Karnataka is not only known for being one of India’s richest states in terms of culture but also for its wildlife. With more than 20 per cent of Karnataka under forest cover, there are a total of 30 wildlife sanctuaries and five national parks in Karnataka. A biodiversity spot, the Western Ghats is also included in the western region of this state.

Attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world every year, the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks of Karnataka house a large variety of animals ranging from tigers, sloth bears and elephants to jackals. Rich in biodiversity, these destinations are a haven for explorers, photographers, and conservationists. Here is a list of five wildlife sanctuaries and five national parks in Karnataka that will make your visit worthwhile.

5 Must-Visit National Parks In Karnataka

1. Ideal For Bird Watching: Anshi National Park

Covering about 500 square kilometres in the Uttara Kannada district, Anshi National Park was once a part of the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary. Now called the Kali Tiger Reserve, it is a famous tiger reserve located in the eco-sensitive region of Western Ghats.  A favourite amongst nature and animal lovers, the park is home to a rich variety of plants, animals, mammals and reptiles. A wonderful place for bird watching, this national park in Karnataka houses over 197 species of birds. You can spot various animals like Malabar giant squirrel, Indian bison, bonnet macaque, deer, and sloth bear at this park.

Entry Fee: INR 400

Timings: 6 AM-8.30 AM, 4 PM-6 PM

2. Boasting Rich Wildlife: Nagarhole National Park

Elephants on the banks of Kabini river, Nagarhole, Karnataka, India
Elephants on the banks of Kabini river, Nagarhole, Karnataka, India

Boasting rich wildlife including both flora and fauna, Nagarhole National Park or Rajiv Gandhi National Park is located in the Mysore district of Karnataka. Bestowed with varied topography and forest cover, this place is a paradise for nature lovers. Apart from the verdant tropical and deciduous forest land, the park also houses a variety of species such as jackals, panthers, tigers, elephants, sambar deer, civet cats, spotted deer, monitor lizard, king cobra, and over 250 species of birds. Additionally, trees such as silver oak, rosewood, teak, and sandalwood are found in abundance here. You can go on a safari or even go trekking amidst the dense jungles to experience this national park in Karnataka at its best.

Entry Fee: Indians: INR 250 per person, Foreigners: INR 1500 per person

Safari fee: INR 300 per head

Timings: 6 AM-9 AM, 4 PM-6.30 PM

Safari timings: 5.30 AM-10 AM, 3 PM-7 PM

3. First Biosphere Reserve In India: Bandipur National Park

Peacock dancing at Bandipur National Park in Karnataka, India
Peacock dancing at Bandipur National Park in Karnataka, India

Previously a hunting ground for the Maharaja of Mysore, Bandipur National Park was established as a major tiger reserve in 1974. Rich with deciduous forests, it is located in the Nilgiris and has now become a popular tourist attraction. Apart from teak and sandalwood trees, you can spot a wide range of endangered animals like hornbill, deer, panther, sloth bear, python, elephant, etc. at this national park of Karnataka. Spread over 874 square kilometres, it is also the first Biosphere Reserve in India.

Entry Fee: INR 250

Timings: 6.30 AM-6 PM

4. Home To India’s First Butterfly Park: Bannerghatta National Park

Bannerghatta is among the best National Parks in Karnataka to see a Tiger

Established in 1971, the Bannerghatta National Park is home to a large variety of flora and fauna. Spread over 104.27 square kilometres, this national park in Karnataka has the country’s first butterfly park. Through a jungle safari, you can get up close and personal with the wondrous wildlife. One can spot major animals like wild boar, golden jackal, and Indian leopard as well as some unique varieties of plant species like thorny shrubs and bamboo groves.

Entry Fee: Indians: INR 80 per adult, INR 40: per child (6 – 12 years), INR 50 per senior citizen

Foreigners: INR 400 per adult, INR 300 per child

Timings: Butterfly Park and boating: 9.30 AM-5 PM, Grand Safari: 10 AM-4.30 PM

5. An Ornithologist’s Paradise: Kudremukh National Park

Beautiful Mountain peak in Kudremukh national park in Karnataka
Beautiful Mountain Peak in Kudremukh national park

Popular for its scenic beauty, Kudremukh National Park is a 600 square-kilometre area which was designated the status of a national park in 1987. Jewelled with natural beauty, this national park in Karnataka is the second-largest park belonging to a tropical evergreen forest in the Western Ghats. Habitat for many endangered and endemic species of animals such as tigers, leopards and wild dogs, there is much to experience here. An ornithologist’s paradise, around 200 species of birds such as the great pied hornbill, Malabar whistling thrush and imperial pigeon are found here.

Entry Fee: INR 200 per Indian, INR 1000 per foreigner

Timings: 10 AM-5 PM

5 Must-Visit Wildlife Sanctuaries Of Karnataka

1. Enjoy A Jeep Safari: Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary

A herd of fallow deer or chital at Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka
A herd of fallow deer or chital at Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary

Surrounded by the Western Ghats on all sides, the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 490 square kilometres. Located 38 km west of Chikmanglur, this wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka has diverse flora and fauna. The sparkling Bhadra River is a major source of water in the sanctuary. Leopards, tigers, porcupines and panthers are some of the exotic animals found at this sanctuary. Home to distinctively unique wildlife, there are over 120 species of trees such as rosewood, dry bamboo, teak, etc. in the sanctuary. Apart from jeep safaris, one can indulge in rock climbing, trekking, bird watching and various water-based activities.

Entry Fee: INR 300 per Indian, INR 1500 per Foreigner

Jeep Safari – INR 400 per person (6 people)

Timings: 6.30 AM-8.30 AM, 4 PM-6 PM

Also Read: 10 offbeat things to do in Chikmagalur

2. Named After The Brahmagiri Park: Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary

Named after the Brahmagiri Park, the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary located in Coorg covers an area of 181 square kilometres with the primary vegetation being semi-evergreen forests, and shoal forest patches in grasslands and bamboo. Established in 1974, this wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka is surrounded by plantations of cardamom and coffee. The locals believe that seven sages had meditated on the top of the hill. You can spot interesting birds such as the Malabar trogon, emerald dove, and black bulbul. The sanctuary is also home to many animals like the Nilgiri langurs, tigers, wild pigs, leopards, elephants, and macaques.

Entry Fee: INR 50 per adult, INR 25 per child

Timings: 6 AM-6 PM

Also Read: Things to do in Coorg for the adventurous tourist

3. The Second Largest Wildlife Sanctuary In Karnataka: Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

The Indian Giant Squirrel, at Dandeli wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka
The Indian Giant Squirrel, at Dandeli wildlife sanctuary

Recognised as the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 834.16 square kilometres and is located in the Uttara Kannada district. Declared as a National Wildlife Sanctuary in 1956, it is a paradise for wildlife lovers. The fauna here includes the kingfisher, woodpecker, hornbill, elephant, tiger, leopard, etc. When it comes to the flora, the sanctuary is covered with deciduous and semi-evergreen forests. Additionally, you can indulge in fishing, trekking, crocodile sighting and jungle safari to explore the nature and wildlife of this place.

Entry Fee: INR 40 per Indian, INR 80 per foreigner

Safari Price: INR 2500 to INR 3000

Timings: 6 AM-6 PM

Safari Timings: 6 AM-8 AM, 4 PM-6 PM

4. A Haven For Bird Watchers: Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Eurasian Spoonbill Bathing, Platalea leucorodia, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka, India
Eurasian Spoonbill Bathing, Platalea leucorodia, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka, India

Housing a wide array of bird species, the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary located in Srirangapatna is a haven for bird watchers. Comprising six islets on the banks of the Kaveri River, it is the largest bird sanctuary in the state. The most notable bird species out of the 170 are the black-headed ibis, Asian openbill stork, painted stork, woolly-necked stork, and the common spoonbill. You can also find animals and mammals such as the flying fox, bonnet macaque, Indian grey mongoose, common palm civet, and monitor lizard at this biodiversity hub. Additionally, this wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka offers the opportunity to indulge in activities like boating and bird-watching.

Entry Fee: Indians: INR 50 per adult, INR 25 per child, INR 300 per foreigner

Boating Fee: Indians: INR 50 per adult, INR 25 per child, Foreigners: INR 300 per adult

Timings: 9 AM-6 PM

Read More: A complete guide to Ranganathittu bird sanctuary

5. Surrounded By Lush Greenery: Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary

Spread over 370 square kilometres, the Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at Kollur in the Udupi district. Named after the presiding deity of the Mookambika Temple, this sanctuary is surrounded by moist deciduous, semi-evergreen, and evergreen forests of the Western Ghats. Deers, tigers, wild boars, and jackals are some of the wild animals that call this sanctuary home. Additionally, this wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka is ideal for bird watching as you can spot birds like drongo, myna, lapwings, hornbill, bulbul, brahminy kites and egrets.

Entry Fee: Safari: INR 375 per head

Timings:  6 AM-6 PM

Importance Of National Parks And Wildlife Sanctuaries

A haven for nature and wildlife lovers, the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks of Karnataka are blessed with the rarest species of plants and animals. The main objective of establishing a wildlife sanctuary and national park is to educate us and to protect endangered and endemic species from humans and predators. When visiting Karnataka’s wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, as travellers we must follow the rules and regulations and contribute to the continued preservation of the respective places.

Many landforms like mountains, rainforests and dunes are at risk from pollution, and when they are controlled under the status of national parks or wildlife sanctuaries, they have a better chance of survival. These destinations not only preserve the rich wildlife of Karnataka but also become one of the major attractions of tourism in the state. If you ever plan on visiting Karnataka, make sure you add the above-mentioned national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to your travel itinerary.

Also Read: 5 national parks in India you must not miss visiting


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