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At the heart of the Asiatic jungles resides Panthera tigris, the world’s largest ‘big cat’. The walking embodiment of India’s heart, spirit and soul. No matter which ecosystem you find Asia’s tigers in, they are the dominant species. Their roar resounds for miles when they wish to be heard, yet they will usually be found silently stalking unseen through the jungle, a stealthy shadow with deadly teeth and claws. When it comes to tiger tours, India is without a doubt one of the best destinations.

Tigers in IndiaPhoto credit: Mangesh Desai, Go Wild, India

It’s easy to see how tigers have come to be held in such high regard, both worshipped and feared. The tiger has been an iconic symbol of courage and power for millennia. Their image and mythology have been woven through Asian culture, folklore, religion, and ritual. International Tigers Day recently marked the latest tiger census in India, revealing 2,967 are calling the country home. This is an impressive increase of a third since the last census report in 2014, making India the natural home of 70% of the tiger population worldwide.

Wild tigers abound in the country, with prime tiger habitats across India in several geographical locations. These include the Shivalik-Gangetic Plains, Brahmaputra Flood Plains, the Western Ghats, the forests of Central India and the Eastern Ghats, the North-Eastern hill, and the Sundarbans mangroves.

Tiger in forest in IndiaPhoto credit: Mangesh Desai, Go Wild, India

Nothing quite beats the experience of immersing yourself in the fresh green of the forests, the heady smell of drenched mud, and time spent savouring the wilderness and all it has to offer. As a tiger approaches, you may not see it, but you will feel it as the atmosphere of the whole jungle changes. Animal warnings sing through the air, and the tension goes up as a majestic tiger enters its territory.

The best tiger habitats in India

Every tiger habitat offers its own unique brand of charm. From Jim Corbett National Park with its picturesque landscapes, punctuated by tigers dipping into the Ramganga’s swift waters, to Kanha and Bandhavgarh, India’s central forests, where you can watch the tigers prowl through the towering Sal. While it’s rare to see a tiger treading the mangrove swamps of the Sundarbans, it’s a sight you will never forget if you’re lucky enough to glimpse it. Meanwhile, the terai floodplains of Kaziranga offer different magical experience. While the forests of Dudhwa are surreal and mystic.

Royal Bengal TigerPhoto credit:Peter Lobo, All India Birding, India

The dry and deciduous forests of Maharashtra’s Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve offer an entirely different experience. Referred to as ‘the land of tigers’ the sweltering heat leads to some amazing sights that can’t be found anywhere else on earth. By contrast, Southern India’s forests offer lush green vegetation, while Ranthambore boasts the perfect combination of natural beauty and historic charm.

Any of these habitats offer the experience of a lifetime and the chance to watch wild tigers as they were meant to be seen – at one with nature.

Travelling to India for tiger tours

While the prospect of travel to India can be a daunting one and the thought of undertaking the wilderness in the hopes of catching a glimpse of some tigers even more so, it’s well worth the trip. Modern Indian safaris are incredibly accessible, offering safety and a range of options from the affordable to the luxurious. Vital to the success of your trip is finding true experts who can guide you with their extensive knowledge of the Indian landscape and wildlife.

Parwali crossing ramgangaPhoto credit: Mangesh Desai, Go Wild, India

There is an art to tiger tracking that should not be underestimated. It takes years to master and learn the ways of the jungle, requiring a great deal of experience and a keen observational eye. There is a lot of luck involved in sighting tigers in the wild, yet the guides, naturalists, and gypsy drivers of India know the right places to be, at the right times to maximise your chances.

The majority of India’s national parks open in October and close in June for the monsoon rains that flood the country every July through to September. Tiger sightings during the monsoons are rare, but each season has its perks. The winter forests are dense, green and beautiful, with a pleasant atmosphere and climate. Summer, is hot and dry; but, the heat increases your chances of catching sight of a tiger at bodies of water as they quench their thirst.

Further Reading

How do tiger tours work?

Tiger safaris tend to be run in open-air 4×4 Jeeps that can accommodate as many as six people plus their driver and guide. If you’re travelling in a smaller group, you may want to book a private safari so as to enjoy a Jeep to yourself. The timing of your safari is crucial, with the later sunrise in winter months affecting the time of day you go out during this season. Day permits allow you to remain in a park from dusk until dawn; but, these are more expensive. It’s also important to know that permits are limited. You will need to confirm your safari beforehand, with the recommendation being to book at least four months before you travel.

Tiger Tour In IndiaPhoto credit: Enchanted India, India

There is no wild animal that has captured the human imagination quite so much as the tiger. With so much written in Hindu mythology about these beautiful creatures, they are the forests’ most feared and revered predator. As the biggest and most powerful member of the feline family, India offers a truly extraordinary experience for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Every safari is different, with surprises in store for those with a keen eye for observation and the patience to wait for nature to come to you. From the frenzied calls of other animals as the tiger approaches to the rush of adrenaline surging through your veins as you catch sight of your first tiger. It’s a truly exceptional experience.

Are you interested in a tiger tour in India?

For more information on seeing tigers in the wild, check out our complete list of local wildlife specialists offering wildlife and tiger tours in India here.

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