India is renowned for its diverse topography. This variety has ensured that there are numerous wildlife sanctuaries in India providing habitat to multitude of diverse plant and animal species.
Wildlife Tours in India are one of the major theme attracting thousands of travelers from across the globe. In total there are 89 national parks, 13 Bio reserves and 400+ wildlife sanctuaries in India.
One of the factors of the popularity of wildlife tours in India is the availability of numerous rare and endangered species in various National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in India along with the varied ecosystem and flora.
Mentioned below are 5 wildlife sanctuaries and national parks of India offering 5 unique experiences.
Jim Corbett National Park
Jim Corbett National Park is known for its tigers but only a few know that it also happens to be a birder’s paradise. Till now it has recorded over 586 species of resident and migratory birds which is much higher than the better known bird watching destination Keoladeo Ghana National Park. A variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibian reside in India’s first and one of the largest National Parks.
Although, Corbett National Park has substantial number of tigers, they are rarely spotted owing to the vegetation of this park. It is always advisable to head to either Ranthambore National Park or Bandhavgarh National Park to have a great shot at spotting endangered Royal Bengal Tigers in their natural habitat.
Location: Ramnagar in Uttarakhand which is well connected by road and rail to Delhi and by road 240 kilometers from Delhi
Open from: 15th November to 15th June
Best Time: March till June for animal spotting
Highlight: 586 species of birds and royal Bengal tigers
Entry Fees: Check out the tariff of Corbett National Park here
Silent Valley National Park
This is perhaps one of the lesser known wonders of India. Silent Valley National Park is one of the most diverse ecology on the planet, even more diverse than the great Amazon Rainforests.
Lion tailed Macaque, the endangered primate species, live in their largest number in this last unspoiled tract of ecosystem in the Western Ghats. Other notable mammals include Malabar Giant Squirrel, Nilgiri Tahr, tigers, leopards and Gaur etc.
Location: Mukkali, 65 kilometers away from Coimbatore and 60 kilometers from Palakkad, Kerala
Best time: December to April
Fees for Indian citizens
Vehicle (Jeep) rent from Mukkali to the Valley: Rs 1000/-
Guide charges: Rs 200/-
Entry fee: Rs 50/- per head
Vehicle entry fee: Rs 250/- per jeep
Cameras (still camera): Rs 50/- per camera
Highlight: Lion-tailed Macau
The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
Popularly referred to as Sasan Gir, this national park of India is home to the endangered Asiatic Lions. What makes this sanctuary unique and important is the fact that it is the only protected area in Asia for the endangered Asiatic Lions.
Besides lions, this wildlife sanctuary is also home to leopards, sloth bears, golden jackals, sambar, chinkara and Indian cobras. In total there are close to 38 species of mammals, over 300 species of avifauna, 37 reptilian species and more than 2,000 insect species live in this Park.
Location: 360 kilometers from Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat and 65 kilometers from Junagadh.
Best Time: From November till mid February is good time weather wise but best time to spot Asiatic Lion and other large mammal is summer month of April and May
Highlight: Asiatic Lion
Safari Timing: 6:30 AM, 9:30 AM and 3:00 PM IST
Entrance Fees for Indians – 400 on weekdays, 500 on weekends and 600 on important festival holidays
Entrance Fees for Foreigners – $40 on weekdays, $50 on weekends and $60 on important festival holidays
Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park is best known for its rhinos. Kaziranga National Park has been inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site due to its natural significance. Kaziranga National Park is home to the 2/3rd of the world’s population of Great One-horned Rhinoceros.
Kaziranga is also home to large number of tigers as well. Other notable species of this national park in India include swamp deer, wild water buffalos and elephants. Two of the world’s most deadly snakes Reticulated Python and Rock Python as well as King Cobra, the longest poisonous snake also inhabit this park.
A major woe of this one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in India is the rampant poaching which has raised concerns from both national and international conservation organizations. There have been a spurt in the killing of Great One-horned Rhinoceros because its horn are sold at a very high cost in the international black market.
Location: 217 kilometers from Guwahati in Assam
Open From: Open from November till April is good time weather wise but summer month from March till June offer best opportunity for spotting
Best Time: February and March
Highlight: Great One-horned Rhinoceros
Safari Timing: Elephant Safari from 5:30 AM to 7:30 AM and 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM & Jeep safari from 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM
Entrance Fees for Indians – Jeep safari for INR 50 per person + INR 1000-2000 per jeep (depending on zone allocated) and Elephant Safari for INR 280
Entrance Fees for Foreigners – Jeep safari for INR 250 per person + INR 1000-2000 per jeep (depending on zone allocated) and Elephant Safari for INR 280
Vehicle Entry Fee: INR 200
Armed Guard Entry Fee: INR 50
Camera Fee: INR 50 for Indians and INR 500 for foreigners
Great Himalayan National Park
This is one of the hidden gems when it comes to wildlife tours in India. This park is more about nature and ecotourism than about wildlife. Although, the Great Himalayan National Park is some to the elusive and endangered Snow Leopard species, it is here that you could discover Himalayas at its pristine best.
There are a number of hiking trails ranging from easy to tough which are allowed after permission from the park authorities. Four valleys, rugged precipices, high altitude glaciers and several cascading water streams come together to form this idyllic protected area.
Location: Kullu in Himachal Pradesh
Highlights: 180 species of birds and rare mammals such as black bears and snow leopard, hiking trails and ecotourism
Best Season: From April to June and between October-November
How to reach: Chandigarh is the nearest major railway station 296 km away. Closest airport is Bhunter at 63 km
About the author: Sanjay Manral is an avid reader and a writer and often write on diverse travel topics related to travel and tourism in India. His articles and tips on traveling in India could be found on several travel magazines and blogs. He recently visited an array of wildlife sanctuaries in India including Ranthambore National Park in North & Periyar National Park in South and this post is based on his personal experiences.
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