4 Tiger

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Wildlife -

RANGE: An es­ti­mated 3,890 wild tigers live in Asia (from In­dia to the Rus­sian Far East).

THE EX­PE­RI­ENCE: Ev­ery hair on your body stands on end. Ev­ery twig crackle sends you into a mi­nor frenzy as the jeep driver quizzes rangers and stud­ies pug­marks to get the inside track. Then you’re tear­ing through an In­dian for­est to a clear­ing where a Royal Ben­gal tiger looms in the un­der­growth. Only then do you re­mem­ber to breathe.

NEED TO KNOW: See­ing tigers up close isn’t easy. In 2016, global fig­ures rose for the first time in a cen­tury, ac­cord­ing to the WWF and Global Tiger Fo­rum; prior to that, tiger num­bers across Asia and Rus­sia had fallen by around 95% dur­ing the same pe­riod. A num­ber of na­tional parks in In­dia and Nepal of­fer the chance to see these fan­tas­tic beasts in the wild, though week­end vis­its can be crowded. Typ­i­cally, there are two set sa­fari times per day (dawn and mid-af­ter­noon), and be sure to choose a smaller six-seater ve­hi­cle – it’s just more in­ti­mate.

BEST PLACE TO SEE… In In­dia, lit­tle-vis­ited Sat­pura Re­serve in Mad­hya Pradesh is a rar­ity in that it of­fers walk­ing sa­faris, though tiger sight­ings are rarer there. Band­hav­garh (Mad­hya Pradesh) has the high­est den­sity, while at­trac­tive Ran­thamb­hore (Ra­jasthan) is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble from Jaipur (so is busy) and has seen ris­ing tiger num­bers in re­cent years. Pench and Kanha (Mad­hya Pradesh), Cor­bett (Ut­tarak­hand) and Peri­yar (Ker­ala) are all good op­tions, es­pe­cially in dry sea­son (Oct–jun) when water is scarce.

Nepal’s parks of­fer a more re­mote set­ting, though, with Chit­wan and the lesser-vis­ited Bar­dia both of­fer­ing walk­ing and 4WD op­tions (visit Oct–may).

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