5 Interesting Facts about Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve

Jhalana leopard safari

“Fabulous” is the perfect word to describe the wildlife of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, a large part of African savanna including the northern part of the Serengeti Plains.

Well known for its great wildebeest migration, plenty of lions and the rich culture of the native Maasai people, traditional pastoral herders who have grazed cattle here for hundreds of years, southwest Kenya’s Maasai Mara is a treat for all travelers.

Here are 5 interesting facts you might not know about this 580-square-mile reserve which is home to nearly a hundred mammal species and offers impressive wildlife sighting all year.

  1. The reserve’s first name represents the Maasai people. The second word, Mara–“spotted” in Maa (the Maasai language) –  glorifies how they described the area when they saw it from afar. The dark shadows from the clouds and the circles of trees, savannah & scrub gave the land a speckled appearance.
  2. The Maasai people don’t consider themselves as only residents of the region. The land is a vital part of their lives, but they strongly believe that they are also an integral part of the life of the land. For this reason, they hardly hunt and do their best to live in harmony with wild animals.
  3. When actually recognized as a wildlife sanctuary in 1961, the Maasai Mara encompassed only 200 square miles of the present area.
  4. Scientists have detected more than 570 species of wild birds in the park, many of them are migrants. More than 50 birds of prey, including, storks, eagles, and vultures, comprise Mara’s rich birdlife.
  5. Proof of early human settlements, including arrowheads & pottery left behind form the Neolithic era, have been found within the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
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When and how to book a Tiger Safari in India

 

Before I address the question on “when and how to book a Tiger Safari in India, it is crucial to know the reason behind this question. Tiger is among the most photographed animal on the earth. There isn’t another animal with such an intense charisma that attracts people.

Tiger Tourism

Affection for Tigers has grown much faster than what the national parks could handle in India. While the overall tourism in India has increased by about 5%, Tiger tourism has witnessed an increase of about 12-15% constantly over the years. The top reason behind these numbers is the growing love of Indians towards their wildlife. With 137 crores Indians, the number of Tiger lovers is not small by any margin. Let us not ignore the nature and wildlife lovers from around the world also reaching India to see the Tigers. Our apex court realized this and placed in some strict regulations in 2012 to guide Tiger tourism

Holding capacity of the national parks was calculated eventually. Wherever the number of vehicles visiting the park were found to be high, they were curtailed. Many parks lost approximately 50% of the vehicles. Currently, tourism takes place in only about 20% area of the national parks. Remaining 80% of the park is completely inviolate for any human activity.

Increase in Tiger population also results in an increase in Tiger tourism.

It was in 2006 when Sariska National Park was announced to be bereft of Tigers. In 2008, the same thing happened with Panna National park. This attracted a lot of attention towards the Tigers. The Government acted quickly. Some major steps were taken to rehabilitate Tigers in these 2 national parks. With increased attention and conservation steps, Tigers once again roared in these 2 national parks. People rushed back to the national parks after hearing this news.

Moreover, India is the only Tiger country where the possibilities of sighting Tigers is certain. The increased awareness of the Tiger numbers over the last 6-7 years have also increased the Tiger tourism. Now the question when and how to book a Tiger Safari in India becomes very relevant.

When and how to book a Tiger Safari in India

One must book a Tiger Safari in India at-least 5-6 months well before the safari date. Why so much before? Simple, because lot lots of parks allow the safari permits to be booked online 120 days prior to the safari date. And with limited safari permits, they get booked very quickly. If the safari has to be booked 120 days before you should ensure your holiday even before. Hence I said 5-6 months. By now you should have given all your identification details and down payments to your tour operator if you want to see a Tiger in the wild. Some parks also allow booking 90 days before as well.

Importance of the right Tour Operator for safari booking

Booking so much in advance will also give your Tour Operator sufficient time to plan your safaris in the right zones. It is also essential for your tour operator to know the tiger sighting history in those zones. Therefore, book with someone who is updated with sighting activities in the national parks.

If you want value for money then it is worth finding out a safari operator to whom you are entrusting your money, time and efforts. He must know which Tiger parks yield best results in which months. It is a reality that none can promise Tiger sightings, but the experience of a tour operator can give you the best possible chances of sighting Tigers.

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Top 7 Reasons Why You Go for A Masai Mara Safari Tour

KMMSP - Masai Mara Village

The Maasai Mara game reserve is situated in Narok County Kenya. Named after the Maasai tribe and their description of the beautiful land, Maasai Mara is an extremely famous place for tourists visiting Africa. The ‘spotted’ landscape is truly enchanting and full of countless wild animals, all of which you can discover on your own. The national reserve is basically only a small part of a huge ecosystem that comprises of various other regions including Lemek , Kimintet, and Koiyaki ranches.

The nature reserve was recognized as a sanctuary for wildlife in 1961. Part of the area was granted with national reserve status in 1974. By 2001, the reserve was being operated by the non-profit organisation, Mara Conservancy.

The reserve now encompasses a tremendous 1, 510 square kilometres with the complete area available for exploration. With plenty of incredible nature reserves around Africa, you might be wondering why you should visit this lovely destination and mark it as your primary choice. There are various reasons why you shouldn’t miss a Maasai Mara safari tour.

It Holds the Eighth Wonder of the World

Are you interested to see all the wonders of the world in your lifetime? Then you need to ensure that you do book a trip to Maasai Mara for a safari tour. Every year, over one million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti into the nature reserve by crossing the Mara River. While this in itself may not be that incredible, the Mara River is packed with predators making it a dangerous journey. Nile crocodiles and other predators are always waiting to make the wildebeest their victim.

If you wish to see this wonder of the world, you’ll need to ensure that you arrive at the right time. The majority of people go a few weeks before the migration is scheduled to begin to ensure they don’t miss it. While you hang around, you can use your time enjoying the other wildlife that exist in the park. People come from all over the globe to see this extraordinary feat of nature.

Safety Guaranteed

Lots of people who are eager to visit a nature reserve like the Maasai Mara are worried about their safety. It’s right that some nature reserves can attract criminals & hunters. The skin and bones of some wild animals can be extremely valuable in the black market. Despite hunting being banned in many areas, this does not prevent hunters from breaking the law. When this takes place, it’s not just the animals that are in danger. Travelers can get caught in the crossfire. Fortunately, at this specific reserve, you’ll find that there is a lot of security on foot and in jeeps to keep you secure. You can’t travel more than just a few kilometers without coming across an officer on patrol, ready to save both you and the animals.

The Kenya Wildlife Services provides the reserve with officers to ensure that the area is secured tightly. Rest assured, if there is a problem you will be informed promptly. The protection of you and other visitors on the site will always be the number one priority for the officers. Fortunately, people who visited say that at Maasai Mara, they have never found themselves in the position where they felt anything other than perfectly safe.

Animals Galore

We’ve already discussed the Wildebeest, but there are lots of other wild animals that you surely to encounter during your Maasai Mara safari.  Actually, the land is home to literally countless different species. All of the big five you’re excited to see could be found here including rhinos, buffaloes, leopard, lions, and yes even elephants. Tourists usually agree that the Maasai Mara safari is the best chance to see the rarest wild animals on the planet.  In fact, you might be eager in seeing the Big Rhinos left in Africa. Well, they’re all here.

It’s not the only wildebeest that migrate into the Mara reserve. Zebra, Topi, & Thomson’s gazelle migrate from the Serengeti to the Loita Plains. If you’re interested to witness this, ensure to visit between July and October.

The Maasai Mara safari is also one of the primary reasons why the population of Black Rhinos is gradually increasing. By 1980 the population was only 15 but with the help of the reserve, it is slowly but surely bouncing back.

Head towards the rivers, and you might just find a hippopotamus & crocodiles. All over the reserve, you are most likely to see cheetahs, jackals, hyenas & bat-eared foxes. If you’re interested to see the rarest and most majestic of wild animals including cheetahs & lions, the Esoit Escarpment is the perfect place to you

There Are Birds Too!

If you’re a fan of bird watching and wish to spot some rare birds, Maasai Mara is definitely the right safari for you. There more than 470 species of birds that have been detected throughout the park, and 60 of these are raptors

Awesome Adventures and Activities

You might be keen to get more from a Mara safari than just animal sightings, and Maasai Mara certainly won’t disappoint you. Have you ever thought what it’s like to board a hot air balloon and glide over the planes of Africa, perhaps while seeing the animals running below? Well, you can discover the magic of this particular experience only here. If you wish the perfect view of the wildlife, then this is best the way to get it.

Obviously, the Mara safari itself is quite impressive too. It’s there that you’ll manage to venture into the wild, getting up close to these wonderful beasts. With game viewing, it’s possible to get an electrifying experience as a professional guide leads you closer than you had ever imagined to lions and leopards. 

Totally Accessible

There are a whole variety of routes to reach the Masai Mara. Some nature reserves are in the remote place and practically impossible to reach except on a risky muddy road. That’s not the problem here, and you’ll find that there are lots of flights available that can take you directly to Mara.

Once in A Lifetime Experience

You might be thinking whether the experience that you get here could be replicated anywhere else in Africa or indeed, the world. Well, we can assure you that nowhere else around the planet can offer the same thrills that you get here.

Imagine waking up not to the tone of an alarm clock but to animal roars outside your window. Well, that’s exactly what can take place here with resorts that place you right at the center of the action. You’ll hear the stomping hooves of the wildebeest, roar of the lion or the snort of a hippo. It’s not only the sound, the scents are here too with the refreshing tropical smell of the Serengeti and plains all around you.

Then, when you do take a Masai Mara safari, this won’t be your normal trip. You’ll see predators haunting and feasting on their prey, cubs playing together and much more. Every moment on a safari here will likely be a memory that you will wish to remember forever. With lovely weather guaranteed to give you a breathtaking and undisturbed view each day

Meet The People

Masai Mara isn’t like your ordinary nature reserve. It’s totally different because unlike other areas this location is inhabited. We’re not speaking about the animals but the Maasais themselves. Yes, there are tribes that live close to the Mara, and while you may have heard tales about these people, nothing can match the astonishing reality. It’s right that these people are brave and they are the only ones who you will see walking freely through the Mara around the wild animals. They can possibly do this because they have lived in harmony with these wild animals for centuries. They know their ways, how to stay safe and they know what it takes to share the land with these animals.

While the wild animals themselves may be the true reason for visiting, tourists are often mesmerized when they counter the Maasai People. These people are more than delighted to greet, welcome and communicate with tourists and simply anyone who decides to visit the reserve. Why do tourists find the people here so fascinating? It’s likely because of the fact that they have a unique culture and a way of living that has lasted for many years. The people here are wonderful and can tell you what it’s like to live around the Mara lands. If you wish to return home with a few stories to tell after your trip to Africa, you definitely need to ensure that you have at least one encounter with the Maasai people. Lots of people find that it entirely changes their perspective on life.

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3 Most essential things to know before you start wildlife photography

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Hardly few years back, with manual cameras and film rolls, not everyone was interested getting into Wildlife photography. Only few people were haunted by this rare passion. Though it was glamorous but not affordable to everyone. But with the arrival of digital cameras and memory cards, wildlife photography has become a passion and a fashion as well. Tourists carrying huge lenses and camera bodies in National park is normal scenario now a days. Social media has played a big role for making wildlife photography a tempting passion. Posting a picture gets one instant gratification. Also, Google & YouTube are good source of information, and one needs no photography workshop or classes to learn basic wildlife photography. But there are some essential things for wildlife photography that one needs to learn & understand.

1. Knowledge of National Park: It is very important for you to gather some information about the national park you would be visiting. The terrain, the tracks, the tree cover, forest density, the kind of wildlife in the national park, the month you would be visiting, the light to expect, the weather to expect etc.

2. Wildlife Knowledge: Create the checklist of animals you may encounter in the National park. If you are planning to take Tiger images, then you will be better equipped if you know the behavior of the Tiger.

3. Safety: Always remember that you are in a national park and surrounded by wild animals. Your safety and the safety of wild animals you are shooting is of paramount importance. Do not underestimate the speed and power of wild animals at any point, irrespective of the size. Hence it is important to keep safe distance from wild animals. Follow all instructions of the guide & the driver in the Jeep, do not force them to get very close to the animal. Besides you will be able to capture good images only if you are at a safe distance wherein the animals are not disturbed by your presence & behavior. Avoid making unnecessary sounds, or talk loudly, no sudden or jerky movements while you are in the vehicle. As all this can easily scare the animal and send it in cover, thus depriving you of a good wildlife snap.

Once you cover the above basic things for wildlife photography, then what?
Then should gain the technical knowledge of taking photographs. Expert advise here is do not be over dependent on your photography equipment or post processing of the pictures, rather get them right while clicking them. Always remember, it is the eye behind the camera which is more important than the camera itself. Latest technology can’t replace the art of photography.

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Top Ten Wildlife Safari Camps & Resorts in India

Every year, a fair number of nature lovers visit the national parks of India to experience an adventurous wildlife safari. You can find number of wildlife resorts that offer a pleasant stay for guests.
Spending night in the middle of jungle is surely an amazing experience. These wildlife resorts are a perfect blend of luxurious lifestyle & a rustic wilderness. Checkout the list of top 10 wildlife safari camps in India:
1. Aman-i-Khas, Ranthambore
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Aman-I-Khas is a luxurious jungle safari camp, set on the outskirts of the Ranthambore National Park close to Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan. This camp comprises of well-equipped 10 elegant spacious tents reflecting Mughal style of architecture and décor.
Opened in the month of November, 2003, this jungle resort has well-equipped housing tents comprising of spaces for dressing, cleansing and eating.
Just about 10 km from the Ranthambore National Park, it is a perfect accommodation alternative for those who seek to experience lavish living with a drop of wilderness. Provisions for safari within the park can also be made.
When to visit: October to March

2. Tree House Hideaway Resort, Bandhavgarh
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Situated across the 21 acres of land within the Bandhavgarh National Park, Tree House Hideaway Resort has an overall of five tree houses for the relaxation of the guests. These well-laden tree houses are full with all the contemporary facilities such as private bathroom, small bar, split AC and living area with a beautiful balcony from where you can delight your eyes to the lush greenery everywhere and may also spot the wild beasts wandering freely.
Moreover, the resort also has a dining hall, established in 2 levels round a gigantic Mahua tree. Whereas on the ground level, you will find a dining hall serving both Continental and Indian Cuisines. The first floor is Watering Hole- the bar where people can take pleasure in drinks. You can easily opt from range of safaris in jeeps, escorted by an English-speaking naturalist to Bandhavgarh National Park.
When to visit: October to April

3. Sher Bagh, Ranthambore
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Taking hint from the deluxe lifestyle of the former Indian princes, each of the 12 tents at Sher Bagh encompass of unique ‘Campaign style’ furniture. This wildlife campsite is positioned at a clos——e distance of around 3 km from the entry of the Ranthambore National Park. All the well-equipped tents have a private verandah and present amazing views of the well-manicured plush gardens.
Highlighting an exotic African-style safari atmosphere, the Sher Bagh camp also endows with an opportunity of collective drinks during the sunset round the bonfire. Further, distinctive arrangement for wildlife jeep safaris, wildlife horse safaris and a picnic lunch, on the highest point of the Ranthambhore Fort can be made.
When to visit: October to March

4. Banjaar Tola, Kanha
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Located on the banks of River Banjaar, Taj Safaris’ third luxury jungle safari lodge “Banjaar Tola” provides some great views of the Kanha National Park. This lodge consists of a total of 2 stylish camps wherein there are 9 suites in all, offering a comfortable stay to the guests.
With a large common swimming pool, both the camps have their own tented relaxing area. The resort has a joint kitchen, having an organic and exotic touch which makes the dining experience even more enhanced. The tents are a delightful mix of fresh décor combined with bamboo floor tiles, locally-made fittings and bamboo wall panels. Further, arrangements for safari can also be done.
When to visit: October to June

5. Corbett Woods Resort, Ramnagar
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If you are in search for a comfy stay amidst contemporary indulgences while you are interacting with the big wild cats during your visit at the Corbett National park, choose for a stay at Corbett Woods Resort. Freshly constructed, this wildlife camp resort is one of the ideal options where the guests can have an enjoyable stay while appreciate flawless personalized services. Situated about 4 km from Jhirna Gate of Corbett National Park, Corbett Woods Resort has a striking designing and architecture.
As the Corbett Woods Resort is positioned on the banks of Dhela River, it provides prodigious views of the jungle’s green area. There are a total of 4 premium and 12 luxury Swiss air-conditioned lodges, which are very well-furnished and well-appointed. The list of amenities also comprises of children’s play area, fitness club, swimming pool and a multi-cuisine banqueting venue.
When to visit: November to March

6. Lion Safari Camp, Gir National Park
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Well-maintained and ecological, Lion Safari Camp is a perfect accommodation for people who are visiting Gir National Park. There are a whole of 20 air-conditioned tents that are very well-appointed with all the contemporary facilities. Lion Safari Camps have sophisticated furnishings and hygienic private bathrooms. The main highlight is that the decor of these tents is eco-friendly.
Treat your eyes to the plush greenery from the top deck area of the camp. The site of the safari camp, amid mango orchard is purely marvelous and looks filmy. Guests can conveniently dine-in at the camp’s outdoor restaurants where you can relish delicacies of Indian and Chinese Cusines.
When to visit: October to mid-June

7. Bundela Safari Lodge, Kanha
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Spread across an area 8 acres of plush land, Bundela Safari Lodge is positioned near Khatia entrance gate of the Kanha National Park. A wonderful mix of wilderness and relaxation, this wildlife camp lodge provides 3 best accommodation alternatives- Machan Vilas and Luxury housings. All these air-conditioned rooms have a superior interior, are spacious and have all the extravagances including attached bathrooms.
Enjoy your morning and evening tea while you are chilling in the balcony area, treating your eyes to the plush greenery, spread all around. The safari lodge also has a multi-cuisine bistro to provide lip-smacking food and a well-stocked bar, serving an extensive variety of beverages. Further, there is a spa and a swimming pool to indulge in relaxation activities.
When to visit: October to June

8. Eco Camp, Nameri National Park
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Situated just 1 km away from the banks of River Jia-Bhoroli, Nameri Eco Camp is quite near to the Nameri National Park in Assam. Sited amid plush green surroundings, this wildlife camp is just 45 km from Tezpur. As far as meal is concerned, people can relish tasty dishes at the communal dining hall in the Eco Camp.
Best time to Visit-November to March

9. The Bison Kabini Wildlife Resort
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A finest combination of adventure and luxury; this is just the perfect term for the Bison Kabini Resort, positioned right at the meeting juncture of Nagarhole and Bandipur National Parks. While the wildlife resort looks attention-grabbing during the night, it seems to be tranquil during the day. The creators of the resort have taken muse from old hunting stratums of former Indian Maharajas and an East African camp.
Clubbing a luxury experience with the rocky wilds is the major highlight of this resort. Admire flabbergasting views of the Kabini National Park from your window. Ancient antiques, stunning decorative pieces, pure white linen and woody floor make the camp all the more exciting. Every cottage is quite well-maintained.
When to visit-October to May

10. Hornbill Camp, Thattekkad
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Hornbill Camp, situated amidst coconut plantations on the banks of River Periyar, comprises of cottage tents filled with all up-to-the-minute comforts. Enjoy the landscape of the lowland area of Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Thattekkad. The huge camps are a blend of contemporary living styles and rural elegance.
When to visit: October to March

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Masai Mara National Reserve

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Masai Mara is one of the greatest Wildlife reserves in Africa and it is located in south-west Kenya. Masai Mara National Reserve with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania forms Africas most diverse, amazing & most spectacular Eco-system and possibly the worlds top safari friendly Eco-system. Masai Mara National Reserve covers an area of 1,510 sq km and it is located at 1,617 meters above sea level. Add the private conservancies and the area is at least twice the size. Masai Mara hosts over 95 species of mammals & over 570 species of birds. Masai Mara National Reserve has one of the largest densities of lion in the world

Wildebeest Migration:

The wildebeest migration is the annual natural relocation of vast numbers of the wildebeest, joined by large numbers of zebra, and smaller numbers of Thomsons gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, and Impala. Wildebeest migration takes place every year and it is highly predictable. They migrate throughout the year, constantly seeking better water resources & fresh grazing land. July to October is the best time to be in Kenya for it.

Accommodation:

Wide range of hotels & resorts are available in and around the Masai Mara & the conservancies surrounding it. Restricted numbers of vehicles are allowed in the conservancies surrounding the Masai Mara National Reserve

Distance:

Masai Mara National Reserve is about 270 kilometer from Nairobi (Capital) and takes approximately 40-45 minutes by flight & 4-5 hours by road. The road is in great condition for the most part. You may have to travel on dirt road from Narok town to Sekenani Gate but condition of that road is fairly good. The other road through Lemek and Aitong town is very bumpy and not good at all for driving.

Best Time To Visit:

Wildebeest migration takes place in JULY to OCTOBER which is best time to see this amazing animal migration. Although, Wildebeest Migration is not guaranteed through Masai Mara, it has yet to let us down. December to February is great time for big cats. As land gets dryer, water sources become limited and big cats can easily catch their prey near those water sources. Good opportunity for tourists and wildlife photographers to capture those moments.

Recommended Number of Days:

We recommend at least 3-4 days for Masai Mara safari. If you are interested in wildlife photography then the longer you stay the more chance of getting the ultimate snap.

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Top Five Wildlife Tourism Places in South India

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Southern part of India has wildlife sanctuaries & national parks which are perfect destinations for wildlife tourism in India. South India has UNESCO recognized Western Ghats & Nilgiris. Forests of south India are rich in flora and fauna with different eco-systems. Those forests are home to many wild animals like Elephants & Tigers. You can find wide range of species that are exclusive to the region. Our blog here picked a few wildlife destinations in South India which can offer some thrilling getaways to our wildlife lovers

Bandipur National Park

Bandipur is one of the most beautiful national parks in India. Bandipur National Park was established in 1974 & it is a renowned tiger reserve. National Park is located in Chamarajanagar district, Karnataka. Covering an area of 874.2 sq km, Bandipur along with Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu and Nagarhole National Park in the North Karnataka creates the biggest biosphere reserve in India, which is also known as the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. This park is home of Tigers along with wildlife species like gaur, wild dogs, wild boar, jackal, sloth bear, panther, sambhar, chital, mouse deer, four-horned antelope, porcupines, malabar squirrels and the black-knapped hare. Birds like green pigeon, jungle fowl are also found here.

Periyar National Park Kerala

Periyar National Park is located in Thekkady, Kerala. Rich in biodiversity, this park spreads over an area 925 Sq .km. Periyar National Park is famous elephant reserve and it is also amongst the 27 tiger reserves that India has. Periyar National Park forms the major watershed of two important rivers -The Pamba & the Periyar. Elephants are the prime attractions of Periyar, however, Gaur, Sambar, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Wild Pigs, Dole or Indian Wild Dog and Tiger are other animals that consider this place their home. You can also find Common Langur, Nilgiri Langur, Bonnet Macaque & the rare lion-tailed macaque. Periyar National Park has a rich bird life as well, great Malabar Hornbill, Kingfishers, Darters, Cormorants and Racket-tailed Drongos can be found here. Visitors are allowed to trek in National Park and thus get a better opportunity to witness wildlife closely.

Nagarhole National Park

Nagarhole National Park is named after river that flows through the park. This national park is situated in the two districts of Karnataka – Kodagu & Mysore. Nagarhole National Park covers an area of 643.39 sq. Kms, Nagarhole is an awesome place for wildlife safari in South India. Predators like tiger, leopard, sloth bear, hyena & wild dog can be found in large number in the park. You can also find here spotted deer, four-horned antelope, gaur, sambar, barking deer, elephant & wild boar. It is also ideal place for elephant sightings. Over 250 species of birds & reptiles like marsh crocodile, rock python & monitor lizard can be found in this national park.

Mudumalai National Park

Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is well known Tiger reserve and it is located in Nilgiri district of Tamilnadu state. It was established in 1940. This national park shares its boundary with Kerala & Karnataka. Mudumalai sanctuary is divided into five ranges ? Masinagudi, Mudumalai, Kargudi, Thepakadu & Nellakota. Rich in biodiversity, this national park has 50 species of mammals, 200 species of birds, 34 species of reptiles & 21 species of amphibians. This park is home of Tiger, Gaur, Leopard, Deer, Elephant, Long billed vulture, Red crest, Wild dog along with White rumped vulture, Parakeets and Owls

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka state. It covers an area of 834.16 sq.km. Karnataka state government has officially notified the Dandeli Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant on 4 June 2015 & it is the second elephant reserve in Karnataka after Mysore Elephant Reserve. The sanctuary has scenic beauty which includes meandering rivers & breath-taking valleys. Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is a perfect home for animals like tigers, elephants, sloth bear, pangolin, Malabar giant squirrel, bison, jackals, langurs, Black Panther, mouse deer & civet cats. This sanctuary is also perfect destination for bird watching in Southern India as it has birds like golden backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle & magpie robin.

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Difference between Gypsy safari & Canter safari (Bus)

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There are two kind of safari vehicles utilized in the National Parks of India. One is the Gypsy or Gypsy which can accommodate maximum 6 individuals, or a safari bus or Canter which can accommodate 10-20 individuals at a time. They both have their own advantages. One must understand the advantages and disadvantages of Canter and Gypsy Safaris before he books the tour package.

Advantages of a Gypsy:

1. Gypsy is a small vehicle which can accommodate Maximum 6 guests. Hence, it is less disturbing to you and to the wild animals.
2. The lower seating height of a Gypsy offer better angle than Canter for wildlife photography
3. Gypsy is easier to manoeuvre than canter during a safari.
4. ?The petrol driven engine of Gypsy is less noisy. Thus, it is less disturbing to you as well as to the wildlife.
5. It can access very narrow roads as well providing you advantage when Tigers or other animals are in dense forest patches where a Canter cannot reach.
6. Being light weight and having 4 x 4 engine, it can be taken reverse or forward very quickly as per the animal movement.

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Advantages of a Canter (Safari bus):

1. If you have more than 6 people in your group and you all want to travel together then Canter (Safari Bus) is ideal for you. Moreover, sometimes people dont get second Gypsy due to various reasons.
2. The height of a Canter is more than Gypsy and it helps in Tiger sighting. You can see deep down in to the jungle due to better height of Canter. Canter is larger & taller. Hence, you will feel more secured in Canter than Gypsy when Tiger is nearby your vehicle.

Keep in a mind that Tiger sightings are always a matter of chance and experienced guides & drivers will surely assist you in that case. Tigers & other wild animals dont care whether you are in Gypsy or in Canter. When they decide to come out, they will. Both vehicles follow the same route in jungle safari and chances of wildlife viewings are also almost same

If you are really a wildlife enthusiast and wish to avail a Gypsy for jungle safari, then plan your safari 5-6 months in advance and book your vehicle at the same time.

All the best! Have a Great Safari!

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6 Best Tiger spotting Places in India

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Royal Bengal Tigers is Indias pride with whose presence the lush bio-diversity of India becomes extraordinary and a lot more appealing. Known for its culture, traditions, customs and values, India has a special place within the heart of people from all across the world. India tourism prospers with its fantastic heritage and vivid cultures, which are witness and cherished by many tourists, nationwide and internationally.

To enrich the splendour of the country we’ve got many national parks in India and wildlife sanctuaries in India which are one among the significant pillars of tourism in India. Travellers round the year travel through these bio-sphere reserves to treasure the wonder and charm of the wildlife of India. The main attraction of the wildlife tourism is spotting the tigers. We have brought you best tiger spotting places in India where you can find the piercing eyes of big cats without much hassle.

1. Ranthambore National Park

2. Kanha National Park

3. Bandhavgarh National Park

4. Jim Corbett National Park

5. Pench National Park

6. Tadoba National Park

 

1. Ranthambore National Park

The charm of Rajasthan wildlife tourism, Ranthambore national park is one of the most important national parks in north India. The park is nestled within the lap of Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan; the park is just 130 kilometre from Jaipur. The park is spread in over 1334 sq kilometre and is encircled by the rocky ridges. Formerly called the hunting ground for the royal families of Jaipur has currently converted into the wildlife reserve which is holds an outstanding position in wildlife tourism in India where one can see the union of wildlife, history and culture beneath one sky. One can take safaris to spot tigers here twice a day at 6:30 AM and at 2:30 PM. This tiger trail runs for three hours. There are special zones famous for the tiger safari in Ranthambore and these are Zone 1, Zone 4, Zone 6 and Zone 3. A few tigers like Noor, Arrow head, Ladli, Star male, Kumbha male, Sultan male, Zalim male are very popular in Ranthambore and give very frequent sightings.

 

2. Kanha National Park

Kanha Tiger Reserve which is also known as Kanha national park is an outstanding national park in Madhya Pradesh. To encourage wildlife tourism in India, both international and national travellers are invited to the bio-diversity rich areas of the country and Kanha national park plays a major role. The area of national park is spread in two districts, Mandala and Kalaghat and is declared as reserve forest in 1879, wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and upgraded as national park in 1955. To spot tigers in Kanha national park, tourists can relish the safaris arranged by the park authorities and tourists can also stay in the wildlife resort and lodges situated on the fringes of forest. To spot tigers, safaris take place in two shifts of morning and afternoon. It takes around 3 to 4 hours to complete a safari. Neelam female, Link 7 female, Chota Munna male, Munna male, Umarpani male etc are the most sought after tigers in Kanha tiger reserve.

3. Bandhavgarh National Park

Another spectacular wildlife reserve in Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh national park is one of the most wonderful wildlife reserves in India. The fascinating and plush flora and fauna of the place is taken into account as the original home of white tigers. Beside the tigers, the land is also filled with wonderful species of animals like Bengal Fox, Asiatic jackal, Jungle Cat, Sloth Bear, Dhole and many more. The exploration of this park can be done in 2 ways, first of which is jeep safari in Bandhavgarh national park and second is elephant safari in Bandhavgarh national park. The gyspy safaris for tiger spotting in Bandhavgarh national park are conducted twice a day in special zones named Tala, Magadhi and Khitauli. There are a few tigers in Bandhavgarh that are the heartthrobs of travellers and photographers like Bheem male, New Bamera male, Rajbehra female, Solo female, Spotty female, Mahaman male etc

 

4. Jim Corbett National Park

Jim Corbett National Park is the part of Corbett Tiger Reserve that’s nestled within the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. One can notice a great variety of biodiversity over here, enhancing the grace and beauty of the park. It was established as Hailey national park in 1936. Later the national park was declared as Indias first tiger reserve in 1973. Along with the massive numbers of tigers, the place is filled with quite 650 species of birds as well as locals and migratory along with 50 totally different species of raptors and various species of animals. There are different zones settled within the park that are meant for sightseeing of wildlife in Jim Corbett national park. These 4 zones are named as follows: Dikala, Bijrani safari Zone, Dhela safari Zone and Durga Devi Zone just to call a couple of zones there. Most popular tigers of Corbett national park are Paarwali tigress, Langda male, Mota Sal tigress, Bhim male etc

 

5. Pench National park

Another stunning and fantastic national park which is an integral a part of the state of Madhya Pradesh, Pench national park has its name from the Pench River that runs through the park and helps in booming the wildlife in Pench national park. Spread within the area of 758 sq kilometres this park is another wonderful example of tiger conservation and wildlife tourism with the glorious history. Only a couple of people know but this tiger reserve is the original inspiration of Rudyard Kiplings The Jungle Book. Beside the fierce stripped cats, you’ll also spots varied animals over here like cheetal, nilgai, leopard, wolf, jackal, fox, civet and etc. On the same hand, the place is stuffed with quite 285 species of birds (local and migratory). The jungle safari in this place is generally done two times in a day, that starts at 6:30 am and 3:00 pm and it runs for quite 3 to 4 hours. The famous tigers of Pench are Collarwali, Langdi, Raiyakassa male, BMW male, Tarzan male, Handsome male and Baras female.

6. Tadoba National Park

Maharashtra is known for its distinctive culture and traditions and what adds values to its beauty is the presence of Tadoba national park. It’s the attractive and largest National Parks in Maharashtra. Tadoba national park is listed among the 47 project tiger reserve prevailing in India. The name Tadoba comes from the tribal God Taru who is praised the tribal people. In 1955 the area was declared as national park and in 1986 the neighbouring area was declared as Andhari wildlife Sanctuary and in 1995 the park and sanctuary was merged to form a Project Tiger- Tadoba Tiger Reserve. One can find large numbers of tigers in Tadoba national park. Beside tigers, people also like to watch Leopards, Spotted deer, Wild Boars, Gaurs along with different places of cultural importance. For tiger spotting in Tadoba national park, regular gypsy and canter safaris are run under guidance of forest department. You’ll be able to relish gypsy or jeep safari to explore the wildlife of Tadoba national park. Tadoba national park is additionally known as Jewel of Vidharba. A few famous tigers of Tadoba are Maya, Waghdoh, Sonam, Madhuri, Bajrang and Matkasur.

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What should you do when you encounter a Tiger on foot in his territory?

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First of all, let me warn everyone that a Tiger is an impeccable slaughtering machine. So, the most ideal approach to fight him is, not to fight him. This is a note from some individuals past encounters and knowledge of local people who occasionally meet the Tiger on foot in their own backyard. It is quite possible that on your wildlife safari occasion, you may likewise encounter a Tiger by walking accidentally and unintentionally.
This can happen to anyone in national park. Generally, the national parks of India don’t have any fence or dividers. The Tigers roam in and around the national parks in search of food and to mark their territory. They come out of their home to visit the vicinity of the villages where majority of the resorts are established.

What to do when you encounter a Tiger on foot?

Tigers are generally not interested in human beings. It is frequently seen that he will leave the trail in the event that he hears or sees you on a similar trail. Having said this, it doesn’t mean that you toss the alert to the breezes. In some cases, a Tiger would do a mock charge to threat you, i.e. Tiger will come half way fully charging, then suddenly stop, turn around, and run away. These are serious and life-threatening situations. Hence, it is best to be alert & prepared. Note down following points in case if you encounter a Tiger on foot.

Stay calm

In case, if you encounter a Tiger first then stay calm and control your breathing speed. You can easily get nervous, but your stillness when he notices you is your major chance of escape from that situation. If he hasn’t seen you, then remain calm, wait for him to move on, and you later move in the different direction. Saving yourself should be the only motive and avoid being foolishly macho. Your anxiety or one wrong step can encourage tiger to attack you.

Pray

Regardless of whether you are a believer or a nonbeliever of god, there is no better time than this to praying. It will at least give you the courage to face the situation.

Stand up tall when you encounter a Tiger on foot

If you are sitting on the trail, gradually stand up and stand tall. The Tiger must know you are human being and should not mistake you as his prey animal. Tigers typically attack their prey from back especially when they appear to be sitting. He will consider you as a small prey animal and attack you. By standing tall, you are showing him that you are a human and not his natural prey.

Signs that a Tiger is annoyed with you

If the Tiger is angry with you, he will indicate it by a snarl, or he may take a stalking position. What is a stalking position? Fundamentally, before a Tiger assaults, he crouches, his ears move back, he freezes, concentrates on his prey, snarls, and attack. If tiger is taking that position, then you should start backing up. You should not show your back to him, rather gradually and relentlessly just back up. Continue backing off gradually until the Tiger is well out of sight.

Never run

Never run when you accidentally encounter a Tiger on foot. Tigers are naturally trained to chase anything running and kill.

Climb a Tree

If there is a tall tree nearby and the Tiger is far enough, and you know how to climb a tree instantly, then you can go ahead. Make sure you reach at-least 15 feet above the ground, as Tigers can jump up to 15 feet comfortably above ground level. So climb quickly, else does not attempt.
If you encounter a Leopard or a Sloth Bear then climbing the tree is not an option as they both are master in climbing, especially Leopard.

Make noise

If you have some metal or anything which can make noise, do it. But do this only after you are sure that the Tiger has made up his mind to attack you. In case, if you have nothing to make noise, and Tiger is charging, then shout as loud as possible.

Fight if you have no choice

When other options don’t work for you and you have no option left but to fight with Tiger, and when a Tiger charges and jumps at you, do the following:

Get as close as possible to Tiger when he attacks you.

Embrace him tight. Try not to give him any breathing space. Embracing a Tiger can surprise him. All carnivores prefer distance. Tigers don’t like physical closeness and try to avoid physical contact. Even Tigers fighting with each other keep distance from each other. At first, they would slap each other, and wait to take a bite and choke the jugular vein on the neck of his opponent. So, keep your neck away from his jaw.

It is your weapon vs his canines & claws

Whatever you can pick and hit the tiger, can be your ultimate weapon at that situation. You can pick rock, branch, stick, and use it to protect yourself from him.
Keep in mind that his weapons are his canines & claws; you must stay away from them. Your weapon is whatever you get or have in hand. With his weapons he can brutally injure you. Generally, Tigers avoid fights. But if they involve in fighting, they will definitely go for the kill, until and unless they are surprised by your behavior. In that situation, they simply want to get away.
Continue shouting and be as close as possible to him. Avoid his fatal bite, as not only it can kill you, but also give you some fatal infection as his canines have lot of bacteria.
Hit the Tiger on his weak spots like eyes and nose. Strike it & strike it hard
If there is a lake or a river, do not get into it to save yourself. Tigers are incredible swimmers, and will out pace you much sooner that you think.

Let me remind you again, the most ideal approach to fight the tiger is, not to fight tiger.

With prayers from me that you never face a Tiger on foot in his territory

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