Home to around 70% of the world’s tiger population, India has become a hotspot for local and foreign tourists. Most book safaris in Tiger Reserves and wildlife sanctuaries to catch a glimpse of this majestic cat. Huddled together in open jeeps or canters (an open truck), tourists keep an eye out for brown and black stripes which might be camouflaged in the foliage.
However, many tourists who have visited reserves and national parks in the hopes of sighting a tiger, have found nothing. Disappointed, they exit the gates after the drive, not realising that they have missed out on the many sights of a beautiful forest that, in addition to a glimpse of tigers, has so much more to offer to them!
One way to experience a forest is to walk through the dense foliage, enter water bodies and live inside it. Having said that, these activities are not possible in all sanctuaries, due to security issues pertaining to both, humans and animals.
Here is a list of destinations across the country that offer a list of offbeat activities in sanctuaries that will help you breathe in its true essence:
1) On foot in the wild Syat, Uttarakhand
This camp is located near the Corbett Tiger Reserve. Here, you can walk in the footsteps of the British hunter-turned-naturalist by embracing the wild Himalayas.
Camp Kyari, in Syat, offers you a trip like no other. You can start your day with a cup of tea made on a ‘chulha’ before loading a backpack on your shoulders, tying your shoelaces and beginning your trail in the wild.
You can trace your way through the fir and pine trees while orioles, parakeets, hawks, and drongos chirp around you.
Along with a walking trail in the middle of a dense forest, Camp Kyari also offers mountain biking and refreshing dips in the pure Himalayan waters. After a tiring trek, you can stay in a quaint one-home village surrounded by an untamed forest.
Wouldn’t you like to awaken the ‘junglee’ in you? Check out more details about Camp Kyari here.
2) Thenmala, India’s first planned Eco-tourism destination
Situated in the Kolam district of Kerala, Thenmala covers ten eco-tourism spots including the hill ranges of Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, and Kollam. Here you can take a break from your hectic city life and rejuvenate yourself.
Thenmala offers you a stay in Swiss cottage tents in the middle of a jungle, or right next to River Kallada!
Imagine waking up to the sounds of birds and a panorama of trees and rivers awaiting you at your doorstep!
You can explore the Nilgiris through activities like soft trekking, butterfly safari or boating, or visit a Deer rehabilitation centre where spotted deer and sambar (a large deer native to India), who strayed away from forests are rehabilitated in the forest to ensure their safety.
Thenmala also offers visits to a sculpture garden and an adventure zone which a range of activities like mountain biking, snorkelling and valley crossing.
To learn more about this eco-tourism destination, click the link here.
3) Meet Pahadi people living in the untamed wild
Would you like to know why a langur’s screech is usually followed by a deer’s snort or bleat? Or how tigers mark their territories in the wild? Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how these majestic cats live rather than merely look at one for a few minutes?
While traditional stories usually portray the wilderness as a scary place to be in, the mountain people have no such issues. They not only wander through jungles every day but can also easily interpret signs of the wild!
Along with village interaction, this campsite in Uttarakhand offers mountain biking and guided nature walks.
You can even go water surfing through a 100-year-old British water canal in the middle of the forest!
Want to try this adventurous getaway in Himalayan hills? Check out the details here.
4) Walking the Tiger trail in Tadoba
How would you like to track trails of tigers instead of following them in a noisy vehicle? Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) offers a range of activities to explore the forest without fixating on following tigers in a vehicle.
You have a better chance of spotting hundreds of species of birds and reptiles on a bicycle than in a fast-moving jeep. Not only that, you can also trace the pugmarks of tigers, leopards, and other mammals, and even investigate if the animal that passed was male or female, and figure out their weight and their stride!
TATR also offers a boat safari in the lakes where you have a chance of spotting crocodiles and several species of birds.
The department is currently working on a ‘machan’ system to keep a watch on the forest through nights. Their dynamic walking trail system will also resume operations in summer.
If you want to know more about eco-tourism opportunities in TATR, you can contact Ajay Kodape at +91- 9730853324/ +91 8766418121
5) River Rafting in Dandeli
In the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka lies a serene haven, a home to tigers, leopards, gaur, deer, and hornbills!
If you want to take a vacation in a wildlife sanctuary and are looking for a nonconventional way to live in forests, Dandeli is the place to be.
You can grab a pair of oars and raft your way through the fast rapids of the Kali river for an adventurous thrill, or go bird-watching and note down the hundreds of species you are sure to come across.
In addition to water activities like rafting and boating, Dandeli also offers beautiful picnic spots, and offbeat activities like angling, night camps, and tiger or crocodile spotting.
To know more about Dandeli tourism, follow the link here.