When you hear the word Tadoba you will most definitely associate it with tigers, many of whom have been given names such as Waghdoh, Maya, Choti Tara, 52/25, Shambu, Taru and so on. You may have seen photos of some of these tigers on social media, many with cubs playing in the open. With an increasing population of tigers (155+) in Tadoba, spotting them is not very difficult as compared to some of the other Parks. Many of Tadoba’s tigers have become used to seeing tourists on safaris and are not shy to give enthusiasts more than just a fleeting glimpse.
Buff Striped Keelback (non-venomous)
Tadoba-Andhari National Park is located in the state of Maharashtra. It is made up of Tadoba National Park (Tadoba from the name of a village chief ‘Taru’ who died fighting a tiger) and Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary named after the Andhari river that flows through the Park. The closest airport is Nagpur. From Nagpur it takes about 2-3 hours by car to reach Kolara and Moharli gates, two of most popular safari gates of Tadoba. Most of the hotels are also located around these gates.
The Park is split in to core and buffer gates from where visitors are allowed to do safaris. Core gates include Moharli, Khutwanda, Navegaon, Kolara, Kolsa, Zari and Pangdi. Buffer zone gates include Alizanza, Devada-Adegaon, Agarzari, Kolara Buffer, Madnapur, Belara, Ramdegi and Junona. Tiger sightings are promising in both the buffer and core zones.
Safari Gates Map of Tadoba National Park
Indian Pitta with Nesting Material
One thing to keep in mind when planning your trip is the distance between the safari gates. For example, it takes 2-3 hours to cover 80KM between Kolara and Moharli gates. Therefore, I recommend and when planning your holiday to Tadoba, I will ensure that you stay in a hotel near one of these two gates and that your safaris are booked within a 30 minute drive to the safari point. It does not make any sense to stay in Moharli and do safaris in Kolara as that will consume a lot of time to/from the gate to the hotel and also add up significantly to your costs.
The difference between core and buffer is that in core areas there are no villages and grazing of livestock and collecting minor or major forest produce is not allowed. In the buffer there are several villages, it is estimated that there are close to 100,000 living in villages inside the buffer zones of Tadoba. Over the years, many villages have been relocated from the forests to townships and given compensation, free education and jobs. This is being done to prevent human-animal conflict which has increased significantly over the years as both humans and animals are competing for the same space and resources.
Indian Wild Dog or Dhole
Gaur or Indian Bison
In the buffer, villagers are allowed to graze livestock, farm and collect minor forest produce such as resin, fodder, wild fruit, honey, tendu leaves (used for making tobacco bidis), mahua flower, bamboo etc. The core area of the Park is closed in the monsoon from July 1 – September 30. Buffer on the other hand is open to the public throughout the year and jungle safaris are permissible provided the jungle trails are not flooded out by heavy rains.
The Park is mostly a southern tropical dry deciduous teak forest. It also has a sizeable area comprising of bamboo thickets and other shrubs which make the forest floor dense and visibility poor other than in the spring and summer. Besides the tiger, the Park also has Indian wild dog (dhole), gaur (Indian bison), leopard, hyena, honey badger, several species of angulates including the four horned antelope, marsh crocodiles, over 195 species of birds and 74 species of butterflies.
Yellow Legged Button-quail
Taru – a dominant male tiger of Moharli
When you plan Tadoba (or any other National Park famous for tiger sightings), I strongly recommend you finalize your dates at least 2-3 months before your intended dates of stay. Safari permits sell out way in advance and if you expect to book safaris after arriving in Tadoba, you are in for a major disappointment.
Each safari vehicle includes a driver, a guide and maximum of six guests, though I recommend not more than four per vehicle so you don’t rub shoulders with each other. Usage of mobile phones for photography and making/receiving calls is strictly not allowed in the Park and consuming alcohol, smoking and littering is prohibited as well. Getting off the vehicle during the safari can result in fines and other legal repercussions. For my guests who do not have cameras, I will engage a naturalist to accompany you on the safari. This person will not only talk to you about the entire gambit of flora and fauna but also take photographs of the wildlife, a copy of which will be shared with you.
Indian Nightjars Tadoba Jungle Safari
Besides jungle safaris, visitors can enjoy an array of activities in and around the Park. These activities are organized by the Forest Department and are subject to availability and may not operate due to reasons beyond your and my control. Please check their operational status with me as you plan your trip.
• Boating: If you happen to be staying in Moharli, you can do a motor boat side on the Irai dam backwaters. Boat rides give you an excellent opportunity to spot migratory birds, marsh crocodiles perhaps other wildlife grazing or resting in the shade by the lake. Boat rides are for an hour long and can be booked on the spot too. Boating is best done from November onwards when the water level recedes after the monsoon season.
Hundreds of Fireflies in Tadoba
Lime Butterfly caught in Giant Wood Spider’s web
• Butterfly garden: if you like your butterflies, then a visit to the butterfly garden near the Agarzari gate is highly recommended. Tadoba has recorded over 70 species of butterflies, moths and the like. Make sure to visit the butterfly interpretation center too.
• Cycling: Yes, now you can cycle through designated buffer areas of the Park in groups of four along with two trained and experienced guides. How thrilling and adventurous is that! Ride times are up to 03 hours and on metal roads that pass through the jungle. During the ride, you are not allowed to get off the bi-cycle.
• Night Safari: is not only a great way to see the forest at night but also to see the nocturnal behavior of species seen during the day and species that are only active after dark, such as the honey badger, smaller cat species, owls, nightjars, snakes, frogs and other critters. Night safaris are done in the buffer gates from 7-10PM.
Mottled Wood Owl during the Night Safari
• There is no guarantee that you will see the above wildlife. Our guides and naturalists will do their best to show you all there is to see in the Park.
• Carry photo identification, camera, binoculars, warm jacket (in the winter), backpack, sun glasses, cap, vizer, sun block, cash as there are no ATMs in the vicinity and drinking water.
• As of June 2023 there is no Airtel network coverage in both Moharli and Kolara. Reliance Jio works best and you have to rely on the hotel’s wifi.
• Smoking and drinking alcohol is not permitted in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
• Please do not throw trash on the floor even if you don’t see a trash can. Please ask me or your safari driver / guide and we can help to dispose it off properly.