Tiger safari tour operators offer chances to see endangered tiger species in India and Nepal. // © 2013 Thinkstock
Although tigers are still a highly endangered species, there are hopeful signs that their populations are beginning to spring back. In India, six tiger cubs were born in the last few weeks, and in the states Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Assam and the Western Ghats, tiger populations are reportedly on the rise. Meanwhile, in Nepal, the tiger population has increased 63 percent since 2009, mostly due to better enforcement of poaching laws.
Below are several different tiger safari tours in India and Nepal for clients hoping to spot a tiger, and possibly help out with conservation efforts along the way. Be sure to note that wildlife viewings are never guaranteed, but with increasing tiger populations in these areas, the chances of coming across a tiger on one of these tours are better than ever.
India Ultimate Wildlife Eco Tour
On this 19-day tour offered by Wild Planet Adventures, clients are given the opportunity to observe many different species of wildlife in India, including tigers, leopards, rhinos and sloth bears at different natural parks. At Kahna National Park, visitors embark on a tiger safari by elephant-back or in Jeeps. The tour also includes sightseeing in Jodhpur, Jaipur and Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located. Another highlight of the trip is a visit to the Bishnoi people, a Hindu sect who reveres wildlife.
This tour starts at $7,198 per person and has departures from October 2013 to December 2014. The a 13-day version of the tour excludes visits to two national parks, Kaziranga and Manas, and starts at $4,798 per person with departures during the same time period. Wild Planet Adventures donates a portion of its fees for wildlife safaris in India and Nepal to Project Tiger and other conservation organizations.
Untamed India & Nepal
This 19-day tour by Wild Planet Adventures travels through national parks in India and Nepal. In India, visitors go on a tiger safari at Bandhavgarh National Park and learn about tiger conservation efforts. Outside of Kathmandu in Nepal, they will explore Bardia National Park by elephant-back. Tigers are only one of the many species roaming the wilderness in India and Nepal. The tour includes a boat safari through the Sarus Crane Wetlands in India, where visitors can spot Gangetic dolphins. In addition to its wildlife safari highlights, Wild Planet’s tour visits cultural sites such as the Taj Mahal. Prices begin at $6,988 per person and the tour departs between October 2013 and December 2014.
Tigers and Travels in India
This tour mixes India’s wildlife and natural attractions with its ancient historical and cultural sites on a 19-day trip from Wildland Adventures. The tour includes tiger safaris at Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks and visits to Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. Visitors explore the Taj Mahal, the Amber Fort in Jaipur, and the Udaipur City Palace before continuing on for the second leg of the journey, which focuses on wildlife safaris. The itinerary ends with an optional trip to Varanasi, a sacred Hindu city. The tour has one more departure available this year, on Oct. 13. In 2014, it will depart Jan. 12, Feb. 16 and March 30. Prices start at $7,495 per person.
Tigers and Temples Pushkar Fair Adventure
This Wildland Adventures trip to India includes the special attraction of visiting the annual Pushkar fair, the most important agricultural fair in the region and a sacred pilgrimage site for Hindus. While the tour is centered around the fair, there are still plenty of opportunities to spot tigers on safari in Ranthambore and Bandhavgarh National Parks. The tour also includes visits to the Taj Mahal in Agra and Jaipur City. The fair features cattle exchanges, religious ceremonies, auctions, horse and camel races and other competitions. The 16-day tour is only offered once a year, and will depart on Nov. 8 this year. Prices start at $6,100 per person.
Tigers, Temples & Wildlife Adventure
This G Adventures tour explores national parks as well as the cultural highlights of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, including the Taj Mahal and Old Delhi’s Great Mosque. Tiger-spotting safaris venture through Bandhavgarh and Ranthambore National Parks. The tour also includes a visit to a bird sanctuary in Bharatpur and a rural stay in Tordi Sagar, with accommodations in a 150-year-old residence that was once home to Indian nobles. This 14-day trip departs in November and December this year, and between January and March and November and December in 2014. Prices start at $1,599 per person.
This 10-day itinerary from G Adventures appeals to visitors who wish to delve into the landscape and cultural history of Nepal, appreciating its wildlife and natural beauty as well as its ancient shrines and monuments. Bengal tigers roam Chitwan National Park. Other highlights include visits to sacred Hindu and Buddhist sites in Kathmandu, exploration of Kathmandu’s royal palace, a visit to Pokhara — which was once an important trade city — and a trek through the Annapurna foothills in the Himalayas. The tour starts at $1,199 per person. There are upcoming departures in October, November and December, followed by monthly departures in 2014.