The Best Tiger Reserve in India

Tiger in Ranthambore

The Best Tiger Reserve in India

The Complete Guide to the Best Tiger Reserve in India to see a Tiger

Tiger in Ranthambore
Tiger in Ranthambore

The best tiger sighting (or for the matter any animal sighting) you can ever get, is in a Zoo.

And unsurprisingly more “zoo-like”,  a National park is, the better animal sighting you will get. The animals get used to human beings, the cars, the pollution and consequently “allow’ you to watch them.\n\n\n\nThe wilder the park , the less used to human civilization the animals are, the more difficult it is to spot wildlife. For instance the Sunderbans (Its actually dangerous spotting a tiger there).

Technical stuff like tiger density don’t really matter as much. The area accessible to tourists are very limited, (7-10% of total park) and you ultimately end up watching the same animals ( in most parks, it’s between 5 to 15 animals).

If you have seen a tiger in Bandhavgarh and your cousin saw one 3 months back and your ex-wife saw one 6 months back, decent probability that all of you saw the same ‘wild’ animal. (Tigers here actually have names and people go back saying i say Sita, i saw Mohini. Sita btw is supposed to be the most photographed tiger in the world. )

The technical point which does matter is vegetation. The lusher the forests, the worse the sightings will be. (Parks in the South of India, Kaziranga). The sparser the vegetation, the better. ( the.. umm lions of Gir).
The final factor is whether the parks use elephants to track tigers down and present them to tourists (This is not the same as seeing wildlife from a elephant’s back). This is a controversial practice and has been stopped in many parks. But probability of sighting go up dramatically in parks where such “tiger shows “ are used. They of course take away from the wild experience.

Tiger Safari Ranthambore
Tiger Safari Ranthambore

But I want it wild and I want to spot a tiger!!!
Its tough but doable.
As a guide I present a very opinionated tiger poll to choose the “best tiger park”. From a base shortlist you will do best to choose parks where mass tourism is 7-10 years old, where vegetation is not super dense. Do give yourself at least 3 days. Also you should avoid the most popular sections of the known parks and not experiment with the areas which have been recently opened up.

Tiger poll
1st Column ( 0 to 15) – Likelihood of seeing a tiger ( 15 is certain you will see, 1 is almost certainly you will not see, 0 of course there being NO tigers)
2nd Column ( 0 to 10)– Likelihood of the experience being a ‘wild’ experience
3rd Column (0 to 10) – The Forest Experience. Or how pretty is my forest

As you ca see we place 50% more weight to us seeing a tiger vs the two other factors

Out of 10 Seeing a tiger ‘Wild’ experience The Forest Experience Total
Kanha (1) 12 6 8 26
Bandhavagarh (2) 15 3 7 25
Ranthambore (3) 10.5 6 7 23.5
Pench (4) 10.5 6 6 22.5
Corbett (5) 6 7 9 22
Tadoba (5) 9 7 6 22
Nagerohole (7) 4.5 8 7 19.5
Periyar (8) 1.5 8 8 17.5
Kaziranga (9) 1.5 8 7 16.5
Sunderbans (10) 1.5 9 5 15.5

How safe is Russia – 6 Myths about travelling to Russia

Moscow Russia

How safe is Russia – 6 myths about Traveling to Russia

I hate it when people bad-mouth a place. So i decided to check it out myself!


Moscow Russia

It’s Unsafe:

I found Moscow and St Petersburg to be safer than many European cities,( Think Barcelona / Milan).  Russian cities close very late and its safe to walk on the streets, even late in the night.I walked at 2 am from the Red Square, along Tverovsky Street to my hotel.  Lots of single women and couples on the street and you feel perfectly comfortable.
Russian Mafia is a bit like the Mumbai mafia. Unless you have pots of money, you really don’t need to worry.

St Petersburg
St Petersburg

Nobody understand English:

Since the fall of communism, English is taught as a second language in Russian schools. Thus most young Russians know English. The Quality of interaction might vary, but in the big cities you can make do without Russian.

People are unfriendly:

Surprisingly I have heard versions of this sentiment from even the locals.  ( “We take time to open up”). In my experience I have found Russians to be as warm as most foreigners I have interacted with.  Incidents like people stopping on the street to help you were the norm rather than the exception.

Its Expensive:

Yes. Hotels are super expensive in Moscow. But apart from Moscow accommodation, prices are on par with a cheap European city like Berlin. Accommodation in St Petersburg is reasonable.

Nothing much to see:

Lots to see. If you rank the tourist stuff, Russian cities get a 7 out of 10. (Paris being a 10, Mumbai being a 3). Similar marks to what a Munich or a Stockholm would get. The cultural experiences are of course priceless. Our overnight Train compartment from St Petersburg to Moscow, had 2 officers from the Red Army, One of our guide was a physicist who was arrested by Putin for advocating democracy. Another guide had been a school teacher under communism. Post perestroika he lost his job, and now sings paeans of the communist leaders.

Russian Fisherman
Russian Fisherman

Food is boring:

The biggest surprise for us was the how tasty and varied Russian food was. We had gone dreading that we would experience food which was very bland and totally meat based. A worse cousin of Central European cuisine. We were however pleasantly surprised. Russian food has lots of regional influences and apart from the core Russian food, food from the provinces (Georgian, Azerbaijan and Uzbek ) are very interesting. They have a lot of Middle Eastern influences and are very easy on the Indian palate