Tiger Safari in India

Tiger Safari In India

Is it possible to do a Tiger Safari in India during the monsoons time in India? A commonly asked question, as not everyone knows that some parts of the national parks are closed during monsoon. And some parts are open.

At the onset let me clarify here that most parts in most national parks are closed for monsoons. Next question is when is the  monsoon time? It is from July till September in most areas, and in some parks, specifically in the terai belt and north east India the monsoon stretches till October.

But why do a Safari in monsoon?

The trees are healthier, and happier and more productive during monsoon. One must remember that forests matter at a more fundamental level than most of us realize. Take this time of being in the forest, talking to the guides, listening to some fascinating stories of the foresters, and coming out richer and contented with your safari. The forest has a language, the trees live on a different timescale than us, and we live in scientific backwaters when it comes to ecological issues. So do safaris in monsoon as you get to spend quality time in the forests with the guides, foresters, and yourself.

What are the chances of Tiger sightings during the monsoon time?

Well, one thing that is to be made clear is that Tigers do not leave the parks during monsoon time and neither do they go away some place else. Tigers are territorial animals and they do not leave their territories even in the monsoons. National Parks is their home and they stay put there. So they have not gone anywhere not to be seen. They still have to hunt to survive, do patrolling to protect their territories, and mate as well. Hence the chances of Tiger sightings are still there even in monsoon times.

The possibilities of Tiger sightings in monsoon time are a bit low for below reasons:
  1. Not many vehicles go for Tiger Safaris during monsoon, hence the Tigers in those parts of the forests are not getting tracked enough. For e.g. in season time if 10 vehicles went in that area, in monsoon times only 2 are going, thus reducing the sighting chances. In season time out of 10 if 3 vehicles saw Tigers, it indicated the movement of Tigers and the other vehicles could go there are see the Tigers. But when only 2 vehicles go in, that automatically reduces the chances of Tiger sighting.
  2. In India our landscape is very different compared to Africa. The undergrowth is thick, besides the Tiger is an elusive cat. He does not move around in prides like Lions. So as he moves alone as such it is tough to sight him. Hence the thick undergrowth in monsoons makes it more tough to sight Tigers. But what really helps sighting Tigers is the vehicles. When the vehicles doing safaris cross each other they exchange notes, and tell each other about various direct and indirect signs of Tiger sightings. This considerably helps in Tiger tracking.

But the Tiger sightings do happen in the monsoons.

Tiger in rain is one of the best images one can behold.
Why does the forest department close Tiger safari in India during monsoon?

Simply because they want to avoid vehicles getting stuck in slush. They also do it as forest needs to be given some time to recuperate. Not that the tourists or vehicles are doing any harm to the forest.

So why were some parts opened for tourism for Tiger safari during monsoon?

Till few years back all the parts of the forest were closed for tourism. But gradually the forest department realized that tourism is actually good, and should be allowed in some parts of the forest even in monsoon. Tourism keeps those elements away which can harm the forest and it’s denizens. Basically the poachers, and the cattle grazers would move into the park during this time. But once tourism starts in these areas in monsoons they stay away, as all activity inside which is illegal gets reported.

Which parks are open for Tiger safari in India during monsoon?

Below areas in the popular parks are open for Tiger safaris even in monsoon times.

  1. Jhirna zone in Corbett National Park
  2. Zone 6 to 10 in Ranthambhore National Park
  3. The buffer zones of all national parks in Madhya Pradesh
  4. The buffer zones of Tadoba
  5. Buffer zone of Sarika National Park

So, if the only time in the year that you have is from July till September then consider doing Tiger safari in India in the above zones and the parks. Good thing is that there is no rush whatsoever for booking of permits, and you get them very easily.

Important: Please do keep in mind that it is not only about the Tiger when on a safari in India. You will be least disappointed if you go with a mindset of enjoying the entire national park, understanding the entire eco-system, conversing with nature, and reflecting within yourself. There is an incredible amount of knowledge to be amassed from the forest.

Tiger is definitely in the forest, he will emerge at the time he feels like. But you will come out transformed if not wholly, or substantially but partly for sure.