The amount of times I have heard tourists saying “Iss Jungle mein Sher nahin hai, bewakoof bana rahe hain.” (This forest does not have any tigers, its a scam), is uncountable.
Thankfully, I knew better.
Expectations Vs Reality.
The dense jungles of India, are unlike the Savannahs of Africa, where game spotting is a breeze. So, if you have ever been on an African safari or watched umpteen animal videos on National Geographic, you need to understand that even though its real, its far from reality.
For example, you never know how many months or years it took for that Nat Geo video to be shot and how many hours in the bush they had to spend for that single awesome shot. Likewise, the open vast savannahs of Africa make sighting easier as game can be spotted literally for several meter’s in every direction.
So with those unrealistic hopes, you might head to a dense forest in India like Corbett National Park for your first sighting of the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger. You might book two safaris and be very confident of spotting those yellow and black stripes. With your DSLR in one hand you will head off for your new Indian adventures.
Alas, when there are no sightings. You will lose all hope from the jungle gods.
A typical tourist will think they spent a good 3-5 hours scouring every part of the jungle and didn’t spot anything. A wildlife enthusiast would know these national parks are spread across several acres and the chances of a Tiger just popping in your way, is bleak, to say the least.
So, how exactly, unless you are extremely lucky, do you spot a Tiger in the wild in India?
Table of Content
Here are my Tips for Unlucky Adventurers like Yours Truly
Maximize your Time in the Jungle
This is my what has been my number one trick to most big cat sightings – persistence. You know you are unlucky, but fret not – all you need to do is beat the odds.
So an average wildlife tourist stays in a national park for 2 nights, 3 days – Step one, spend a week in the jungles, at least. If you are like me, and hate to go home disappointed, increase your chances by maximizing your time in the bush. From my experience, anything less than a week is not worth my time.
As an unlucky enthusiast, I also have to go for both morning and evening safaris, every single day. So be prepared to shell out some real cash unless you are blessed with lucky Tiger genes and can spot a bit cat on your very first jungle safari.
Since you are reading this article, I am sure you are not one of those lucky chaps. So, let’s carry on..
Book with a Reputed Company
A good wildlife lodge with seasoned naturalists increases your chances of spotting the elusive cat by heaps and bounds. I found out that spending my time in the jungle with Pugdundee Safaris turned out to be extremely fruitful.
Coming from one of the unluckiest souls in the forests, I spotted 3 Tigers in a single safari with them. Of course I followed all the other steps too ; )
Their naturalists were friendly and knowledgeable which added to the fun and adrenaline!
Ensure you are Armed with a Good driver & Naturalist
With the new forest rules it is impossible to choose your guide in most national parks but if you are armed with a seasoned naturalist and a good driver from your lodge, you are pretty much sorted.
The forest guide is mostly just for “show” as a government rule but if you luck out in that department too, well, good for you. But, remember, this is the unlucky adventurer’s guide so for us, there is no luck involved – just hard work and persistence. So, don’t count on that happening and ensure you have the best of the best peeps at your side, well in advance.
Visit Kanha National Park
Kanha is one park in India which is beautiful , green, scenic AND has abundance of flora and fauna and ofcourse good density of our favorite cat 😉
Prior to visiting Kanha, I was a big fan of Corbett. The jungles are denser which is why I love it but that also makes sighting almost impossible. After visiting the rather tree-less Ranthambore and a little less barren Bandhavgarh, I feel Kanha is perhaps the very best park in India for Tiger sighting.
Plus, there are plenty of other animals to keep you entertained.
As a guest of Kanha earth lodge, I was astounded by the amount of effort their inhouse naturalists showed while taking us for a game drive. In this particular ‘3 sighting safari incidence’, we were with two of the best naturalists of the Kanha earth lodge – KD and Ashu.
They were both brilliant and that being our very last safari, they were determined to show us a glimpse of the mighty cat.
Looks like we lucked out – we not only got to see a glimpse but we watched one of the most popular Tigers in the world – Munna , at leisure! How many times do you get to click away to your heart’s content? That’s exactly what I got to do and these pictures prove it.
This particular Tiger is literally the king of Kanha. At 16 years old he is still going strong and surviving like a boss. With a big “C.A.T” marking on his forehead (you can clearly spot it in the picture below), you can easily tell he is THE ultimate wild cat. Not just that, it says “P.M” just below that – so hey, that’s the Prime minister of cats we saw that day.
Now that’s what you call luck. Right?
We did spend 8 days in the jungles of Satpura and Kanha for that single “lucky” safari. So anyone who saw these pictures went “Wow, lucky you!” but little did they know how unlucky we are but increasing our odds is what helped us in the end. I also honestly believe it was the drive of Pugdundee naturalists who are unbeatabley the best.
The lodge in itself was eco-friendly and a delight to stay at.
Finally, Enjoy the Jungles 🙂
Finally, something I tell everyone – Cat or no cat, enjoy the lush green forests and your time breathing fresh air and gawking at greenery. Appreciate the birds and the bees, smell the flowers and photograph butterflies – there is so much to do in the forests and I feel more at home there, then actually at home.
Once you visit a beautiful park of India, you will be in love forever. Spotting the elusive cat is a feeling that cannot be explained or re-created by anything else, however, if that doesn’t happen – your love for the forests should be enough to wade you through the unlucky drought.
Booking Information for that perfect Indian jungle adventure
Well for us unlucky adventurers, I would highly recommend booking a stay at Kanha earth lodge. They have a 80% sighting record (unofficial stats, of course) so most who visit them dishearted, having never seen a Tiger in the wild… their prayer’s do get answered here.
Remember, book enough days and safaris to increase your odds and “Be persistence“.
Website – KanhaEarthLodge.com
Address – Kanha Earth Lodge, P.O. Sarekha Village -Narna Kanha National Park, Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh 481111
Phone – 0124 297 0497
Disclaimer – I was a guest of Pugdundee Safaris on my wonderful wild adventures in Kanha. Big thanks to their manager, staff and naturalists for a lovely stay and our incredible wild encounters.