Kanha National Park – A Traveller’s Guide
We take you on a virtual trail of Kanha National Park, one of the finest National parks in India. Here’s what you can expect on your trip to Kanha, keep your eyes peeled and stay vigilant. This is your chance to catch the big cats in their natural habitat.
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About Kanha National Park
Nestled in the heart of Madhya Pradesh, Kanha National Park is among the most well-known and well-maintained wildlife sanctuaries in India. Stretching across 362 sq. miles of lush green landscapes, scenic vistas and an overall calming atmosphere, the park is home to some of the most unique species found in India.
Lauded by many naturalists as the most well-maintained park in the country, Kanha owes its resurgence to the incredible efforts put in by wildlife conservationists who established it way back in 1955.
Kanha Tiger Reserve is truly a treasure of wildlife, with ample space for both predator and prey to thrive. There’s no shortage of plant life too. Till date, Kanha has recorded 43 mammal species. 23 reptile species, almost 325 species of avifauna, and over 900 species of rare, flowering, and aquatic plants combined.
Kanha National Park hit worldwide fame when Rudyard Kipling penned “The Jungle Book”. Both in words and illustrations, his tales of jungle lore were explicitly inspired by the flora and fauna of the National Park.
Today, the park is considered as a “Tiger Country”, and continues to cater to tourists with all kinds of attractions beyond just nature safaris. To get a sense of just how thrilling of an experience it is and how important the park is to nature conservation in India, read about it from an explorer’s point of view.
Popular Tigers at Kanha National Park
As of today, the tiger population in India has risen above the 3000 marks. Kanha National Park alone houses 83 adult tigers and 42 cubs. Among the many tigers, the chief attraction is the Royal Bengal Tiger – the largest of tiger subspecies. These majestic wild cats can weigh up to 500lbs and measure close to 3 meters.
Out of the original 9 subspecies of tigers, only 5 remain today. As the numbers of the Royal Bengal Tiger began to dwindle, conservation efforts saw cases of interbreeding between subspecies.
This practice has led to the rise of some rather unique looking big cats who, apart from the classic striped patterns, have some distinguishable birthmarks. This has only increased Kanha’s popularity rankings and encouraged similar practices across the many neighboring national parks in Madhya Pradesh.
Three tigers you must look out for are Munna, Bheema, and Neelam. They are the most popular of the tigers and are very often seen due to them being rather comfortable with humans. Read more about the lives of the famous tigers of Kanha.
Wildlife at Kanha National Park
While the Royal Bengal Tiger continues to be a major attraction in all of Madhya Pradesh’s wildlife reserves, true explorers know to look beyond just the tigers and also enjoy the other unique fauna that coexists with these apex predators.
The wildlife at Kanha National Park is plentiful, and on a steady rise in numbers. The incredible conservation efforts have led to the revival of endangered species.
This coupled with the lush evergreen Sal forests, everflowing riverbeds, and gently sloping valleys, have made the national park one of the most mesmerizing safari experiences in the Golden Triangle region of India.
Here’s a brief look at some of the most commonly spotted wildlife in Kanha National Park:
Hard Ground Swamp Deer: Once an endangered species, the hard ground swamp deer is thriving today thanks to conservation efforts, and is the only deer species that can be found exclusively at Kanha.
Indian Wild Dog: This furry critter can be spotted across most of North-Eastern and Southern Asia. In fact, Kanha is one of 10 national reserves in the world where the wild dog is most commonly found, roaming around in packs.
Reptiles: There is no shortage of creepy crawlies in Kanha. You’d find the likes of a monitor lizard, garden lizard, chameleon and even flying lizards here. Snakes are common, with the largest being the Indian Rock Python and the most venomous being cobras and vipers.
Insects: The caretaking role of the forest falls to the butterflies, spiders, caterpillars and termites. Though small in scale, they play a key role in maintaining the life cycle of the forest.
Birds: If you’re a morning person, Kanha’s avifauna will greet you in the most pleasant of ways. You will hear the distinct calls of the Rufous Tree Pie, Coppersmith Barbet, Cuckoo, and many more.
Endangered bird species like the Floricas and Adjutant Storks can also be found in season, so keep your binoculars handy.
Zones in Kanha National Park
|S.No.||Core Zones||Entrance Gates |
(Single Seat Safari)
|1.||Kanha Zone||Khatia / Mukki / Sarhi Gate||Khatia Gate|
|2.||Mukki Zone||Khatia / Mukki Gate||Mukki Gate|
|3.||Kisli Zone||Khatia / Mukki / Sarhi Gate||Khatia Gate|
|4.||Sarhi Zone||Khatia / Sarhi Gate||Sarhi Gate|
National Parks are typically divided into multiple zones to make safari tours across it more convenient and easier for tourists. You can access Kanha National Park through one of three gates – Khatia, Mukhi or Sarhi.
The four core zones of the park is usually from where your expedition will begin. Jeep Safaris and Canter Safaris will lead you to the inner reaches of the park called – Buffer Zones, which are typically connecting points between the Core Zones.
For a while, the Kanha Zone was the most popular to visit due to its wildlife density. But this has changed over time, as conservation efforts improved the numbers across the park.
Apart from Core and Buffer, another prime zone is the Reserved Zone – This area of the park is closed off to tourists, as it focuses mainly on wildlife conservation.
Best Time to Visit Kanha National Park
Kanha is one of the few National Parks in India which allow unique safari experiences throughout the year. This is mainly due to climatic conditions in Madhya Pradesh.
The most advisable time to book a safari tour is between the months of November and March. The temperatures are calm, with showers of rain and the welcoming sight of blossoming flowers in the land. The tropical climate of the region means you will be experiencing quite a cold and moist final months of the year, so pack accordingly.
It is during the winters that Kanha really shines, with most of the wildlife hustling and bustling about. Summers are terribly hot, and while not an advisable time to visit, however, it does offer a better chance for wildlife photographers to capture wild cats in action.
Types of Safaris at Kanha National Park
Canter Safari: If you are visiting the park as a group of 10 or more people, a canter safari would be your best pick when it comes to exploring the depths of the jungle and getting as close as possible to the wildlife. This is also the most affordable among safari options.
Jeep Safari: For smaller groups, especially couples or small families, the jeep tiger safari in India offers a more personal experience. You can even gain access to remote and hard to cross locations along the nature trail.
Elephant Safari: Do it like the Royals once did! Hop aboard this giant friendly animal and explore the landscape with a whole new perspective.
Walking Safari: The most challenging of safari experiences, this is one a true adventurer should opt-in for. Walking safaris in Kanha are restricted to two zones and offer a rather scenic yet adrenaline-pumping journey across steep and rocky terrain.
No matter which safari type you pick, the experiences are open twice a day (early morning and late evenings), with each trail giving you something to remember as you complete it.
Reasons to Visit Kanha National Park
The amazing tiger safaris, the exhilarating nature trails, and the unique flora and fauna make Kanha National Park one of the finest destinations in India for nature enthusiasts.
In fact, you can get the full dose of this amazing place in a matter of 6 days. That’s one long week’s worth of a getaway you surely would not want to miss out on. Right from the moment you land at Nagpur and take a 5-hour drive through the countryside, you will experience a wild wonderland.
Kanha Tiger Reserve has an old-world charm. Time stands still as you lose yourself to the vistas. The towering Sal forests in the land will give you the sense that nothing has changed for a thousand years. The people of Kanha are friendly and extremely welcoming. The way in which the people of the land and the wildlife coexist was the prime inspiration behind Kipling’s “Jungle Book”.
From a concrete jungle to the natural jungle, Kanha offers a welcome break from the toils of urban living in some refreshingly exciting ways:
An expansive Sal jungle that stretches as far as the eye can see numerous designated spots to get up close and personal with nature scenic spots that will have you pull out your camera or binoculars every few minutes close encounters with some of the most beautiful and rare wildlife species luxury Jungle lodges and hotels that let you live comfortably amidst the throes of the wild nature trails that will keep you on your toes.
If this doesn’t convince you, perhaps the documented first-hand experience of a visit to Kanha National Park will.
Do’s & Don’ts at Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is, for all intents and purposes, a wildlife conservation zone first and foremost. This means that as a tourist, you are required to follow park protocol to ensure your experience is as safe as it is enjoyable. Listed below are some mandatory guidelines.
- Ensure your tour guide takes you on a slow and carefully traced drive path on the safari, for the best chance of spotting wildlife without disturbing the peace.
- You are in the lap of nature, animal territory, so keep a respectful distance and make sure you adhere to the laws of the jungle.
- Do not get off your canter or jeep unless specifically allowed by the tour guide.
- Ensure to keep the park pollution-free. Avoid carrying packaged goods. Pit stops are predetermined on the tour, only snack and take refreshments at these pit stops.
- Smoking and drinking are strictly prohibited inside the national park.
Things to Carry at Kanha National Park
You’ll need a maximum of 6 days to fully experience the wonders of Kanha National Park. If you have chosen to come during the winter, pack warm clothes and overalls.
If you want to brave the park during summer, it’s advisable to carry essentials like sunscreen lotions, caps, and sunglasses.
No matter the kind of attire you are packing for the weather, make sure the colors you pick are nature-friendly. Light shades of green, blue, and brown are your best pick, and if you’re lucky, camo print works wonders too.
Binoculars and a good camera are your best friends to get the best out of the safari.
Luxury Hotels & Resorts in Kanha National Park
Even when you’re away from home, Kanha keeps you comfortable with its amazing array of lodging options. If you like urban comforts, there are luxury hotels that satisfy those necessities.
On the flip side, if you want a jungle vibe even when not on a nature trail, certain resorts around Kanha offer lodging right in the lap of nature.
We’ve curated all of the finest lodgings the National Park zones have to offer and created a list of the best luxury hotels and resorts in the Kanha region.
Singinawa Jungle Lodge
Taj Banjaar Tola
Chitvan Jungle Lodge
Kanha Earth Lodge
Places to Visit Near Kanha National Park
If you think Kanha National Park is all about the wildlife, you are gravely mistaken. Take your time to explore the cityscape away from the national reserve and you’ll find yourself even more so enthralled by what the land can offer.
From ancient man-made ruins to natural landscapes that provide an elevated perspective of the land, Kanha has something for every kind of explorer.
With so many hotspots, we’re making that travel diary of yours a little easier to digest with our handpicked top spots:
- Bandhavgarh National Park – Kanha’s closest cousin in terms of a pure wildlife safari experience.
The Kanha Museum – Educate your kids about the rich and wondrous history of the park.
- Local Bazaar – Purchase some essential clothing for the trip, or take home trinkets of your visit.
- Safari Tours – Big canter vans, personal jeeps, or even the more traditional elephant ride! Pick your safari tour option and get exploring.
- Cityscape visits – From the mystic waterfalls of Amarkantak to the spiritual grandeur of Mandla, your eyes simply won’t get any wider in wonder!
- Bird Watching – Winters in Kanha leave the skies enveloped with some of the most exotic varieties of avifauna. Make sure you’ve got a pair of binoculars handy.
Read more to know about the places to visit near Kanha National Park in detail.
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We just returned from a great safari trip to Khana National Park, Bandavgarh and Kaziranga organized for us by Nature Safaris. Everything worked as we planned and we have been taken great care by the agency. The quality of the ...
I spent a week at Kanha NP and had excellent sightings on tigers, blackbucks and other wildlife in the jungle. Mr. Sharad replies my inquiries promptly and gets everything well organized and prepared. Also, the safari driver assigned to ...
Our bespoke trip was arranged six months in advance with no fuss at all. We had 18 game drives, 6 each at Tadoba, Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks. The transfers were planned carefully to...