Abounding with lush jungles inhabited by species of the Animal Kingdom, India has a number of wildlife sanctuaries, nature reserves and national parks that are the perfect places for adventure safari. The heart of the nature gives shelters to the wilderness, which furthermore makes for an adrenalin pumping exploration. Wildlife sanctuaries in India are spread all over the country, from the foothills of the mountains, to the land of sparse vegetation, from the lush hills to the banks of the river.
Get ready for thrilling adventure, take a look at the popular national parks for wildlife safaris in India.
1. Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
On the list of the most popular wildlife sanctuaries in India at the very top we have the Ranthambore National Park. Close to the town of Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, the wildlife reserve was used formerly as hunting grounds by the Rajputana royalty. Now the nature reserve is home to royal Bengal tigers, Indian leopard, Nilgai, wild boar, sambar, striped hyena, sloth bear, mugger crocodile and chital.
Ranthambore wild reserve is also known for a wide variety of trees, plants, birds and reptiles in India. Embark upon a safari in the early morning, stay at one of the luxury wildlife resorts like royalty and have a thrilling adventure. Meanwhile, also pay a visit to the 11-century Ranthambore Fort, now in ruins but listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for Hill Forts in Rajasthan.
Famous For: Royal Bengal Tigers
Safari Options: canter, gypsy & jeep
Best time to visit: October to June, while the months of March to May are better for tiger sighting.
2. Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
Settled on the foothills of Uttarakhand, next on our list of popular wildlife sanctuaries is, the Jim Corbett National Park. Established in 1936, named after famous naturalist Jim Corbett, India’s first national park was shelter to the endangered royal Bengal tigers.
Owing to the healthy population of Tigers in addition to Leopards, Wild Elephants, Himalayan Tahr, a variety of birds, Corbett is quite well-known among wildlife adventure enthusiasts. Nurtured by rivers and ravines, the diverse landscape of the national park is divided into five zones, each with its unique landscape, wildlife species, season, time of visit, etc. Safari options include both the open for wheeler jeep and elephant back. Enhance the experience of wildlife adventure in Jim Corbett with a stay at one of luxury resorts as well as other thrilling options.
Famous For: Royal Bengal Tigers & Great Indian Elephant
Safari options: Jungle Safari, Elephant Ride, Bird watching
Best time to visit: November to June, while tigers are best spotted from March to May.
3. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Moving on, the next popular wildlife sanctuary in India on our list is the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh. Boasting of the highest density of Tigers in the world, the natural reserve in the heart of Madhya Pradesh was once upon a time the royal hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Rewa.
Set at the foothills of the Vindhyanchal Mountains, the national park is known for the Royal Bengal Tigers and the unique White Tigers but that is not all. Over 37 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, 80 species of butterflies, and more make Bandhavgarh their home. Jeep safaris take visitors to spot wildlife in their natural habitat. Adding to the thrill is a visit to the ancient Bandhavgarh Fort and staying at one of the wildlife resorts.
Famous For: Highest density of Bengal tigers
Safari Options: Jeep / Car Safari and Elephant Safari
Best time to visit: October to June and tigers are spotted during March to May.
4. Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat
Want to visit the ‘King of the Jungle’? Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is the exclusive home of Asiatic Lions in India. The national park in Gujarat is one of the most popular wildlife sanctuaries in India. Settled at the western Gujarati peninsula, the Gir Forest was formerly a part of the Nawab of Junagarh's private hunting grounds.
The rugged scrublands and forests of Gir offers the unparalleled opportunity to get a glimpse of the rare Asiatic Lions coupled with elusive wild animals and hard-to-find birds. The easily spotted wildlife in their natural habitats are like Asiatic wild ass, hyenas, Gir foxes, pygmy woodpecker, brown fish owl and black buck etc. Gir is home to 523 Lions, 300 Leopards, 200 species of birds, 40 species of reptiles and amphibians making it a very enriching wildlife adventure in India.
Famous For: Asiatic Lions, Leopard, Jackals, and Antelope
Safari Options: Jeep
Best time to visit: December to April, though the national park is open from 16th October to 15th June.
5. Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Moving on, Kaziranga National Park is one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries in India which is also listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Settled in the lap of north East India, in Assam, the wildlife reserve in nurtured by nature and kept in its true form. Kaziranga is home to a large population of One Horned Rhinoceros in the world. In addition to the rhinos, there are elephants, bears, panthers, various birds, some migrating from far corners of the world and more.
Spread across the floodplains of the Brahmaputra River, the nature reserve comprises of the forests, wetlands and grasslands and is a part of Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot. Planning a wildlife holiday in Kaziranga is a dream come true as one can get a view of the very rare Ganges River dolphins.
Famous For: UNESCO World Heritage Site in India, Great one-horned rhinoceroses
Safari options: Jeep Safari, Elephant Ride
Best time to visit: November to April is the ideal time to visit.
6. Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
When it comes to the top wildlife sanctuaries in India, Kanha National Park truly deserves a mention. The inspiration of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, the lush forests of Kanha is home to Royal Bengal Tigers, Black Panther, Bears, Pythons, Elephants and many more.
Settled in the foothills of Satpuras in Madhya Pradesh, Kanha is prosperous in bio-diversity. The vast expanse of greenery of evergreen forests nourished by meandering rivers creates the perfect backdrop. Embark of safari and get to see big cats, leopards, Gaurs, barsinghas, dholes, Indian bisons, sambar, black buck, jackal, pea fowls, storks, herons, parakeets, cuckoos and drongos in their natural habitat. Add to thrill as you plan stay at one of the luxury resorts. Bid goodbye to the cities and embrace the natural way of life in Kanha.
Famous For: Tigers
Safari Options: Jeep Safari
Best time to visit: October to mid-June with March to May being ideal to spot wildlife though the park remains open from 16th October to 30th June.
7. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala
Located in Kerala which is titled God’s Own Country, Periyar National Park is blessed by the very Gods therefore abounding in natural beauty. The wilderness is home to some of the diverse species and the national park is one of the best places for wildlife holidays in India. Elephants, Tigers, and a variety of birds are the key highlights but that is not all. The beauty of its scenic location in the lap of the Western Ghats in Kerala is truly amazing. The Periyar Lake, the source of water in the national park offers boat cruises where you can easily get to spot a number of animals quenching their thirst at the lake shores. Furthermore, even safari in Periyar is unique as you get options of boat safari, jungle patrolling, elephant safari, stay in the forest and more.
Famous For: Tiger, Elephant
Safari Options: Boat, Jeep, Elephant
Best time to visit: Open throughout the year, September to December is the best time to go here.
8. Sunderbans National Park, West Bengal
If wildlife adventure is your calling, Sunderbans National Park definitely must be on your list as it without doubt one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in India. Listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India, Sunderbans is a world where it’s the law of the jungles.
Located on a river delta, formed by the river Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna, the nature reserve is intriguing. The mangroves of Sundari trees are a unique attraction of the national park as these floating roots gives them an eerie look. Named among the natural wonders of India, Sunderbans is home to Royal Bengal Tigers, rare salt-water crocodiles, Olive ridley turtles, a wide variety of birds and reptiles. Other inhabitants of river delta forests are fishing cats, leopard cats, macaques, wild boar, Indian grey mongoose, etc. The national park is exportable on a boat cruise.
Famous For: Bengal tigers, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Safari options: Boat safari rides, bird watching
Best time to visit: October to April
9. Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Moving on with our list of the top wildlife sanctuaries in India, we have the Pench National Park. It is said that the wilderness of Pench served as inspiration to Rudyard Kipling when penning down the Jungle book, creating the fabulous tales of Mogwli, Sher Khan, Bagheera, Balloo, etc.
Located on the border of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Pench is abounding in wildlife. The undulating topography supports varied vegetation ranging from moist, sheltered valleys to open, dry deciduous forest with recorded 1200 species of plants. The Pench River flowing through the natural reserve is the life source of the national park. The Tiger reserve is known for the Big Cats, Smabhal Chital, Wild Boars, over 285 resident and migratory birds, 4 species of the now endangered vultures, rarely-seen leopards in good numbers and more. Pench Reserve Forest also offers boat rides to its numerous islands.
Famous For: Bengal tiger, Bird watching
Safari Options: Jeep Safari
Best time to visit: October to June
10. Bandipur National Park, Karnataka
Last but definitely not the least, Bandipur National Parks is one of the best wildlife destinations in India. The national park in Karnataka is settled amid picturesque beauty of the Western Ghats. A part of the ‘Nilgiri Biosphere, Bandipur is blessed with pristine wilderness perfect for a wildlife adventure vacation.
Once the hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Mysore, Bandipur is now a sanctuary for tigers. Around 115 Tigers inhabit the environs with many varieties of deer, elephants, gaur, sambar, Malabar squirrel, jackal, elephants, langurs, black-knapped hare, wild dogs, jackal, etc. The wildlife reserve is also home to 350 avifauna species, luring birdwatchers from far ends of the globe, many species of butterflies, dung beetles, and many more. The idyllic weekend away from cities in South India, the scenic bliss of Bandipur combine the thrill of adventure with natural harmony of rejuvenating nature.
Famous For: Bengal tiger, Bird watching
Best Time to visit: October to June.