Tadoba has had a fantastic record for tiger sightings over the past few years and has become the favourite destination for people wanting to see the magnificient beast. MTDC at Tadoba is 'the' place to stay. It is located right inside the buffer zone. The Mohurli gates are a five minute drive from the MTDC resort. MTDC booking can be done here.
Safari permits can be booked online here. Booking can be done 60 days in advance. It is advisable to book your permits on the first day of their availability. Especially so if you are going during the peak season. Permit costs Rs. 750/- on weekdays and Rs 1000/- on weekends. MTDC officials can help you book the jeeps/guide for the safari. Jeeps cost us Rs 2000/- per safari. In addition to this you need to pay Rs 300/- per safari for the guide at the entrace. Additional Rs 200/- need to be paid for lenses bigger than 250mm. A jeep can accomodate 6 people but it ideal to keep the number of people per jeep to 4 or lesser. (especially so if there are serious photographers in the group)
Duronto Express makes for an excellent option for travelling from Mumbai. It is a non-stop train from VT to Nagpur. It reaches early enough so that you can do the evening safari after lunch and a siesta. Though it does not have a pantry car, dinner seemed to be available. On the way to Tadoba eat "poha" at the road side stall at Kasturchand Park. Highly recommended.
It is imperative that you book a good guide for your safaris. You can find a few names in Tripadvisor recommended by other travellers.
As per our guide, the peak time for Tadoba is in the summers when the number of Tiger sightings goes up dramatically. According to him it is also the best time for bird watching.
We did 6 safaris in Tadoba and got 5 tiger sightings. In addition we saw Indian Bison, Neel Gai, Deer, Mongoose, Langurs and rabbit. We also saw Jungle Owlet, Open Billed Stork, Black Drongo, Purple Swamphen, Green Bee-eater, Purple Heron, Darter, Pea Fowl, Jungle Fowl, Cormorants, Kingfisher, Woodpecker, Lesser Whistling Ducks, Grey Heron, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Crested Serpant Eagle, Plum Headed Parakeet, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Black Shouldered Kite, Shikra, Yellow Footed Green Pigeon and Red Naped Ibis.
Tadoba is a beautiful forest and the trails go through some very dense foliage. You need more than a single trip to admire Tadoba between different seasons as the forest changes its colours. I plan to go there again in the summers.