The number one thing I love about India are the forests and the wildlife that India has to offer. There are plenty of forests throughout the country and we have tigers. And hence when I visited Madhya Pradesh with my friend, we decided to spend couple of nights at Pench National Park.
Note: One cannot stay inside the forest but there are resorts just outskirts of the forests where one can stay.
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About Pench National Park
Established in the year 1975, the Pench National Park, also includes the Pench tiger reserve, is located in Madhya Pradesh (MP) state of India. The name is derived from the River Pench that flows through the national park. In the year 2011, the Pench National Park won the Best Management Award.
Did you know that Pench National Park is the setting in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and also provided the location for David Attenborough’s wildlife series Tiger: Spy in the Jungle?
How to get to Pench National Park?
The nearest airport to Pench National Park is the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport at Nagpur in Maharashtra. The distance between Nagpur and Pench is just 78 kilometres and takes only 1 hour 40 minutes to reach by car. I suggest hiring a taxi to reach Pench as it is easier.
Inquire for a taxi at the airport’s information desk and make sure to haggle to get the correct price.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Pench National Park is during the winter season (between the months of November and May) and is open between 6 and 10:30 AM and between 3 and 6 PM. The national park is closed during the months of July, August and September.
Wildlife in Pench National Park
The Pench National Park has abundant wildlife. It is home to 40 Bengal tigers, 13 species of reptiles and many more. The common wildlife seen are sambar, owls, porcupine, monkeys, sloth bears, giant squirrels, leopards (if lucky), Indian gaurs and many species of birds. The National park is also home to many species of plants and trees. The forest is covered with teak trees with many other types of trees such as haldu, and amla.
I was blessed to see many animals including 4 to 5 owls. I saw a leopard, lots of spotted deers, Indian roller, Crested hawk eagle, sambar deer, Indian gaurs, kingfisher, peacocks, mangoose and racket tailed drongo. Unfortunately, I missed seeing a tiger just by fraction of seconds. However, I did see the pug marks of a tiger, which was pretty cool.
Safaris in Madhya Pradesh
I must say I was super impressed with Madhya Pradesh’s tourism board. The booking is online and there is one website (absolutely one) to book any safaris at any national parks or tiger reserves.
One does not need any travel agent, hotel or a booking staff to book these safaris. It is very easy to book and it can be done on your own without any hassle.
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How to book safaris?
Booking website: https://forest.mponline.gov.in/#
As I mentioned earlier, the booking is pretty simple and one just needs to follow the below steps to book a safari:
- Step 1 – Just select the national park you wish to book.
- Step 2 – Select the date and type of seat.
- Step 3 – Search for the availability.
- Step 4 – Reserve the seats for safaris.
- Note: The safari fees are paid on the day of safari and this booking is only to reserve a seat.
Tip: Ensure you book the safari well in advance to reserve a seat.
My experience of the safari
My friend and I reached the said spot for the safari on the day we had booked. We were asked to join the other tourists in a jeep and we were set on the safari. I absolutely loved the whole experience.
The best thing I liked about these safaris were that the guide/driver had good knowledge of the forest and animals. And they cared for their environment. This is something that is rare in India and it was a pleasant surprise that the drivers were provided with adequate training and knowledge on the forests.
Even though I missed seeing the tiger by fraction of seconds, I still loved visiting Pench Tiger Reserve. The flora and fauna are so unique and the forests are very well maintained by the government. Its an absolute delight to watch such beautiful forests. I highly recommend visiting Pench Tiger Reserve on your next travel to Madhya Pradesh.