Top 10 National Parks in India for Indian Safaris

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There are many different ways you can choose to spend a vacation in India.

But if you’re a nature lover looking for thrills and excitement, the number of National Parks in India is astounding (106,) with each offering an unforgettable holiday experience.

With its extensive range of ecosystems and wildlife diversity, the Indian subcontinent has a lot to offer any wildlife lover.

There are countless protected areas in the country, each with its own distinctive charm.

In order to narrow down the choices for you, we’ve highlighted the top 10 National Parks in India for viewing birds and animals in their natural habitat.

Note that entry to all the national parks of India is restricted to a limited number of registered open-topped vehicles per day, which tend to sell out fast.

So we advise you to book your Indian safaris online well in advance– around 3 months is best– in order to avoid last-minute disappointment.

Read on for our guide to the best Indian national parks for safaris, including details on the Indian wildlife you can see there as well as online booking info.

READ MORE: Indian Animals: A Guide to 40 Incredible Species of Indian Wildlife

Top 10 National Parks in India Guide

  1. Corbett National Park (Utrakhand)
  2. Kanha National Park (Madhya Pradesh)
  3. Ranthambore National Park (Rajasthan) 
  4. Sariska Tiger Reserve (Rajasthan)
  5. Bandhavgarh National Park (Madhya Pradesh)
  6. Pench National Park (Maharashtra)
  7. Tadoba Wildlife Sanctuary (Maharashtra)
  8. Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary (Maharashtra)
  9. Kaziranga National Park (Assam)
  10. Gir National Park (Gujarat)

READ MORE: The 15 Best Places to Visit in India For Nature Lovers

Famous National Parks in India - Corbett National Park
Bengal Tiger at Corbett National Park via Canva

1. Corbett National Park (Utrakhand)

Official Website

Named after the legendary hunter Jim Corbett, Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India.

The subject of many exciting wildlife films and documentaries, Corbett attracts visitors in an endless stream, both from within the country and other parts of the world.

Corbett has a huge population of Bengal Tigers (around 231), which makes it the densest park in the world and one of the Top 10 National Parks in India.

Asian elephants and nearly 550 species of birds have also been recorded here. Other animals that can be seen in this Indian National Park include leopards, langurs, rhesus macaques, and sloth bears.

Muggers and gharial crocodiles also abound in the waters of the Ramganga River, the lifeline of Corbett.

The park is one of the few of its kind where visitors can stay deep inside the park for an unforgettable wildlife experience.

Unique hotels, forest houses and lodges are spread all over Corbett, with Dhikala offering the most rooms (31) and the best amenities, including food, electricity etc.

Additional accommodations in/near Corbett National Park can be found here.

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Important National Parks in India - Barasingha Deer Bucks fighting in the water of Kanha National Park, India
Barasingha Deer Bucks fighting in the water of Kanha National Park, India via Canva

2. Kanha National Park (Madhya Pradesh)

Official Website

Kanha National Park is well-known for its stringent conservation policies in protecting the dwindling population of the endangered Barasingha (a.k.a. swamp deer).

As a result, the national park has earned a reputation as one of the leading wildlife preserves in India, with an excellent infrastructure to match.

The setting of Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel, The Jungle Book, the forests and open grasslands of Kanha are home to a healthy population of tigers, Indian bison, sloth bears, leopards, swamp deer, and a wide range of birds.

This Indian national park is located about 160 km southeast of the town of Jabalpur and has three entry gates, with the Khatia Gate being the main entrance.

There’s no dearth of accommodation options in Kanha, as there are an array of everything from budget rooms to luxury hotels near every entrance to the park.

READ MORE: Saving Endangered Asian Animals: 10 Great Wildlife Conservation Programs

Best tiger reserve in India - Ranthambore National Park, India
Ranthambore National Park, India via Canva

3. Ranthambore National Park (Rajasthan)

Official Website

The 10th century Ranthambore Fort and the Ganesh Temple are two of the most iconic landmarks you’ll find inside Ranthambore National Park.

Established in 1980, this former hunting ground is spread over an area of 1334 sq km and is the largest tiger reserve in southeast Rajasthan. After the launch of Project Tiger in 1973, the park attained the status of a tiger reserve.

The park derives its name from the magnificent Ranthambore Fort, which overlooks the park on the eastern side of the Aravali range of hills.

Tigers are undoubtedly the star attraction in Ranthambore, but other animals which are usually found are chinkara, wild boar, sloth bear, leopard, spotted deer, nilgai, jungle cat and mongoose.

Again, plenty of budget to high end accommodations available in Sawai Madhopur, the nearest city, from where visitors can opt for safaris by jeep or open canters.

READ MORE: On the Trail of Tigers in Ranthambore National Park

Top National Parks in India - Kankwari Fort & Monkeys in Sariska National Park
Kankwari Fort & Monkeys in Sariska National Park

4. Sariska Tiger Reserve (Rajasthan)

Official Website

Located near Alwar in the state of Rajasthan, Sariska National Park was once completely devoid of tigers.

Thanks to relocation of the big cats and strong conservation initiatives, the tiger population in the national park is rebounding impressively.

Sariska is the nearest tiger reserve to New Delhi, so it is extremely popular with wildlife enthusiasts.

Spread across 866 square kilometers, the reserve served as a hunting ground for the rulers, till 1955 when shooting or trapping of any kind was banned.

After the launch of Project Tiger, Sariska gained the status of a National Park in 1982.

Besides the tiger, Sariska is also home to Indian Bison, Hyenas, Leopards, Deer, and a large number of bird species.

Accommodations of all types are available outside Sariska Tiger Reserve, where visitors can hire jeeps to enter the park.

READ MORE: The Top 10 Things to Do in Agra, India For Nature Lovers

Best tiger safari in India - Tiger walking in Bandhavgarh National Park
Tiger walking in Bandhavgarh National Park, photo via Canva

5. Bandhavgarh National Park (Madhya Pradesh)

Official Website

Located in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh National Park is home to the highest density of Royal Bengal Tigers in the world. It was also home to Sita, who was the most filmed and photographed Tiger in the world.

The 820 sq km park encompasses dense green valleys, with the towering Bandhavgarh Fort in the background.

Its large population of Bengal Tigers (as well as White Tigers) makes Bandhavgarh one of the Top 10 National Parks in India and a hotspot for the best tiger safaris in India.

Bandhavgarh has 3 entry gates, including the Tala gate (the most popular entry point), the Magadhi Zone, and the Khitauli zone. There’s also an entry in the buffer zone, where the scenic Johila River and the Chespur waterfalls are located.

Visitors can stay in high-end luxury hotels near Bandhavgarh National Park, but there are also some budget-friendly accommodation options as well.

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Sanctuaries and National Parks in India - Pench National Park
Sloth Bear via Canva

6. Pench National Park (Maharashtra)

Official Website

Located 70 km away from the industrial town of Nagpur, this national park gets its name from the Pench River, which flows through the region.

The river divides the park into two halves, the Seoni district and the Chandwara district.

Noted authors like Captain Forsyth, Rudyard Kipling, and R.A.Strendale have all written eloquently about the rich flora and fauna of Pench National Park.

In addition to Tigers, the wildlife in Pench National Park includes Indian Bison, Sloth Bears, Antelopes, and Wild Boar. The bird life is abundant, with over 125 different species having been recorded here.

The park is also noted for its many grasses and herbs, which are often used for medicinal purposes.

Visitors can also go on Indian jungle safaris for wildlife viewing in the company of trained forest guards.

Tourists also have the option to stay with the indigenous Gond tribe families, or in hotels near Pench National Park.

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Wildlife sanctuary in India - Leopard in Tadoba Wildlife Sanctuary
Leopard in Tadoba Wildlife Sanctuary

7. Tadoba Wildlife Sanctuary (Maharashtra)

Official Website

Tadoba is the oldest national park in Maharashtra, encompassing around 625 sq km.

The meadows and low forested hills provide a breathtaking backdrop to Tadoba National Park, which is unlike any other places in India I’ve visited. 

The park gets its name from the Andhari River and the Taru God, and the animal sightings in Tadoba are generally of high quality.

There are a number of entry gates to Tadoba National park, with the most popular being Kolara, Mohurli, Navegaon, and Khutwanda.

Game viewing in open vehicles is the best option for exploring the various parts of Tadoba to spot Tigers, Bears, Bison, Leopards, Crocodiles, and more.

Needless to say, the bird watching opportunities in the park are also excellent.

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Wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra India - Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary
Dhole (a.k.a. Indian Wild Dog) in Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary, photo via Canva

8. Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary (Maharashtra)

Official Website

Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary is located about midway between the Bhandara and Gondia districts of Maharashtra.

This park has become an excellent place to see Tigers, Leopards, Wild Boars, Dholes (a.k.a. Indian wild dog), and many other Indian animals. It’s also a fine destination for rare birds, with 170 species having been recorded here.

Located about a 3-hour drive (120 km) from Nagpur, the sanctuary gets its name from the Nag temple, which lies in the middle of the sanctuary.

There are 8 different entry points to Nagzira, with most the prominent being Nagzira, Kosamtondi and Chorkhamara.

Nagzira is part of an extremely important conservation plan for Central India, as it acts like a green lung in an otherwise oppressive surrounding of human settlements and industrial units.

READ MORE: 50 Fascinating Facts About the Dhole (a.k.a. Indian Wild Dog)

One Horned Rhinos in Kaziranga National Park India
One Horned Rhinos in Kaziranga National Park India via Canva

9. Kaziranga National Park (Assam)

Official Website

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, Kaziranga National Park & Tiger Reserve is home to two-thirds of the world’s population of One-horned Rhinos, making it one of the Top 10 National Parks in India for Indian Safaris.

Situated in the northeast Indian state of Assam, the region is well-known for its natural diversity and unspoiled beauty.

Tiger sightings here are few and far between because the habitat is high elephant grass. It’s perfect for the Rhinos, but makes it extremely difficult to spot Tigers.

Jeep safaris pass through four different ranges– Burapahar, Central, Eastern, and Western– but on a predetermined route. A wildlife safari in Kaziranga National Park typically lasts about two hours and covers two ranges.

The mighty Brahmaputra is one of the major rivers that pass through the park. So Kaziranga is prone to high flooding during the heavy monsoon rains, which lash eastern India every year.

Though many of the park’s animals flee to higher ground, some always perish in the flood waters. Regardless of this natural phenomenon, Rhinos and other wildlife have managed to thrive here.

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Best Park in India for Lions - Gir National Park
Asiatic lioness in Gir National Park via Canva

10. Gir National Park (Gujrat)

Official Website

Gir National Park is most famous for its Asiatic Lions. But it’s also home to Leopards and Antelopes, who have found refuge in the park’s vast 1412 square kilometers of wilderness.

The last census counted some 650 Asiatic Lions here, but tourism is only permitted in selected zones in order to give the animals room to breathe.

Besides the park’s high concentration of Lions in India, Gir also has the distinction of having the single largest population of Marsh Crocodiles anywhere in the country.

The main tourist zones in Gir National Park are the Gir Jungle Trail, the Gir Interpretation Zone, the Crocodile Breeding Center, and Sasan Gir Museum.

Jeep safaris are organized by the Gujarat Forest Department along the Gir Jungle Trail, where visitors have an excellent chance of seeing a pride of Lions.

While the Gir Jungle Trail is closed between June 16 and October 15, the Devaliya Jeep Safari in the Gir Interpretation Zone is open throughout the year.

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Tiger Safari in India
Tiger among Safari vehicles in Tadoba, India via Canva

Payment for Indian Safaris in National Parks in India

The majority of the expenses for Indian safaris are included in the package itself, except for items of a personal nature.

Indian rupees are the official Indian currency, which is accepted at all outlets and merchants. Note that you will need to pay online for safari bookings.

Foreign visitors can buy rupees easily at any of the Fx centers in major cities, hotels, and airports. Indian ATMs can also be used to dispense cash.

Visitors to India are advised to carry enough cash for their trip, as there are few banks or ATMs near the major national parks.

Here are the two best ways to send money to India from overseas:

1. PayPal (best for large amounts and peer-to-peer transfers)

PayPal beats its competitors because of its accessibility and choice of payment methods.

Funds can be received in the recipient’s account instantly, and then transferred to a bank account the next day.

International transfers with PayPal attract hefty fees (a 5% surcharge), but there is no limit overall to the amount you can send. Note that a recipient must also be a PayPal account holder, but they can sign up for free.

2. Wise (best for borderless banking)

If you travel a lot and wish to hop over to another country after your Indian safari, you may find managing money across borders difficult.

Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, makes managing money in multiple currencies a breeze.

All you need to do is to set up a free account with Wise and designate a section of your bank account for Indian rupees. The bank account can hold as many as 50 different currencies.

There are zero monthly charges, while currencies using your card will pay a fee of 0.41%. ATM withdrawals of $100 per month are free, and anything above that attracts just a 2% service charge. –by Jyotsna Ramani, featured image of Tiger at Bandhavgarh National Park via Canva