Before i answer the question on “How and when to book a safari”, it’s necessary to understand the background behind this question. Tiger is the most photographed animal in the world. There isn’t another animal with such a powerful attractiveness that draws people. I know many hundreds like me with the same enthusiasm.
Love for Tigers has grown faster than what the national parks could handle in India. Whereas the tourism in India has grown by about 5-hitter, Tiger tourism has seen a rise of about 12-15% consistently over years. Main reason behind such numbers is the growing love of Indians towards their wildlife. With 1.3 billion Indians the number of Tiger lovers is not small by any margin. Let us not forget the nature and wildlife lovers from all over the world also coming to India to see the Tigers. Our apex court understood this and put in some strict rules in 2012 to guide Tiger tourism.
Carrying capacity of the national parks was calculated subsequently. Wherever the number of vehicles going to the park were found to be high, they were curtailed. Lot of parks lost out close to 500th of the vehicles. Presently tourism happens in only about 200th area of the national parks. Balance 80th of the park is completely inviolate for any human activity.
Increase in Tiger population also leads to increase in Tiger tourism
It was in 2006 when Sariska national park was declared to be bereft of Tigers. In 2008 Panna national park took the same route. This brought in a lot of attention towards the Tigers. The govt. acted fleetly. Some major steps were taken to rehabilitate Tigers in these 2 parks. With raised attention and conservation measures Tigers once again roared in these 2 parks. People surged back to the national parks after hearing this news.
Besides India is the only Tiger country where the possibilities of sighting Tigers is certain. the enhanced awareness of the Tiger numbers over the last 6-7 years have further increased the Tiger tourism. Currently the question how and when to book a Tiger safari in India becomes very relevant.
How and when to book a Tiger safari in India
One should book a Tiger safari in India at-least 5-6 months before the travel date. Why so much before? Simple, because lot many parks allow the safari permits to be booked on-line 120 days before the safari date. And with limited safari permits they get booked in no time. If the safari has to be booked 120 days before you should be sure of your vacation even before. hence i said 5-6 months. By this point you should have given all of your identification details and deposits to your tour operator if you wish to see a Tiger in the wild. Some parks also allow booking 90 days as well.
Importance of the right Tour Operator for booking your safari
Booking so much earlier will also give your Tour Operator enough notice to set up your safaris in the right zones (provided he is aware of the right zones). Then knowing the right zones isn’t enough. It’s also important for your tour operator to know the sighting history in those zones. the right zones can become wrong in no time without the world knowing it. How that happens requires another blog post. Hence book with someone who has his ears, and eyes within the national parks.
If you want full value for your hard earned cash then it’s worth sorting out a tour operator to whom you’re entrusting your money and efforts. He should know which Tiger parks yield better results in which months. It’s a fact that none can guarantee Tiger sightings, but experience can provide you the best potential possibilities of watching Tigers.