It is that time of the year when the national parks are about to open and Tiger Safaris are about to begin. There is considerable anxiety in the minds of true nature enthusiasts, and more so the Tiger lovers. Action is about to begin.
Safari permits for some national parks opened in August, and for some in central India opened in September. There is curiosity in the minds of safari goers to see their favorite national parks first. They want to be the first to see, and report what they saw. Some for true love, while some do it for social media. Both are good, more so the later as it gives information even to those who could not visit the park when they opened.
Many questions play on the minds of wildlife lovers during the closed monsoon months. If their favorite Tigers are still in the same territory? Hope that no mortalities have happened due to some territorial fights? Hope some Tigresses that had given litter in summer months and were not seen with cubs as they were too small would now be seen?
The wildlife lovers plan their visits much in advance. And the moment permit bookings open, they book it immediately. Most of the permits in most of the popular parks like Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Ranthambhore, Tadoba, Corbett get sold 120 to 90 days before. This surprises many as to how permits get sold out in some parks immediately the moment they open.
This leaves no scope for people who plan their wildlife sojourns just one, two or three months before. All that they get is disappointment. Hence it is important that you plan your wildlife holiday atleast 4 months in advance if not more. But gradually now people are realising this and have begun to finalize their wildlife safaris in advance.
Point 2 is a myth to some extent. Yes the sightings are better in some zones, but Tigers are present in all zones. It is just that when a Tigress is easily seen with cubs in a particular area that people tend to go there more often. We get news of that particular Tigress more often. But Tigers are moving in other areas as well. So my suggestion is that even if you do not get the zone that you desire or have heard about it, still go ahead and book the safaris.
What can happen now is something really extra-ordinary. While most of the tourists will be busy in a particular zone, your vehicle could be the only one in the other zone. And now if the sighting happens to you, chances are that yours will be the only vehicle seeing a Tiger. You will get many opportunities to take photos of a Tiger not surrounded by other tourist vehicles. Isn’t that a blessing in disguise? It is surely. But for this you need to be booking your safaris and the our with right people. The guides, drivers, or the tour operators who understand all this well.
Simple, ask questions, many questions, no question is foolish, the answer could be so. Do lot of google search yourself, and then question on time of year, which zone will the safaris be booked in etc. For e.g. Kanha is a huge national park with 3 different gates which are located at more than an hour drive from each other. And the resorts are located near these gates. So if you are staying near Mukki gate and your safari is booked in Sarhi gate, which is good 60kms away, more than an hour drive, this is wrong planning by the tour operator. Ask your tour operator for the zones, and only if you get satisfactory replies do accept it.
It is much easier to know your Tour Operator’s knowledge in today’s world of technology. Social Media is a mirror that will reflect each person as is. Check out the profiles of the tour operators you are dealing with on various platforms. One can build fake profiles. But you are smart enough to differentiate a genuine person from a fake on social media.
While surfing on Google see who is doing organic work, and who is doing paid work. How many years has the person been involved in Indian Wildlife? Read as much you can about the individual in today’s virtual world and you will know him considerably. Search him on Facebook, Instagram, Blogs, youtube, Twitter etc, and more often than not you will find him in two or three places for sure if not all.
So spend no further time, and if you have Tiger Safaris in your mind this year, then book soon, as Tiger Safaris in India are about to begin.
Sharad Kumar Vats
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