Have you visited Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand - Yes
Have you visited Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh - Yes
Have you visited Ranthambore National park, Rajasthan - Yes
Have you visited Tadoba National Park, Maharashtra - No ☹
Believe us just like you even we weren't aware that Tadoba exists in Maharashtra until it started gaining prominence since the last few years. This place located in our state itself (We being Mumbaikars ????) is a blessing from above.
We had Tadoba in our bucket list since many years and eventually made it happen in the summer of 2018.
About Tadoba Tiger Reserve: Primarily known as Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), it is one of India's 47 project tiger reserves located in Chandrapur district in India. It is the oldest and largest national park in Maharashtra created in 1995. The word 'Tadoba' is derived from the name of God "Tadoba" or "Taru," which is praised by local tribal people of this region and "Andhari" is derived from the name of Andhari river that flows in this area.
If guides and wildlife experts are to be believed, Tadoba houses around 88 tigers in this area! Yes, you heard it right 88 however, spotting any of them is an enormous task as we found out.
Flora: Teak, Ain, Bija, Dhaoda, Bamboo, Haldu, Arjun, Tendu, Salai, Jamun, Mahua.
Fauna: Tiger, Leopard, Sloth bear, Wild dog, Jackal, Sambar, Indian Bison, Barking Deer, Blue Bull, Spotted Deer, Chausingha, Ratel, Flying Squirrel, Wild Boar, Langur. Recently in May 2018, there was a rare sighting of Black Panther too which had never happened in Tadoba's history.
Enough gyaan now let's start planning the trip...
Primary things to take care of:
Best Time to Visit
Safari Booking Online
Transportation to Tadoba (Rail, Bus and Flight)
1. Best time to Visit:
Summers (April to Mid-June) are the best time to visit Tadoba owing to the high number of tiger and other species sightings but be ready to face the torturous heat and keep yourself hydrated all the time. You can also visit during Winters (October to February) if you want a chilly weather and can't take the summer heat however the sighting chances would be comparatively lesser. Tadoba forest closes during the rainy season starting from June to late September. Opening Hours: Tadoba reserve is open daily except Tuesdays for safaris. There are 2 safari slots per day morning and afternoon. The gates open from 6 am until 11 am and then in the afternoon from 3 pm until 6.30 pm.
2. Safari Booking Online
How to book your safari: The 625.40 sq. km Forest reserve is divided into 2 zones; Core and Buffer.
Buffer Zones are Alizanza Zone, Devada Adegaon, Agarzari,Junona, Kolara Buffer and Ramdegi Buffer Gate.
Core Zones namely are Moharli, Kolara, Khutwanda,Navegoan,Kolsa-Zari and Pangdi.
Tadoba park is divided into three safari ZONES:
Tadoba Zone/Range (via Kolara & Navegaon gates)
Moharli Zone/Range (via Moharli & Khutwanda Gates)
Kolsa Zone/Range (via Zari & Pangadi gates)
(Actually, Tadoba and Moharli are interconnected and gypsies go from one to another while entry to Kolsa from other zones and vice versa is barred today)
You can book your safaris online only on the Maharashtra Eco Tourism online especially if you need to book the core zones (Moharli, Kolara, Khutwanda, Navegoan, Kolsa-Zari and Pangdi). This website includes all the details about booking a safari and is a seamless process. Most of the hoteliers have connects with the forest officials and they can manage to get your bookings done last minute but that would be a little dearer on your pockets and you would land up taking a safari in the buffer zones.
The link to book your safari online : https://nationalpark.mahaonline.gov.in/User/Availability.aspx
If you see below, we have attached a snapshot of the online safari booking for all the zones and the core zones are almost full and only the buffer zones are available.
We suggest booking these safaris atleast 2-3 months in advance if you want to do core areas along with buffer zones. They generally have around 10-12 jeeps going from the main gates, Moharli and Kolara these two being the primarily big ones are located at two different ends of the forest. For the rest of the core zones, they have around 5-6 jeeps both in the morning and evening. If you happen to plan Tadoba trip last minute, don't fret as buffer gate tickets are available on the spot once you have landed there.
Which Safari Zone to Book: There is no such rule book as to which zone is the best for sighting. The Core zones tend to get the first preference based on the number of good sightings as compared to Buffer however one cannot undermine the buffer areas. We suggest do a mix of both if you are going for 4 safaris in total, you can do 3 core + 1 buffer to get a feel of both the zones.
While booking our safari, we downloaded this app available on Android/IoS - WildTrailsIndia where they have given a detailed description of all the sightings along with the recent comparison of all the core and buffer gates and morning vs evening comparison.
Bases on the recent sightings index we happened to book 3 Core (Khutwanda, Navegoan and Kolara). We missed booking Moharli just by a day ☹ However we suggest you don't make the mistake like we did. We had no idea of the distance between these gates and just blindly booked them as per the higher tiger sighting index. So, when you book multiple safaris, make sure you choose gates that are close by as the gates are further apart (60 to 80 to 120 kms away) and the roads are not well paved hence you will not only spend a lot of time traveling between gates, but also get very tired before the safari starts leading to not enjoying your safari.
If you are staying at Moharli, then opt for Moharli, Khutwanda core gates and Agarzari and Devada and Junona buffer gates. If you are staying at Kolara, then opt for Kolara, Navegoan, Kolara buffer gates If you are staying at Navegoan, then opt for Navegoan Core and Ramdegi Buffer gates
3. How to reach Tadoba from Mumbai:
There are 4 modes wherein you can reach the land of tigers :
By Road: The adventurous ones can opt for this being the cheapest one if you have your own vehicle. The drive is approximately 850 kms and roughly around 20 hrs. considering you will take some breaks. However, this option will tend to be a little painful if you're driving in summers due to the harsh summers especially in central Maharashtra. If you don't have your own vehicle you can easily rent a vehicle or self-drive using Zoom cars.
By Bus: You can ply by bus as well from Mumbai to Nagpur through Redbus mobile app or www.redbus.in which will cost you around 1000 one way per person. And then hop onto a connecting bus (MSRTC or DNR Express) from Nagpur to Chandrapur which would cost you around 200 rupees per person. And the last leg would be to reach Tadoba by a taxi which is around 50 mins drive approx. 29 kms. We frankly feel this option would be quite tiresome and frustrating.
By Train: You can take the Anandwan Super-Fast express originating from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus LTT at 11.30 am however it runs on Mondays only but the best part it takes only 14 hrs in total. Sleeper Train tickets would cost you approximately around 500 rupees and AC 3 tier would cost you around Rs. 1200 per person one way.
By Flight: You can take this option as the best one and reach Nagpur Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Airport in less than 2 hrs. We preferred the flight as we got a good deal of around 5000 INR per person return flight ticket and primarily since we were travelling during the hottest month in Nagpur. If you happen to book a little in advance say 1-2 months prior, you can end up getting a good deal.
4. Hotel Accommodation
We had done a lot of research prior to freezing on our stay. We wanted to stay at a place where we could connect most to Nature and wildlife and Camp Serai Tiger gave us the best jungle stay of our lives. We had absolutely no regrets from this place wherein initially we were worried as to how we will manage this crazy weather for 4 days but Camp Serai took good care of us.
Our package covered everything from breakfast to lunch, high tea and dinner. We paid per couple Rs. 13500 for 4 days including all meals which sums upto Rs. 3375 per day which was a steal deal.
Camp Serai Resort is located at Moharli, just 6 kms from Moharli gate and houses 'Semi Tented Accommodation' designed to cater the needs of nature lovers, wild lifers and naturalists. The Owner Mukul Sharma and Manager Anirudh took good care of us. The best highlight of this place apart from the lush green trees, cozy tents, warm welcome and yummilicious food was the huge machan built for bird and animal watching. We used to go up there every evening and watch the sun go down.
Contact Person: Mr. Mukul Rao
Contact no: +919810450959
5. Local Travelling
As we mentioned earlier, we happened to book different gates for our safari without knowing their respective distance from each other, so for us the challenge was travelling to each gate early morning and evening from our Hotel. Hence, we decided to book Zoom Car for 4 days wherein we self-drove from Nagpur Airport to Tadoba and vice versa.
Zoom Car costed us Rs. 6000 per couple for 4 days. It was our first experience with Zoom car and it was an amazing one. The condition and the performance of the vehicle was up to the mark and we definitely recommend it to all.
Few Tips to share for your upcoming Tadoba Trip:
1. Do book you online safari in advance (preferably 2 months).
2. Do carry sunglasses, hat, scarf, long sleeve cotton clothes and Eco-friendly water bottle to keep yourself hydrated when travelling in summers.
3. Do note that you will not find alcohol shops anywhere in Tadoba hence before you are entering Chandrapur, pick up your alcohol before Borkhedi Toll Plaza and buy it at your own discretion as Tadoba is a dry place.
4. If you are travelling during summers, the weather is harsh hence it is recommended to drive or rent a car as taking the public mode of transport will be an exhausting and draining experience.
5. Try to book more of morning safaris if your visiting during summers as afternoon safaris can be torturous.
6. Do carry your camera equipment's as you will love sighting the animals and capture them in your lens.
7.Do take care of your camera lenses as there would be massive amount of dust
8. Please follow the instructions of your guide and be safe
9. Do not in any way harm or tease the animals. Please respect the forest rules and oblige by them in every manner.
Tadoba definitely makes up for the most offbeat getaway if you dont want to go to the usual Mahabaleshwar or Lonavala and the best thing being you get to explore the stunning wildlife bringing out the child in you. Go on now and book your safari!! Have an amazing trip and if you have any questions, do drop us a note. #offbeatgetaway