A black panther in Nagarhole (Bharath Shreyas Photography/Wildlife Worldwide)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 03 September

Walk on the wild side: 9 wildlife trips that reveal India’s untamed heart

Majestic and often elusive, India’s wildlife is diverse and breathtaking. From tigers, leopards and black panthers to rare rhinos and lions, you’ll find them all on these extraordinary wildlife adventures

1: Encounter Assam’s abundant wildlife

A rhino in Kaziranga National Park (Dreamstime)

A rhino in Kaziranga National Park (Dreamstime)

Explore one of India’s most exciting and least known wildlife hotspots on this 12-day trip through Assam with Wild Rhino Adventures.

Set in India’s little visited north-east, Assam is one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world, a land of tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, riverine grasslands and wetlands. You will visit Manas National Park and Kaziranga National Park, both tiger reserves, and get the opportunity to see many endangered and rare species of mammals and birds including one-horned rhinos, water buffaloes, wild boars, wild elephants and deer. Kaziranga has the highest density of tigers in India and you’ll also trek to the living root bridges in the nearby state of Meghalaya.

Trip: Kaziranga National Park Wildlife Tour

Who: Wild Rhino Adventures

When: Departures Nov-Apr

How long: 12 days

How much: From £1,750 (exc. flights)

2: Search for India’s regal tigers

A tiger in India (Dreamstime)

A tiger in India (Dreamstime)

Tick a tiger or two off your wildlife bucket list on this adventure in search of India’s sleek and majestic big cats with TravelLocal.

India is home to 55% of the world’s tiger population and with morning and afternoon game tours in tiger hotspots Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench, you’re guaranteed to have a tiger encounter you’ll never forget. And unlike Africa where all major species have almost exclusive habitats, India’s tigers share their homes with Asiatic elephants, one-horned rhino and Asiatic lions, so chances are you’ll be able to to tick them off your wildlife bucket list too.

Trip: In Search of Tigers

Who: TravelLocal

When: Flexible departure dates throughout the year

How long:13 days

How much: From £2,560 (exc. flights)

3: Walk with sloth bears

A sloth bear on the move (Dreamstime)

A sloth bear on the move (Dreamstime)

Visit the land of sloth bears and wild dogs on this gentle and rewarding walking safari in the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve with Wildlife Worldwide.

Pachmarhi  and the nearby Satpura National Park are two of the rare places in India where you can experience a safari on foot. An expert guide will be on hand to point out India’s diverse fauna and flora and enhance your chances of seeing sloth bears and more. Although tigers have been spotted inside the park, the lush vegetation makes the occasional encounter rare. A game drive in Pench at the end of your trip will ensure you get to see India’s most famous big cat, the tiger.

Trip: Walking In The Steps Of Sloth Bears

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Departures Oct-Apri

How long: 10 days

How much: From £1,995 (exc. flights)

4: Meet India's Big Five

A male leopard in the dry forests of India (Dreamstime)

A male leopard in the dry forests of India (Dreamstime)

Like Africa, India has its own Big Five and on this extraordinary journey through three of the country’s most diverse national parks with Cox & Kings Travel, you’ll get to see them all.

In Gujarat's Gir Forest Reserve you’ll search for the last of the world’s Asiatic lions. In Kaziranga National Park, your quest is spotting the endangered one-horned rhino. You’ll find tigers in Kanha National Park, as well as leopards and Asiatic elephants. Each safari is guided by an expert naturalist, on hand to help you find even the most elusive of India’s Big Five.

Trip: India’s Big Five

Who: Cox & Kings Travel

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 15 days

How much: From £4,725 (exc. flights)

5: Photograph India’s cutest wildlife star

A red panda (Dreamstime)

A red panda (Dreamstime)

Join wildlife photographer Nick Garbutt on a quest to snap India’s elusive red panda on this adventure through the Eastern Himalayas with Wildlife Worldwide.

It’s a journey that will take you to Singalila National Park, an area of remote wilderness straddling the Indian-Nepal border. With its temperate broad-leaf and coniferous forest, it provides the ideal habitat to the elusive red panda. Staying at Habre’s Nest, a small lodge dedicated to the conservation of the red pandas of the region, you’ll join specialist trackers on walks from the lodge to search for this secretive mammal.

Finally, you’ll head to Panna National Park, prime tiger country, to photograph this majestic big cat. There are an estimated population of 30 tigers in Panna, as well as leopards, dhole, and sloth bears – all prime subjects for your wildlife portfolio.

Trip: Red Pandas & Tigers Photography

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Nov

How long: 15 days

How much: £6,695 (exc. flights)

6: Experience India’s classiest wildlife adventure

The beautiful Brahmaputra river (Dreamstime)

The beautiful Brahmaputra river (Dreamstime)

Spot India’s exotic wildlife in style on this luxury, small-ship cruise along the Brahmaputra with Wexas.

It’s a truly indulgent journey that will see you enjoying expert-led excursions, fascinating lectures, yoga and full-board dining throughout, including high tea and dinners on desert islands. You’ll spot river dolphins from the sun deck, golden monkeys on remote islets, turtles on boat safaris and the likes of rhinos and tigers on expert-led jungle safaris. Indulge all your senses.

Trip: Indian River Cruise: The Brahmaputra

Who: Wexas

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 11 days

How much: From £3,160 (inc. flights)

7: Explore India’s birdwatching Meccas

Indian skimmers on the Chambal river (Dreamstime)

Indian skimmers on the Chambal river (Dreamstime)

India is a birdwatcher’s paradise and you’ll get the chance to explore its most famous ornithological hotspots on this 13-day birding adventure with Audley.

Your first stop is Chambal, home to the Sarus Crane conservation area where large numbers of sarus cranes - the tallest flying bird in the world - breed. You’ll explore the river by boat in search of colonies of rare Indian skimmer, greater thicknee, the comb duck, Brahmani duck, kingfishers, fishing eagles and flamingos. In Bharatpur you’ll stay in a converted palace, not far from the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, boasting 370 species of birds, of which 150 are migrants, coming from as far afield as Siberia.

Finally, in Satpura, you’ll enjoy a kayak trip along the Tawa Reservoir, encountering an astonishing variety of rare birds.

Trip: Birdwatching in India

Who: Audley

When: Departures Sep-Jun

How long: 13 days

How much: £3,175 (inc. flights)

8: Meet the majestic black panthers of Nagarhole

A black panther in Nagarhole (Bharath Shreyas Photography/Wildlife Worldwide)

A black panther in Nagarhole (Bharath Shreyas Photography/Wildlife Worldwide)

Here’s one to tell the grand kids about – an encounter with a rare melanistic leopard in Nagarhole National Park with Wildlife Worldwide.

Also known as a black panther, the melanistic leopard was made famous through the fictional character of Bagheera in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. One individual has been seen relatively frequently in Nagarhole National Park in recent years and based at the award-winning Kabini River Lodge, it will be your challenge to spot him. This small group tour is likely to be a one-off, so it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spot one of the world’s most beautiful and elusive creatures.

Trip: Nagarhole’s Tigers, Wild Dogs & Leopards

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 9 days

How much: From £2,170 (exc. flights)

9: Search for Snow Leopards

Snow leopard resting on rocks in the Himalaya (Dreamstime)

Snow leopard resting on rocks in the Himalaya (Dreamstime)

Venture deep into Ladakh's remote Ulley Valley alongside wildlife adventure photographer Nick Garbutt to photograph elusive snow leopards with Wildlife Worldwide.

The Ulley Valley lies at the centre of three interlocking valleys amidst spectacular mountain scenery. This beautiful setting, combined with expert guidance and tips from Nick Garbutt, offers all the ingredients for a perfect wildlife photography trip. 

Nick works alongside specialist local trackers from the Snow Leopard Conservancy, maximising your chances of finding and photographing these elusive cats. You’ll also spot ibex, bharal, red fox, Tibetan partridge, and even wolf. 

Trip: Searching For Snow Leopards

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Feb

How long: 17 days

How much: From £6,345 (exc. flights)