The Tadoba Guide
Even though Tadoba doesn't draw throngs of people like the other bigger name forest reserves in India, it is one of the best places to get up and close with the Big Cats and other wildlife.
The saga of how Tadoba Andhari National Park went from an unknown reserve to one with the highest tiger sightings is as special as its rules. It is India's only reserve that does not allow mobile phones and a fee of INR 250 per safari is levied on all cameras.
But it is this very restriction that allows you to soak in the wilderness, gadget-free.
Thirty years ago, spotting tigers in Tadoba was more like a myth. The dense bamboo blanket made sightings extremely difficult. But today, after villages have been relocated and new policies are in place, tigers can roam with no restrictions.
A widespread anti-poaching patrol throughout the forest has also ensured a healthy prey population.
What makes Tadoba National Park special?
With a unique blend of habitats and 20 different zones, this park is one of a kind. Each zone has a different terrain, with grassy meadows, deep valleys, wooded flatlands, hilly areas and river beds. Additionally, high bamboo thickets and teak wood canopies make for an ideal habitat for tigers to roam freely.
Tadoba also offers night safaris. You can spot a plethora of wildlife at nightfall when Tadoba sparkles under the moonlight.
How the safaris work
The parks' many zones allow visitors to take Jeep Safaris during the winter and summer months. You can also book a Canter safari upon arrival on a per-seat basis, making it the perfect option for those on a budget.
Safari Zones in Tadoba
The reserve is divided into three safari zones with different access gates for each:
1. Mohurli Zone: Most popular for good accommodation options and also great for tiger spotting.
2. Tadoba Zone: Great location for diverse wildlife and scenic views. It is accessible from the Moharli, Navegaon, Kolara, and Khutwanda gates.
3. Kolsa Zone: Striking forest landscapes but relatively lower possibilities of spotting wild animals. Entry to this zone is possible through gates at Moharli, Pangdi, and Zari.
Which zones are the best?
Tadoba has 14 buffer zones and six core zones.
Most people consider buffer zones to be inferior and avoid them but the buffer zone here is in fact very rich and in some cases even more fascinating than the core areas.
The most popular zone in Tadoba is the Moharli zone/gate, followed by Khutvanda, Kolara, and Navagao. Having been around for a while now, they have several lodges to cater to tourists. Zari and Pangdi gates on the other hand are comparatively less visited.
Ultimately, Agzarzari and Devada-Adegaon are known to be the best tiger spotting zones, with night safaris happening in Devada-Adegaon.
When to go:
Both fortunately and unfortunately, the best time to spot tigers never coincides with pleasant weather. March's incoming heat brings tigers out into open lands where you have the best chance of catching a glimpse.
Always visit between March and May, but be prepared for the heat.
Jeep Safari in Tadoba National Park
They say going on a safari can change you, and it definitely changed TFL for the better.
The open Jeep ride usually lasts a few hours in the dense reserve, where chances of spotting tigers and other wild animals are high.
The Jeep Safari timings are decided by the Tadoba Administration in the morning and evening, where the jeeps are allowed for excursion only after registration with the administration. The entry of the Jeep has to be registered at the park gate after which a charge is to be paid before entering.
The park only allows 36 jeeps for the morning and evening drives, respectively. A park guide must also accompany the jeep for security reasons. Local tourists can enter the park after presenting their identification papers at the gate but foreigners must show their passports in original.
Most importantly. tourists must NEVER get off the jeep throughout the safari as it will risk their lives.
Jeep Safari Bookings
ALWAYS book your safaris in advance. You can book it at the DFO Office in Chandrapur District near the tiger reserve. Spot bookings happen at the Navegoan Gate
The Tiger Families of Tadoba
Maya AKA the Queen of Tadoba rules this forest. This feisty tigress is bold, and brave and never thinks twice before getting close to jeeps. Mesmerizing tourists with her looks, she is also known to attract many male tigers. She is mischievous, and playful and fiercely protects her cubs. She is a true diva and enjoys her share of fame and popularity! You can catch her resting in the grasslands of Pandharpauni.
He is the King Of The Jungle! Matkasur and Maya have had a few litters together. Usually, tigers don't father their cubs but he has been an exception. The family is often seen wandering around much to the tourists’ delight. Due to his huge body and pot belly, he was named Matkasur. He rose to the number 1 position after winning over the intimidating tiger Gabbar repeatedly.
3. Gabbar or Scarface
An arch-rival of Matkasur, Gabbar is famous for the scars he has on his face. A brutal fight with a gaur left him with limited eyesight. He is an ex-mate of Maya and at one point was given the title of 'beauty and the beast' With his heavy weight and size, Gabbar is often thought to be lazy but is very protective of his territory.
4. Choti Tara
She is the daughter of Tara, a famous tigress. A replica of her mother, she is equally elegant, composed and calm. She has mothered two litters. Matkasur is believed to have fathered one of the litters. Choti Tara is one of the few tigers who walks around with a radio collar around her neck that tracks her movements.
No one knows where he came from but some forest rangers believe he wandered in from the Kolara buffer area. Due to his sheer size and strength, Bajrang is on his way to becoming the dominant tiger in the forest. He has kept several female tigresses under his rule and is most often seen with Choti Tara. He has fathered more than 30 cubs, slowly creating an empire.
But, he is camera-shy and does not like coming out in front of jeeps. So if you ever manage to catch glimpses of Bajrang, consider yourself lucky.
That's why we at The Flapper Life host safari trips for women every month. We believe it is a beautiful way for us to connect with our true selves, out in the wild.
BOOK YOUR TADOBA SAFARI HERE!