What is the best time to see and photograph tigers in India?
Which time of the year can I see tigers easily?
Which are the best places to see tigers?
All these are common questions asked by many first-time visitors who want the best of tigers in their visit.
After more than 15 years of visiting the Indian forest searching for tiger and other wildlife. I can tell you what my experience tells me. To understand the best time to see and photograph tigers, we have to also understand the tiger’s behavior and habits and seasons of India.
Best time to see and photograph tigers can be different depending on what your aim is.
Main Seasons in India.
India has three main seasons, and they are Summer, Winter, and Rainy. In Rainy season the Tiger parks are closed for tourist. Each season has its own pros and cons.
When we consider the personal choices of watching and photographing tigers, the best time to see and photograph tigers is again decided based on additional aspects like foliage, color, light, and water.
Many photographers and wildlife lovers like to have a green background with the orange tiger in it. We all love the soft golden light.
Green Tiger Forest.
Tiger parks open in October just after the rains. So from Oct till Nov, the forest is usually lush green. A photograph at this time is with the green background and the tiger’s coat is fresh and deep orange. Colors are saturated. Tiger sightings are few but impressive.
Winter in the Tiger Forest.
Winter starts in late November and remains till Jan or early Feb. Winter temp in some parks can drop to zero deg Celsius and below. Winter makes the forest slightly brown and in some places frosty grey.
The forest is pretty, and mornings cold and misty. The light is soft and mysterious. The meadows and lakes have fog and mist.
Tigers love to walk on the dirt tracks early mornings. They often patrol their territory during the night and early mornings. They are active in winters for longer durations. Entering the forest early to catch the Tigers on their tracks walking the soft sand is exciting.
In Winter, foliage is dense, and there is plenty of water in the forest. Therefore Tigers can be seen less often and only when they are out in the open. But a single photograph in winter is worth ten in the harsh summer light.
Indian Summer in Tigers Forest.
Indian summer begins in March and lasts till June.
The summer provides, a lot of easy sightings, due to various reasons, like less foliage and less water inside the forest. However, the weather is hot and light harsh except for an hour or two after sunrise and before sunset depending on the month.
March and April are when most foreign tours happen as the climate is still bearable and sightings are frequent.
May and June are the hottest and remain for the truly determined. Even for locals, the heat is unbearable including for the Tigers. Visibility becomes high as the foliage reduces. Due to this, Tigers are near the waterholes.
Tigers are often seen sitting in the water cooling themselves.
May & June are also the best time to find tigers in water.
If you are lucky, you will find the best waterhole and family of tigers around the waterhole. So you have tigers resting, cooling, bathing, playing, all in one place.
Those who are visiting for the first time, summer is recommended.
If you can endure the heat and overlook the harsh light, then the best time to see and photograph tigers is Summer.
The reason is just that first time you will wish to see the tiger as many times as possible. Also, many tiger encounters will allow for more good photographs.
For those who have already seen tigers in summers, and have a fair collection of tiger images should also visit in the winters. Although tiger sightings are less in winter compared to summer, the weather and environment make up for the fewer sightings.
A touch of green and orange, with the frosty meadows in fog, makes it rejuvenating. Tiger photography is so much more dramatic and beautiful. In Winter the diffused light and early morning fog are good for artistic captures.
Best time for tiger is good only when you go to the best parks for tigers. checkout Best Places for Tigers Photography.