Best Jungle Safari Holidays – You Must Explore In National Parks of India

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Jungle Safari Holidays
Jungle Safari Holidays

Should we really take a Jungle Safari in India? Oh Yes, it is the best way to explore to sheer biodiversity of India that we all look forward to. A Jungle Safari provides a glimpse of mother nature at home, without our interventions.

Jungle Safari at Kanha National Park
Jungle Safari at Kanha National Park

Why Jungle Safari Holidays

Jungle Safari, Jeep Safari at Pench National Park
Jungle Safari, Jeep Safari at Pench National Park

It is a different world out there. Jungles have their own rules and way of life. It is important to visit the jungles once in a while just to get out of the urban jungles that we do tend to get sucked in. Soaking in & experiencing the wild forests, the wilderness in national parks is a memorable lifetime experience when you genuinely feel one with the nature around you.

What to experience during Jungle Safari Holidays

Dhole or Indian Wild Dogs at Pench National Park
Dhole or Indian Wild Dogs at Pench National Park

Jungle Safaris take you through the entire ecosystem of a forest. Most of us go looking for spotting big animals like Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Sloth Bears, Wild Dogs etc. Remember they do not live alone. They have a whole ecosystem surrounding them. There are herds of deer that you can always spot. Just stop and watch as they hop around and remind you of the poetry that their intoxicating walk has invoked over eras. Animals like Neelgai, Bisons, Jackals, wild dogs can be easily spotted.

Closer to water bodies look for crocodiles or Alligators.

Herbivorous Animals

Langur Monkey in the jungle
Langur Monkey in the jungle

Elephants, Deers, Rhinos, Sambars, Bisons etc are herbivore animals like me. Although this does not mean that they can not kill you if they feel threatened.

Birds

Birds are not easy to spot in thick jungles as they have a lot of space to go and hide. It is a ‘Hide and Seek’ game that we play with them, A good tip is to keep an eye on them as they fly and then sit on a tree. Some of them can be identified with their distinct colors. It is always a pleasure to see the Indian Roller fly or count the 9 colors of an Indian Pitta.

Crested Serpent Eagle at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Crested Serpent Eagle at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

On the outskirts of the jungles, if you take a walking trail, you will be surprised to see a huge variety of birds. Identify them with their unique colors, calls or sounds. You may be surprised to discover many birds you may have never known or heard before. There are almost 1300 species of birds that can be spotted in India.

Indian Peafowl at Pench National Park
Indian Peafowl at Pench National Park

Butterflies

Butterfly at Satpura
Butterfly at Satpura

Colorful butterflies, small and large, fluttering in the sunshine attract your attention in the jungles. There are over an estimated 1000 species of butterflies found in India.

Butterfly at Satpura
Butterfly at Satpura

Moths

There are several thousand Moths that you can spot in jungles of India. Look at this triangular moth we found on the walking Jungle Safari at Satpura National Park. They are unique.

Triangles or Trigonodes hyppasia moth captured at Satpura National Park walking Jungle Safari
Triangles or Trigonodes hyppasia moth captured at Satpura National Park walking Jungle Safari

The Triangles, (Trigonodes hyppasia species), also known as semi-looper is a moth. Forewings with a large black white-edged triangular patch easily distinguished below the cell from near base to towards outer angle. It is found from the Old World tropics and subtropics through Asia to the south Pacific. They are commonly called Four-triangled Moth because of the unique pattern marks on its upper side forewings – 4 black triangles bordered with white lines. The size is about 2cm, with a wingspan of about 4cm. At rest, the moth holds its wings in a triangular shape.

Trees & Creepers

Liana vine growing around a Sal tree at Bandhavgarh National Park
Liana vine growing around a Sal tree at Bandhavgarh National Park

A Liana is a long-stemmed, woody vine that is rooted in the soil at ground level and uses trees for vertical support. Lianas compete with forest trees for sunlight, water, and nutrients from the soil.

Do not forget to interact with the sheer biodiversity of trees and plants of jungles on a jungle safari. Newly sprouting plants to decades old and a few century-old giant trees sustain the ecosystem of the jungles. Sometimes in the dense jungles, these trees form a canopy that even the sunrays can’t penetrate. Several creepers can be seen growing on the trees in the jungles.

Snakes

Python asphyxiating a Langur Monkey at Bandhavgarh National Park
Python asphyxiating a Langur Monkey at Bandhavgarh National Park

Venomous snakes like Cobras to Pit Vipers can be easily seen in the jungles. Non-venomous snakes like the Indian Rock Pythons to Green Vine Snakes to Rat Snakes several other types of snakes can be spotted during a safari. Note the Python asphyxiating a Langur Monkey is also injured in the process.

Spiders

Giant female wood spider Nephila pilipes jalorensis at Satpura National Park walking safari
Giant female wood spider Nephila pilipes jalorensis at Satpura National Park walking safari

One can easily spot various types Giant Spiders and their amazing spider nets connecting the tree branches across the jungle pathways.

Nephila pilipes spiders are commonly found in forests. The females are large and grow to body size of 30–50 mm (overall size up to 20 cm), with males growing to 5–6 mm. It is the largest of the orb-weaving spiders. Their golden web is vertical with a fine irregular mesh and not symmetrical. It is one of the biggest spiders in the world.

Argiope aemula Spider
Argiope aemula Spider

Argiope aemula, commonly known as Oval St Andrew’s Cross Spider, a giant conspicuous “signature spiders” seen in tropical grasslands. They get their name from the zigzag design embossed on the web believed to serve a camouflage function.

Funnel spider webs are interesting to see, you wonder if they inspired the funnel designs.

Insects

Asian Ladybugs or Harmonia Octomaculata
Asian Ladybugs or Harmonia Octomaculata

A wide variety of insects, moths, worms, fungi can be seen in the jungles, particularly near the wetlands and water bodies.

Wild Flowers

Forest Jasmine flowers at Satpura National Park
Forest Jasmine flowers at Satpura National Park

Colorful wildflowers including rare and interesting wild orchids can be seen blooming in the jungles depending upon the seasons.

Ageratum houstonianum blue wildflower at Satpura
Ageratum houstonianum blue wildflower at Satpura

Types of Jungle Safari to try

Jeep Safari

Indian Bisons comfortable with the Jungle Safari jeeps at Kanha National Park
Indian Bisons comfortable with the Jungle Safari jeeps at Kanha National Park

Jeep Safari is probably the most common way to explore the national parks. Most Jeep safaris are done in an organized fashion during early mornings and late afternoons. The exact time varies from national park to national park. It is advisable to book your safaris in advance as at the popular parks you may not get a last minute booking.

Boat Safari

Boat Safari over Denwa river backwaters
Boat Safari over Denwa river backwaters

The national parks located close to a river/lake/backwaters sometimes also have an option of a Boat Safari. You sit in a boat and look at the flourishing jungle around you. This is the best way to catch birds who prefer to live close to water. Wild animals also come to rivers to drink water or just to have a splash.

Night Safari

On a Night Safari at Satpura
On a Night Safari at Satpura

Night Safaris are a good way to explore the nocturnal animals and birds. To see the civets, Night Jar birds or owls is a joy, but remember you may be encountering animals you can not see easily. I remember we spotted a pair of sloth bears at night and all we could see was their shining bright eyes. Night Safari is generally a jeep ride on outskirts of restricted forest area like the buffer zones where roads pass by.

Night Jar Bird at Satpura
Night Jar Bird at Satpura

Walking Safari

Walking Safari at the Satpura National Park buffer zone
Walking Safari at the Satpura National Park buffer zone

Yes, you may be in for a surprise here. Some of the national parks like Satpura allow you to walk in the jungles and that is your walking safari. Of course, you have to go with a team of forest guides, naturalist and aides. A forest guide not only knows the trails that you can walk on but also helps you spot the animals and birds. If you are curious enough you can learn about the flora of the jungle during a walk. These are conducted in the buffer zone and not in the core dense jungles.

Elephant Safari

Elephant Safari at Hollong, Jaldapara National Park
Elephant Safari at Hollong, Jaldapara National Park

The Elephant Safari seems to be on its way out, but it not totally out as yet. I took an elephant safari in Jaldapara National Park in West Bengal and it was an incredible experience. To see the giant animal go through the uneven ground with ease is amazing. I also realized that we were actually walking through the grass that was as tall as the elephant and there is no other way you can experience this without being on the elephant’s back.

Best Jungle Safari Destinations

Jungle Jeep Safari
Jungle Jeep Safari

Following are some of the best Jungle Safari Destinations in India that we have explored. There are many more national parks & wildlife sanctuaries to be visited. Make sure to explore Jungle Safaris at least in 2-3 destinations that offer different kinds of experiences during your next vacations.

Kanha National Park – Madhya Pradesh

The first time I had an opportunity to sight a wild Tiger in a jungle was during my jungle safari at Kanha National Park also called Kanha Tiger Reserve. Spread over 1900 sq.km in the state of Madhya Pradesh, consisting of core zone and buffer zone Kanha is best known for regular Tiger sightings.

Munna, the Rock Star Tiger of Kanha National Park
Munna, the Rock Star Tiger of Kanha National Park

The Rock Star Tiger fondly called Munna used to be the one who calmly walked beside the safari jeeps, crossed the jungle pathways marking his territory, enthralling the visitors quite often.

Munna Tiger calmly walking beside the Jungle Safari Jeeps at Kanha
Munna Tiger calmly walking beside the Jungle Safari Jeeps at Kanha

Read more – Meeting Munna – Rock Star Tiger of Kanha National Park

Barasingha or Swamp Deer is another animal this national park is famous for. Besides of course it is home to a wide variety of wild animals, about 300 species of birds etc. Kanha is also home to over a reported 1000 species of flowering plants.

White-bellied Blue Flycatcher at Kanha National Park
White-bellied Blue Flycatcher at Kanha National Park

Read more Listen to Kanha National Park Speak to me 

Satpura National Park – Madhya Pradesh

Jeep Safari, Boat Safari, Walking Safari & Night Safari were all experienced by us first time at Satpura National Park and Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Spread over 1400 sq.km in multiple zones, an added attraction here is the backwaters of Denwa River. You will enjoy the boat ride across the backwaters to enter the restricted Forest area.

Jungle Safari route at Satpura National Park
Jungle Safari route at Satpura National Park

Read more Jeep Safaris at Satpura National Park

You may also inquire and go for an early morning Birding walk on the outskirts of forest area near the villages. We could also see several butterflies in the campus of the resort in the month of November.

Butterfly at Satpura National Park
Butterfly at Satpura National Park

Read more 5 Ways to Explore forests of Satpura National Park

Pench National Park – Madhya Pradesh

Named after the river Pench that flows through the jungles, Pench National Park and Tiger Reserve is also well known for the Tiger sighting.

Collarwali Tigress, the queen of Pench National Park
Collarwali Tigress, the queen of Pench National Park

Popularly called Collarwali Tigress the queen of Pench, she has given birth to over 22 (some say 26) cubs a sort of record in itself. Because of her comfort level with the visitors, here I could sight the Tigress with her cubs.

Read more Collarwali Tigress the Queen of Pench National Park

Spread over about 750 sq.km Pench National Park is at the southern border of Madhya Pradesh and spreads over to an additional about 700 sq.km in the adjoining areas of Maharashtra state.

You will be able to spot a lot of variety of Birds both during the safari and around the villages on the outskirts of the national park.

A pair of Indian Scops Owl at Pench National Park
A pair of Indian Scops Owl at Pench National Park

Spotting the Yellow-crowned Woodpecker and a pair of Indian Scops Owl were the highlights of my bird sightings at Pench.

Read more Birds of Pench National Park

Jungle Safari at Pench
Jungle Safari at Pench

Another pleasant experience at Pench was the accommodation at a Luxury Tree House.

Read more-  Living in a Luxury Tree House at Pench National Park

Nameri National Park – Assam

On the border of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh lies the about 200 sq.km Nameri National Park enriched by the Jia Bhoroli river and its tributaries. Further, an adjoining about 800 sq.km of Pakhui wildlife sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh north-east to Nameri makes it a substantial base for wildlife.

At Nameri National Park, Assam
At Nameri National Park, Assam

Due to time constraint over a long trip to the north-eastern states, we could only do an early morning walking safari from the Nameri Eko Camp up to the Jia Bhoroli river. I am sure there is a lot more to discover out there. Elephants are the prime attractions at Nameri.

Bandhavgarh National Park – Madhya Pradesh

It is supposed to have the highest density of Tigers in the world. They say if you do not sight a tiger here, you are unlucky. I was unlucky despite taking 3 Jeep safaris in the Magadi & Tala zone. But that gave me a chance to pay attention to the rest of the jungle attractions.

Read more –  Bandhavgarh National Park – Wildlife beyond the Tigers

Spread over about 450 sq.km the park derives the name from an ancient fort Bandhavgarh. Home to about 37 species of Mammals, some 350 species of Birds and about 80 species of Butterflies, Bandhavgarh National Park & Tiger Reserve is a good destination for Jeep and Elephant Safaris.

At Bandhavgarh National Park. SheshShaiyya - Vishnu is in his favorite reclining position
At Bandhavgarh National Park. SheshShaiyya – Vishnu is in his favorite reclining position

Bandhavgarh was once a fort, so it also has a rich heritage & history.

Read more – History, Heritage, Life inside Bandhavgarh National Park

Jaldapara National Park – West Bengal

On the foothills of the Himalayas at the Northern Bengal state is the Jaldapara National Park. It is best known for the single-horned Rhinos. Spread over 200 sq.km it is in close proximity to many nature reserves like the Chilapata Forest (better known as Elephant corridor), Buxa Tiger reserve and Gorumara National Park.

Hollong Tourist Lodge by the Bengal Tourism is perhaps the best place to stay amidst the wilderness. Here you can watch wild Single Horned Rhinos, Bisons, Wild Boar’s and Deer’s standing across a small rivulet. Hundreds of chirping birds are also a common sight at Hollong.

This is the only place I enjoyed an Elephant Safari in addition to the standard Jeep Safari to explore the jungles.

Read more Hollong – Biodiversity hotspot of Jaldapara National Park, Dooars

Yes, the wild Single-horned Rhinos indeed walk around within a few feet of the  Hollong Tourist Lodge at night. Never have we seen wildlife at such close proximity.

Rajaji National Park – Uttarakhand

Spread over 800 sq.km in the foothills of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand. Rajaji National Park is named after Bharat Ratna awardee, C. Rajagopalachari one of the prominent freedom struggle leaders of India. One of the best national parks for the Elephants, Himalayan wildlife and Birding watching. Almost a third of the bird species found in India have been spotted in Rajaji National Park.

Read more Rajaji National Park – Exploring the wildlife at Chilla Reserve

We do need to go back there and explore it in leisure.

Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary – Telangana

Named after the Pocharam Dam backwaters, it is a relatively small wildlife sanctuary spanning little over a 100 sq.km in the state of Telangana. You can do walking trails here and see a lot of spotted deer and birds. A good day trip from Hyderabad.

Read more Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary & Dam – Weekend Getaway from Hyderabad

Keoladeo National Park – Rajasthan

Saras Crane at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Saras Crane at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Popularly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, it is primarily popular as the home of about 370 species of birds. Spread over about 29 sq.km in the state of Rajasthan, this marshy wetlands also hosts several migratory birds and has about 379 floral species. Saras Crane, Nilgai, Indian Jackal, Pythons can be seen here.

Male Nilgai at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Male Nilgai at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Read more Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Jungle Safaris here are allowed between sunrise to sunset time along the well-laid mud paths. Walking, Cycling, Horse carriage, and Cycle rickshaw are the options for the visitors to explore this national park. We did a cycle rickshaw round first and day-long walking safari across the about 11 km of the pathway. If you have the stamina walking is the best way to explore this park.

Kaziranga National Park – Assam

Single-horned Rhinoceros baby at Kaziranga National Park
Single-horned Rhinoceros baby at Kaziranga National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kaziranga National Park is home to about the 2/3rd world’s population of the Single-horned Rhinos (or Rhinoceros). An important home to the Tigers, Elephants, and Wild Water-Buffaloes. Spread over about 800 sq.km in the north-eastern state of Assam. Kaziranga is the national park where we first saw the wild Single-horned Rhinoceros with a baby so close during a Jeep Safari. There are 3-4 zones at which morning and afternoon Jeep Safari are conducted. Elephant Safaris are also available for the public here.

Read more Home to Single-horned Rhino’s – Kaziranga National Park, Assam

The Kaziranga National park is crisscrossed by many rivers including the mighty Brahmaputra river.

Sariska National Park, Tiger Reserve – Rajasthan

Spread over 866 sq.km the wildlife sanctuary is in the Alwar district of Rajasthan state. We did a Jeep Safari and were unlucky in Tiger sighting. Nevertheless, we enjoyed spotting several birds, crocodile by the waterbody, and the drive-through canopy formed by dense jungles where even the sun rays could not pass.

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary – Goa

Spread over 8 sq.km in the hinterlands of Goa, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary has a zoo, a Deer Park, botanical gardens, bird watching options. Can be easily explored by walking around. For the enthusiasts, there are nature trails organized in the sanctuary.

Read more Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary & Zoo – Goa Tourist Attractions

Jim Corbett National Park – Uttarakhand

Spotted Deers at Jim Corbett National Park
Spotted Deers at Jim Corbett National Park

Spread over about 1318 sq.km in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand state, it is among the oldest National Parks & Tiger Reserve in India. Sighting Tigers & Elephants are the prime attractions for the visitors here. Home to about 50 species of mammals, 580 species of birds. Jeep safaris are popular and are conducted over different zones of the park. I could not sight any Tigers here during the Jungle Safari. Walking Safari are allowed in the buffer zones and are a great way to explore the flora, fauna, birding.

Bandipur National Park – Karnataka

Tiger at Bandipur
Tiger at Bandipur

Spread over about 912 sq.km in the Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka state, the Bandipur National Park & Tiger Reserve is perhaps the best in southern India. Blessed by neighboring Nagarahole & Mudumalai National Parks, Wayanad wildlife sanctuary & Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, collectively this is the largest Tiger & Elephant habitat in India. Jungle Safaris are conducted here in Bus and Gypsy Jeep.

The park is rich in flora, fauna, birds & butterflies.

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary – Karnataka

Home to the popular Malabar Pied Hornbills and Malabar Giant Squirrels Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is atop the western ghats of Karnataka. Spread over 866 sq.km in the Uttara Kannada district, it is also a Tiger Reserve & Elephant Reserve. You can take a jeep safari in the jungles here. We spotted Jackals, Mongoose during the safari and also got to see the vast lush green landscape of western ghats from atop a viewing point.

Read more Dandeli – Home of Malabar Pied Hornbill

Kali river and its backwaters offer many watersports activities for the visitors. Birding is another highlight of the destination as it is home to more than 200 species of birds.

Read more Dandeli by the River Kali – Places to visit in Karnataka

Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary – Uttarakhand

Spread over about 45 sq.km Binsar Wildlife sanctuary is about 35 KMs from Almoda, Kumaon region, in the state of Uttarakhand. Better known for the view of Himalayan Peaks from Zero-point and KMVN Tourist Guest House within the sanctuary. We did explore the sanctuary on a walking trail. Jeep Safari is also available for those who don’t stay at KMVN guest house.

Care for the environment
Care for the environment

Read more Splendor of Himalayas at Binsar, Kumaon, Uttarakhand

The sanctuary is a hilly area with narrow pathways. Himalayan wild animals are reportedly spotted here. It is also a good destination for birding activities.

Right time for Jungle Safaris

Best time to explore a Jungle Safari is early morning or late afternoon or night. That is because most sightings of prime attractions are early in the morning just after the sunrise. Night Safari is to sight the nocturnal animals, birds.

Tips for Jungle Safari

  • Do not carry any food during a Jungle Safari.
  • Explore Jungles only with Forest Dept personnel & trained staff.
  • Always seek permission of the Forest Dept officials before undertaking any Jungle Safari and heed to their advice.
  • Do not walk out on your own.
  • Wear colors that merge with the jungle. Do not wear anything bright and flashy that can threaten animals in any way.
  • Do not play any music. Listen to the music of the jungle instead.
  • Carry Binoculars you may get a better view of wildlife that cant be seen up-close
  • Do not tease/feed wild animals.
  • Do not insist on getting closer to the sighted wild animals. There is always an alert-boundary for wild animals. Just learn to respect that.
  • Jeep Safari in the jungle pathways is full of ups, downs, and turns. Make sure to take care that the Jeep frames do not hit your bones, ribs, head during the journey.
  • Jungle Safari Jeep can be hired by a group or on sharing basis in these national parks.
  • The Jeep Safari will cost about Rs. 500=00 per person.
  • Elephant safaris are generally declining.
  • Carry warm clothing as the early morning chilling breeze cant be tolerated by all.
  • Nobody can guarantee the sighting of Tigers & Leopards. Don’t be disappointed, enjoy so much more nature offers at each of these national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Plan your Jungle Safari Holidays Trip

Generally, the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are closed for public during the monsoon season which varies across India. They may also be closed for a weekly off day or some national/local holidays like the festivals. Book your forest range entrance in advance, either online wherever available or through the tour operators, hotels & resorts etc. Charges applicable for Jungle Safari are national park entrance fees, vehicle charges, guide charges. Naturalist guides would be useful in sighting, learning, observing and more.

Generally, early morning and afternoon open jeep safaris are conducted. Jungle Safaris like Elephant Safari, Boat Safari, Night Safari, Walking Safari availability, timings need to be verified. Visitors need to carry an identity & nationality document. There are different forest zones and the timings of safaris vary with season.

Do share your Jungle Safari Holidays experiences.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Nice Article and appreciate your love for Adventure sports
    We also have adventure sporting in Munnar. As the mist falls in Munnar and engulfs the carpet of Tea Plantations,waterfalls and mountains it muffles all other sounds and Peace and Tranquility descends upon this lush green landscape. Munnar is a small hill station in Kerala, located 4500 ft above sea level in a serene location surrounded by tea plantations in the enchanting environs of Letchmi tea Estate in Munnar blessed with waterfalls, mountains and sprawling tea gardens.

  2. Thanks a lot for this wonderful article, a nice work done here. It is very useful for a new traveller like me. We are waiting for more article on Safari and National park. As a new traveller I have only experience a great trip at Sundarban residency.

  3. Jungle travelling always adventurous and so exciting. This a nice blog for every visitor and tourist to find these places. It will be very helpful for them. Thanks for valuable information.

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