Bandhavgarh is the land of the tiger; it has the highest density of this magnificent predator in a small area of four hundred plus square kilometers. The tiger reserve is a conservation unit and comprises of an area encompassing 1500 sq.km. The core is limited.
The forests are part of the Vindhya Range which converges with the Satpura Range also in Central India or Madhya Pradesh. The convergence takes place at Maikal Hills the corridor is fragmented and the passage of tigers and other mammals is not viable anymore.
Being a tiger reserve the destination provides tourism facilities like safaris or excursions in a limited area of the park, accommodations, local market and a good road network. This facilitates tourism and the forest department regulates it. This is essential for the destination is a conservation unit not entirely meant to act as a tourism center.
The tourism is conducted in twenty percent of the area of the core zone and rules and regulations apply. The most essential aspect of the regulatory mechanism is the excursion or safari permit. In order to prevent a rush in the park, and prevent disturbance to the wild animals the entry is limited. The entry is provided in open jeeps and canters which are registered with the department. No other vehicle is allowed entry except the registered ones with trained drivers and guides.
In order to apply for a tiger safari permit one can request the hotel the tourist has booked or approach the MP Online website directly. I would suggest requesting the hotel since they are well versed with the process and well understand the tourism area which is divided into three zones. The online booking is done in few minutes along with the payment. But the booking has to be done in advance as the entry is limited.
If you are late the permits may be all booked and you will not be able to enter the core zone for rides which are most productive. The core area or critical tiger habitat is full of wild animals living amidst a charismatic terrain.
But wait what if you do not get permits online. Then another option is to get the permit at the counter at the gate. But would you travel to the destination without a permit. The choice is yours. If there are permits vacant you can get them at the counter if you are one of the first few to get in the queue.
Another alternative is to avail permits for buffer zone or the outer ring. There is no cap here and your excursions will take place in the buffer tourism zone which is less fruitful. But this good for birders and with luck often you can sight a major mammal like a tiger, leopard and sloth bear.
In times of missed safaris you can have a good time at the resort going for bird watching, visiting local villages and whiling away your time in the library or the pool. At Bandhavgarh Tiger Park there is a lot to do.