Tiger spotting in the wild is just like getting to see any other wildlife- a matter of chance. The fact that a tiger is elusive makes it a challenging. There are a few factors that help improve this chance. One factor is the knowledge and familiarity of the local guides and naturalists with the territories and regular routes and areas of the tigers in the tourism zone. The second factor is tracks and signs. During a safari you could come upon clues like pug marks or fresh scat or distress calls of prey animals like deer or monkeys which help you track and get into the vicinity of the predator and thus increase the chances of getting to see one. With this note I must mention that the thrill of experiencing tracking a tiger can be compared to none other.
Most tigers in the tourism areas of these national parks are accustomed to vehicles and do not see it as a threat. That is why usually they do not shy away unless disturbed.
Protected forests in India that are given the national park status are usually demarcated into the core forest and a surrounding buffer forest. The core is a more highly protected area which should ideally have no human habitation. Many villages have been relocated out from the core zones of these parks. A part of forest around this core is also protected but is allowed to have human habitation and controlled activities like collection of dead.wood, etc. Note that most parks in India are not entirely fenced and wildlife movement from the core to buffer and vice versa is not uncommon.
Tigers can be sighted throughout the year. If you have a choice, you could look up the best suited weather for you and plan your visit accordingly. If you have any other requirements, we can help you decide the best time as per your wants and needs.
Safaris are done in open hooded gypsies or similar 4 wheel drive vehicles. Upon request, even elephant back safaris can be arranged in some parks. We could check with the availability of these once the dates and itinerary of your trip is planned. It is best to plan your trip well in advance as there are limitations on the number of safaris for each park.
Our park timings are usually from sunrise to sunset. These timings vary a little during the year with the length of the day. This time is divided into two sections where you break for the afternoon. Therefore there is a morning safari and an evening safari that you can opt for.
The Indian weather is broadly divided into three seasons, winter, summer and monsoon. But there could be small unannounced showers sometimes. For monthly details:
- October (when most parks open) is the post monsoon period. The weather is pleasantly warm and comfortable.
- By November the temperatures start to drop. Morning and evenings are cool while the day is still warm.
- December and January are quiet cold and you need to come prepared with sufficient woollens- warm cap, gloves, jackets/pullovers, socks may be even thermals during the peak time.
- February and March is when the temperature starts rising again. But even at this time mornings, evenings and nights can be quite chilly while the day can be very warm.
- April, May and June are summer months and gets increasingly warm. Please do not forget to drink lots of water, carry your hats, sun tan lotions and sun glasses.
Depending on the camera you own:
Compact point and shoot- these can be surprisingly good for shooting animals and land scape. A moderate zoom camera in this range is often enough to get a picture to capture your memory for life.
Mid-sized point and shoot- These come with excellent zoom these days. They cover a wide range from allowing you to shoot an ant in macro mode to a bird on a tree. They work very well for shooting the tiger too!
DSLRs- Usually a 100-300mm lens works well enough if you do not want to carry too much. But, if weight and space is not a concern and you have the choice, then a telephoto lens with a larger zoom and another wide angle lens kept handy does sometimes pay for the inconvenience you bear. The tiger can be far away sometimes or can be really close too! If you are going on the elephant a small lens is advisable as it’s convenient to be carried on the elephant and the elephant can usually approach a tiger close if spotted.
Tips for things to carry
Some clever things to carry are:
- Sun protection
- A scarf/stole ( safaris can be dusty)
- Extra batteries
- Extra memory cards
- Plug converter
- A case for your safari equipment to protect it from rain and/or dust (a piece of cloth or a plastic bag may also suffice).
- A flash light ( electricity problems are not common but, just in case)
Permissible check-in baggage weight is 15 kgs in domestic Indian flights.