Best Time of Year to See Tigers in India?  

tiger photo safaris

This particular question gets asked very frequently so here is a little article which will help you to decide when to visit India for Tiger Photography Safaris or Tiger Spotting in general.

All of the Indian tiger reserves are usually closed for tourism between mid June and September due to Mansoon season (4 months of year when majority of rainfall takes place and the Tiger reserves become mostly inaccessible)

When the parks open in October, the parks are lush green and full of vegetation, which is great photographic opportunity. However, nature is complex and every opportunity brings own set of challenges.

India’s rich biodiversity and diverse landscapes offer incredible opportunities for wildlife photography, with the majestic tiger being one of the most sought-after subjects. Home to more than half of the world’s tiger population, India boasts several tiger reserves and national parks that provide a natural habitat for these magnificent big cats. However, capturing stunning tiger photographs requires careful planning and consideration of the best time to visit these reserves. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the factors that influence tiger sightings, discuss the seasonal variations in different regions, and highlight the best time for wildlife enthusiasts to photograph tigers in India.

  1. Understanding Tiger Behavior:

Before delving into the best time to photograph tigers, it is crucial to understand their behavior and how it relates to their daily activities. Tigers are primarily crepuscular animals, which means they are most active during dawn and dusk. During these cooler hours, they are more likely to hunt for prey or patrol their territories. Moreover, tigers often rest during the hotter parts of the day, seeking shade and shelter in dense foliage.

Understanding these behavioral patterns helps wildlife photographers time their visits to tiger reserves for optimal photography opportunities.

  1. Factors Influencing Tiger Sightings:

Several factors influence the probability of sighting tigers in the wild, and being aware of these variables can significantly improve your chances of capturing extraordinary photographs.

a) Seasonal Changes: The changing seasons in India have a direct impact on tiger sightings. As the climate shifts, the availability of water and food sources varies, affecting tiger movements. The dry season is generally considered the best time for tiger photography, as the sparse foliage and reduced water sources force tigers to congregate around remaining water bodies, increasing the likelihood of sightings.

b) Water Availability: Tigers, like most wildlife, are heavily reliant on water sources for survival. During the dry season, waterholes become critical gathering points for animals, offering excellent opportunities for photographers to capture interactions between tigers and other wildlife.

c) Temperature and Climate: Tigers tend to be more active during cooler temperatures. In the hot summer months, they often seek shade and rest in cooler parts of the day, making early mornings and late afternoons the prime time for tiger photography.

d) Tourism Season: Popular tiger reserves in India experience varying levels of tourist activity throughout the year. Choosing the right time to visit can enhance your experience by reducing crowd interference and ensuring a more intimate encounter with the wildlife.

  1. Best Time for Tiger Photography in Different Regions:

India’s diverse geography and varying climatic conditions mean that the best time for tiger photography can vary depending on the region and specific wildlife sanctuary or national park. Here, we will discuss some of the most renowned tiger reserves in India and their ideal visiting periods:

a) Ranthambore National Park (Rajasthan): Ranthambore is one of India’s most famous tiger reserves and is known for its relatively high tiger density. The best time to visit Ranthambore for photography is during the dry season, from October to May. The cooler months of November to February offer the most favorable conditions, with sparse foliage and increased chances of tiger sightings around water sources.

b) Bandhavgarh National Park (Madhya Pradesh): Bandhavgarh is renowned for its tiger population and offers excellent opportunities for photography. The park is open for visitors from October to June, but the best time for tiger photography is from February to May. During this period, the temperature rises, increasing the probability of tiger sightings as they emerge to quench their thirst.

c) Kanha National Park (Madhya Pradesh): Kanha is another iconic tiger reserve and the inspiration behind Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” The park is open from October to June, but the ideal time for photography is during the dry season from Oct to May. The lush meadows turn into golden grasslands during this period, providing a stunning backdrop for tiger photographs.

d) Sunderbans National Park (West Bengal): The unique Sundarbans mangrove forest is home to the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger. Due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal, the best time to photograph tigers here is during the cooler months from December to February.

e) Pench National Park (Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra): Pench is known for its diverse wildlife and picturesque landscapes. The park is open from October to June, but the best time for tiger photography is from Dec to May. As the summer approaches, tigers become more active, increasing your chances of capturing captivating images.

f) Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra): Tadoba is Maharashtra’s oldest and largest national park, renowned for its tiger sightings. The best time for tiger photography here is from February to May, with March, April & May being the peak months. The heat forces tigers to come out in search of water, leading to enhanced sighting opportunities.

  1. Essential Tips for Tiger Photography:

Regardless of the time of year, capturing compelling tiger photographs requires patience, skill, and an understanding of wildlife photography techniques. Here are some essential tips to help you make the most of your tiger photography expedition:

a) Use Long Lenses: Tigers are elusive creatures, and maintaining a safe distance is crucial for both your safety and the well-being of the animals. Telephoto lenses with focal lengths of 300mm or more are recommended for capturing detailed and intimate shots of tigers in the wild.

b) Be Prepared for Low Light Conditions: Early mornings and late afternoons provide soft and golden light, perfect for enhancing the beauty of your tiger photographs. Familiarize yourself with shooting in low light conditions to capture stunning images during these periods.

c) Practice Patience: Wildlife photography requires patience and perseverance. Tigers may not always be visible immediately, and it may take hours of waiting for that perfect moment. Be prepared to spend ample time observing their behavior and movement.

d) Respect Wildlife and Their Habitat: As photographers and visitors, it is our responsibility to respect wildlife and their natural habitat. Avoid causing disturbances, and follow park guidelines and regulations to ensure the well-being of the animals.

e) Learn about Animal Behavior: Understanding tiger behavior and body language can help you anticipate their movements and actions. This knowledge will enable you to position yourself for the best photographic opportunities.


When to go Tiger Spotting in India ?


Tiger Spotting in November, December, January & February:
Post monsoon, the vegetation becomes thick and it becomes a little bit tricky to track ellusive tigers and leopards as they can easily hide behind thick leaves. Soon after mansoon, there would be plenty of water sources for the animals, so they don’t need to come to wonder in search of water.

November, December, January & February:- The central Indian weather gets cold at night and for most western tourists, its quite pleasant daytime temprature of about 25-28 degrees © which means they can escape the bitterly cold North American or Europen weather and make most of the Indian sunshine.

The chances of Tiger sightings are also good. We arrange for total 16 game drives in Tadoba, Kanha,Pench and Bandhavgarh (8 game drives in each park) which increases your chances of tiger sightings.Remember its not all about tigers, there are leopards, sloth bears, wildl dogs, bisons, several species of antilopes, hundreds of birds (hornbills, vultures, parakets etc) crocodiles, mungoose. During these months, the chances of sighting a tiger may be up to 80% but this season is best in term of avoiding the hot summer months.

What to wear: Thick jackets and warm boots are advised as the early morning temperature may be nearly zero degrees at times, rising quickly to comfortable mid 20s.

When to go to India for Tiger Photography?

Tiger Spotting in March, April, May & June:
This is the summer time for central India. The vegitation which was lush green and thick starts to disappear, which means we can see up to far distance in the forest and spotting wild animals becomes whole lot easier. Moreover ,since all the waterhole starts to dry up, the wild animals tend to gather at the waterholes to quench their thurst in the scortching summer heat. The daytime tempratures may well reach up to 45c. What amazes us that even in this heat , it feels much cooler inside the the jungles.

This is the time ideal for any serious wildlife photographer to photograph these big cats. We always carry plenty of mineral water, cold drinks and snacks to keep our guests cool and well fed in the parks. During these months, the morning tiger safaris start at 5AM and finishes by 9.30 AM. Afternoon safaris start at 3.30PM and finiehs by 7pm. We also take sun protection seriously and use high SPF suncreams. Our carefuly chosen luxury accomodation have beautiful pool in the natural settings and after each safari you can reward yourself with swimming in the outdoors pool.

This season is best for tiger sightings and the chances of sighting Tigers/Leopards are up to 95%. Towards the end of May or beginning of June, there may be odd few pre-monsoon showers (light rain) which is a welcome relief. The sky becomes drammatic and the peacocks do their usual full glory dance, which is very spectatular and something not to be missed!

What to wear: Hats, Sunglasses and light cotton clothing is highly recommended. It is also recommended to keep yourself well hydrated.

So what time of the year should be avoided for Tiger Safaris?
Its best to avoid Indian school holidays as well as popular public holidays (bank holidays, as they are known in the United Kingdom).

It can get busy inside the national parks during the Indian holidays of Diwali, Christmas holidays, New Year, Holi, Independence day and Republic days (especially long weekends) etc.

We prepare your itinerary in such a way , that allows you more intimate experience with nature as well as with wildlife for photography. Wildlife Photography requires a steady platform to shoot, for that reason we provide whole row of seat to each photographer.

Very limited number of vehicles are allowed each day, and the entry permits for national parks are very popular among local as well as foreign tourists, so sell out well in advance, if you are interested in shooting wild tigers in their natural habitat, get in touch as soon as you can. (we will need your names, passport numbers, and ages so that the entry permits can be booked for you well in advance)

Kanha National park, Bandhavgarh National Park and Pench National park remains closed for public every Wednesday afternoon.

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve remains closed every Tuesday (Although buffer areas remain open for safaris and provide good tiger sighting opportunities)

Tiger photography in India presents a rewarding and thrilling experience for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike. The best time to photograph tigers varies across different regions and depends on seasonal changes, water availability, and tiger behavior. By planning your visit during the dry season and understanding the specific characteristics of each tiger reserve, you can increase your chances of capturing breathtaking images of these majestic big cats in their natural habitat. Remember to prioritize the well-being of wildlife, respect their space, and practice ethical wildlife photography to contribute to the conservation of this iconic species for generations to come.

What do I do next? Contact us so that we can arrange a photographic tiger safari for you.

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