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Open your eyes

They are extraordinary, elusive and endangered, but there is a bit of a tourist mania to catch just one glimpse of the big cat. Donít forget the lions and bears too, with tiger safaris offering so much more than the sacred stripes. Ensure to explore the natural marvels of leopard, elephants, buffalo, rhino, monkeys, wolves and a veritable fiesta of birdlife.

Tigers by train

If tigers are Indiaís natural wonder, then trains are its engineering one. With one of the most extensive rail networks in the world, it is a delight to start your exploration of the wilds by train. The times of people crammed into cattle class, hanging off the roof and all round manic mayhem have long gone. You can book in advance, there is air con, they are great value, the views are priceless and the banter is brilliant. You can go on a tiger safari at Bandhavgarh National Park by taking a train to Katni. Or take a train from Delhi to Agra to see the famous Taj Mahal, and then on to Sawai Madhopur, the station that serves Ranthambhore National Park. From here you can also take a sleeper train to Katni.

These are peopleís habitats too

Tiger tourism income is not only important for keeping tigers alive, but people too. So, ensure to spend money locally, using homestays, family run restaurants, and also engaging with local people about the tiger heritage in their homeland. We have a responsibility to educate people and share the good news Ė that a living tiger is worth just as much as a poached, dead one.

Camp in the wild

Although national parks in India donít have camping facilities, you can go on a tiger safari camp on the edge of Corbett National Park, with tents that are more like chalets than camping, but with total immersion in the wilds all the same, on the edge of the Ramganga River. Families will love the luxury tented accommodation in Kanha Tiger Reserve, as it is run by a family with children, so there is a good understanding and consideration when it comes to taking care of young ones - meal menus and times etc. Tiger safaris on the only privately owned wildlife sanctuary in India, two and a half hours from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, also have campsite facilities. Accommodating only six guests at a time, the Jalore Wildlife Sanctuary, a 190km2 natural jungle, is not only remote, but also reserved for the privileged few.
Photo credits: [Open your eyes: Shashank Gupta] [Tigers by train: Sakeeb Sabakka] [These are people's habitats too - local restaurant: ptwo] [Camp in the wild: michimaya]
Written by Catherine Mack
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Photo credits: [Page banner: Aditya "Dicky" Singh]
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