Central India: In the Realm of the Tiger

Wildlife Safari in the World’s Famed Tiger Reserves


At the turn of the 20th century, 100,000 tigers roamed the wilds of Asia, with India home to roughly 40,000 of these magnificent striped beasts. By 1972, that number had dropped to 1,827. Enter Project Tiger, launched by India’s government in 1973 to create national parks as protected havens. Today India has about 3,000 of the big cats (70 percent of the world’s tiger population) in Project Tiger reserves. We invite you to join our expert Trip Leader Indrajit Latey for a one-of-a-kind safari that explores four unique Project Tiger reserves, where we’ll search not only for tiger, but also for leopard, sloth bear, spotted deer, dhole (Indian wild dog), and the full diversity of Indian wildlife. Three of the four lodges we stay in are operated by the legendary Sankhala family, close partners with Wilderness Travel. Kailash Sankhala founded Project Tiger and now three generations of his family have served as ambassadors for saving wildlife. As we explore, our Trip Leader and local trackers will get us to the ideal locations to spot wildlife, first in Bandhavgarh, a small national park with a thriving tiger population, then in renowned Kanha, one of the first Project Tiger reserves. We’ll move on to the lush “Kipling country” of Pench National Park, with its leopards and jungle cats, and finish our safari at Reni Pani, a luxury property at Satpura National Park. Satpura is a lesser-known but fascinating reserve where we’ll have the opportunity for guided game walks, village and school visits, and canoeing safaris. As we travel, we’ll get to know our local hosts and learn about the communities they are connected to. India is blessed with wondrous wildlife, dedicated naturalists, and fascinating cultures, and with Indrajit as our Trip Leader, we’ll experience it at its best. Join us!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
Delhi, India / Bandhavgarh National Park

After an overnight in Delhi, we head to Bandhavgarh, a Project Tiger reserve and one of India’s most beautiful national parks, steeped in history with its temples and 10th century shrines. It boasts one of the highest densities of tiger anywhere in the world. From our welcoming lodge, we head out for safaris each day by open 4WD vehicle. The mixed forests and grasslands are also home to langur monkey, mongoose, and over 150 species of birds, including golden orioles and purple sunbirds.

Andaz Delhi
New Delhi, India
Day 1 (1 night), Day 14 (1 night)
Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge
Bandhavgarh, India
Days 2 to 4 (3 nights)
Days 5-7
Kanha National Park

The royal Bengal tiger is a big draw at Kanha, a famous Project Tiger reserve that protects 350 square miles of mixed forests, but the lush sal and bamboo forests also shelter leopard, sloth bear, and wild dog, to name a few. Kanha is also known for its endangered swamp deer (barasingha), rescued from extinction in a remarkable conservation success story. We have opportunities to visit a local school, take a cooking lesson at the lodge, and we’ll enjoy relaxed dinners, with evening talks by our naturalist guide, sharing stories by the fire pit and stargazing. One evening, we’ll view Ross Kauffman’s stirring documentary “Tigerland,” about the Sankhalas’ work to change India’s treatment of the tiger.

Kanha Jungle Lodge
Kanha National Park, India
Days 5 to 7 (3 nights)
Days 8-10
Pench National Park

The beautiful landscape at Pench is known as the fictional home of Mowgli, the main character in Kipling’s The Jungle Book. The park’s name comes from the meandering Pench River, which intersects the reserve, sprawling through a breathtaking mix of dry broadleaf teak forests and tropical deciduous forests. The dominant predator is the tiger, along with Indian wild dog, leopard, hyena, wolf, jackal, and jungle cat. Our award-winning lodge features 10 safari-style en suite tented rooms overlooking the forest.

Jamtara Wilderness Camp
Pench National Park, India
Days 8 to 10 (3 nights)
Days 11-15
Satpura National Park

Our grand finale is a luxury lodge at Satpura National Park. In the rich forests of Satpura, we may find leopard, four-horned antelope, wild boar, bear, black buck, flying squirrel, mouse deer, and Indian giant squirrel. Here we have options for guided game walks and canoe safaris, and on a night drive with a spotlight, we look for nocturnal species including rusty spotted cat and Indian palm civet. Walks to the village and local primary school are a highlight, and our lodge also has spa facilities. Depart via Delhi on Day 15.

Reni Pani Jungle Lodge
Satpura, India
Days 11 to 13 (3 nights)
Andaz Delhi
New Delhi, India
Day 14 (1 night)



Explore four of India’s Project Tiger reserves with an expert naturalist Trip Leader
Stay in welcoming boutique-style game lodges operated by pioneers in wildlife conservation
Enjoy game drives, game walks, and visits to local villages and schools
Witness the amazing diversity of Indian wildlife, from tiger and leopard to sloth bear, gaur (Indian bison), and jungle cat


Length: 15 days
Cost From: $7195  
Arrive: Delhi, India
Depart: Delhi, India
Lodging: 14 nights hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included except 2 dinners as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Wildlife and Natural History, Safaris
Trip Level:

4WD game viewing, optional guided game walks, evening game drives, some long drives from lodge to lodge