Panna National Park Safari

Located within the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh, the Panna National Park is a treasure trove for nature enthusiasts from across the globe. It sprawls over a massive 542 sq. kms., housing several hundred wildlife species within its diverse landscape. Renowned for being a birdwatcher’s dream come true, Panna welcomes over 200 species of avifauna every winter. It’s also recognised for its attempts at reviving the scarce tiger population of India, some of whom you will come across on your safari!

What you’ll see

Panna National Park features a wide array of varied terrain – from marshy river banks to dry forests and open grasslands, it has everything to support hundreds of species of wildlife.

The park is best known for being a safe haven for the scanty tiger population and a paradise for over 200 species of birds. As you ride through the park, you will most likely cross paths with the abundant herbivore population, too, including nilgai, sabhar deer, chital deer, gazelles and many more.

The park boasts of its avifauna, welcoming rare species of migratory birds that add on to the abundant native species every winter. In that season, you will be surrounded by flocks of bar-headed geese, blossom-headed parakeets, paradise flycatchers, white-necked storks and hundreds of others as their melodic cacophony pierces the dead silence of the forest.

By the banks of River Ken, you’re most likely to spot several crocodiles, muggers, long-snouted gharials and snakes. These marshes are also a favourite spot for the critically endangered Indian vultures and Asian King vultures.

Zones of the Panna Tiger Reserve

The park is divided into two zones based on its entry gates, namely Madla and Hinouta. 

The Madla gate is the more popular entry point for most visitors. It has ample accommodation in the vicinity and is known to be rich in flora. You’re most likely to spot big mammals and herbivores in this area.

The Hinouta gate is less frequented than Madla. It’s predominantly rocky and arid, making animal spotting much easier.

Safaris in the Panna National Park

There is a whole new world within the forests of the Panna National Park that is waiting to be discovered and the multiple safari options take the excitement a notch higher.

The most popular option among visitors is the jeep safari. The compact vehicle is great to take you into the nooks and crannies of the park and gives you the best chance of encountering the prolific wildlife of the park.

Another enchanting option for traversing the land is the safari on elephant back. The gentle giants will slowly take you through the forests and grasslands, giving you ample time to soak in the beauty around you.

One of the most unique offerings of this park is the boat safari down River Ken. It’s perfect in the summers when herds of animals come to its banks in search for water and a cool place to rest. You will also spot various aquatic species and reptiles in the marshy areas.

Where to stay

There are multiple lodges and budget-friendly hotels close to the Madla gate of the Panna Tiger Reserve, making it a convenient option for most, especially families. The Hinouta gate is more desolated and comparatively less accessible, hence it could be a good option for solo travellers, but not for those with children or elderly people.

Sketch itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Panna
Arrive at resort by lunchtime
Enjoy a delicious Indian meal
1 evening jeep safari
Return to resort for dinner
Overnight at resort

Day 2: Safaris galore!
1 morning jeep safari
Return to the resort for lunch
1 evening jeep safari 
Return to resort for dinner
Overnight at resort

Day 3: Last day at Panna
1 morning jeep safari
Return to resort for lunch
Check out and depart for home

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Panna
Your day begins as you check in to your resort surrounded by the stunning forests of Panna. You will be introduced to fellow nature lovers over a scrumptious lunch and head out for your first safari at Panna. You’ll cross paths with the infamous tigers and spot hundreds of birds fluttering through the treetops. As you return to the resort, you will wind down, share your exciting safari tales and enjoy dinner. Overnight at resort.

Day 2: Safaris galore!
This morning, you will wake up to an exciting day filled with deep dives into the wild! Kickstart your morning with a safari at the crack of dawn and witness the park slowly awaken under the golden sunlight. Once you return to the resort, you will be served lunch and get to freshen up for your evening safari. Revisit your favourite spots from the previous day and head back to the resort for dinner. Overnight at resort.

Day 3: Last day at Panna
On your final morning in paradise, you get to visit the beautiful park one last time. Get your cameras ready to catch your favourite moments from the safari to keep with you forever. Return to the resort for lunch, freshen up and bid goodbye to Panna. Your trip ends here.


Four jeep safaris
Accommodation in resort
All meals

Best time to go/Weather

The Panna Tiger Reserve has a lot to offer in each season. The fluctuating climate creates varying landscapes and appeals to different species, so, book your travel dates depending on what you’d like to see.

Summers (March-June) can be unbearably hot, with temperatures soaring up to 40°C. The sun beats down and dries up most of the vegetation and small water bodies, painting the lands sepia as far as the eye can see. Due to the lack of cover, it becomes easy to spot animals as they tread towards River Ken, the only available water source of the season. This makes it the perfect season for boat safaris down the river, giving you plenty of chances to spot tigers, leopards, sambar deer and many more by the cool waters with their little ones.

The most pleasant time to visit the tiger reserve is during the winters (October-February). The temperatures peak to 27°C during the day and drop as low as 8°C at night. This season is what the park is most famous for as it welcomes thousands of migratory birds into its forests. The melodious calls and shrill cries of exotic species like the blossom headed parakeet, paradise flycatcher, honey buzzard, king vulture and various others drown the park and its surroundings. This is also the best time to spot bigger mammals and wild cats basking under the sun in the grasslands.

The park remains closed for the monsoons (July-September) as it receives heavy rainfall and is also the mating season for animals.

The Panna National Park has been the go-to destination for avid birdwatchers and nature-lovers for years. It brings in throngs of visitors from around the globe, hence, it is well connected to nearby cities via basic modes of transportation.

By road
Panna is easily accessible via road owing to the splendid intrastate connectivity. There are multiple buses, both private and government-owned, that take you straight to the tiger reserve from Jhansi, Delhi, Agra, Gwalior and other major cities. You could also choose to hire cabs or private cars instead.

By rail
Satna railway station is the closest one to Panna (70 kms), however it isn’t well frequented by trains from major cities other than Varnasi and Kolkata. If you’re travelling from other parts of India, Jhansi (180 kms) would be the next closest and most convenient option. You can hire cabs or buses from the stations to reach the park.

By air
The nearest domestic airport is at Khajuraho, whereas the closest international airport is at Delhi. You could continue your journey via road from Khajuraho, but if you’re at Delhi, you can choose to travel via train or catch a connecting flight to Khajuraho and continue via road.

On your safari at the Panna Tiger Reserve, make sure you wear clothes that cover your arms and legs as they protect you from dust, insects and harsh sunlight. It is imperative to wear colours that blend into the surroundings, like brown or khaki, so you don’t startle any animals. Irrespective of the season, apply an insect repellent and SPF 50+ sunscreen. Wear comfortable shoes or sneakers cover your feet.

Summers can get very hot, so choose light cotton or linen clothing. Wear sunglasses and a hat for further comfort and sun protection. A useful tip for when the heat gets unbearable is to drape a water-soaked bandana over your neck to stay cool.

Winters are extremely pleasant and a jacket and scarf will suffice to keep you warm and comfortable. The temperatures drop drastically after sunset, so carry additional thermal wear for the nights.

During your safari at the Panna National Park, you will need an SPF 50+ sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat as the sun can get harsh during the day. The forests are filled with pesky insects, so it’s essential to carry an insect repellent to keep them at bay. Keep a refillable water bottle on hand since there will be no pitstops for purchasing water if you run out. If you’re visiting during the winters, carry a jacket and scarf. Finally, carry a fully-charged camera with sufficient memory and a pair of binoculars so you don’t miss out on a single thing!

You don’t need any prior fitness training for your safari at the Panna National Park since you will be seated for most of your trip, with little to no physical exertion.

Panna National Park Safari - Frequently Asked Questions

Summers (March-June) see scorching temperatures that go up to 40°C, making safaris uncomfortable for some. However, it is the best season to spot animals since the sun dries up the vegetation and smaller water bodies, allowing you to see various animals making their way to River Ken. It’s also the best season for boat safaris. Winters (October-February) are the most pleasant time to visit. It’s ideal for birdwatchers since it’s the migratory season for thousands of birds. The park remains closed for the monsoons (July-September) owing to the heavy rains and mating season for the animals.

You can hire a cab or a bus from major cities like Jhansi, Gwalior, Agra and Delhi that take you directly to the park. Satna and Jhansi are the closest railway stations to the park. Jhansi is far more frequented by trains from other Indian cities, making it the most convenient option for many. The closest domestic airport is at Khajuraho and the closest international airport is at Delhi. From Delhi, you continue your journey via train or catch a connecting flight to Khajuraho and continue via road.

A jeep can accommodate up to 6 people whereas a boat holds up to 10. Elephant safaris allow only 3 people per elephant.

Yes, children are allowed under the supervision of a guardian.

Based on the entry gates, the park is divided into two zones – Madla and Hinouta. Madla is more popular, with abundant flora and numerous wildlife species. Hiouta is more rocky and arid, allowing you to easily spot the animals that roam the terrain.

Daytime during the winters are pleasant and a jacket and scarf over your regular outfit will suffice to keep you warm. However, the nights get particularly cold, so carry additional thermal wear for the night.

Light and comfortable cotton or linen clothing are ideal for the scorching summers. Carry sunglasses and a hat and don’t forget to apply an SPF 50+ sunscreen and insect repellent.

Yes, but ensure they’re on silent. Refrain from speaking on the phone, playing loud music or using the flash.

There are ample hotels and lodges near the Madla gate of the park that are close to the park and are budget-friendly.