**India's parks ** India’s wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are scattered throughout the country, from Kaziranga in the far north-east to mountainous Periyar in Kerala’s Western Ghats. Some parks are easy to get to and draw a large crowd, while others need a little more effort to reach but are a whole lot quieter. The range of species is as wide as the varying vibes of India’s cities with lots of mammals, birds and reptiles in each park, but it’s the Bengal tiger that’s the headline act. For many, Ranthambore is the go-to park because it’s so easy to add to a tour of the Golden Triangle but for fewer crowds and a better chance of a sighting (and particularly if you’re used to East and Southern African safaris), head to the reserves of Central India. In parks like Bandhavgarh and Kanha, The Jungle Book dream really comes to life.
The safari experience The best time for wildlife spotting is early in the morning and late in the afternoon as the temperatures will be lower and the animals more active. How your safari plays out will depend on where you are. In Ranthambore, all game drives are operated by park authorities and unless you upgrade to a six-person Jeep, you’ll be in a 20-30 person ‘canter’. We highly recommend going for a Jeep as it will be far more comfortable and you won’t be vying for that perfect shot if a tiger does appear. In Central India’s parks, most trips will be in a shared Jeep that is either owned by the park or the lodge you’re staying at.
When to visit Each parks’ core zones are usually closed during the monsoon which typically arrives in July. They reopen again in early or mid-October but the vegetation will have grown, making it a little trickier to spot wildlife. Some parks are also closed on Wednesday afternoons. The best time to visit is between February and April when animals gather around the last remaining water sources, and the plants, trees and grasses thin out.