Outside of Africa, India probably has the world’s richest wildlife diversity. The country is blessed with many lush forests, wildlife reserves, and national parks where you will find many species of tigers, deer, wild dogs, wild boars, plenty of birds, reptiles, and even the lion. The forests are beautiful and the terrain varies, from alpine, mangrove to desert landscapes.
Here are the top 6 wildlife safari destinations in India you must visit.
#1 – Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
Formerly a hunting ground of royalty, Ranthambore in Rajasthan is 166.1 kilometers from Jaipur, the state capital and 393.1 kilometers from Delhi. Ranthambore is one of the best places in India to see the Bengal Tiger. Go on an early morning safari. The park is also home to wild boars, sambar, sloth bears, striped hyena, nilgai, rhesus macaque, chital, mugger crocodile, and leopard. There is the majestic Ranthambore Fort within the park, which is a must visit.
#2 – Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
Named after Jim Corbett, the famous tracker, conservationist, naturalist, and author, Corbett National Park is located in the foothills of the Himalayas, 245.3 kilometers from Delhi. It is home to 50 species of mammals, 110 tree species, 25 reptile species, and 580 bird species. The Bengal tiger, elephants, leopards, fishing cat, sambar deer, barking deer, leopard cat, and the Indian python, are the most famous residents. Every year, more than 70,000 visitors visit the park.
#3 – Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Bandhavgarh is in central India, in the state of Madhya Pradesh. This is perhaps the best park in the country for tiger spotting as it has the highest tiger density. Set within the Vindhyachal Mountains, Bandhavgarh is very beautiful too. As per the last census, there is 1 tiger in every 4.77 km2 here. Bandhavgarh is also home of the barking deer, sambar, the Indian bison, wolf, nilgai, chital, leopard, kingfisher, horn bill, eagles, and many other bird species.
#4 – Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat
Gir forest in the west of India is the only place in the continent where you can see Asiatic Lions. Once the happy hunting grounds of royalty, it is now a protected ecosystem. There are 523 lions at Gir according to the last census, revealing the fact that the lions are doing very well here. In fact, there are plans to relocate some of them elsewhere as space is running out fast. The park’s rugged scrub land and forests is also home to the leopard, jungle cat, Golden jackal, striped hyena, Indian cobra, honey badger, desert cats, and many others.
#5 – Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Kanha National Park in central India is the inspiration of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. This is one of the most beautiful forests in the country. The northern and eastern parts are open grasslands, while the south is hilly. Safaris are held every day in the morning and evening, except Wednesday evening. Choose the Kanha or Kisli zone for the best chance of seeing the Bengal tiger. Kanha is also home to the black panther, barasingha, spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, gaur, wild dogs, wild boars, python, cobra, and many species of birds and reptiles.
#6 – Sundarban National Park, West Bengal
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sundarbans National Park is spread over the Indian state of West Bengal and neighboring Bangladesh. It is one of the largest mangrove forests in the world. You have a chance to see the Bengal tiger, leopard cats, fishing cats, wild boar, flying fox, chital, pangolin, mongoose, macaques, and the jungle cat here. There are plenty of saltwater crocodiles and birds at Sundarbans as well. But more than the animal sightings, Sundarbans is about understanding the ecosystem, and how the rising and falling tides affect the forest and its animals. You can do a river cruise through the forest here, mush like the Amazon rain forest. It will be an adventure to remember.