Intrepid travelers visit India to experience its rich history, to explore its diverse culture or their own spirituality. They go because the immense country is home to terrains from rugged mountains, arid deserts, and sandy beaches; because the value is incredible, the people hospitable, and the food unbelievable. But did you know that in addition to all of these wonderful reasons, India is one of the best destinations for wildlife viewing? Get your sunscreen and camera and prepare yourself for the journey of a lifetime.
India boasts 89 national parks, 13 bio-reserves, and over 400 wildlife sanctuaries. Deer, bison, antelope, snakes, monkeys, wild dogs, camels, rhinos, crocodiles, bears, foxes, wolves, leopards, lions, tigers, and pythons offer wonder, awe, and perhaps a little trepidation, if you should come just a bit too close!
One of the most biodiverse regions in the world, India also offers sanctuary to rare and threatened species, as well as several endemic species. When planning your visit, consider putting the following destinations at the top of your agenda:
Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan. One of Project Tiger’s conservation sites, the park was originally the private hunting grounds of the Majarajas of Jaipur. We can thank them because they forbade outside hunting, and the park was eventually rescued by Project Tiger. 400 square kilometers of crags, lakes, rivers, bush land, and forest offers great diversity and an abundance of plant life to feed hungry animals – which then feed hungry tigers. Unlike the inhabitants of most other tiger habitats, these are fairly active during the day and you have a great chance to spot them in the sun or hunting around lakes.
Jim Corbett National Park, Uttaranchal. Here you can view sloth bears, Himalayan black bears, otters, Indian pangolins, Indian grey mongoose, owls, rhesus monkeys, and much more. Safaris and treks allow you to explore the landscape and its many beautiful features up close.
Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh. This land inspired Rudyard Kipling’s famous Jungle Book. While the book has captured our imaginations for generations, this land, too, has the power to grip our attentions and thrill us. Tigers are just one species that thrives in the protected confines of the park. Indian elephants, Indian peacocks, black bucks, leopards, wild dogs, jackals, sloth bears, and barasingha, or swamp deer also roam through the diverse park.
There are, of course, many other reserves, sanctuaries, and parks to discover in this magical country. Timing your travel plans accordingly will help you avoid dangerously hot and humid weather, while still having the best chances of seeing the incredible animals of India.