More and more families and couples now prefer to be closer to nature and go to wildlife holidays. As the bustling city life puts couples and families under stress, they seek out quite and serene surroundings to spend a few days with the bonus of watching wildlife from far.
India is home to some of the best wildlife holiday destinations, where nature and wildlife lovers can see a varied cross-section of wildlife. These destinations appeal to children and adults alike and this is the reason why they are gaining popularity.
The relaxation of the Government’s rules around Tiger reserves has only added to the influx of tourists.
This list of the best wildlife holidays in India for family has been created basis the quality of wildlife viewing and the fun that a family or couples can have at the wildlife destination.
1. Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India
Bandhavgarh has the highest density of tigers in India, and hence a visit to this wildlife destination increased your chance of siting a Royal Bengal Tiger many folds. If you remember the famous Indian Tigers – Charger and B2 – they were from this reserve. Tala Zone, the most popular tiger citing zone in the country is in this wildlife reserve. If you land up here during the summers, there is no way you will return without siting a Tiger. The Bandhavgarh river does its job well of watering the forest and also offers a relief in the landscape.
Best time to view wildlife: Summer months of March to May and the winter months of November to February are best for a good wildlife experience for families and couples.
Location of the reserve: Once you reach Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, this wildlife reserve is only 200 kilometers drive. Because of the road conditions, it generally takes anywhere from five to seven hours.
2. Kabini National Park/Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, India
The beauty of Kabini is that you can view wildlife either from within the forest or from the huge lake that is in the middle of the forest – which gives you the view form inside. In inside view ensures you see the animals from the front when they are drinking water or loitering around the lake. Kabini is also the best place to see leopards yearlong or elephants during summer. The jeep safari of Kabini is also said to be exciting because of the varied landscape it takes you through.
Best to view wildlife: You can visit Kabini throughout the year, but it is better during monsoons because of the inside view (the lake is full and animals are around). Though in the monsoons the vegetation thickens and animal sightings inside the forest becomes difficult.
Location of the reserve: Kabini is 200 kms from Bangalore and it is reachable in four hours if you are a moderate driver.
3. Kaziranga Tiger Reserve, Assam, India
The Kaziranga reserve is situated on the floodplains of Bharamaputra, which makes it for an interesting location. This reserve keeps changing the landscape so much that a wildlife lover just doesn’t get bored. With the changing landscape, the wildlife that can be witnessed also keep changing – from Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, Hoolock Gibbon, Wild Water Buffalo, Langur etc. In fact, the lush green forests itself are so amazing that the wildlife sighting is considered a bonus. Kaziranga reserve is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Best time to view wildlife: November to March
Location of the reserve: Once you reach Guwahati, you will have to travel approximate 250 kms to reach this wildlife reserve.
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4. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India
This is a very different terrain than the other wildlife reserves in the country – it is arid and surrounded by the Aravallis, the oldest mountain range in India. Besides playing host to a lot of wild animals, Ranthambore also gets a lot of birds during the month of winter. This Tiger reserve is full of exciting stories and anecdotes, and the most exciting of all is the Tigress Machli – also known as the Queen of the lakes. It is said that Machli is the most photographed tiger of India and even male tigers in the reserve are afraid of this tigress.
Best time to view wildlife: If you are interested in only tigers we recommend making a trip between March to May because that’s when the vegetation is just right for sightings. If you also want to witness the migratory birds, who land up during the winter months the best time to go will be between November to February.
Location of the reserve: Ranthambore is three hours drive from Jaipur – approximately 180 kilometers.
5. Anaimalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu / Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, Kerala, India
Though this forest is one, since it is in two different states it has two names. Both Anaimalai and Parambikulam need to be entered from Tamil Nadu state. In this reserve the stay is also inside, so it can end up being a never-before wildlife experience for you and your family – wild animals roam around your room, and this may include elephants as well. Besides the regular jeep safaris and the boat safaris, wildlife trekking is also possible here – under the watchful eyes of the armed forest guards of course.
Best time to view wildlife: All year around, except the monsoon season when it becomes difficult to go on jeep safaris and even more difficult to spot wildlife.
Location of this reserve: This reserve is just 80 Kms drive from Coimbatore.
6. Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand, India
Corbett was India’s first national Park, and the connection of Colonel Jim Corbett gives it an air, which is difficult to match for most of the other wildlife reserve. Your family will love this wildlife reerve because it is very tourist friend – what with many resorts around the Jim Corbett reserve area trying to make it a wholesome family experience. This reserve is full of elephants, tigers, leopards and a whole lot of other wild animals. If you are planning a wildlife holiday here, we suggest taking a longish holiday because this reserve is huge and needs multiple safari trips. To spot a gharial, you will have to try the Ramganga river. If you can pull it off we suggest you book yourself in the Dhikala lodge, a forest department run lodge inside the reserve. Warning: It gets real scary in the night.
Best time to view wildlife: The best time to be in Jim Corbett is from October to June, just before the monsoon sets in.
Location of this reserve: It is a five hours drive (225 kms) from Delhi.
7. Gir National Park, Gujarat, India
There are many Tiger reserves in India, but if you want to see the majestic Lion…you have to come to the Gir forests of Gujarat. This is the only place where Asiatic Lions are alive…and it is interesting to note that Gir Forests have been a protected area since 1900 itself. With 1400+ square kilometers this is a very big reserve and is a nice patch of greenery in the middle of dry landscape. There are seven perennial rivers, which flow through the Gir forests, because of which you and your family can see the best of wildlife here.
Best time to view wildlife: All year round except monsoons when the sightings and the jeep safaris become difficult.
Location of the reserve: Gir forests are 350+ kms from Ahmedabad -generally takes about seven hours to reach.
8. Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, India
If you and your family are planning to make a wildlife holiday during the monsoon, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is your best bet. Not many in India know that a place called TATR exists, but it does and has been contributing to the rising Tiger population in India. Just don’t expect to see a variety of wildlife on your holiday here for this place is primarily about Tigers and the animals they prey on. If you are lucky you may also sight leopards or panthers here.
Best time to view wildlife: This place is ready for a holiday all year around.
Location of the reserve: It is two and a half hours drive from Nagpur.
9. Sunderban Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India
This is the world’s largest mangrove forest and hence a UNESCO World Heritage site as well. The Royal Bengal Tigers are a bit different from the others – in that they weigh less than their counterparts in rest of India…probably because of their fish diet. Sundarbans is also home to a variety of bird, reptiles and invertebrate species, including the salt-water crocodile. In Sunderbans you can go on boat cruise which will take you through the rivers and estuaries and it is a whole lot fun. If you are lucky you may even spot a tiger eating some fish. Do note that due to wandering tigers, man-tiger conflict continues to be an issue at Sunderbans.
Best time to view wildlife: The best time to visit is between November to February.
Location of the reserve: This is 120 kilometers from Kolkata and can make for a quick holiday for folks in the Metro city.