Commencing with a good news: India’s tiger population has risen to 2226 (in 2014) from mere 1704 (in 2010). Owing to this glory, the country’s tourism especially in the tiger reserves too is blooming as well. As you would read further you’d come across various facets of Indian wildlife tourism and many such things.
- From Corbett to Ranthambore
The director of Dudhwa National Park, Sanjay Singh said “This season, we catered to almost 25,000 visitors during the season, which is an increase of almost 20% from last season. We have visitors from all over India and not just the state visiting the park. Keeping the rush in mind, we have earmarked the eco-tourism zones as per the direction of the Supreme Court and developmental activities are underway for the upcoming season.”
When talked to Rajiv Arora, Rayhaan Travels told “Among Lucknowites, packages to Dudhwa National Park and Corbett Tiger Reserve are extremely popular. Lately, Katarniya Ghat Wildlife Sanctuary, which is close to Bahraich, has also started emerging as a tourist destination. People have started taking shorter holidays. Weekend getaways to these places, which are within driving distance from Lucknow, completely fit the bill. In fact, during peak season, which is mostly during the summer vacations, it is very difficult to get bookings at these places as they’re completely full.”
Adding on, sales director of Sheeraz Tours and Travels said “In the last 2-3 years, we have seen a considerable rise in the interest of travelers to these reserves. During peak season, we get almost 40 queries per week for short weekend packages to these places. A 3 nights/4 day package to a wildlife reserve is the most popular among vacationers. People have moved beyond holidays that include too much on their itinerary. They now prefer experiential holidays where one can relax.”
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- Catering everyone from students to working professionals
School children, newly-married couples, senior citizens or corporate executives, the resorts in the sanctuaries strive to serve them all. The tourism development officer of UP Tourism, Rantidra Pandey said “Seeing the rise in the tourism at Dudhwa National Park in the last year or so, UP Tourism has elaborate plans for Dudhwa National Park. We have completely revamped our existing facility, the Tiger’s Den, and are coming up with an improved one replete with luxury rooms and a multi-cuisine restaurant. Additionally, we have planned packages and organized tours for different groups like students, corporates and individuals which will kick off from November. Work is underway to install major signages and improve the infrastructure in the area.”
On this topic, Rajiv Arora too said a few words “We have organized packages for school groups, individuals and even corporate firms who take their employees for team-building exercises there. Corporate conferences at resorts in the wild are very common. The main reason is that the entire activity works out to be very economical. Packages start from almost `2500 per person per day and can be customized as per the client’s demand, depending upon the type of place they want to stay. There are camps as well as luxury resorts.”
Talking of students in particular, there are many schools that prefer taking students on short trips to sanctuaries, so that they get a clear understanding of wildlife. “Every year, invariably there is one group that goes to a wildlife sanctuary for a camping trip. We typically take the younger students, mainly Class 3 and 4, for these camps and organize various activities related to nature. Last December, we took around 45 students to Dudhwa and they stayed in tents for four days. We organized many nature-centric games and also taught the children about tiger conservation through plays that we staged there in the forest itself,” said Priyanka Simon (teacher in a prominent boys’ school).
A wildlife-enthusiast by choice and a city-based businessman otherwise, Vikas Singh has visited almost all the renowned tiger reserves of India. “I’ve been visiting wildlife reserves religiously since the past 18 years. Dudhwa, Corbett, Katarniya, Kanha, Panna, Pench, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, and even sanctuaries in Mauritius – I’ve visited all of them. Every year, I go to Corbett and another chosen sanctuary for a trip. The feel of the jungle never fails to excite me. Even though I’ve spotted the tiger on 18-19 different occasions, it is an altogether different experience every time. I have a portfolio of almost 100 pictures of tiger spotting on different trips. My son is also a wildlife enthusiast and my wife has also grown to love the experience now,” he said.
A company had organized team building activity in Corbett National Park earlier in 2015. The executive of the same company, Vikas Jain, said “Our Company took a group of around 40 executives who had achieved their targets to Jim Corbett for three days. We were all staying in a resort with a number of in-house activities planned for us. A safari was also a part of the itinerary. Even though we didn’t spot the tigers, it turned out to be a good opportunity to unwind.”
- Luxury travel in the woods
When asked about the take on luxury wildlife holiday in the wild, Gagan Gurnani (Owner of Dreamway Travels) said “Wildlife enthusiasts have now started travelling to places like Ranthambore and Bandhavgarh, in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh respectively, for tiger sightings. Wildlife resorts around Bandhavgarh, mainly Baghvan, Mahua Kothi and Pashangarh near Khajuraho have also become popular among Lucknowites. People typically go there for luxury vacations, as tariffs at the resorts there can go up to almost `30,000 per night. Destination birthdays and anniversaries there are very popular. In spite of the high prices, we have almost 20 groups going there per month from the city during peak season, which is from October to June.”
Adding to this, Mayfair Travels’ Sharad Thadani said “Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan has emerged as a favored travelling destination in the last couple of years. A lot of foreign celebrities are also known to visit there, which has fuelled the interest among local travelers. They are willing to undertake short luxury vacation to the high-end cottages in the reserve.”
[Check out more wildlife resort in India]