Tadoba National Park and Tiger Reserve: The Complete Guide

Tiger at Tadoba National Park

Neha & Chittaranjan Desai / Getty Images

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Tadoba-Andhari National Park

Address
Chandrapur, Maharashtra 442401, India
Phone +91 92127 77223

If you want to see tigers in the wild, forget Bandhavgarh and Ranthambore National Parks, where sightings aren't guaranteed, and instead book a trip to Tadoba National Park and Tiger Reserve. This off-the-beaten-track destination has quickly gained popularity due to the high density of tigers in its core zone. The 1,700-square-kilometer reserve delivers many a tiger sighting and is known to provide a view of many. Founded in 1955, Tadoba National Park is the largest and oldest park in Maharashtra, India, located about 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Nagpur and 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Chandrapur. Enveloped in forests of teak and bamboo, and with a magical landscape of rugged cliffs, marshes, and lakes, this diverse ecosystem is chock full of several species of flora and fauna. Hunting was banned in 1947, and today, together with the Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary, Tadoba National Park makes up the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, which was formed in 1986.

Things to Do

Tadoba National Park and Tiger Reserve is home to more than 80 tigers, with two-thirds of these predators residing in the park's 625-square-kilometer core area, while the others exist in the buffer zone. There are no villages in the core area and the only way to explore it is by safari, either in a gypsy (open-top jeep) or a canter (open-top bus). Safaris also take place in the buffer area. While your chance of seeing tigers in the buffer is less frequent, you'll be delighted with sightings of the park's other wildlife, including sloth bears, wild dogs, jackals, barking deer, bison, and sambar.

In addition to daytime safaris, there are a number of ways to enjoy nature in the buffer area, too. Eco-tourism activities include nature walks and treks where you can traverse through forests filled with monkeys or hike to viewpoints. Water safaris on a pontoon boat offer a way to view the park's wildlife as they congregate along the banks of Tadoba Lake. You can also see marsh crocodiles and several species of birds near the water.

Viewing wildlife from machans (watchtowers) offers the less adventurous a safe way to experience the wonders of this park, and embarking on a night safari gives you the opportunity to check out the park's nocturnal species, like hyenas, panthers, and owls.

Best Hikes & Trails

Hiking in the core zone of Tadoba National Park and Tiger Reserve is not permitted, as an encounter with a tiger could be deadly. However, the surrounding area and buffer zone contains several hilly walking paths from which you can view a plethora of species of monkeys, birds, and other wildlife. Don't forget your binoculars as you make your way up Jamunbudi Hill. This short hike, located just outside of the core zone, is a frequented trek made by visitors to Tadoba National Park. It traverses through a dense forest and then rewards you with a view.

Safaris

Safari excursions take place twice a day (early morning and mid-afternoon) in the core area of the park which is divided into three zones with different access gates: the Moharli (Mohurli) Zone, the Tadoba Zone, and the Kolsa Zone. The Moharli Zone is best known for tiger spotting and has the best offering of tourist accommodations at the Moharli Gate. The Tadoba Zone is a popular zone for those looking to see a diverse array of wildlife and scenic vistas. The Kolsa Zone consists of a densely-forested woodland. For this reason, wildlife sightings are less frequent in this zone.

The best way to experience Tadoba National Park is via a jeep safari. Jeeps, complete with a driver and a guide, accommodate up to six people and offer you a very good chance of seeing a tiger. Bookings should be made well ahead of time through the Maharashtra Forest Department, as the park restricts the number of jeeps to a maximum of 36 per timeslot. Expect to pay an entry fee, a vehicle hire fee, a guide fee, and a camera fee, before embarking on your journey.

Canter safaris are the least expensive safari option, as you will be sharing your experience with up to 22 other people aboard an open-top bus. Canters follow the same route as the jeeps, but offer a less privatized experience. You can book a canter on the spot, on a first-come-first-served basis, at the office of the field director in Chandrapur. Canters depart from the Moharli Gate, the Navegaon Gate, and the Kolara Gate.

Pontoon boat safaris offer the most peaceful way to observe nature. These boats cruise the inlets, islands, and bays of the 51-square-kilometer Tadoba Lake, looking for animals along its banks. Avid birdwatchers will enjoy this boat trip, as it offers the best way to view several different species.

Where to Camp

Tadoba Adventure Camp, located in the village of Agarzari, is the only place to tent camp near the park. The facility offers pop-up and permanent tent camping options, alongside adventure activities and meals. Activities include rock climbing, trampolining, boating, hiking nature trails, and safaris. The organization also provides outdoor instructor courses, complete with lessons in route finding, shelter building, and first aid and CPR.

Where to Stay Nearby

Several different lodging options are located at the Moharli Gate in the park's buffer zone. Those on a budget can choose from a government-run resort stay or dormitory options. Those looking to indulge in luxury can sleep in up-scale cottages or modern family-style bungalows.

  • Maharastra Tourism's Tadoba Jungle Resort: This economical lodging option is conveniently located at the Moharli Gate and offers simple rooms with air conditioning and attached bathrooms. The on-site restaurant serves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. This is a great option for those looking for a no-frills experience.
  • Serai Tiger Camp: Also located at Moharli Gate (although much farther away from the park's entrance), the Serai Tiger Camp is situated between two seasonal streams frequented by animals like leopards, sloth bears, bison, cheetah, four-horned antelope, gazelle, and flying squirrels. Sleep in air-conditioned huts with tented roofs or one of 18 economical dormitory beds, located in both air-cooled or air-conditioned units. Three meals a day are included in your stay.
  • Tadoba Jungle Camp: Also located at the Moharli Gate is Tadoba Jungle Camp, an up-scale resort with a focus on conservation, sustainability, and the livelihood of the local community. Choose from one of the resort's twelve elevated cottages built on a platform ten feet off the ground and offering a 180-degree view of the surrounding landscape. Each cottage comes complete with an en suite bathroom, and the dining room offers both a signature buffet and a set menu.
  • The Bamboo Forest Safari Lodge: The Bamboo Forest eco-luxury lodge offers several choices of accommodations, including villas, chalets, and bungalows. The chalets are the simplest option with 850 square feet of living space and a spacious balcony, located on the first floor of the lodge. The 100-square-foot villas are situated lakeside and include a bedroom, powder room, bathroom, and an outdoor shower. The 200-square-foot luxurious bungalows provide enough space for a family, complete with two rooms and two bathrooms.

How to Get There

The nearest airport to Tadoba National Park and Tiger Reserve is located in Nagpur, about 140 kilometers (87 miles away). Flights arrive from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Kolkataaway, and it is possible to hire a taxi to the park from the airport. You can also take the train from Mumbai, Delhi, Nagpur, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Jhansi to Chandrapur, and then take a bus or taxi from there. Finally, you can take a bus from Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, and Jalgaon to Chandrapur and hire local transport to the park.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Plan your trip well in advance, as the Tadoba National Park and Tiger Reserve has become a popular wildlife destination. Both the number of places to stay in the region and the number of safaris available per day are limited.
  • When booking accommodations, note that the gates have different locations around the park's buffer zone. Choose an accommodation in the vicinity of the gate you want to enter through.
  • This reserve is one of few tourist destinations in India that charges the same entry fees for both Indian natives and foreigners.
  • The best time for tiger sightings is during the summer months (March through May), although temperatures can be extremely hot.
  • The monsoon season lasts from June to September. During this season travel may be difficult with impassable roads, and safari options may be limited. While the core area closes during the monsoon season, most parts of the buffer area remain open for tourism.
  • Cell phones are not permitted on jeep or canter safaris or anywhere inside the reserve.
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Tadoba National Park and Tiger Reserve: The Complete Guide