Corbett National Park is one of the best places to spot a Bengal tiger. // © 2015 iStock
Feature image (above): The Gir forest in Gujarat is the only place in the world that has Asiatic lions. // © 2015 iStock
When it comes to architecture, culture and cuisine, India shines. But animal lovers should also consider India, as it is a hot spot for seeing spectacular and elusive wildlife. In fact, some of nature’s most impressive beasts can be found within the country’s wildlife parks and reserves. For clients looking to go on safari, here are some of India’s best.
Sasan-Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
Head to India’s western Gujarat state, across the Gulf of Cambay from Mumbai, and discover Sasan-Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. The best way to get around this rugged terrain is by Jeep safari, which can be booked through the park. Sasan-Gir is home to leopards, hyenas, pythons and jackals, but the primary reason for visiting the park is to see Asiatic lions. This is the only place in the world where these imposing creatures can be seen.
The best time to visit the park is December to April. It is closed mid-June through mid-October.
Corbett National Park
Two hundred miles north of New Delhi, at the foothills of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand is Corbett National Park. In addition to being India’s first official national park, Corbett is also known as the top place for a Bengal tiger safari. In 1973, the park launched Project Tiger in an effort to protect the animal from extinction. Today, the park spans 200 square miles of hills, marshes, grasslands and lakes. Travelers can enjoy their wildlife safari either from an open-air Jeep or from the back of an elephant.
Corbett is one of the only tiger reserves in the world to accommodate overnight stays in the park, so be sure to book a night at Dhikala Forest Lodge.
Kaziranga National Park
In the northeastern state of Assam, Kaziranga National Park provides one of the best spots for viewing one-horned rhinoceros, in addition to tigers, wild elephants, buffalo, monitor lizards and water birds. The 106,000-acre park is about a five-hour drive from the large city of Guwahati. The park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhinoceroses and guided tours are available by elephant or Jeep. There are also observation towers stationed around the park that are perfect for spotting animals.
The park is open from November through April.
Hemis National Park
Though a little more challenging to access, Hemis National Park lures visitors with its wealth of beauty. The high-altitude national park is in the eastern Ladakh region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the only national park in India that is north of the Himalayas, and is widely considered the best place in the world to see wild snow leopards. Winter treks are organized through the park. Tour operators such as KarmaQuest Ecotourism and Adventure Travel offer journeys to catch these magical beasts, including roundtrip flights from Delhi to Leh.
Visitors who seek a snow leopard sighting will have to be prepared for winter camping, as there are no hotels in or near the park. Camping and home-stays are very popular, and can be organized through KarmaQuest.