Most people think of Africa when a safari is mentioned, but it pays to look beyond the norm, so why not go somewhere in Asia? The diverse flora and fauna are sure to impress and you might be lucky enough to spot rare, endangered wildlife.
No two trips are the same, but it’s the uncertainty of a safari that makes it so exciting. Here are our picks of the best safari excursions in Asia.
Night Safari, Singapore
The world’s first nighttime wildlife park, the Night Safari in Singapore is an experience not to be missed. You’ll be taken on an evening tram ride through different habitats so you can see the nocturnal behaviour of animals like striped hyenas, Gir lions, sloth bear, elephants, and bearded pigs, while your guide tells you interesting facts and stories about each creature. The Night Safari supports the conservation of endangered species and your entry fee will make a contribution towards their efforts.
Need to stretch your legs afterwards? There are walking trails through the park, too — see if you can spot flying foxes, wallabies, and fishing cats on the hunt.
Best time to go? April. Singapore is hot and humid most of the time, but in April monsoon season will have finished and the crowds will be smaller.
Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India
Bandhavgarh is a protected area, so there’s a dense population of wildlife amongst the grasslands and forests, and plenty of plants to see, too.
The park’s most famous inhabitant is the famous Royal Bengal Tiger but don’t discount the other species of mammal, which include leopards, deer, boar, foxes, hyenas and pigs, and birds like the red jungle fowl and white-breasted kingfisher.
A limited amount of jeeps are allowed in the park at a time, so book early and don’t forget to pack those binoculars!
Best time to go? Between March and May, when you’re more likely to spot tigers.
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Part nature reserve, part national park, a section of Yala is open for the public to explore, with 200 safari jeeps allowed in the park per day.
Travel through forests and grasslands as you keep an eye out for leopards in their natural habitat — Yala has the highest leopard density in the entire world. You can also expect to see elephants and deer, along with 215 different species of bird.
Best time to go? Between February and April. It’s the dry season, so more animals are likely to be out.
Gir National Park Safari, India
Located in the Indian state of Gujarat, Gir National Park is home to the last wild Asiatic lions — the only wild lions in the whole world. If you head out on the park’s safari you’ll travel by open-roofed jeep, accompanied by one of the park’s knowledgeable guides.
It may be tempting to focus solely on finding lions, but don’t discount the other species that call the park their home. You might see jackals, foxes or hyenas out on the hunt, or reptiles slithering along the ground. Drive towards the reservoir and there’s a good chance you’ll find Marsh crocodiles gathered by the water.
Best time to go? Between December and March. If you can handle the heat, April and May are also good months for spotting wildlife.
Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Nepal’s oldest national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of tropical and subtropical forests and grasslands. It’s home to a hugely diverse range of flora and fauna, including:
- 68 species of mammal
- 544 species of bird
- 126 species of fish
- 56 species of flora
Chitwan National Park also happens to be the first protected area of Nepal, looking after the one-horned rhinoceros, royal Bengal tiger and gharial crocodile. Take a jeep safari through the jungle and you could also be lucky enough to encounter wild elephants, deer, wild dogs and sloth bear as they make their way to the watering holes. Alternatively, take a river safari and look for crocodiles.
Best time to go? March to April — the weather is a little warmer but monsoon season doesn’t generally start till May, so you’ll avoid the worst of the rain.