Days spent on jungle safaris in India are different than any other you’ll experience on your adventure. With a minimum of 2 nights at a lodge and 3 nights highly recommended you’ll fall into a routine. You wake up with the sun and fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle and a full belly. You'll spend hours riding around in a jeep searching for animals and hours relaxing in your room or by the pool. I’ll try to outline to the best I can what a typical day looks like in the jungles of India.
Note: These were the times for when I was visiting in October. The times change with the season as the park gate opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. In the heart of winter, you’ll find later start times and earlier exit times.
5:00 – Wakeup knock on your door.
5:15 – Tea, coffee, and snacks. Nothing like a good French press and some biscuits to wake you up in the morning.
5:30 – Depart for the gate. Blankets and hot water bottles are provided, but do bring layers! Most lodges use a vehicle called a Maruti Gypsy which has no windows or roof. It’s surprisingly chilly in the morning as you drive to the gate and the sun won’t be up for a while. It’s an even better way to wake up than a cup of coffee!
6:00 - Enter the gate and the park. Join the jeep line waiting to enter the park and observe your naturalist hobnobbing with all the other guides and naturalists. It’s a very small community and you’ll grow to love the collaborative atmosphere within the parks between all the guides and naturalists.
6:00 – 11:00 – Safari with a break at 9 (ish) for breakfast at designated eating area. The lodge will pack you a breakfast. Usually consisting of tea and coffee, samosas (or something similar), sandwiches, fruit, and some sort of muffin or cookies. It feels great to stretch your legs (standing is not allowed in the marutis unless you’re stopped) and is often at a beautiful vista.
11:15 – Return to lodge and have tea, coffee, and snacks. You’ll also be greeted by the ever friendly staff with hot towels to clean off the dust from safari on your face as well as a refreshing, rotating fruit drink. Free time until lunch.
1:00 – Communal lunch. Great time to discuss what you saw or did that morning. Followed by free time to nap, use the pool, take a nature walk, or just to relax. Libraries within the lodges are always a lovely spot to kick back and read up on the area, both for wildlife and local culture. Don’t expect to find wifi though! Many of the lodges have no wifi or, if they do, only for certain hours in certain areas.
2:30 – Meet for afternoon tea and coffee.
2:45 – Depart for the gate. Same as above but in reverse. It may seem hot now but it will cool off quickly once the sun sets. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen for the ride in and have a layer handy for the ride out.
3:00 – Enter the gate and park. Listen, wishing you spoke Hindi, to your naturalist and local guide discussing strategy for the day.
3:00 – 6:00 – Afternoon safari until sunset. Search for flora and fauna all around the zone you’ve been allotted.
6:15- Return to camp and freshen up before meeting back for pre-dinner drinks and appetizers. Drinks are often at outdoor fire pits and you can chat with the other guests at the lodge over a fresh mojito (made with local mint of course) while the fire keeps you warm and the stars start to come out.
7:30 – Dinner with all the guests in the lodge always followed by a delectable dessert. The naturalists are usually around to talk wildlife, life in India, or your life in your home country.
10 – Early to bed, early to rise! Stargazing or night walks can be organized between dinner and bed.
If you’re there for a few days you might not want a safari twice a day every day. If so, all the lodges have a variety of other options such as village visits, visits to local temples and forts, cooking demonstrations, and garden tours. It can be really nice to switch it up and do keep in mind that being in the jungles of India also means you’re in the heart of traditional Indian life. Also, keep in mind all parks in India are closed on Wednesday afternoons, so if your safari portion is scheduled over that day these alternative activities will be planned for the afternoon.
I fell in love with these safaris and I think you will too. Especially, if you get lucky enough to see a tiger or two. Find out How to Choose the Right Tiger Park in India.
Your friendly India expert,