Seeing wild tigers in India is a once in a lifetime experience and definitely something to tick off your bucket list. I was incredibly lucky during my visit and got within 5 metres of one of these majestic creatures, seeing 4 females in total.
Another great reason to visit a National Park is that India is EXHAUSTING. The cities are hectic and dirty and chaotic and hot. For me, heading into rural India to a national park was a great way to escape, recharge and relax. For this reason we also chose to spend more than we usually would and stay in a luxury resort (still waaay cheaper than you would pay elsewhere).
DO NOT MISS GOING TO ONE (OR MORE) OF THE NATIONAL PARKS WHILE IN INDIA.
Top Tips for Bandhavgarh:
- Book your Safari drives waaaay in advance. The best zone to be in is Tala. Other zones have good periods and bad but Tala is consistent and accordingly is the most popular zone.
- Book your own vehicle if possible. Shared vehicles have 6 tourists in them so you will be packed in. Its well worth the slight extra cost for the comfort; being able to move around the park at your own pace; and control your own noise levels (without having to stop for others to take that 100th photo of a deer or deal with someone else’s loud children). I understand if its not affordable but you won’t save much money sharing a ride if you are a group of 2-3. Sharing may be worth considering if you are alone and on a strict budget.
- Allow enough time. Don’t travel to rural India to go to a National Park just to do one drive into the park. Remember these are wild animals – you may not see any! Allow a minimum of 3 safari drives and you will hopefully get lucky. If you want to be sure (as sure as you can be!) allow a week.
We did 5 Safari drives over 3 days. 1 of these was in the Magadhi Zone (afternoon drive). We saw no tigers here but did come across an even rarer wildcat. We had 4 drives in the Tala Zone (2 morning and 2 afternoon) and spotted tigers on every drive. All safari drives were in our own vehicle with the same driver/guide.
Where to stay:
We stayed at Tigergarh resort and can absolutely recommend it.
They organised all our drives for us; made us amazing food everyday (of which there was way too much), the rooms were comfortable and the staff were super friendly.
We were the only guests when we stayed there (which was a little weird) but the resort tends to receive mostly only local guests and it wasn’t a holiday time.
Getting there and away: The best way to get to Bandhavgarh is by Train to Umaria. We took an overnight train (definitely the best way to get around in India) from Varanasi: you can read about our trip here. It took 11 hours to get to Umaria from Varanasi. We left Umaria by train to Agra (this journey took almost 14 hours).
We booked pickup from the train station in Umaria through our resort. This cost 1,200 INR (one way).
You probably don’t need to go anywhere but the resort and the park – your resort will drive you here. We needed a pharmacy and to buy some dust masks during our time here and our driver happily stopped for us at the small town to purchase these items on our way back to the resort after a safari drive.
What to bring:
- Warm clothes in layers so you can remove them as you warm up (the morning drives are absolutely freezing)
- Dark, plain clothing (no bright colours as this can startle the animals)
- Dust masks (it’s great to have this or at least a scarf to cover your face)
- A neck pillow to sit on: the rides are BUMPY
- A great camera to capture it all!
What to expect:
Expect to spend hours driving around a national park: it’s not all tiger sightings. But – enjoy the experience of straining your eyes to see them in the undergrowth and yet always having the guide spot everything first.
Expect to get up at a ridiculous hour for those morning drives – it’s worth it! Tigers are more active in the early mornings.
Expect to be exhausted between drives – you will go to sleep early and probably nap between drives also. You won’t need other activities to keep you occupied – although there is a pool at the resort if you do need something to do after lunch!
Expect to learn some amazing things about tigers and be wowed at the sight of one of these creatures in the wild along with the multitude of other animals you will come across in the park.