A country as huge as India has a diverse wildlife that makes it a heaven for nature and animal enthusiasts. From the magnificent Bengal tigers to the gigantic elephants, from the flighty deer to the imposing leopards, you can find almost all exotic animals here. From the Siberian tiger in the Himalayas to the dolphins in the Ganges plains, from the lions in the grasslands of Gujarat to the elephants in the hills of Kerala, from the camels in the deserts of Rajasthan to the rhinos in the wetlands of Assam, every corner of India has exotic and stunning wildlife. And if you've explored the beautiful flora and fauna of Northern India, let's move south and explore some of the most fascinating national parks and wildlife resorts in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Emerald backwaters, gushing silvery waterfalls, tranquil hill-stations and lush green surroundings make Kerala one of the most popular destination in India. Kerala is blessed with a varied landscape, resulting in many national parks in the tiny coastal state. And, this tiny state holds a treasure of wildlife. From tigers to elephants to bisons, sambars and even wild boars, the number of reserves and sanctuaries here that a wildlife enthusiast can explore at length. However, the top nature resorts, in the best national parks for wildlife spotting in Kerala, are:
Located atop of Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills in the Idukki district of Kerala, Periyar National Park is spread across 777 sq km. There are 35 species of mammals in the park, including bisons, sambars, wild boars, langurs, elephants and tigers. It is also one among the 48 tiger reserves in India.
Shalimar Spice Garden is a perfect blend of Indian and European living amidst the traditional Kerala heritage. This theme-based tourist lodge is designed in a traditional manner with lush foliage of cardamom, coffee and other spices growing around the resort. To choose your pick from varieties of staying options, the resort offers eight elegant rooms, eight family cottages and two pool cottages, all of which are tastefully furnished and have sit-out areas.
Ideal for: Families with kids of all ages and couples looking for a nature retreat.
Price: The rooms start from ₹13,500 per night for double occupancy, inclusive of breakfast. The family cottages start from ₹16,000 and the cottages with pool start from ₹19,500.
What to do here and around: The resort is on the fringes of Periyar Tiger Reserve and offers safaris to the reserve. Additionally, it also offers nature walks, Ayurveda massages, spice plantation tours, cultural tours of nearby tribal villages and much more, making it a perfect holiday destination. You can have a look at all the activities offered by them here.
How to reach: The resort is located at a distance of 100km (3.5 hours) from Kottayam, 185km (4.5 hours) from Kochi and 140km (3 hours) from Madurai. The nearest domestic airport is Madurai, international airport is Kochi and railway station is Kottayam. Local buses, private buses available from the airport/railway station to the resort?
Eravikulam National Park was established for the conservation of Nilgiri tahr, the endangered mountain goat of South India and the park today is home to the largest number of Nilgiri tahr in the world. The wildlife sanctuary houses many other animals like gaurs, elephants, langurs, leopards, tigers, and lion-tailed macaque.
Nature Zone Resort is picturesquely located on the top of a hill amidst evergreen mountains, with the view of the entire Munnar laid out in front of it. The place is designed keeping in mind the environment and it shows in every corner of the property. A well-manicured lawn with multi-coloured blooms, a kitchen garden laid out on the slopes growing veggies and fruits, accommodation in tents or tree-houses, every inch of the property screams nature conservation. They have five tree-houses made of bamboo and wood and luxurious tents spread all across the property.
Ideal for: Families with kids of all ages looking for fun and adventure.
Price: The tents start from ₹9,000 per person for double occupancy, which includes breakfast and dinner. The tree-house prices are available on request.
What to do here and around the property: The property offers a wide range of activities in and around the area to keep the guests busy. Rock-climbing, trekking, nature walks and many more such activities can be booked by the guests at the resort. They do not have packages for the safari to Eravikulam National Park but can arrange transportation and entry tickets on request.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Kochi, 106km (3 hours) away and the nearest railway station is Ernakulam, 130km (3.5 hours) away. A taxi from both can be easily hired to reach Nature Zone Resort.
Towering temples, developing cities and forested hill-stations make Tamil Nadu an eclectic mix of modernisation and tradition. It is a land where history and modernity exist hand in hand. The best wildlife resorts in Tamil Nadu, to experience the wide variety of it's fauna, are:
Mudumalai National Park is 321 sq km forest reserve with thin, spindly trees and light-slotted leaves concealing spotted chital deer and grunting wild boar. The reserve is the best place to spot wildlife in Tamil Nadu. The creatures you are most likely to see are deer, peacocks, wild boar, langurs and giant Malabar squirrels. There’s also a significant chance of sighting wild elephants (the park has several hundred) and gaur or the Indian bison. The showstopper is the Bengal tiger, however, it is rare to actually spot one in these jungles.
Situated at the edge of Mudumalai, Wild Planet Resort is an intimate, secluded and luxurious resort. Nestled in the natural beauty of the wild, Wild Planet Jungle resort is an iconic Indian retreat. Set in 100 acres of land, hidden inside the secluded 3,300 sq km of tropical rain forest in the midst of Nilgiris mountain range, this resort is a heaven for nature lovers. Mountains and forests combine to create numerous outback trails, trekking routes and opportunities for other adventure sports like hiking, birding and more.
Ideal for: Families looking for an adventurous time.
Price: The price for a cottage starts from ₹10,990 per night, for double occupancy. The price is inclusive of all meals.
What to do here and around the property: The resort is in the middle of a tropical rain-forest and, therefore, offers a natural refuge to many animals. It is here where you can spot animals in their natural habitat, and the resort arranges for amazing safaris into the jungle. Other than jungle safaris, there are some activities like river floating, hiking, birding and more on offer.
How to reach: Nearest domestic airport is Calicut, 125km away and the nearest international airport is Kochi, 240km away. The nearest railway station is Calicut.
Gulf of Mannar Marine Park comprises of 21 small islands and coral reefs, about 8km off the coast of Tamil Nadu. Dominated by mangroves, this marine national park is a protected area with high diversity of plants and animals, such as the green turtle, clownfish, bottlenose dolphin and sperm whale. It is also an important feeding ground for dugongs. The voyage to all the islands takes about three days and permissions are required by the tourists prior to visiting these islands. The park is a marine biosphere encompassing the coasts of Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) and Ramanathapuram districts.
Cabana Coral Reef is located on a pristine beach, 36km from the Gulf of Mannar Marine Park, at Mandapam, a fishing hamlet in Rameshwaram. The property is eco-friendly and built completely by recycling and reusing whatever available. The cabanas are built by refurbishing used cargo containers and the beach showers are fashioned out of disposed water and beer bottles. Each room comes with a sun terrace and a patio with dedicated seating.
Ideal for: Families looking for some beach fun and learning about marine life.
Price: The prices start from ₹5,000 for a night for double occupancy, inclusive of all meals.
What to do here and around the property: Cabana Coral Reef offers various fun and relaxing water sports and activities to make your sea side holiday complete. They do not offer any trip to the marine park but you can arrange one on request.
How to reach: Nearest airport is Chennai, 544km away. Nearest railway station is Rameshwaram, 36km away. The best way to reach is to fly to Chennai, and then take an overnight train to Rameshwaram and a taxi from the railway station to Cabana Coral Reef.
Karnataka is a compelling state with beaches, urban cities, glittering palaces and thriving national parks. The evergreen rolling hills, the thick forests, the never-ending spice plantations, coupled with the ever-developing Bangalore, the regal splendour of Mysore and the cultural trip offered by Hampi, Karnataka offers the best of all worlds. The best wildlife resorts in Karnataka to enjoy the wildlife are:
An enchanting forest, that offers you a chance to surrender completely to nature, and spot some of India's most captivating wildlife, Bandipur National Park is Karnataka's jewel. A part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Bandipur National Park covers 880 sq km, and was once the Mysore Maharaja's private hunting reserve. Now Bandipur is a protected zone for over 100 species of animals, including tigers, elephants, leopards, gaur (Indian bison), chital or spotted deer, sambars, sloth bears and langurs. It’s also home to 350 species of birds.
The Windflower Jungle Resort & Spa, Bandipur is an off the grid, true jungle experience. There is a disconnect from the outside world, and an instant connection to Mother Nature. The comfort and luxury offered are fashioned from the ways of the jungle and the resort features an outdoor pool, pampering spa treatments and an outdoor barbecue lounge. There are various activities on offer as well, like a jungle safari, indoor and outdoor games and a delightful open air earthly designed jungle restaurant.
Ideal for: Families looking to disconnect from modern inventions and connect with each other.
Price: The prices start from ₹12,600 for a night for double occupancy, with all meals.
What to do here and around the property: Daily trips to the Bandipur National Park are organised by the resort. In addition, there are also day trips to the nearby tribal villages that can be arranged. They also conduct plantation tours. In addition to this, the resort has many indoor and outdoor games on the property like archery, badminton, board games etc.
How to reach: Bandipur is about 220 kms from Bangalore, 80 kms from Mysore, 80 kms from Ooty and 170 kms from Coimbatore. The closest railway station is in Bandipur only while the nearest domestic airport is Mysore and the closest international airport is Bangalore.
Located on the foothills of the Western Ghats, Nagarhole is one among the most visited national parks in the country. Part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the park is rich in wildlife, scenic beauty and has a stunning lake inside it. Flanking the Kabini River, the small streams criss-crossing the entire park attracts leopards, elephants, tigers and bisons out of the jungles. It is currently under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.
Kings Sanctuary Nagarhole is nestled in 34 acres of mango orchards and natural greenery. Equipped with the modern day facilities, each type of accommodation is designed to cater to the needs of an urban traveller, while still taking care of the serenity and natural calm of the jungle. There are abode-style cottage structures, built around a central courtyard with a private verandah in each cottage. Whereas the suites have a dining table, a lobby and huge bedroom with en-suite washrooms and a private verandah where you can sit and enjoy the jungle. The resort has a gym, games room and outdoor pool for recreation options. Tribal dance performances, camp fires and jungle safari tours can be enjoyed.
Ideal for: Families looking for a fun time as well as spotting some exotic wildlife.
Price: Cottages start from ₹15,000 per night for double occupancy that includes all meals.
What to do here and around the property: They arrange wildlife safaris on a daily basis. Apart from that they also conduct tours to Iruppu waterfalls and nearby Tibetan monasteries. You can also enjoy cricket, badminton and other outdoor sports on the property. For those who like to be indoors, there are board games, table-tennis and many such options.
How to reach: Kings Sanctuary is 60 km from Mysore and 200 km away from Bangalore. The nearest domestic airport is Mysore and the nearest international airport is Bangalore. The nearest railway station is also Mysore.