Aloke Bajpai is a certified mountaineer and skier, with training in river rafting. His company, Explorers India, specialises in experiential and adventure travel. Here’s his advice:
If you have just a few days to spare and only one national park you can visit, I would suggest going to Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. Known as Kipling country for being the inspiration behind the famous Jungle Book, Kanha boasts a rich diversity of wildlife and a comparatively less dense forest cover.
A few resorts here provide the option of staying at the periphery of the forest and allow you to access the deeper reaches of the Park. I remember spotting a tigress while she was teaching her five cubs how to hunt, just 10 minutes after we began our safari. It was pure ecstasy! I would suggest pairing your trip with a two-night stay at the Bandhavgarh National Park in the vicinity.
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra is another great destination that is slowly becoming popular amongst wildlife enthusiasts for the abundant wildlife sightings that it provides.
A trip to the North East, I believe, is complete only after you have visited Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh – the only wildlife destination in India with the largest range of altitude that is home to common leopards, tigers as well as snow leopards.
For bird enthusiasts, I would suggest a visit to Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Around 375 migratory and non-migratory bird species have been recorded in the wetland, a large number of which populate the area during winter, and you are bound to enjoy your visit there. Chilka Lake in Orissa is another must visit for a sight of winter migratory birds that come here from as far as Caspian Sea and Russia.
In the end, however, irrespective of which of these wildlife destinations you choose to go to, remember to soak in the experience and not keep looking for a wild creature during your safaris. From what I have learnt, it is only when you aren’t looking for a tiger that you see one.
Excerpted from our January 2014 issue.