The idea of solo female travel in India for a wildlife-centered experience might seem daunting to some people. In reality, a lot of women travel alone to India to discover its beauty and its incredible diversity.
Here are my tips for solo female travel in India based on my quest for the perfect wildlife experience.
The reasons behind travelling alone might be multiple. While not having a travel companion may seem appalling to someone, there are indeed a lot of advantages.
Why going to India as a solo traveler ?
First of all, you have complete freedom on your itinerary and on your activities in general.
Secondly, as a solo traveler you’ll end up being more discreet and attract less unwanted attention than when travelling with a group.
And also, it’s a great way to make new friends.
Of course, some basic precautions must be taken for safe solo female travel in India.
- Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do in your own country.
The most basic safety rules that apply to your homeplace apply for India as well. Avoid wandering alone at night in neighborhoods that you don’t know. If you have to travel around the city, use taxi apps like Uber and Ola. The drivers are verified and all the rides are tracked via GPS.
If you can’t avoid arriving to a new city late at night, ask your hotel to send a car to pick you up.
- Buy a local sim card with access to internet. Jio is at the moment one of the only providers that works in remote areas and in most Tiger Reserves in India.
If you are a foreigner, that process will take you a certain amount of time. Be prepared to give a copy of your passport and visa along with a passport photo. In alternative, if you have an Indian friend or a local contact, ask them to buy one for you.
- India is a fantastic place for a budget traveler. Nonetheless, avoid going to shady places.
There are plenty of guest houses or homestay that will offer you a clean, safe and decent environment for a more than reasonable price. Always check the reviews on sites like Tripadvisor or the hotel’s social media accounts.
Websites like Airbnb are also good for solo traveler, especially if you decide to stay with a local family. They are mostly available in urban areas, though.
- Enjoy the pleasures of Indian food.
Just apply the same precautions that you would take in your own country when choosing a place to eat. Look out for places that serve fresh food and are frequented by local people.
- Be cautious but don’t be scared of people.
Many people would approach you just out of curiosity. Don’t shy away, especially if you are talked to by families, women and kids. Some people might ask to take a selfie with you. Don’t refuse this request unless they come from the occasional sleezy guy. After all, don’t we tourists always try to take pictures of local people on their daily chores ?
On one of my first trips, whenever I got asked for a selfie I used to ask for one as well. As a result, I ended up with the funniest collection of pictures with random people.
Tips for solo female travel in India on a wildlife trip
In the last years, I’ve done a lot of solo travelling in India on my eternal quest for the Royal Bengal Tiger and for the mind-blowing wildlife of this beautiful country.
- Plan your trip well in advance
Travelling in India can be a crowded experience. In such a big country, many people travel daily to a great number of destinations. Trains and plane tickets can quickly get sold out and so do those for the most famous National Parks. To guarantee a balance between tourism and conservation, and to apply as less pressure as possible on natural habitats, protected areas only allow a restricted number of visitors per day.
As a solo traveler in general, and a woman in particular, you want to be able to decide exactly what dates you want go on safari, what zones you want to visit and how to travel to the final destination without any last minute stress.
- Choose your resort wisely.
Wildlife tourism in India is a growing business. Many resorts have opened on the fringe of protected areas and it’s often hard to choose where to stay. Do your research and pick a place run by expert wildlife professionals. The presence of a resident naturalist or the skills of an expert tiger tracker who gets daily updates on sightings can make a real difference on your safari experience.
Ultimately, choose a resort where you will feel safe and welcome as a solo female traveler.
Shergarh tented camp is a lovely safari camp in Kanha Tiger Reserve. It is situated close to Mukki gate and is an ideal place to explore one of India’s finest protected areas.
Pugdundee Safaris has eco-friendly luxury resorts in the main National Parks of Madhya Pradesh.
- Visit a women friendly tiger reserve
For years wildlife tourism and photography have been a male-dominated field. Most of the people who would operate within the forest would have been seasoned men sporting a moustache under a well-worn leather hat. This situation has changed in the last years and many women nowadays frequent protected areas either professionally or out of passion.
Some of these reserves have proactively contributed to this change by giving training to local ladies. Kanha Tiger Reserve has been the first place in India to train and employ women as forest guides and drivers.
Pench Tiger Reserve has also a good number of ladies working in the forest on both the MP and the Maharashtra side.
All around the country, more and more women are attracted by the role of naturalist.
- Use your budget wisely.
Tiger and wildlife tourism are often not the cheapest of activities, especially if coupled with wildlife photography.
As a solo female traveler, you won’t have a companion to share a room with and hence the price for your stay might be on the higher side. Some places like the MP Tourism resorts in Madhya Pradesh offer the option to book a bed in a dorm. Check with the hotel if the dorms are mixed or not, then make your choice accordingly. Even if the price is tempting, there is a high risk of ending up sharing a room with young boys on a boozy weekend escapade.
For more tips on how to visit a Tiger Reserve on a budget, refer to my precedent article.
- Team up with like-minded people
Another good option for visiting a Tiger Reserve as a solo female traveler in India is to join a tour. These days, many wildlife-oriented tour operators offer trips to the main National Parks, organizing everything from airport pick up to stay and safaris. It’s also a fun way to getting to meet people with whom you have a common interest.
Some of these tour operators even organize tours specifically directed to women.
- Take some time off safaris and experience local village life
Tiger Reserves and National Parks are generally located in remote areas, where ancient traditions are still very much alive. These places are home to tribal populations with their specific culture and set of skills. Often, their relationship with the forest and their knowledge about it is extremely strong.
Visiting a village is a great way not only to discover rural life, but also to interact with people you wouldn’t normally have the occasion to meet.
Conservation cannot be achieved without the help and support of the local population. People living on the outskirts of protected areas are as important actors for wildlife protection as the Forest Department and the local government bodies.
A few NGOs intervene in protected areas to empower rural populations, to give them alternative sources of livelihood and to make them aware of their importance in conservation. Last Wilderness Foundation, for example, can organize village visits and workshops in the main Tiger Reserves of Madhya Pradesh.
Your resort can also help to organise a walking or cycling tour to the nearby villages.
Do you need help organising your solo female travel trip to the Indian Wilderness ? Contact us here.