National Parks in India are known for variety of flora and fauna. There are more than 200 national parks & wildlife sanctuaries in the country, some of which are big, dense and unexplored. Visitors can opt from various available means to travel inside the park such as a jeep safari, elephant safari or can even travel on foot. Recently, I visited three national parks in Madhya Pradesh where there are great chances of spotting the tiger. The following guide is based on the jeep safari that I undertook.
Time to Visit
The best time to visit the national parks are during summers and winters. One can easily spot a tiger when it comes to drink water from streams in the summer season. You can also enjoy the beauty of lush green Sal trees during rains. Most of the national parks are closed during heavy monsoons (July, August and September as the roads becomes mushy and non-trackable). Monsoon is also the breeding time for animals and it is advisable to stay away from them during this period. Always book your safari in advance. The lodges will easily be able to help you in booking your stay, food and safari.
Clothing, gadgets & ride
- Clothing depends on the season and region. During March & April, the temperature rises to 40 degree Celsius. From October to January, the temperature may fall to 15 degree Celsius.
- In monsoon, it is advisable to layer up in the morning with light jacket and layer down to cotton fabrics in the afternoon.
- Although the lodge will usually provide you with a good nature green colour rainwear, it is advisable to carry a poncho yourself during monsoon time.
- Always remember to avoid bright colours like red, orange, and pink as they do not blend with the colours of the forest and may be distracting to animals.
- Carry a scarf or balaclava with you all the time on safari to avoid heavy dust. Do not forget to carry sunscreen, a cap with straps, comfortable shoes and shades to avoid the sun.
- Most of the things you carry will definitely get dusty so avoid to carry new products in the jungle. Avoid strong perfumes and flashy jewellery as it may attract wild animals to you.
- Usually the tiger comes very close to the vehicle, so you might not need a telephoto lens, though you might need a camera and telephoto lens to capture far off birds. Refrain from using flash as to not attract any unnecessary attention.
- Your safari guide would have binoculars with them, in case they don’t ensure you check with them over email so you don’t miss seeing the elusive leopard from far off distance. Carry bottles of water with you as there are chances that you might get dehydrated.
Learn, respect and grow
- In every safari there would be a forest guide or naturalist; try to get all the wealth of information he has to share with you. They spend years studying, tracking down unpredictable creatures, and they follow their deep passion for real conservation of the jungle. Obviously they are more knowledgeable than us. Be courteous to them and appreciate their knowledge. Engage with them in interesting conversations as they like to talk about the dark secrets of the jungle.
- The jungle is not only about big cats. Spend time looking for the birds, beautiful trees, sloth bear and other type of animals. Do not push your guide to look for big cats only, and let the nature unfold itself.
- If you want an elevated view of the jungle, prefer the last seat but do keep in mind that on bumpy roads you might have stomach rolls. Take the next seat to the guide, in case you want to hear some interesting stories.
- Do not shout or speak in a loud voice once you are in the jungle. Respect the space of animals. Once you are back at your lodge, you can pick the list of mammals and birds, and check the species you saw. This is really fun. I did it and enjoyed seeing them again in the next safari.
- Take good breaks after every safari as it can get exhausting. Sleep and eat well.