Bandhavgarh National Park visit was such a lively change in comparison to our previous travels. Instead of chasing beaches and mountains.
Bandhavgarh was all about forests, nature, wildlife, and a reminder of life itself.
Planning before arriving upon Bandhavgarh National Park
As the two of us have never been to a national park, this year for our anniversary we decided to visit one of the many glorious national parks in India. India being a tropical country has very rich wildlife in terms of variety of birds and animals and we have several parks dedicated to different animals.
Starting off with the basics, a quick list of reasons on why we narrowed down on Bandhavgarh National Park.
Why did we choose to visit Bandhavgarh National Park?
1.Time of Visit
For any animal sightings, the time of the visit is crucial. Depending on the season this varies. Peak summers like April and May in India are usually known for their animal sightings because the heat drives the animals to come out in search of water.
Another reason why summers are a good time to visit is that the forests are not as dense in this period, which means you can spot a tiger walking along far inside as well from the roads and pathways.
Since we were planning to go in the middle of April, Kanha and Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh were ideal choices given summer temperatures could soar even as high as to 45 degree Celsius.
Bandhavgarh is not a very large national park compared to others like Kanha. However, Bandhavgarh National Park is said to have the highest density of tigers per acre of forest. This means that the likelihood of spotting is much higher.
However, we realized after our visit that there is more to Bandhavgarh National Park than just tigers. They have an amazing diversity in wildlife that needs a special mention but more on that later
Bandhavgarh National Park was one of the few parks that could be reached with a direct flight from Mumbai and 4 hours on the road. Bandhavgarh and Kanha are about 160-180 Kms from Jabalpur airport and is a 4-hour drive, which makes it very easy to commute for short trips
Best Time to Visit Bandhavgarh
Bandhavgarh National Park has a great diversity in terms of both diversity of animals and birds found here. If you are into bird watching, then the winter months starting October are the best since the forests are much denser and there are migratory birds that come visiting.
For animal spotting, the summer months are considered the best so March to May.
Bandhavgarh National Park: How to get there?
By Air: Jabalpur airport is the closest from where the drive to Bandhavgarh National Park is about 175kms and a 4-hour drive
By Train: Umaria is the closest station to Bandhavgarh National Park. A 1000 bucks ride will take you from Umaria to Tala where Bandhavgarh National Park is located in less than an hour.
Road connectivity is not as great, so it is better to go ahead by either of the two options above
Where to Stay near Bandhavgarh?
Bandhavgarh National Park has attracted a lot of attention from tourists in the past decade and one is spoilt for choices when it comes to places to stay.
Most of the properties are priced higher than average. We were booked in Aranyak Resort initially, read my review here. The place is good for the price paid, however, the service could have been much better
However, we also had a chance to stay in Bandhav Vilas since Aranyak was overbooked and they requested us to shift for our last day. It is a gorgeous property for sure but definitely not worth 15-17k a night.
Choosing the right Safari
Bandhavgarh National Park by law has been split into 80% forests where tourists are not allowed and the remaining 20% of the forest lands are split into 3 zones - Tala, Magadhi and Khaitauli
My personal experience visiting Bandhavgarh National Park
Each of them has more or less the same amount of forest area, however, they are known for different species.
Tala is famous for tiger spotting and has a wide diversity of deer, antelopes, Sambar, insanely long-tailed Langurs, Wild Boars, Jackals, Bisons and the occasional Leopard spotting up on the hilly terrains within Tala Zone. We spotted several birds like parakeets, hornbills, Egyptian vultures, peacock, and peafowls.
Magadhi is famous for its tigers Solo, Dotty, Mahaman and their cubs. The zone known more for its female tigers and their little ones, this zone is more about spotting these lovely animals. The forests here are much thicker than Tala and though the diversity in wildlife here is just as much as in Tala, spotting them is tricky for they might be in much deeper parts of the jungle.
Khaitauli is one zone we did not get a chance to visit but were told that it was a more popular zone for bird enthusiasts for the zone has several waterbodies that attract their attention.
We chose a private safari for the two of us and the per safari the actual costs is 5550. However, if you were to book it through hotels in which case the pick up is arranged from the hotel itself, they charge you 6500.
However, if you were to go in groups the cost per person would be lesser. While the open jeeps can accommodate 6 people at one go, my recommendation though would be not to go in groups larger than 4 in one jeep as they view then becomes restricted for the two seated in the middle
Keep in Mind that there is a cap on the number of vehicles they allow for every safari so ensure you make your safari bookings well in advance (at least a month before to ensure that you get the slot of your preference)