# Kanha National Park is one of the biggest forests in India. It is also called as the Kanha Tiger Reserve. It was this actual jungle that inspired Rudyard Kipling to write Mowgli’s Jungle Book.
# Kanha Tiger Reserve is a safe haven for the striped predator. Although spotting animals are a case of chance but here tourists do have a good probability of spotting a tiger.
Related: Have you seen these five big cats of India?
# Kanha National Park has a great achievement to its name – it almost saved the Barasingha (swamp deer) from extinction. This deer has been hunted for its large and beautiful antlers. After this beautiful deer had disappeared from many Indian states like Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal, and also from the countries Bangladesh and Pakistan, the authorities here made a great effort to reintroduce this species and now it is the Barasingha’s best home on the planet.
Today, the Barasingha happily roams the Kanha meadows feeding on a special type of grass. Kanha National Park has a special mascot in its honour – Bhoorsingh the Barasingha.
# Kanha is situated in Madhya Pradesh across 2052-square kilometer with a core area of 917-square kilometer. Interestingly, the forest is naturally divided into two types – lowland and highland. The lowland are the Kanha meadows where animals can be easily spotted like the barasingha, chital, sambar, the rare four-horned antelope along with wild dogs, jackals, wolf and hyena.
# Just contrary to it are the highlands. Tall sal trees merging into the sky and bamboo forests give home to tigers, leopards and sloth bear with the jungle cat, civet, jackal and many reptiles. Banjar and Halon are small rivers that flow through the forest but provide enough water for the wildlife.
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# Another unique animal here is the endangered Dhole. It is an endangered species of wild dog which is found in India and could be extremely dangerous as these live together in packs. They have been known to snatch prey from the leopards and even the mighty tiger would avoid confrontation with these.
# About 300 species of birds can be found in Kanha.
# Kanha is a popular wildlife lovers’ spot, so to make the best of it and prevent crowding, this big forest area has been divided into eight zones. The core area has four – Kanha, Kisli, Mukki and Sarhi with different entry points. Kanha and Kisli have one common gate, with different gates for Mukki and Sarhi. Each gate will explore into a different area of the forest. Of course, it will also depend which safari you would like to take. According to tourists, Kanha zone has the best success rate of spotting animals and Sarhi the least. The other zones are Khatia, Khapa and Sijhora and one in the nearby Phen sanctuary.
# Kanha National Park stays closed from 1 Jul- 15 Oct. While the winters are more suited for a jungle trip due to the pleasant weather, visiting from March to June has a benefit. The summer season will cause a bit of discomfort but not much in the covered area. In fact, March – April can be quite comfortable in the forest. Most important, you have better chance to spot animals in summers because the forest cover is dried and thus thinner. Then the heat would make animals stay closer to the water holes and you can get some good clicks.
# Typically a safari in Kanha National Park with a gypsy, guide and entry fee per safari can cost from somewhat Rs. 3000 to Rs. 6000 and can be 3-4 hours long (subject to change). There are only two safaris per day – morning (5 am) and evening (4.30 pm). Gypsy can hold up to 6 people so it can be shared if you want reduce the cost.
Morning safaris may cost more than evening safaris. Book your safari beforehand, online if you can. Each person must carry ID proof in original. Take registered vehicles (not private safari vehicles), trained guides (instead of locals) and enough cash (as there are no ATMs nearby). Note that all National Parks in Madhya Pradesh are closed on Wednesday. Another thing, pack your breakfast before the morning safari starts at 5 am.
# To reach Kanha Tiger Reserve, come to Jabalpur by air, train, bus or car. Jabalpur is well connected. From there, Kanha is about 210 km which is about 4-5 hour journey. There several accommodation options like hotels by MP tourism and private resorts. There are two lodgings in the forest area – Baghira loghuts and Kisli tourist hostel by the state government. Please book beforehand as these are the best staying options, especially the Baghira loghuts.
One thing to note is that the safaris get booked faster than the rooms, so plan your trip according to the safari availability. More staying options are in the Khatia Jungle Camp at Khatia, Kisli Forest Rest House, Mukki Forest Rest House. You can check safari details at the online Safari Reservation Portal of MP – forest.mponline.gov.in
# Things to note – you will be in trouble if you dirty the forest especially with plastics, shout or speak loudly, or step out of your vehicle during the safari. Respect the local people, culture and be patient about the food options. Do not get impatient if you do not get to see a tiger, it happens. Spotting animals depends a lot on chance no matter how rich the forest is in wildlife. Enjoy the trip by planning beforehand, try to stay at government lodgings and enjoy the beauty and peace of nature. Do not miss the Kanha Musuem. You will surely have a nice trip.
Credits: Wikimedia, kanha-national-park.com, HolidayIQ, forest.mponline.gov.in, Wikipedia, wildlifetrails.co.uk, India Getaways, Indianity, The Guardian, paintedstork.com, oktatabyebye.com, andBeyond