Tadoba National Park Guide4 - Azure Sky Follows
Destinations,  India,  Maharashtra,  Tadoba

Tadoba National Park: How to plan a trip to Tadoba

Tadoba Andhari tiger project, popularly known as Tadoba national park, lies in the state of Maharashtra in India. It is frequented by wildlife enthusiasts who enjoy spending time in the company of wild animals. Bengal tigers are the main attraction of the national park but it also hosts Indian leopards, gaurs, chital, barking deer, bears, wild dogs, a range of rare birds and some exotic reptiles. Out of all the national parks in India, Tadoba’s tiger sighting statistic is the most favourable one. If visited during the correct time of the year it is almost impossible not to come across a tiger during the safari.

Things to know before safari booking at Tadoba National Park

There are six core zone gates of Tadoba: Mohurli(19), Khutvanda(3), Kolara(9), Navegaon(5), Pangdi(2), Zhari(2). And there are six buffer zone gates of Tadoba: Agarzari(6), Devada Adegaon(12), Junona(6), Kolara(6), Ramdegi Navegaon(6), Alizanza(6). The digits within the bracket signify the maximum number of vehicles permitted per gate for the morning and evening safaris. The core zones are obviously preferred to the buffer zones as tiger sightings are more frequent there.

Safaris are allowed twice in a day — morning and evening. The timings are as follows for the months of March, April, May, June and October: Morning (6 AM-10 AM); evening (2.30 PM-6.30 PM). In the month of November, December, January and February the timings are as follows: Morning (6.30 AM-10.30AM) and evening (2 PM-6 PM). Safaris are restricted in the monsoon months.

Open ‘gypsies’ or jeeps are the only form of vehicle which are allowed for the safaris. Hiring a guide and driver is mandatory. Each jeep can accommodate 6 tourists. Safaris can be booked in two quotas — online and tatkal. Spot booking of safaris is not allowed. Online bookings can be done 120 days in advance. However, if the booking is done 60-120 days in advance, the price of reserving a safari skyrockets to INR 4000 per jeep per safari for weekdays and INR 8000 per jeep per safari for weekends (Saturday and Sunday). If the booking is done less than 60 days in advance the price is INR 1000 per jeep per safari for weekdays and INR 2000 per jeep per safari for weekends. The price of Tatkal safaris is INR 4000 per jeep per safari on both weekdays and weekends.

Please bear in mind these are the prices you pay online to reserve a vehicle for yourself on your chosen date, gate and time (morning/evening safari). After the online booking, do not expect to receive your booked vehicle details. The online payment just allows you to reserve one vehicle slot for yourself. Once you reach Tadoba, you need to show the online receipt at your chosen gate and they will allot you any random vehicle and guide. The price for that is separate. Per vehicle per safari costs INR 2500 and the price for hiring guide is INR 300. So if you are planning on going to a morning and evening safari on a weekday and you book your safari less than 60 days in advance your total cost would be (1000+2500+300)x2= INR 7600.

You can also submit your safari booking receipt at your accommodation and ask them to arrange a vehicle for you. We stayed at MTDC Tadoba and this is what we did to get the vehicle. Follow the guidelines of your accommodation for safari booking receipt submission. For example, in MTDC we were required to submit the document and make the request within 9 PM of the previous night for a morning safari the next day.

Mohurli gate is the first choice for most of the wildlife enthusiasts. Tiger sightings are most frequent here and the number of accommodation choices near Mohurli gate exceeds that of all other gates. We too chose Mohurli gate and sighted tigers on both the safaris we took. Unfortunately safari bookings for Mohurli gate fills up first. Plan in advance!

Also, we realised that though the jeeps can accommodate 6 tourists, it is best suited for 4 tourists if everyone is expected to carry a professional camera.

Tadoba National Park Guide5 - Azure Sky Follows
A deer in Tadoba National Park | © Sayan and Tania

Booking a jeep safari at Tadoba National Park

Click here to go to the landing page of safari booking for all national parks and wildlife reserves in Maharashtra. Select ‘Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve’, you will be prompted to create an account at their portal. Once you create the account and login you will be able to reserve vehicle at your choice of gate, date and time of safari. Do take print outs of the receipt and booking details and keep them safe until the safari is done.

Maximum of 6 tourists per jeep is allowed. While making the online reservation for the safari you will need to put in all the tourists’ name and provide one I.D number (example- Aadhar, passport, voter ID etc) for each. Make sure everyone carries their original I.D card while visiting Tadoba because all the information inserted while filling the online form would be verified before you will be allowed inside.

Also, once the online form is submitted, it cannot be edited to insert or change names and I.D numbers. So be extra careful and absolutely sure your co-passengers agree for the trip. We planned our Tadoba trip with two other friends, but they ended up cancelling. However, we were unable to remove their names from the list or insert other names in the list. Ultimately we went without them. When the officials asked about them we just mentioned that they had cancelled after the reservation was made. The downside of this is we had to pay for the safaris all by ourselves.

Canters of Tadoba

Canters are small truck like vehicles which can fit in lots of people. They are designed to carry many people and have three sides open so that enthusiasts can view wildlife. Canters for Tadoba are available and can be booked on spot. They are far cheaper than jeeps and very pocket friendly. However, canters are not permitted to go in certain areas of forest.

Here I would like to add, on our second safari (morning) when we spotted Tigress Choti Tara and her male cub there were two canters right behind us. So the people in the canters got the exact same view and exactly the same proximity that we shared with the tigress and her cub.

Tadoba National Park Guide6 - Azure Sky Follows
A tiger in Tadoba National park | © Sayan and Tania

How to reach Tadoba National Park (Moharli gate):

Railways– Chandrapur, 35 kilometres away from Tadoba is the closest railway station. Chandrapur is situated on the Delhi-Chennai line and is well served by trains from Mumbai and Nagpur.
Flight– Nagpur is the nearest city with an airport.  Nagpur to Chandrapur is well connected by buses and trains.
Chandrapur to Tadoba– From Chandrapur at 7 AM a bus goes to Moharli gate. From Moharli at approximately 9 AM and 11 AM buses go to Chandrapur. Autos can be hired from Chandrapur to take you to your resort. The road from Chandrapur to Tadoba is pretty straight, wide, clean and devoid of any traffic. A considerable part of the road runs through the forest and has lots of speedbreakers. Animal sightings are not uncommon even in these parts.

We stayed at MTDC Tadoba near Moharli gate, the auto we hired (Kadar- 09765979845) charged us INR 400 for a one-way trip from Chandrapur railway station to MTDC Tadoba after lots of bargaining. We were moving around in the railway station zone with a huge backpack which easily gave us away as travellers. Every auto driver who spotted us came to us with an intention to sell their services. Some of them quoted prices as high as INR 800 for a one-way trip.

For our return trip, we asked MTDC Tadoba to arrange a small car for us which would drop us off at Chandrapur railway station. They quoted a price of INR 1000 for a non-A.C and INR 1200 for an A.C. car. This was out of our budget so we gave a call to the auto driver who dropped us off on our onward journey. He agreed for a price of INR 500.

When to visit Tadoba

Summer months are the best time for tiger sighting. Tadoba remains shut in the monsoon months of July, August and September. In the summer months the tigers are spotted mostly during the wee hours of the morning and the twilight hours of the evening when it is cooler. During the summer afternoons they are mostly found lounging in the water holes.

We visited Tadoba on 28.03.2018 evening safari and 29.03.2018 morning safari; on both the safaris we sighted tigers. The sightings we got on the morning safari were incredible.

Tadoba National Park Guide2 - Azure Sky Follows
Tadoba National Park firewatcher’s tower | © Sayan and Tania

What to pack for a trip to Tadoba

Take enough drinking water to last everyone in your vehicle for the four-hours-long safari. It is incredibly important for travellers to wear neutral earthy toned clothes while on forest safaris. Bright colours should be avoided totally. Going on a safari involves sitting in an open hooded jeep under the blazing Sun for hours — wear long sleeved clothes so that exposure could be minimised. Apply sunscreen and wearable insect repellents on exposed skin, if necessary. However, keep in mind that the artificial aromas of the cream may drive away animals. If travelling in summer, wrap a scarf around your face as that would protect you from the heat wave. A hat or cap is an inseparable part of any forest safari. But be careful to choose a neutral coloured hat/cap which fits your head. You wouldn’t like it if the hat/cap flies off when the jeep is speeding or when forest beasts are around. And finally, sunglasses to save your precious eyes.

In the summer months, afternoon safaris in Tadoba will almost scorch your body yet the morning safaris would give you shivers if you turn up in your summer clothes. It is advisable to carry a light jacket and skullcap to protect you from the morning chill even in the summer months.

Where to stay and what to eat in Tadoba

Stay near the entry gate that you choose in order to not waste time and money in commuting. Mohurli gate has the largest choices of accommodation to fit all types of travellers. On Booking.com, I found the minimum quoted price was INR 2000 per room per night on twin sharing including breakfast. Once we reached Mohurli, we noticed there are several homestay options, but I doubt if they have any online presence.

Most of the accommodations offer food. It is advisable to eat food from the place you stay and avoid roaming the streets, particularly after sunset.

We booked MTDC Tadoba online and it cost us INR 2500 for one night stay on twin sharing basis excluding food. The accommodation was very clean, comfortable, spacious and air-conditioned. It has an in-house restaurant from where we ate our meals and packed sandwiches for the early morning safari as well – just tell them what you need the night before.

Tadoba National Park Guide - Azure Sky Follows
Tadoba National Park | © Sayan and Tania

Network connectivity and ATM

Our Vodafone and Airtel, connections did not work in Tadoba. Only Reliance JIO worked. The last ATM that we saw was in Chandrapur.

Respect the animals and obey all the forest laws

While visiting Tadoba, or any other forest zone, please remember – it is the animal’s home that you are intruding into, not the other way round. Strictly obey all the instructions that the guides ask you to and respect the animals. Visit only if you are ready to bask in the essence of forest-travel. Though chances of tiger sighting are very high in Tadoba, no one can guarantee it. Your trip is still a success even if you do not spot a tiger. Not everyone has the luxury of feeling the forest-vibe.

  • Don’t mock and tease the animals, don’t consider them lesser beings.
  • Don’t litter.
  • If you love your life don’t get down from your vehicle while doing the safari.
  • Don’t shout or make any loud noise while doing the safari, particularly around the animals.
  • Don’t use flash photography.
  • Put your mobile on silent mode, the ring of your mobile can startle animals and make them angry. It is better if you put your cellphone on airplane mode. A sudden call would certainly disrupt your video shooting sessions in the wild.

Have you been to Tadoba? Do you think I missed out anything? Did my article help you with planning a trip to Tadoba National park? Drop a comment and let me know!

Tadoba National Park Guide3 - Azure Sky Follows
A monkey in Tadoba National Park | © Sayan and Tania

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