Panna National Park: Tiger Reserve, Safari & Travel Guide

Panna national park is situated mainly in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh, spread over an area of around 550 sq. Km beside the river Ken. It is situated at a distance of around 200 Km from Jhansi, the main city of Bundelkhand. Panna national park is also situated at the distance of around 25 Km from the famous temples of Khajuraho.

Panna National park is divided into two zones called the core zone and the buffer zone. The Safari is not allowed in the core zone. Publics are also not allowed in the core zone. Only forest officials are allowed to go into the core zone. Most of the Safari happens in the buffer zone only. It was same as the Sundarbans tiger safari.

Panna National Park

Panna national park has two entry gates, named Madla and Hinauta. Our safari had started from the Madla gate. So, this tour guide from here on talks things mostly related to the Madla gate. Also, there are a lot of animals which can be seen in the national park such as Cheetal, Sambar, Nilgai, Chinkara, Chowsingha, Langoor, Wildboar, Jackal etc. Also, inside the national park, there are a lot of gorges.

Sambhar at Panna national park

How to Reach Panna National Park?

There is not a proper bus service from major towns to Panna. From Jhansi bus stand, you can find buses going to Panna. From Khajuraho, you can hire private vehicles to Panna national as it is just 25 Kms away from there.

Accommodation Near Panna

You can also stay near Khajuraho and next day in the morning, join the safari. However, since the area around Panna is remote and there is no proper and regular transport service, it might be possible that you do not get any vehicle in the morning to Panna as the safari begins as early as 5:30 in the morning.

Panna national park in the early morning

When we were near Khajuraho, we used Oyo app to find the hotels nearby. Next day, when we reached Madla gate, it was already late. But using Google maps, we were easily able to find hotels near Madla Gate.

Panna National Park Safari timings & Entry Fee

Before we planned our trip to Panna national park, some of our friends suggested us to book the safari online for the next day as sometimes, it can really be crowded. We search the internet a lot on “Where to book the Panna tiger reserve safari online?” Panna national park safari can be booked online here at https://forest.mponline.gov.in/Search.aspx?park=3

The tickets can also be bought from the Karnavati counter.  Also, there are two slots in which the national park safari happens. One in the morning and another in the evening. There is also a nice viewpoint in the Karnavati ticket counter.

The Bridge across river Ken near Karnavati ticket counter

The Bridge across river Ken near Karnavati ticket counter

Panna Tiger Reserve timings

Winter Season (From October to February)

  • Morning slot: 5:30 to 11:00 AM
  • Evening slot: 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Summer Season (From March to June)

  • Morning slot: 5:30 to 11:00 AM
  • Evening slot: 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM

The safari remains closed from the month of July to September due to monsoon.

Panna Tiger Reserve Safari Entry fee

The safari is organized only in the forest department approved vehicles. Private vehicles are not allowed inside the forest. Along with the vehicle, a forest guard cum guide and a driver will be allocated. There are three kinds of fees that one has to pay inside the park. The vehicle is an open Gypsy in which a maximum of 6 people can go other than the guard and the driver.

Panna tiger reserve safari Gypsy

Panna tiger reserve safari Gypsy

Here is the breakup of the entry fee

  • Single seat in the Gypsy: Rs 250 (to be born by individual)
  • Guide Charges: Rs. 360 per vehicle (to be born by the group)
  • Vehicle Charge: Rs 1500 (to be born by the entire group)

Panna National park Safari Experience

After spending an entire day in the Khajuraho, we decided to go to Panna and enjoy the safari next day in the morning. From Khajuraho, the road to Panna is a single lane highway but not so much busy. As it was already evening, we began hunting down rooms online while we were still driving to Panna.

Hunting down a cheaper hotel

After some research online, we found out that Panna town was situated ahead of Panna national park. That place was called “Madla”. Madla is just after crossing the bridge on the River Ken. When we reached there, we thought of enquiring about the room to stay. Since we wanted only to do Safari next day, so we were looking for cheaper accommodation just to spend the night.

Just after crossing the bridge, we parked our vehicle at the Jungle camp hotel. The Jungle camp hotel is a  govt. hotel. The prices were really high there. So we thought of finding some other hotels. But before that, we planned to buy the safari tickets for the next morning. The safari guys even offer to pick you up in the morning from the hotel. However, we declined that offer because the next day we had to leave early and we had our own vehicle.

The safari tickets are available at the Karnavati gate which is on the other side of the bridge. The internet connection was also poor but thanks to Reliance Jio, we still had 3G with us. After some time, we found our accommodation at the K.Raj tiger resort which was situated near the Madla gate.

K Raj Tiger Resort Near Madla Gate, Panna tiger reserve

K Raj Tiger Resort Near Madla Gate, Panna tiger reserve

The room costed us Rs. 1500 for a night. The room was really nice and comfortable. The room size was also big. Even the bathroom was much big in size. We just joked that in that bathroom size, people can make 1 BHK apartment in Bangalore.

Anyways, the hotel also had campfire facility.  We spent some time around the fire. Even the hotel guy arranged beer for us though they charged some extra bucks for that.

Safari begins

We had opted for the shared Safari jeep. The fourth guy who had booked online was coming from the Panna town. But he came very late. I got a lesson from this experience.

  • Never stay at the Panna town if you do not have your own vehicle. Because, in the morning, it is really hard to find a public transport to the Madla gate. It resulted in the delay.

Anyway, the safari begins. The guide introduced us to the forest, its type, area, and the chances of seeing a tiger or a panther. The guides have a common WhatsApp group and they communicate if a group sees a tiger. 

Though we saw a lot of other animals such as Cheetal, Sambar, Nilgai, Chinkara, Chowsingha, Langoor, Wildboar, Jackal etc along with so many birds on the way, we could not see a tiger or a leopard.

A nilgai calf

A nilgai calf

Driving along with hills

The safari happens in an open Gypsy in where last two seats are made for three people to sit. According to the guide, the Panna national park hills are in the three hills steps. We were driving along the hills. The orange sun rays were kissing the savanna grasses. It was an ethereal experience.

Savanna Grass, Panna National Park

Savanna Grass, Panna National Park

After some time, we stopped near a gorge. The view was really nice from there. It was more kind of a waterfall. It reminded me of the Gandikota gorges.

Gorge at Panna tiger reserve

Gorge at Panna tiger reserve

Later, we moved on to the other side of the gorge. The view was equally beautiful from there too.

At Panna national park

Most of the vehicles joined us there later. It has been around three hours and there were no signs of tiger or leopards. So, finally, it was decided that we return. While returning, the vehicle drives along the river Ken.

River Ken at Panna National park

You can get a spectacular view of the river Ken and the crocodiles sunbathing on the river banks.

A crocodile at Panna national park

Hearing so many jungle stories, we returned to the Madla gate again. From there, we headed to Jhansi.

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About trekkerp

Author of The Girl from the Woods and a Travel writer from India looking forward to collect quirky tales from around the world

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