that they are almost like a continuous stretch of forest for a layman.
In the 6-hour jeep safari in Bandipur Tiger Reserve by Jungle Lodge & Resorts, you will enter deep into the forests in search of the evasive striped beauty. The safari is conducted in two phases. There is one 3-hour safari in the evening and one 3-hour safari in the next morning. Besides tiger, you will come across many other indigenous species of Western Ghats. The thrill of riding through the dusty forest, watching the spectacular sunset amidst the sound of birds and looking out for peacocks, deer, monkeys and other members of the beautiful forest ecosystem of Karnataka is a memorable experience.
Places to stay in Bandipur
- The Serai, Bandipur – The most famous luxury stays in the region
- Dhole’s Den – A travel sustainable property in the cradle of nature in Bandipur
Nagarhole National Park
Also in Karnataka, Nagarhole National Park is separated from the Bandipur Tiger Reserve by the resplendent Kabini river. Located at the border of Mysuru and Kodagu districts, Nagarhole is one of the most visited national parks in India. The forest of Nagarhole is home to spotted deer, sambal, monkeys, leopards and many other indegeneous animals.
Check out the best places to visit in Karnataka – one of the most beautiful states of India.
While the park itself id beautiful and you have almost as much probability of spotting a tiger while driving through the forests as in Bandipur, the jungle safari has scope of improvements. The timings of Jungle safari are 6am to 8 am in the morning and 3pm to 5pm in the evening. The bookings are managed by the Forest Department, and you can only book a one-hour jeep safari pr bus safari in the forest. You will be greeted by a herd of deer at the ticket counter itself and it’s hard to resist the urge to pet those beauties.
You can book a special 150-minute JLR van safari here. This will be on the Kabini side of the Nagarhole National Park
Periyar Tiger Reserve – a Lake Safari
Located in Idukki district of Kerala, Periyar Tiger Reserve is a great place to go for jungle safari. It is the Best managed Tiger Reserve among 50+ Tiger Reserves in the country according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The forest engulfs the beautiful Periyar Lake in Thekkady. Besides tiger, you get to see other indigenous species like the Sambhal Deer, elephants ,Nilgiri langur and the lion-tailed macaque.
There are a variety of jungle safari options in the Periyar reserve. The regular safari in the daytime can be on vans of jeeps. The highlight of a trip to Periyar Tiger Reserve is the opportunity to join the night patrol. This is a regular night patrolling program in the fringes of the Eco development zone of the Tiger Reserve in the company of armed guards between 7 pm and 4 am (7pm-10, 10-1am, 1-4am). You can also enjoy a relaxing safari in the lake or book a one-night or two-night camping at PTR. Check out all available activities for online booking here.
Places to stay
- Cardamom Country by Xandari– A luxury resort 4km away from the jungle.
- Chrisie’s Hotel – A 3-star travel-sustainable property only 1.2 km away from Periyar National Park
- Noah’s Treehouse – A travel sustainable homestay close to the jungle, which has its fair share of wildlife like deer, hornbill etc.
- The Periyar House – Right across the Periyar Lake
Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary – The Elephant Paradise
The second largest wildlife sanctuary in Kerala, Muthanga is home to a huge variety of birds and animals. It is a Project Elephant site dedicated to rescue and conservation of the beautiful giants.
You can book a 2-hour jeep safari or a jungle camping excursion from the Sultan Bathery checkpost in Wayanad. You can also go there in your own car.
Places to stay:
Our stay at Sterling Wayanad at Sultan Bathery gave us an opportunity to explore the jungles by our car every day of our stay.
Rithu Holiday Cottages and tents gives you the most authentic jungle-camping experience in Muthanga.
Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu
Mudumalai National Park, also known as Masinagudi Tiger Reserve is located in Tamil Nadu. Besides tigers, these dense forests are home to giant elephants, antelopes and many indigenous species of the Western Ghats. Living in a cottage in the forests amidst deer and peacocks and going on a tiger safari is an experience of a lifetime.
Spanning 321 square kilometers at an elevation range of 850m – 1250m, in the Nilgiris, Masinagudi will mesmerize you with its beauty.
Van / Bus safari is organized every morning (6 am to 10 am) and evening (2pm to 6pm), each safari lasting only 30 minutes. To increase the chances of seeing interesting wildlife you should book jeep safaris that are longer. Elephant safari is also an option in Masinagudi. Private vehicles are not allowed in safari zones.
Check out the best places to visit in Tamil Nadu.
Eravikulam National Park Safari – to see the Nilgiri Tahr
Nestled in the hills of Munnar, Eravikulam National Park has a mystic charm that will bewitch you all. Anamudi, the highest peak in South India is located right inside the park. The park’s mesmerizing beauty is because of the mountains, the waterfalls and the pristine natural ecosystem. An ecosystem which was unfortunately disturbed and replaced with the aggressive commercialization and tea plantations by the British.
The ticket counter is bustling with people all the time as it is one of the biggest attractions in the Idukki region. The safari bus simply takes you to the hilly forests and leaves you there to explore the park by yourself. Vehicles are not allowed to enter beyond a point to maintain the sensitive ecosystem.
So here you have the walking jungle safari. The 97 sq km park has three parts – the core area, the buffer area and the tourism area. Visitors are allowed to stroll only in the tourist area. Trek in the Kurinji trails covered with blossoms to spot the endangered Nilgiri Tahr and be awed at the sight of the majestic Lakkom Falls.
Biligiriranga Hills, popularly known as BR Hills is an elusive and enchanting forest in Karnataka. Located between Bangalore and Mysore, this could be one of the most visited jungles in India, but it is actually quite the opposite. Because tourism in the area is not as well-developed, footfall is less, and the jungle-feel is quite authentic.
Welcoming Ellis Veen from Backpack Adventures to share her experience at BR Hills
It was a rainy morning in BR hills. The wildlife sanctuary was lush and green and teeming with life. Our jeep was going slow on the muddy dirt roads through the dense forest. One time we even had to get out to remove fallen branches from the narrow jeep track.
The rainy season is maybe not the best time to go on a safari in India, but it is when the jungle of BR Hills truly comes alive. The constant drizzle did not take away the natural beauty of the monsoon greenery and the joy of spotting wildlife. I was lucky to see wild boars, barking deer and chital deer and just as I was leaving BR Hills there was a group of elephants by the side of the road.
BR Hills is one of the lesser-known wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka. Although less popular than nearby Bandipur or Kabini, it is equally beautiful and with the same chances of spotting the elusive tiger or the Asian elephant that roams the forests. Being a bridge between the Eastern ghats and the Western ghats it is a biodiverse area of rich flora and fauna.
BR Hills has culture and history too. The local Biligiri Ranganathaswamy temple is an important place of worship for the local Soliga people and a pilgrimage site for Hindus. With its scenic location on top of a hill it offers sweeping views over the BR Hills Wildlife sanctuary. Safaris are organized by the K.Gudi wilderness camp where you can sleep as well.
Places to stay:
KSTDC Mayura Hotel – a government-run sustainable resort in B.R.Hills
Gorukana Eco Wellness Resort – a 4star eco-friendly stay near B.R. Hills
Dandeli Jungle Safari
Dandeli, located in the northern region of Karnataka is a great place for adventurists and nature-lovers. It is also very close to Goa and can be clubbed as at extension to your Goa itinerary.
Raksha shares her tips for Dandeli Jungle Safari
Designated as a tiger reserve, the town of Dandeli is a natural habitat for wildlife and is the second largest sanctuary in Karnataka state of India. Now called the Kali Tiger Reserve, the forest has abundant wild animals, reptiles, and birds. Forests of Dandeli are made up of moist deciduous and semi-evergreen trees. The sanctuary is located on the banks of River Kali and is said to have about 13 to 14 tigers in the wild. It is also home for the rare black panthers.
The best time to visit Dandeli is between the months of October and May. Jungle safaris are operated twice during the day by the forest department. The visitors can also take a coracle ride on the river to see freshwater crocodiles. And for adventure seekers, there is white water river rafting available with rapids of 3+ grades.
Dandeli has many accommodations catering for all kinds of travelers. There are home stays that provide amazing options for budget travelers and then there are resorts for luxury travelers. Kali Wilderness Camp operated by Jungle Lodges is an excellent place to stay. As it is part of the government, preference for jungle safari rides is given to the guests of the camp.
- Check accommodations on Booking.com, MakeMyTrip and Hotellook
- Search cheapest flights on Make My Trip and Aviasales
- Book guided tours through GetYourGuide or Viator
- Book Hostels everywhere on Hostelworld
- Book cheapest transfers on your choice of transport via GetTransfer
- Get insured for your international travels on Insubuy
Jungle Safari in the North India
I have only been to jungle safaris in the south. So, for the rest of India I reached out to the blogging community for their suggestions. North India has a diverse landscape with deserts, Himalayan forests, mangroves and more. The enriching experiences of these bloggers gave me new travel goals.
Jaldapara Jungle Safari
Welcome Soumya from Nature Diary to share his experiences:
The list of best jungle safari in India is incomplete without mentioning Jaldapara National Park in West Bengal. After Kaziranga National Park in Assam, Jaldapara is the second-largest home for critically endangered one-horned rhinos in India. At present, the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Limited (WBFDCL) arranges jeep safaris on five routes and elephant safaris on two routes across the national park.
If you love to enjoy the wilderness at its best, choose the elephant safari route from Hollong, an ecotourism destination in North Bengal. There are three times when the safari commences in the early morning: 5:50-6:30 AM, 6:30-7:30 AM, and 7:30-8.30 AM. It is preferable to book the 1st slot as the forest looks most beautiful at this time. Please note that the jungle safari is open every day except Thursday.
During the safari, you can see animals like rhinos, Asiatic elephants, sambars, hog deer, barking deer, jungle cats, giant squirrels, porcupines, pangolins, pythons, etc. Over 240 species of bird species, including peacocks, hornbills, green pigeons, barbets, and parakeets, can be seen on the jungle safari.
Overall, a jungle safari at Jaldapara National Park is worth every penny. To enjoy nature to its fullest, you can stay in the Hollong forest bungalow overnight and book the next morning’s safari.
Ranthambore Jungle Safari
Located in Rajasthan, at the junction of two of the oldest mountain ranges – the Aravallis and Vindyas – Ranthambore forest offers the most picturesque setting for a wildlife safari. Ranthambore is famous for tiger safari, but it is also a home to a large variety of birds and animals. Some of these are the sloth bear, leopard, Indian wolf, deer, fox, hyena and mongoose.
Sakshi , blogger at Tripleamommy shares her experience.
My husband and I love going to National Parks. Ranthmabore is our favorite – both for its proximity to Delhi and the high chances of tiger sighting. The first time we went to Ranthambore was in April 2009 and we stayed at a government guest house. The facilities were basic but that’s not really important when you are on an adventure trip. We were lucky to spot the tiger on our second trip and I can still feel the excitement of that moment!
We had been roaming the dry plains in our jeep when suddenly in a distance, there was a cacophony of birds and screeching of monkeys! A tiger was approaching! Our jeep joined at least 8-10 other jeeps and canters that scrambled to that area to sight the tiger, when it appeared majestically on the horizon.
The second time we went was with our entire family and this time we stayed at the Taj Vivanta – it is a lovely property and other than the tiger safaris, just the stay at the property was great fun!
ther than the safaris, Ranthambore has a lovely fort that history lovers would love to visit – the picturesque ruins and the temple make for a great visit.
You can reach Ranthambore by train – get off at the Sawai Madhopur station and in most cases the hotel will send their jeep to pick you up from the station. If you are in Jaipur or Delhi – NCR, you can also enjoy a lovely road trip to Ranthambore.
Places to stay in Ranthambore
Ranthambore Regency – a 4-star sustainable resort close to the national park
Sawai Madhopur Lodge – a 5-star sustainable romantic resort by Taj Vivanta, 12km from the national park
Six Senses Fort Barwara – a fort transformed into a 5-star resort, 30-minute drive from the national park
Kanha Tiger Reserve Jungle Safari
Kanha tiger Reserve also known as the Kanha -Kisli National Park is the largest national park in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It encompasses an area of 940 sq km and is divided into two zones- Mandla and Balaghat.
Welcome Jon Duncan from Backpacking Man to share his tips for Kanha Tiger Reserve
The Kanha Tiger Reserve is one of the best places in India to spot tigers in the wild and also makes for a great jungle experience in India. In fact, the area was the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”, which says it all.
The obvious main thing to do in the area is to go on a day jeep safari through the reserve keeping an eye out for tigers, as well as lots of other wildlife such as deer and, if lucky, packs of wild dogs. The driver of the jeep is accompanied by an expert ranger/guide who will be able to track animal prints on the ground to try and find the wildlife.
Note that there are elephant safaris available in the area which may seem adventurous, but these are not recommended as the elephants are not treated so well. So, avoid that and promote ethical tourism and stick to going on a jeep safari which is actually the best way to see a lot more of the reserve anyway.
Places to stay:
Bhandavgarh Jungle Safari
Located in the Umaira district of Madhya Pradesh, India, Bhandavgarh National Park is a fantastic place for tiger safari. The core area of the park is 100 square-kilometers and is home to approximately 50 tigers. Like Bandipur, there are two slots for 3-hour Jeep safaris, once at dawn, and again in late afternoon. The National Park has three main safari zones, namely – Tala Zone, Magadhi Zone and Khitauli Zone. Tala Zone is the oldest and richest zone in terms of biodiversity.
One can chose between a jeep safari and an elephant safari at Bhandavgarh.
Once again, I could get Sakshi to share her experience in Bhandavgarh National Park.
In 2014, when the family was invited for a wedding in Jabalpur, we grabbed at the opportunity to stop at Bandhavgarh for a day. Took a train to Katni and then drove for about 2 hours to get to Bandhavgarh.
By the time we reached, it was late for the afternoon safari, so we took some time settling in and familiarizing ourselves with the property.
We turned in early as we had a very early morning safari. The slight chill at dawn combined with the hot chai and coffee served for the safari goers was a great start to the day. And the sumptuous breakfast served after the safari was also very welcome. Even though we didn’t get to see the tiger, the safari ride itself was a lot of fun.
In the afternoon we left for Jabalpur, a lovely road trip and the most memorable for me were the blazing
spring colors of the trees.
You can follow Sakshi on Instagram.
Places to stay for the safari
Tree House Hideaway – Built like an actual tree-house, it offers you a great opportunity for bird-watching. The property organizes a tiger safari every evening.
Bhandavgarh Tiger Lodge – This travel-sustainable property is located close to the maingate of the Bhandavgarh National Park from where you can book your safari.
Gir Forest Safari
The Sasan Gir Wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat is the only place in India where you can spot the rare Asiatic lions in the wild. The rough scrublands and dry forests enable tourists with an excellent opportunity to photograph the majestic animal in its natural habitat.
Ruma, blogger at The Holiday Story shares some tips.
Gir forest, also known as Sasan Gir, encompasses an area of 1.412 Km². At present, around 600 lions inhabit this forest land in Gujarat. Exploring this jungle through a safari is an exhilarating experience.
Early morning is the best time to go for a safari. Reporting time for the morning slot is 5:30 am. The IDs need to get verified first before boarding your choice of a safari vehicle. The gipsy or jeep will then take you through the Gir Jungle Trail. There are several routes on this trail. The safari explores these trails in search of a glimpse of the mighty lions. Other than lions, you can also see deer, monkeys, langurs, and many species of birds. On visiting the Kamleshwar dam, you can also see crocodiles and birds like pelicans.
Apart from safari, you can visit the Kankai Mata temple or Jamjir waterfall. Both of these attractions are within the forest vicinity. You can also shop from the souvenir shop located in this national park. Drop by the Durbar Hall Museum to learn a bit about the history of Gujarat.
You can book a Gir Safari here.
Gir Serai IHCL Seleqtions – a 5-star luxury resort by Taj
The Fern Gir Forest – 5-star eco-friendly resort right next to Gir Forest
Jim Corbett National Park
Ipsita from Nomad Enroute shares her tips
Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve, the first tiger reserve in India, is spread across a vast land of 520 square kilometers in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. It came into being in 1936 while in 1973 the Project Tiger was first launched under which tiger and other endangered species were to be preserved in their natural habitat.
The rare species such as otters and the endemic fish-eating crocodile, along with a significant number of tigers have found their home in the dense forest of Jim Corbett. On the road we spotted a sambar running towards the jungle. Several deer were gliding along the riverbed, among which we could recognize a swamp deer (barasingha), which is now extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The booking is handled by the forest department following the strict guideline set by the department. You can book the safari online, with the requisite documentation supporting your request. Full name, address, age, sex and ID card number. The time-slots for the safari are 6 am to 9:30 am and 3 pm to 6 pm.
For Indians, it costs Rs. 4500 to hire a jeep, which includes 6 adults and 2 children between the age group 5-12. For foreigners, it costs Rs. 9000 for 6 adults and 2 children. Remember that charges must be made in advance and in case your plan gets cancelled, you won’t be refunded.
Recommended Stays in Jim Corbett
Kaziranga Jungle Safari
Welcome Vidyut from Triplyzer who shares his experience in the Kaziranga Safari
Kaziranga National Park is a must-visit for wildlife enthusiasts. There are numerous tiger safaris in India, but safari here has something unique to offer – the one-horned rhino, a rare beast!
I visited Kaziranga as part of my northeast India itinerary, stayed overnight in the nearby town, and took the safari in the morning. For safari, you can either take a jeep or ride an elephant. I preferred the jeep for ethical reasons, but honestly, an elephant ride does sound fun.
Safaris start as early as 5.30 am in summer and it’s best to do it when it is still cool. The jeep safaris take about 2 hours, keep your DSLR with zoom lens ready as you will come across an abundance of wildlife.
There are four different safaris taking you to different zones in the park. If you start early, you can easily visit two of these. Central Range (Kohora) and the Western range (Bagori) are the two most popular, the former is known for the beautiful grassy landscape while the latter boasts of easy Rhino sightings.
The state government-run dedicated buses from the bus station at Paltan bazaar to Kaziranga, making it cheap and easy to get here. Since the journey is over 5 hours long, stay in Kohora as it has plenty of budget and premium options.
So here ends my post on the best jungle safaris in India – selected by travel bloggers. This was based on diversity of experiences and the endangered species that the forests preserve. I hope this will help you select your next holiday destination. Please share it and subscribe to the blog if you like the content.
So are you thrilled to explore the wild Indian Jungles? I sure am. If you liked the post, save it so that you can plan your next jungle safari in India. This is the 10th post in the series “My Fabulous Five” for #BlogchatterA2Z. You can read other previous posts here. Subscribe for email updates and connect with me on Instagram for more travel stories.
Special thanks to the amazing wildlife photographers for making their photos available on Pixabay for free. The image sin the cover picture and two of the images in the Pinterest graphics are from Pixabay Creative Commons.