Some 80 km from Nagpur, but past the Madhya Pradesh border is the Pench Tiger Reserve. You’re told it is home to 33 tigers and 41 leopards amongst other ubiquitous animals and birds. The spotted deer and langurs are in abundance and with a longer lens or a binocular you might see some sambar deers. The real deal they say though is the tiger. As you’d expect, with the many vehicles inside the park, tigers don’t come out too easily.
We started a touch late from Nagpur and reached just in time for the opening of the gates. Normally, it is a 6 am start to the day for visitors. The day (and the week) we went, because of a census in progress, it was a 8.30 am start. Which was convenient for us. Only petrol vehicles (and I think only authorised local jeeps) are allowed into the park. For Indians, the entry costs Rs. 530 per jeep (for upto 7 people, we were told). However, if even one of the people in a jeep is a foreigner, this rate becomes Rs. 2030. Strange. You then pay Rs. 150 for a guide, which is mandatory.
There is an elephant safari which is the only way you can see tigers, it seems. And surprisingly, when we went on the elephant (Rs. 100 for Indians, Rs. 600 for foreigners), there were 3 tigers waiting for us. When you don’t see tigers, you curse your luck. When you do see them so easily, you think there is something fishy. Were they just “fixed” to that spot by the officials themselves so as to keep drawing tourists? Anyway, we did see some tigers. Some owls, many deers and plenty of langurs.
Pench is recommended.