Into the Wild With Indiana Travel Services
- Team Indiana
Nature and wildlife take centre stage at every national park around the world. And no number of pictures and videos can give you the thrill and adrenaline rush of these up-close encounters: A pride of lions chasing down a frightened fawn. Raptors swooping down to attack their prey with razor-sharp claws. A baby gorilla swinging around the jungle as you watch in silence. Baby pandas chasing one another up trees and tumbling around together. A tiger majestically walking across your path.
Whether you’re a birdwatcher, a big cat enthusiast, or are simply mesmerised by the animal kingdom, you will be immediately drawn to these wildlife experiences at the best national parks around the world.
Our team of travel experts have put together a list of the top national parks that should be in your bucket list, and will be happy to customise a ‘wild’ national park holiday for you.
Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Imagine this: It’s 7 am, and you leave your groggy self behind as soon as you enter the gates of Kaziranga National Park. Your senses are in for a treat – you hear birds sing out loud, inhale the fresh scent of the wildflowers and come face-to-face with a wildlife experience that will last you a lifetime.
Located in the heart of Assam, Kaziranga National Park’s proximity to the Brahmaputra river has bestowed the land with a variety of natural wonders. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for the Great One Horned Rhinoceros, a large population of tigers, swamp deer, leopards, bears, elephants, gibbons, macaques and gaur, to name a few. On the safari, you could also catch sight of spotted owlets, ruddy shelducks, greenshanks, brown fish owls, greater cormorant and many more that make up Kaziranga’s thriving bird population.
It’s the only national park in India to provide three different safari options – jeep safari, elephant safari and boat ride. Take your pick and enjoy the ride in Assam!
Chobe National Park, Botswana
10,000km2 of rich ecosystems. Diverse landscapes. An abundance of animal and birds. And of course, Africa’s largest elephant population. That’s Chobe National Park in a gist.
While the park is renowned for its 120,000 African elephants, there are an equal number of buffalos together with a healthy population of lions, spotted hyenas, zebras, impalas, baboons, blue wildebeests, kudus, giraffes, warthogs and vervet monkeys. As you drive down the dazzling, deep blue Chobe river in Bostwana, don’t be surprised to be stopped by herds of wildlife wandering across the road. The riverfront is also a hotspot for hippos, crocodiles and leguvaan (the second-longest lizard of Africa). And if that’s not enough, there are over 450 species of birds who will attract your attention.
What makes Botswana’s Chobe National Park unforgettable is that you will come face-to-face with wildlife no matter where you choose to go – the popular Chobe Riverfront, the predator-rich Linyanti Marshes or the big game Savuti area. Come, take a trip to the wild side.
Gorilla Walks, Rwanda & Uganda
Tracking a family of endangered mountain gorillas in the dense rainforests of Rwanda or Uganda is a sweaty, time consuming and tiring affair. But, the sight of a great male silverback drumming his chest with his fists or settling down to eat is a rare and unforgettable experience. One that will make you realise that man and beast have a lot more in common than you thought.
An expedition through these forests in Rwanda or Uganda is exciting and often accompanied by a cacophony of colourful birds and the rare golden monkeys casually swinging from trees. The walk, in itself, is full of discoveries, even before you get to the main highlight – the mountain gorillas. While the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda offers more gorilla viewing opportunities, owing to more open spaces, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda is popular for its thick jungle and challenging trails. No matter which of the two destinations you choose, tracking mountain gorillas can take anywhere from one to ten hours. The time taken on the walk depends heavily on your physical fitness, the weather and other factors.
In all, with the help of an expert guide, the gorilla walk turns out to be one of the most intimate and extraordinary experiences you’ll ever have in nature. Every minute you spend here makes for memories worth a lifetime.
Chengdu Panda Park, China
China’s Sichuan Province is home to the cuddly, clumsy and unbelievably adorable Pandas. And without exaggeration, one can say that it is the best place in the whole world to see these cute animals up close.
Situated 10 km (6.2 miles) north of Chengdu, this breeding and research base strives to conserve the species and its dwindling habitat. Surrounded by wild bamboo forests, man-made dens, caves, brooks, and rivers, this 165-acre facility has been successful in recreating an environment similar to that of Sichuan’s northern mountain ranges, where giant pandas would naturally roam.
An early morning visit to the base would ensure you get to see the pandas in their element. Playing, munching bamboo shoots, tumbling, climbing trees, they are a sight that would melt even the stonehearted. Famously known for being lazy, giant pandas spend most of the day sleeping or otherwise inactive. At the breeding centre, one can often come across baby pandas being nursed by their mothers, a sight that will make you all fuzzy on the inside. Giant panda enclosures may be the main attraction at the Chengdu Panda Park in China, but the base also houses red pandas (another endangered species) along with other wildlife including, golden monkeys, peacocks, butterflies, and swans.
So, if China is your next holiday destination, then Chengdu Panda Park should definitely be on the top of your must-visit list.
Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
The thrill of spotting majestic and ferocious tigers in their natural habitat is simply unmatched. You can marvel at its copper coat as it seeks refuge from the harsh sun. Shy, reserved and intelligent, these big cats will make you sweat it out for their attention. But since Ranthambore National Park lies in the desert state of Rajasthan where the Aravali range meets the Vindhyas, tigers can’t hide as easily as they do in denser terrains.
Once a hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur, the park is now one of the biggest tiger reserves in India, making it a favourite for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. Apart from tigers, a safari in Ranthambore can bring you face-to-face with leopards, jungle cats, sloth bears, striped hyenas, Indian foxes, wild boar, jackals and crocodiles.
The diverse Rajasthani terrain of Ranthambore is home to over 270 varieties of birds, including peacocks, the Great Indian Owl, partridge, parakeet, spoonbill, and common kingfisher among others.
Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh
If you’ve read Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, you’ve already walked through the forests of what is now Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh and marvelled at its beauty. Set in a flourishing teak jungle, this natural reserve gets its name from the meandering river that divides it into two equal parts.
The park is home to the ever-elusive Royal Bengal Tiger that Kipling lovingly called Sher Khan. But that’s not all this untamed landscape has to offer. Safaris through Pench National Park can include encounters with other predators like the wily jackal, striped hyena, Indian wolf, hardy leopard and red dhole. As you listen to the sounds of this Madhya Pradesh jungle, you can watch the antics of the wild and breathe in the freshness of this enigmatic jungle. The park is also home to a myriad of birds including the Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, White-eyed Buzzard, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Osprey, and Black-Hooded Oriole to name a few.
With the monsoon having just bestowed this land with lush greenery, October is the best time to put on your safari hats and venture into this national park. So what are you waiting for? Come, discover this land of open yellow fields, grassland meadows and dense forests. It’s sure to leave you mystified.
Gir National Park, Gujarat
It’s not uncommon for the eerie silence that you get accustomed to inside the national park to be broken by a high-pitched alarm call of a spotted deer. And that means that somewhere out there the king of the jungle is hunting.
Gir National Park, the last home of the Asiatic lions, is Gujarat’s most applauded wildlife park and was once the hunting grounds of the Nawabs of Junagarh. But since 1965, it’s been recognised as a wildlife reserve. Gir is also home to leopards, deer, chowsingha (the world’s only four-horned antelope), jackals, striped hyenas, Indian fox and many more animals. Together with the endangered Bonelli’s eagle, crested serpent eagles, white-eyed buzzard, hawk eagles and sparrow hawks, Gir is also a birdwatcher’s delight.
And if that’s not enough, in the heart of this Gujarat forest lies a shrine dedicated to Goddess Kankai Mata, from which you can enjoy a mix of folk songs against the backdrop of wild roars of the lions and calls of other animals.
Come, experience the call of the wild and leave with memories of nature’s finest.
Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka
Dense forests, lakes, steep valleys and streams make the landscape at Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka an attractive destination for travellers. What was once a hunting reserve for the Maharajas of Mysore is today one of the finest sanctuaries in South India.
The sanctuary has an abundant wildlife scene, the most popular of which is the Asian Elephant. It also provides a home to leopards, panthers, sambhars, monkeys, bison, sloth bears, spotter deer and antelopes. A boat ride on the calm waters of Kabini lake will ensure that you sight crocodiles basking on its banks together with several species of birds including grey-headed fish eagles, ospreys, great cormorants, Malabar Lark, Malabar trogon, Indian Pitta and the glorious Malabar pied hornbill.
Other than a safari, Kabini allows you to explore its forest on foot with a guided walk. Here’s your chance to interact with the locals from Karnataka tribal villages to add a dash of culture to your wilderness experience.
Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Nestled in the heart of India in Madhya Pradesh, the landscapes and surrounding luxurious meadows with dense forests make it a must-visit for nature lovers. A jeep or elephant safari is Kanha will let you admire wild animals up close and marvel at the birds as they soar up high.
While the Park is globally known for saving the Barasingha from near extinction, it also home to majestic tiger, the jungle’s most ferocious predator. Travellers from around the world gather at Kanha to catch glimpses of other wild creatures like blackbucks, barking deers, nilgais, mouse deer, sloth bears, jackal fox, porcupines, hyenas, leopards and monkeys. Bird lovers will be treated to sightings of storks, teals, pintails, pond herons, egrets, peacocks, ring doves, spotted parakeets, green pigeons, bee-eaters, kingfishers, woodpeckers, and fly catchers to name a few.
Within this park in Madhya Pradesh also lies the Bammi Dadar, or Sunset Point, from where you can watch sambars, barking deer, gaurs and four-horned antelopes against the setting sun.
Excited? It’s time to start planning your trip to one of the finest wildlife areas in the world.
Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh
From a hunting ground for Maharajas of Rewa to a National Park, Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh is believed to have been gifted by Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana. This national park has several manmade caves with inscriptions and paintings which date back 2000 years.
Today, the park boasts of having the highest density of Royal Bengal Tigers in the world. And did you know that all the white tigers of the world can be traced back to Bandhavgarh?
But tigers are not the only wildlife that roam these jungles. With varied vegetations ranging from tall grasslands to thick Sal forests, the park is the perfect habitat for many animals and birds. There are 37 species of mammals including spotted deer, barking deer, sambhar, gaur, jackal, langoor, 250 species of birds including rollers, painted storks and peacocks, 80 species of butterflies and so much more.
Come, plan a holiday to Madhya Pradesh and experience that unique sense of awe that you experience when a wild ferocious animal is in your midst.
If this has tempted you to start planning your own wildlife adventure, we can help you. By creating a personalised itinerary, you will enjoy a holiday amidst nature and wildlife in some of the most premium properties available. Our team of travel experts will ensure that you travel in luxury and are always treated like a king. Go ahead, experience God’s wondrous creations to the fullest.