For animal lovers who long for a holiday in the lap of nature there are a variety of options available in the country, but picking out the best options needs some scouting around. Tiger sighting, birdwatching, aquatic life, reptilian world and others, there are many reserves around where one can observe rare wildlife habitats. A wild vacation requires careful planning because unlike a jet set trip to faraway Ladakh or for that family album photo before the Taj Mahal, a nature tour can test your patience. Of the many wildlife tours available, our list of these super cool 12 nature vacation destinations will not disappoint your travel plans. Each one of them provides an opportunity to be amidst nature and some of its finest creations.
1. Elephants – Gavi, Kerala
Asian elephants have been domesticated for centuries but it is in the wild that you can truly enjoy the grandeur of these large mammals. To be in elephant country, the Gavi Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala is the place to go. Gavi is not highlighted on most tourist maps, which helps it remain outside the radar of popular tourist destinations. Elephants wandering freely, watched from a distance, give you the sense of freedom that one longs for in crowded cities.
2. Crocodiles – Kukrail Forest Reserve, Uttar Pradesh
If you have wondered about the strange world of alligators, then this reserve, close to Lucknow, is the place to be. It also has a breeding and conservation center for river crocodiles. If you’re patience and are willing to listen and learn, then there is abundance of knowledge about crocodiles lazing around here.
3. Asiatic Lion – Bhavanagr Amreli Forest, Gujarat
This forest, a pride of the nation, is home to the Asiatic Lion. The conservationists must be doing something right for the population of the lions continues to grow here. If you plan to visit this reserve, do so in the winters or early spring, but surely before the summer temperatures soar here. Seeing the lion in the wild is a lifetime memory.
4. Rare birds – Nanmangalam Reserved Forest, Tamil Nadu
Spread over 2,400 hectares of a sprawling forest cover, this sanctuary is a bird watcher’s paradise. Just carry your field glasses and be ready to look up the Indian eagle owl, the white breasted Kingfisher, the red wattled Lapwing and the more than 85 other species of birds that live here. While the birds catch your attention, don’t forget to notice the rare orchids growing in the forest.
5. White Tiger – Vandalur Reserve Forest, Tamil Nadu
In 602 hectares, this reserve forest houses the largest zoological garden in Asia. This zoo within the reserve, was opened in 1985. Once you finish visiting the zoo, get ready to sight the white tiger in the reserve forest around it. This is a reason enough to visit the place for white tigers are a rarity.
6. Cheetah – Banni Grasslands Reserve, Gujarat
This site has been identified for introducing the cheetah, an animal that is extinct in India. The last cheetah in the country was shot dead in 1948. The Banni reserve is on the edge of the Rann, a region rich in wildlife. Cheetah spotting will be possible after it is introduced to the rich habitat but a visit to the reserve does bring out the variety of flora and fauna that lies sheltered in this nature enclave. In the wetlands around Rann, a large number of birds stop by every year. You may spot flamingos, storks and cranes at some places.
7. Gharial – Tikarpada Reserve Forest, Orissa
The forest is home to deer, leopards, tigers and many other endangered species. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful forest covers in our country. The reserve also has a Gharial Sanctuary in a secluded enclosure. If you are really lucky, you could even sight the hornbill or a crested serpent eagle in deeper forests.
8. Black Musk Deer – Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve, Jammu & Kashmir
Touching altitudes of 4,300 meters, this reserve has stunning landscapes and that is the first thing that you will notice about it. Some of the lower regions of the sanctuary have conifer forests where the undergrowth shelters the extremely shy Musk Deer. The reserve is also home to leopards, brown bears and red foxes. It is also perhaps the only place where you may see the Blue Rock Pigeon, Jungle Crow and Kashmir Roller in the wild.
9. Lion Tailed Macaque – Amarambalam Reserve Forest, Kerala
The Western Ghats hold an abundance of wildlife and the Amarambalam Reserve in Kerala is part of the natural treasures that lies in these mountain ranges. The heavy rains and the 2,500 meter altitude makes it an ideal habitat for some of the most beautiful birds. The forest is home to endangered species like the Nilgiri Tahr and the Lion Tailed Macaque.
10. Bengal Tiger – Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
No list on endangered and must-see animals can be complete without this park. Established in 1936, it is one of the first wildlife reserves created in India and is named after Jim Corbett, a hunter and writer who founded the park. Other than tigers, the park has 586 types of identified animals living in this wild area.
11. One-horned Rhino – Dibru Saikhowa National Park, Assam
Hunted for their horns, this is one of the last refuges for the one horned rhinoceroses, a pride of India. Figuring on the most endangered list, state authorities have taken a lot of measures to protect this habitat that also harbors a host of other animals and plants. To travel over the vast expanse along the Brahmaputra River in this reserve, spotting herds of rhinos grazing in the distance is a memorable sight.
12. Sloth Bear – Bandipur National Park, Karnataka
The reserve was part of a private protected area that the Maharaja of Mysore had marked out in days before India became independent in 1947. Being one of the oldest National Parks in India, visit the park if you want to catch a glimpse leopards, tigers, elephants or the reclusive and extremely shy sloth bears up-close.