Living amidst the forests of Asia, tigers are the largest felids on Earth, reaching up to 12 feet in length and upwards of 575 pounds. They are also one of the most critically endangered species, occupying less than 7 percent of their historic geographic range.
Perhaps the best place on the planet to see these incredible creatures is India; indeed, it is home to nearly half of the remaining cats in the wild. Thanks to a highly successful conservation effort, Project Tiger, launched by Indira Gandhi’s government in 1973, the tiger population there has not only stabilized, it has actually increased! According to a report by India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority, 2,226 cats roamed the country in 2014, up nearly 30 percent from the 1,706 reported in 2010.
During our upcoming Wild Southern India expedition, we offer numerous opportunities for tiger and other wildlife viewing on visits to three national parks and tiger reserves. Guests will spend two overnights exploring each of the following:
Periyar National Park
Stretching across 575 square miles of the undulating Western Ghats in the Kerala state, Periyar provides sanctuary to around 40 of the world’s largest cats. The park centers upon 10-square-mile Periyar Lake, which attracts a vast array of other wildlife as well, including huge elephant herds and numerous aquatic birds. NOTE: Game viewing here is only possible on the water and tigers are difficult to spot, but you’ll spy plenty of other creatures on daily boat safaris—and then enjoy a spot of tea at a local tea estate and spice plantation.
Bandipur National Park
The former private hunting ground of the Mysore (now Mysuru) maharajahs and part of the massive Nigiri Biosphere, Bandipur is one of southern India’s most famous wildlife sanctuaries. Sprawled over nearly 550 square miles in the state of Karnataka, it protects more than 100 species including an estimated 80 tigers. Daily safaris reveal sloth bears, gaur (Indian bison), packs of dhole (wild dogs), mongoose, and 350 species of birds.
Nagarhole National Park
While not as well-known as neighboring Bandipur, Nagarhole is equally blessed with diverse wildlife. Around 60 wild tigers roam its 400 square miles, as do elephant, leopard, langur, bonnet macaque, sambar, and spotted deer. Some 270 avian species thrive here among the teak, sandalwood, and bamboo trees; search for them during daily 4x4 drives and a cruise along the Kabini River.
For more information, visit Wild Southern India.