Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know!

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

Pench Tiger Safari is one of the most underrated places in India, making it more exciting since there are fewer travelers/tourists to explore the area. Less tourists also means getting a chance to soak in more local experiences since it is far from commercialization!

The Land of Mowgli’s wildlife beckoned us in February 2020. Living the story of my childhood seemed extremely exciting and it was even more enthralling when I found out that Mowgli story is 95% fiction!

And do you think I needed a third reason to visit Pench?

Welcome to a blog which is the only guide you will need for planning your Pench Safari!!

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

Before we read more, I would like to enlighten / remind us of Safari Etiquette!

• No littering

• Don’t screaming (esp. if you have kids) or calling each other while spotting any animal or bird

• Don’t use flash from your gadgets. It scares the animals.

• No walking i.e. getting out of your vehicle

• Don’t kill / push anyone for ‘the perfect photo’

• No feeding (this habit makes them dependent on humans instead of searching their way in the jungles)

• No chasing any animal

• Seeing a tiger is NOT your ultimate goal. Enjoy all the other animals and be happy with everything you see! If you are lucky and patient you can spot other wild animals too like panther, deer, blue bull, langoor, wild dogs, bear, Chital, hyena, jackal, leopard, wild boar, rhesus macaque, civet cats, gaur etc.

• You need to talk with minimum volume possible and enjoy the flora and fauna as it comes to you.

Remember that we are visiting their homes and we need to respect their way of lives. Pench 2020

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

How to book your Pench safari?

The two ways to do this are:

1. Ask your hotel to take care of it, how we asked Vannraj Resorts to help us out – but this is going to cost you extra (INR ~2000-3000)

2. Book online here.

A few of 50,000 spotted deer staring right back at ya!

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

Things to know before booking a Pench safari:

Which gate to book for Pench Safari?

There are five gates to enter from – Turia Gate, Jamatara Gate, and Karmajhiri Gate being the core zone; and Rukhad Gate, and Teliya Gate being the buffer zone.

Core Zone means the dense forest area and Buffer Zone means the diluted area of forest – a part in between forest and the villages.

The 6th option being Rhunizuni Trail from Karmajhiri Gate which lets us walk around (of-course on the borders of the jungle where wild animals do not venture)! We can see pug marks, animals’ callings, and also have an option of bird watching!

We had heard of Turia Gate getting more sightings and went ahead with our private vehicle booking for the morning and a shared canter booking for the evening.

But on the contrary, I know of people who have had more tiger sightings from Karmajhiri Gate. You can also get an added advantage of less crowd and subsequently, less ruckus.

In conclusion, tiger sightings totally depend on your luck. Know about other gates and total vehicles allowed in a day here.

Waiting for our canter to be filled outside Turia Gate, Pench

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

The best time to visit Pench

November to February is a good time for tiger sightings. However, the best months would be for the summer season – March to May

My trip was in February and I did spot migratory birds, jackals, bison, sambhar deer, spotted deer, peacocks, and tigers of course!

In conclusion, whichever season you pick, you will always have a good time if you appreciate other animals and birds along with the tigers!


Timings and working days for Pench Safari

The safaris start from 6 am to 9 /11 am and 3 pm to 6 pm from Monday to Sunday in Summers

Winters- 7:30 am to 10:30 am and 3 pm to 5:30 pm.

The park is shut on Wednesdays – do consider this while planning your trip

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

When to book your safari?

120 days prior to your trip is the ideal time to book since all the spots fill up quickly for the core zone and also you cannot book in advance more than this .

However, there are a few spots available last minute for a shared and private safari if you’re in luck.

Last-minute booking (at least 2 days prior to your safari date) will cost you 1.5x if you book with your hotel and hence planning is the key to save an unnecessary expense.

But it will cost you the same if you book it from the Reserve’s Gate (offline) for any gate and for online you can book it here. Bookings for the next day are open at 11 am.

Permit status with “W” indicates your permit is under “waiting”. If it doesn’t get clear 5 days from your excursion date, you visit will be cancelled and you’ll be refunded.

Tatkal bookings open 1 day prior to Excursion at 5:00 pm till safari starts

How many safaris are enough?

Well, I would say a hundred will also leave you wanting for more!

I would love to be in the jungle the entire time but on a realist note and considering your plans, ideally, 2-4 safaris should be sufficient.


A private or a shared safari?

A private safari in the morning will give you 5 hours and a shared one in the afternoon will give you 3 hours with the wildlife and guide/s.

While a private safari gives you the luxury of stopping anywhere for an infinite amount of time to enjoy and click the nature, a shared one leaves no stone unturned in answering your queries and imparting knowledge about the wildlife. However, be mindful of annoying co-passengers who have zero/less safari etiquette!

Hence, I’d suggest taking one each or in case of cash crunch, all the shared safaris is also a good deal.


A feast packed by Vannraj Resort for our 5 hour morning private safari

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

Where to stay in Pench?

While many options are available for stay around the safari area, Vannraj Resort, would be my pick.

It would be because it is an environment-friendly property spread right beside the buffer area. With options ranging from a 5-star villa to an affordable machan, they have it all with world-class hospitality services!

They offer a wide variety of buffets for EVERY MEAL irrespective of the house you have selected. With facilities ranging from an Ayurveda spa, a pool, and e-Bikes, they have it all.

Tip: Pre-book the services of their in-house naturist Siddharth. He is extremely phenomenal with the knowledge of flora and fauna and hence is always occupied. A few hours with him in the safari will leave you astounded!

You can check other stay options on Goibibo/MakeMyTrip.

Dreaming of bath in a fancy open shower at Vannraj Resorts

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

Things to do apart from Safari at Pench

All the below mentioned experiences were arranged by Vannraj Resort.


Sunset at Khokha Lake

It was a typical quaint village setting when our open gypsy passed the by-lanes of the villages, crossing the cute lambs, calves, cows, goats, and other cattle. ⁣This no edit photo tells you how much we enjoyed the serene evening with just a little crowd around. ⁣

Another thing that made me happy was no commercialization of this place.⁣ This lake was just left to be how it is pretty in its natural form. No fences, benches, boating, trash, hawkers and fewer humans to not cause much harm around.⁣⁣

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

Night Camping at Khokha Lake

Camping under the stars in Madhya Pradesh? As surreal as it sounds, it is true, all thanks to no pollution on Pench!


Bird Watching

Our driver Nandu who is a localite helped us spot numerous birds while we were off-roading.


Crop watching!

Hows does stopping by at a cotton field sound? Us city dwellers were utterly astounded when we spotted some overgrown cotton fields while we were off-roading from Pacchhdhaar towards Pench.

A cotton field for us to gape at! PC: Bhakti

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

Visiting the Pottery Village– Pacchhdhaar

Pacchhdhaar’s economy thrives on pottery and is a must-visit place for this experience.

We made some pots from scratch with the help of potter of course, and enjoyed every bit of this experience.

Also, do help by pumping money in the economy by buying some mud artifacts/utilities from them – its raw, natural and extremely beneficial for our health!

Yep, I am skilled potter now

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

How to reach Pench?

Pench does not have a direct airport or station. Making the closest cities (airport and railway stations) Nagpur (81 km and ~2 hours drive away) and Jabalpur (234 km and ~5 hours drive away) and entry point to Pench.

Another railway station, Chhindwara is the third spot to enter Pench (75 km and ~2.5 hours drive away).

You can take help from your resort/hotel for a pickup and drop just like we did from Vannraj Resort for Nagpur.

There are public buses available but beyond some distance, you will need a private vehicle and hence it is best to get yourself a cab directly from Nagpur.

At one of the beautiful corners in Vannraj Resort

Photo of Pench Tiger Safari – Everything you need to know! by Parita

Costs for Pench Safari:

The costs mentioned are as of February 2020.

• A shared canter costs INR 600 per person which includes 2 guides to cater to 10-13 people in a vehicle. This can be booked online or offline in advance or last minute for the same cost.

• A private safari of a maximum of 5-6 people costs ~INR 5000 at any gate including the gypsy, fuel, driver, a private guide, and entrance charges. This cost is for booking done directly offline or on the website.

• A private safari booked 2-3 days in prior with your hotel will cost INR 8000 at Turia Gate and INR6000 at Karmajhiri Gate including the gypsy, fuel, driver, a private guide, and entrance charges.

• Train from Mumbai to Nagpur and back cost INR ~1000. Flight costs to Nagpur will depend on your starting city.

• Stay costs start from INR~2000 to INR~30,000 – Select the level of luxury you want.


This blog post is in collaboration with Vannraj Resorts but the views, photos, and opinions are as always mine.

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