Posted 24 February 2023 in Travel Wanderlust
Ecotourism is also a growing trend, which involves allowing careful visitation and exploration of untouched natural destinations to support the conservation of the same. India is the proud home of rich biodiversity across the nation, with geography and climate that is suitable for various types of forests. There are over 100 areas designated as National Parks as of 2021, and over 500 wildlife sanctuaries in India. Additionally, the country boasts of different types of forests such as the Moist Tropical forests that receive heavy rainfall to Alpine forests up in the Himalayas.
While not all jungles and forests are open to tours and explorations, some protected areas do not allow entry at all, let alone any vehicular transport. Still, there are quite a few spots where you can experience nature at its best and see plenty of diverse animals and birds. Interestingly, tiger habitat conservation has been a driving force in creating protected areas for wildlife, although other animal reserves also exist.
Here are some of the best jungle safari destinations in India that allow visitors. Keep in mind due to capacity limits and other factors, not all these places may be open for visits, so call in advance to check before booking.
Read more - Wildlife Tourism: Fifteen best National parks in India for a memorable wildlife experience
Located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the Bandhavgarh National Park was initially a space for royals to hunt. In 1968 it became a national park and later a tiger reserve with a sizable population of Royal Bengal Tigers residing here. The park draws around 100,000 visitors each year, and consists of ridge terrain broken up by forests and open meadowy regions. Bandhavgarh National Park is over 700 sq. km in size, with a core area of over 100 sq. km where visitors are permitted. Jeep safaris are available in the park with a Forest Department official as a guide. There are many animals such as hyenas, jackals, and nilgai that you can spot here, along with more than 250 species of birds.
The national park is located in the Vindhya Hills region of the state, with the nearest airport in Jabalpur, about 200 km by road. IndiGo connects Jabalpur to all major cities in India and abroad. The nearest railway station is at Umaria, less than an hour away from the park.
The climate at Bandhavgarh National Park is extremely hot in the summer. The place witnesses heavy rainfall between the months of November and February, and this is the best time to see the lush greenery. However, between March and May, most of the greenery dries up, making it easier to spot the wildlife, especially the tigers.
The Sundarbans are a naturally-rich area along the coast of West Bengal and parts of Bangladesh. It is formed by the outpouring of the Rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra with the majority of the Sundarbans being in Bangladesh. The area is full of river channels, creeks, and rivulets winding through islands and mangroves. Since 1984, the core area within the Sundarban Tiger Reserve has been designated as the Sundarbans National Park with a goal to preserve the natural wonder of the area. The National Park is off-limits to all, it can only be viewed via water safari boats that coast along the waterways. The area draws many people eager to see the Bengal tiger and other wildlife. The vast natural zone is full of reptiles, numerous bird species, fish, and animals like foxes, chital deer and macaques. The park has an entry fee of INR 60 (INR 200 for foreign nationals). The cost of the boat tour will be additional. Do note that the park is closed on Sunday.
When booking your boat trip, be sure to use a government recognised operator, or a well-known and recommended motorboat company.
Try to get to one of the watchtowers in the national park area. These platforms are raised above the canopy, which makes it easier to spot the creatures below.
The nearest major city is Kolkata, which also houses the closest airport to the Sundarbans National Park, which is the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. IndiGo has flights to Kolkata from many national and international destinations. You can also take a train to Canning Railway Station, from there you can find road transport to places such as Raidighi, Namkhana, Sagar Island, Sajnekhali, and more from where you can avail water transport to the Sundarbans.
The Sundarbans is a high humidity area, with harsh summers from April to June. This is followed by a heavy monsoon period from July till September, which can be a great time to visit, although it may be risky in smaller sized boats. September to March is the best time to visit, with the weather being pleasant mostly (except for a few days when it gets chilly). Temperatures range between 10°C and 30°C, although you may still experience occasional showers at the start of this period.
Located in the southern area of the Gujarat peninsula, Gir National Park is the only place in India where one can find the native Asiatic lion subspecies. Although hunted nearly to extinction, conservation efforts over the century have allowed the lion population to rebound to over 500. The area is dry shrubland packed with local flora and fauna, including leopards and blackbucks. There is a fenced-off area near the park gate called the Gir Interpretation Zone with most wildlife represented here; this is to reduce tourists in the core park zone. There are jeep safaris available throughout the core park area, as well as through the Devaliya Interpretation Zone. This ecological paradise has been the centre of preservation efforts from NGOs, forest officials, and volunteers. There are many resorts and jungle stays in the area surrounding the park. Prices for jeep safaris range from INR 4,100 for Indians to INR 13,800 for foreign nationals.
The national park is within the Gir Somnath district in Gujarat, with the nearest town being Veraval and the closest city being Junagadh. Both locations are well connected to Gir National Park by road, between 65 km and 75 km away. To get to either of these towns by air, you’ll need to fly to Diu Airport, which is the nearest airport, about 60 km away. IndiGo has regular flights to Rajkot, which is about 170 km from the National Park. From Rajkot, you can avail public or private buses, and taxis to the Gir National Park.
For pleasant weather, visit during the winter months from November to March; this is the best time for a trip with the family. With an arid climate, summer temperatures get hot, occasionally hitting as high as 48°C. This season lasts from April till June, and although the heat is oppressive, it is the best time to spot wildlife. From June to October, the park remains closed due to monsoons.
Read more - 5 of the most beautiful must-visit places in Gujarat
There are many other wildlife sanctuaries and parks to explore around the country. If you make a trip to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for a vacation, there are a multitude of national parks including a few on the main Nicobar Island. You can also see the first official national park in India, Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. Alternatively, you can explore the highest national park in the country, Hemis National Park in Jammu and Kashmir. In the southern part of India, there are some excellent safari options such as Nagarhole National Park and Periyar National Park in Karnataka and Kerala, respectively. The Great Himalayan National Park (Himachal Pradesh), Manas National Park (Assam), Van Vihar National Park (Madhya Pradesh), and Wandoor Marine National Park are a few other places to consider.
Read more - Fifteen adventure and theme parks in India every thrill seeker should visit at least once
There is a wealth of beauty and excitement to be experienced during a jungle safari at India’s national parks and sanctuaries. Experience being a few feet away from a one-horned rhinoceros or witnessing a proud Bengal Tiger survey the forest on a jungle safari. This is what makes jungle safaris and forest tours a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Adventure sports like hiking, biking, rocking climbing, river rafting, and more are also generally found in the surrounding areas. Make your next vacation a memorable one and plan a jungle safari soon!
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