Tiger-spotting in India

Lonely Planet Travel Editor Tom Hall is on a mission to discover 52 of the most awe-inspiring places to visit across the world. This week he delights in tiger-spotting in India.


Spotting a tiger in the wild is a rare and magical experience. Tiger sightings tend to be a flash of striped fur crashing through the jungle, or a twitch of a tail strolling down a dusty track. But few who set out to see the biggest cat come away disappointed with the merest glimpses.

The rarity of a tiger gives sightings considerable cache. And while out searching for the biggest of big cats you’ll discover plenty more that’s wonderful about wild India – with January one of the coolest times of year to be on the central plains.

Best places for tiger-spotting in India

Despite their scarcity, tigers can be seen in several national parks and reserves across India. The best known are Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh – which has the world’s highest density of tigers – and Sunderbans Tiger Reserve in West Bengal. The latter is a watery wonderland more notable for boat cruises through mangrove forests, but sightings are not unknown.

Closer to most travellers Indian routes is Ranthambore National Park in eastern Rajasthan. October to April is the best time to visit.

Planning your trip to India

Incredible India will help you plan a visit to the subcontinent. The Born Free Foundation has more information about tiger conservation. You can hop on a tiger-spotting jeep tour for around £50 in some locations or pay much more for higher-end options.

© 2009 Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd