There are hundreds of India wildlife parks and sanctuaries, which reflect the importance that the country places on nature and wildlife conservation. The variety of wildlife in India is incredibly diverse, and being able to view these animals and birds in their natural habitat is an experience of a lifetime. Different parks feature different animals, so it's a good idea to think about the particular types of wildlife you want to see and plan your trip accordingly. The following five parks are the best places to go for a visual treat of tigers, lions, elephants, rhinoceros, birds, and even wild ass!
Bandhavgarh is not the most accessible national park in India, but it does offer the best chance of seeing a tiger in the wild (the next best option is Ranthambore, in Rajasthan near Delhi. You might prefer it if cost is an issue, as entry fees are cheaper). For those who are longing to catch a glimpse of the great big cat, it's well worth the effort to go there. If you allow two days for safaris, you're likely to be successful. Many people see a tiger on the first safari. Elephants are also available for tiger tracking and safaris.
Assam, in India's north east region, offers plenty of appeal for wildlife lovers. The highlight is Kaziranga National Park, where you'll find the largest population of the prehistoric looking one-horned rhinoceros in the world. Go on an elephant safari to spot them hiding in the wide expanse of grasslands. Another attraction is the birdlife -- both there and at Nameri National Park, which offers casual bird watching treks.
Tigers aren't the only big cats that you try your luck at seing in India. Gir Wildlife Sanctuary has the last wild Asiatic lions in the world. This breed of lion, which could once be found as far as Syria to the west and Bihar (in India) to the east, was almost hunted to extinction in the 1870s. Now, thanks to conservation efforts, the lion population is too big for the sanctuary. Apparently, lions sometimes even venture to the beaches of Diu! Three hour jeep safaris will take you around the reserve. In addition to lions, there are almost 40 other animals there, including spotted deer, sambar, antelope, and gazelles.
Gujarat offers more still for wildlife enthusiasts. The harsh and unforgiving landscape of the Little Rann of Kutch, consisting mostly of dry thorny scrub, is home to the last of the Indian wild ass. There are around 2,000-3,000 of these notoriously untamable creatures within the 5,000 square kilometer Wild Ass Sanctuary. It's possible to go on a jeep safari to spot them. However, they're known to run fast -- an average of 50 kilometers an hour over long distances! If you're into birding, add Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary to your trip. It's one of the few areas where flamingos breed in the wild in India. However, more than 200 types of birds can be found there escaping the cold winter in other parts of the country.
Nagarhole gains its name from the snake like river that winds its way through it. The park is a place of unspoiled wilderness, with serene forest, bubbling streams, and a tranquil lake. Nagarhole can be explored by jeep, elephant back and boat. Visitors can also go trekking. It's not unusual to see herds of elephants on the river bank. Dubare Elephant Camp, located between Coorg and Mysore, offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with trained elephants. Accommodation is provided on the premises for those who want to stay there.