A tigress on her way to water stops and stares in central India's Bandhavgarh National Park.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF600mm f/4L IS II USM at 600 mm, 1/500 sec at f/4, ISO 800

Alison and I returned home last week from a trip to two of India’s best National Parks for tiger sightings. Before leaving, we weren’t even sure that we’d be lucky enough to see a single tiger, given the fact that tigers spend a large fraction of their time in dense jungle and tend to be more active at night than during the day. But the prospect of seeing this magnificent animal in its natural habitat had us willing to roll the dice. As it turns out, we were quite fortunate. We saw fifteen different tigers including a mother with four older cubs still under her care.

We increased our chances for tiger sightings by planning our trip for late May and early June. These are historically the hottest days of the year in central India, but also the timeframe when tiger sightings are most common. We endured some searingly hot days in an open jeep, were constantly covered in a layer of fine dust, and were even soaked by several pre-monsoonal thunderstorms. However, any of those discomforts were quickly forgotten when a tiger came into view.

We both thought this might be our one and only trip to India, but it was so rewarding that future trips to see more tigers, not to mention the other Indian wildlife, have become a real possibility.

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