I am planning a trip for about 1 week to Bandhavgarh after a couple of weeks in Goa. I will be departing from and returning to Mumbia. The thought of a jungle safari and spotting a tiger in the wild is sooooo exciting and from what I've read, Bandhavgarh nature reserve seems to be the place to go. From my initial checks, it seems that getting a train to the area is easiest and cheapest and I should be able to arrange this in Mumbia on my way to Gao.
My main query is  how do I go about booking an elephant/jeep safari? Do I do this when I arrive or can I prebook [I'd hate to go that far and not get booked]  are there any reasonable hotels near the reserve that i can book over the net?  how many hours [approx] is the train trip from Mumbia to the area?
Any advice on these points would be greatly appreciated but any useful comments on how to go about this adventure would be great. Thanks in anticipation,
Bandhavgarh is the best place to see a tiger. I have been there 5 times in one year and was never disappointed. At one time I saw a mother with three cubs and another female and a leopard in the same day!! You can read about it on my page as well. Getting there from Bombay would mean taking a train to Katni station. From there it is about a 2 hour ride (the road has improved considerably from the first and last tome I was there). Train tickets are easy to book on the internet (www.irctc.co.in) but you might need an address in India to have the ticket sent to. The train ride is about 18 hours long.
There are quite a few hotels around the park. A couple of things you would need to keep in mind is that most hotels charge separately for the car hire into the park. Last I knew they had raised their prices some. Think its about Rs. 800 a day. Over that you would need to pay an entrance fee and camera fees. The other thing is that the park has now restricted the number of cars that go in to 50 each in the morning and in the evening. You can book this at the hotel. But I would suggest booking a hotel before you get there as it is a small place and may fill up. The hotel can arrange for your taxi transfer from and to the railway station as well.
One nice hotel was the MPTDC - a state run hotel. They are right next to the park entrance and is quite reasonable (mptourism.com/accomm/fo.html.... Plus if you just google hotels in bandhagarh, plenty of options turn up. If you can afford it, I would suggest a hotel that offers resident naturalists who will go in to the jungle with you. This makes the safari ride very interesting, as they will tell you so much about the flora and fauna. The park also is home to an ancient fort and you should make the trip up there. It is also the only place where you are allowed to walk inside the park.
Bandhavgarh is very close to my heart as I have spent wonderful days there. I hope you see plenty of tigers and other animals. I know for a fact that there are plenty of cubs out of hiding this year and so far since the park opened in october, there haven't been any disappointments. Please feel free to get back to me for any more questions.
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As told by Bhavana, Bandhavgarh is really great place to visit. It’s among top national parks in India. But it is not nearby Goa.
Best Park nearby goa is Dandeli wildlife sanctuary, about 4 hrs travel by road. In case of Bandhavgarh, first you have to reach at Katni, daily trains available, please confirm.
For Bandhavgarh hotels, I would suggest you Indian Adventures hotels and resorts; they provide excellent accommodation and arrange for adventurous jungle safaris at low cost.
You can visit their website www.indianadventures.com/BandhavgarhNationalPark.htm for more details on hotels tariff, travel plan, hotels and wildlife pictures and yes they have online booking facility.
I hope this would help you.
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