Widely considered the greatest of India’s wildlife reserves, Kanha National Park encompasses some 940 square kilometres of deciduous forest, savanna grassland, hills and gently meandering rivers – home to hundreds of species of birds and animals, including tigers. Despite the arduous overland haul to the park, few travellers are disappointed by its beauty, which is particularly striking at dawn. Tiger sightings are not guaranteed, but even a fleeting glimpse of one should be considered a great privilege. Moreover, the wealth of other creatures and some of central India’s most quintessentially Kiplingesque countryside make it a wonderful place to spend a few days.
Kanha’s tigers, are its biggest draw, and the jeep drivers and guides, who are well aware of this, scan the sandy tracks for pug marks and respond to the agitated alarm calls of nearby animals. Although the Kanha zone has been a prime site for spotting tigers in the past, at the time of research sightings here were less common here than in Kisli, Sarhi and Mukki. If you’re intent on seeing a tiger, plan on spending three nights at the park and taking around five excursions; the cats are most often spotted lounging among camouflaging brakes of bamboo or in the tall elephant grass lining streams and waterholes.