India is home to natural beauty – much of which remains to be discovered – and breathtaking landscapes ranging from some of the most pristine waterfalls to the scenic beauty of Leh Ladakh and Kashmir. India’s biodiversity is exemplary, with national parks in the Himalayan region, the central plains, the Western Ghats and the mangrove forests in the east. To protect endemic and endangered species, wildlife sanctuaries have been created which double up as national parks which make for extravagant holiday destinations. Run by the government and forest authorities, here are the best national parks in India to visit if you are a wildlife enthusiast, depending on the season!
Jawai National Park, Rajasthan
Rajasthan has some of the most coveted wildlife sanctuaries, one of the lesser known of these is Jawai near Udaipur. Known as the leopard range of India, it is found in the Aravalli Mountains in the Pali district of Rajasthan. An upcoming luxury destination, the jungle safari is one of the biggest attractions in the region.
The leopard safari in the Jawai Bandh area attracts the attention of wildlife enthusiasts. The beauty is how leopards and humans co-exist in the Jawai area. Wild leopards are easily spotted near the Jawai Dam areas along with many residential and migratory birds. The best part of a stay in Jawai is the luxury camps nestled in the middle of the national park with a backdrop of spectacular wilderness. Travel here to spend unforgettable days in the wilderness in search of leopards and other wildlife. Combining sophistication and ecology, there is no better place to experience one of India’s most enchanting and breathtaking landscapes.
Best time to visit: October to early April
How to get there: Udaipur is the nearest airport and is a 3 hour drive.
Where to stay: Brij Pola Jawaii, Sujan Jawaii
Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
Ranthambore is one of the most sought after national parks in India. Spread over 1334 km² of deciduous forests and grasslands, the park was once a royal hunting lodge for the Maharaja of Jaipur. Today, the area is synonymous with unrivaled luxury and the former hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Jaipur, who built Sawai Madhopur, the main gateway town to the park. The Royal Hunting Lodge is now an upscale hotel.
Best time to visit: April to June
How to get there: Sanganer Airport in Jaipur is the nearest airport and is a 3.5 hour drive.
Where to stay: Aman-i-Khas
Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Located in the heart of Madhya Pradesh, Pench National Park takes its name from the pristine Pence River which flows through the park. The park also has a mention in the iconic story The jungle Book, making it a popular tourist attraction in India. Spreading over a vast area of 758 sq km, Pench National Park allows visitors to explore majestic paths and beautiful trails of Pench National Park, and experience one of the finest wildlife experiences in India. . Serving as a cozy nest for many wild creatures including Royal Bengal Tiger, Jackal, Peacock, Wild Dog, Wild Boar, Sloth Bear, Indian Leopard, Fox, Striped Hyena, Monkey, gaur, barking deer, four-horned antelope, Indian wolf, and more make this a must-see national park in India. And when it comes to luxury stays, the options abound.
Best time to visit: October to February
How to get there: Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, Nagpur is the nearest airport and is located 130 km from the park.
Where to stay: Baghvan, a Taj Safari
Sundarban National Park, West Bengal
Considered the ultimate tiger reserve in India, Sundarbans National Park is one of the most lush and breathtaking places in the country. Although it might not be the first choice for many given its remote location, it is definitely worth visiting in your lifetime. Wet and humid considering the typography of the area, the silence is interrupted by the melodious chirping of birds and the roar of tigers. Known as one of the largest mangrove forests in the world, with tributaries that form an intricate system of networks, taking a boat ride in the Sunerbans and encountering crocodiles are some of the most coveted experiences. Spread over 40,000 km2, its name means beautiful forests in the local language. Another reason are the Sundari trees, which are dominant in this mangrove area. Their uniqueness lies in their roots which grow upwards to breathe, especially when waterlogged during the monsoons.
Best time to visit: September to March
How to get there: Sundarbans National Park is only accessible by boat and is located about 100 km southeast of Kolkata International Airport.
Where to stay: Sunderban Tiger Camp
Sariska National Park, Rajasthan
When it comes to national parks in India, Sariska is a must. Yet another tiger reserve in India, Sariska National Park is located in Alwar district, Rajasthan, India, a short drive from Delhi. Rocky hills, meadows, steep hill cliffs and narrow valleys of the Aravallis dominate the landscape of Sariska. It was declared a sanctuary in 1955 and became a national park in 1979. Sariska National Park is home to the largest population of peafowl in India and is home to quail, sand grouse, golden-backed woodpeckers, snakes upscale and more. The temples inside Sariska help you delve deeper into the cultural history of the region. The main attraction is the jeep safari, which offers the chance to spot any of the big jungle cats found in the area, including leopards and tigers, but also other attractions like deer Sambar and the peacocks. The reserve is famous for bird watching, with over 220 species of birds including migratory birds from Europe, Central Asia and other regions calling it home.
Best time to visit: October to February
How to get there: Jaipur Airport is the nearest airport which is 7 km from the national park.
Where to stay: Amanbagh
Hemis National Park, Jammu and Kashmir
Covered in snow and ice, Hemis National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. Surrounded by the high altitude mountains of Ladakh, the lair of the elusive snow leopard makes it one of the most sought after national parks. Covering 4,400 km² of alpine forests on the West Karakoram Tibetan Plateau, this park is home to the highest density of snow leopards in the world. You may also spot Blue Sheep, Greater Tibetan Sheep and Asian Ibex and look up to spot Golden Eagle, Himalayan Griffon Vulture and several other birds of prey.
Best time to visit: May to October
How to get there: Leh is the nearest airport to Hemis
Where to stay: The Grand Dragon Resort
Gir National Park, Gujrat
Jump into the wild side by visiting the Lion’s Den, Sariska National Park. Spread over 1412 km², it was once the private hunting lodge of the Nawab of Junagadh, where lions were hunted here by royalty during the British colonial era. However, the most exciting thing is an early morning game drive in the area. To add to the cultural arena, the park was once home to the native Maldharis and Siddhis tribes, and you can even book tours to see their villages, temples, and dances. It is one of the national parks that is closed from mid-June to mid-October due to the monsoon season.
Best time to visit: October to May
How to get there: The nearest airport is Keshod Airport, located approximately 70 km from the park.
Where to stay: Aramness Gir National Park
Kaziranga Wildlife Park, Assam
A park less visited by many, if a rare sight of a rhino is what you’re looking for, Kaziranga Wildlife Park has over two-thirds of the world’s rhino population. A UNESCO World Heritage Site of India, it is known for the great one-horned Indian rhinoceros. Stretching over 430 km2 along the plains of the Brahmaputra River, it is one of the most lush areas you can find. In 2006, Kaziranga was also declared a tiger reserve given the increase in the tiger population. But alongside that, you can expect to spot elephants, wild water buffalo and swamp deer. The vast expanse of tall elephant grass, swamps and dense tropical rainforests make the park beautiful, but it is the presence of the Brahmaputra River that makes it enigmatic. You can opt for a jeep or elephant safari depending on your preference to explore the park.
Best time to visit: November to February
How to get there: The nearest airport to Kaziranga is Guwahati Airport, 295 km from the national park.
Where to stay: Borgos Le Havre Sauvage, IORA – Retreat
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