Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, after having remained in relative obscurity for decades, has now become quite popular because of its growing reputation of easy and frequent tiger sightings made possible due to its high tiger density.
Typically, tourists tend to enter the core area of the reserve even though there have been many tiger sightings in the six buffer zones as well. The reserve authorities are in fact trying to promote buffer zone tourism by giving a 40% discount on the price of the entry ticket. The core zone can be accessed through as many as six gates located at Moharli, Tadoba, and Kolsa. Moharli is the most popular entry point as it is the closest to Chandrapur, and there are a large number of Tadoba hotels and resorts as well as various tourist facilities necessary for an enjoyable wildlife vacation.
The Pangdi and Zari gates provide access to the reserve at Kolsa that lies at the eastern side and is relatively quieter. You can also enter through any of the three gates at Tadoba; Kolara, Navegaon, and Khutwanda. You should choose the entry gate depending on the number of tiger sightings, however, given the tiger density; it is unlikely that you will miss out if you make multiple safari bookings. You, however, need to keep in mind that the gates are separated by long distances, so you must consider the travel time.
Tadoba is open on all days of the week, except Tuesdays. There are two safari time slots daily; the morning one is from 6 am to 11 am, while the afternoon slot is between 3 pm and 6.30 pm. There may be a slight variance depending on the season, so be sure to check after arrival. Though Tadoba is one of the few reserves that permit all-year access, in 2017, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has directed the core area to be closed from July 1 to October 15. The buffer zone continues to be open during the monsoon but only designated safari vehicles need to be booked as private vehicles will not be permitted.
Open-top jeeps are the best option for a Tadoba safari. These can be hired for approximately Rs. 2,200. Entry fee per jeep is Rs. 750/Rs. 1,000 for weekdays/weekends. The mandatory safari guide is a paltry Rs.300. You will be charged Rs.200 for cameras with lenses higher than 250 mm. The fee for using your own vehicle is Rs. 1,000. Foreign tourists can avail of a platinum quota of Rs. 10,000 per jeep.
For your Tadoba safari to be really enjoyable, you need to plan well in advance. Safari bookings can be made on the website of Maharashtra Forest Department, 120 days in advance. It is generally not a good idea to arrive without a booking as only 15% of the permits are available on the spot. Safari jeeps, drivers, and forest guides are made available at the gate after validation of your booking and proof of identity.