Best Wildlife Sanctuary In Karnataka? 5 Lesser-Known But Spectacular Choices

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Explore Karnataka's best wildlife sanctuaries for sure wildlife sightings - 5 hidden gems away from the tourist crowds

Looking for a less crowded but amazing wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka? In the last 5 years, we have visited 12 out of the 17 wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka. Some sanctuaries more than 10 times! We know hotel staff names, safari drives, forest gate guards, and even the best local tea shop guy.

Here we capture our top 5 less crowded but thrilling wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka experiences minus the maddening tourist rush. Best of all, safaris and treks in these parks are a private experience and allow you to get close and personal with nature.

With more than 20 percent of its land under forest cover accounting for above 35000 square kilometers, any wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka is bound to leave you in awe of its natural heritage. Tigers, Indian wild dogs or Dholes, Gaurs, elephants, leopards, bears, antelope, and other exotic wildlife species are protected through the finest examples of wildlife conservation in the world.


Integrating 2 beautiful wilderness areas, Dandeli and the Anshi National Park, the Kali Tiger Reserve is a dense forest embracing the river Kali in the northern Western Ghats of Karnataka. Extending 1300 square kilometers, this wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka stands out as a biodiversity hotspot for the sheer number of species per square kilometer.


Tigers, elephants, Indian Gaur, leopards, the mysterious black panther, and the hornbill are only a few of its treasures. The park is also home to the freshwater crocodile. The waters of the Kali are world-famous for white water rafting.

Things to do: Wildlife safari, white water rafting, cave exploring, waterfalls, Kayaking, and birding.  

Location: Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka

Prominent tourists’ hubs: Anshi and Dandeli

Best time to visit: between October to May

Stay option: Kali River Lodge

Distance from Bangalore: 450 km

Safari Details: The Kali Tiger Reserve organizes jungle safari twice a day. Timings are as follows: 6:00 am – 8:00 am & 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Reporting Point: Phansoli.


Spanning the districts of Shimoga and Chikmagalur, the Bhadra Tiger reserves stretches from Muthodi in the south to Lakkavali in the North. Dense forests of the western ghats, surrounding the Bhadra reservoir are home to rich biodiversity and an excellent getaway from the crowded city.

wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka

Safari is run by jungle lodges at Lakkavali and the forest department at Muthodi. Tigers, leopards, elephants, and other superb sightings await visitors in these areas. The wildlife sanctuary is also known for spectacular scenic beauty, enticing nature photographers every year.

Things to do: Wildlife safari, water sports, Kayaking, trekking, and birding

 Location: Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka

Prominent tourists’ hubs: Lakkavali and Muthodi

Best time to visit: between October to May

Stay option: River Tern Lodge or Jungle Greens Homestay

Distance from Bangalore: 300 km

Safari Details: Jungle lodges at Lakkavalli and forest department at Muthodi


Divine evergreen rainforests blessed goddess Mookambika of the Mookambika temple, this wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka is wild and spiritual. Spanning over 370 sq km, the humid jungle is dotted with teak plantations creating a wilderness link between the Someshwara and Sharavathi wildlife sanctuaries.

wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka

Wild Animals such as tigers, wild dogs, sloth bears, wild boars, jackals, and deers along with gorgeous birdlife like the Myna, Drongo, Brahminy Kites, lapwings, Hornbill, Bulbul, Egrets, Kingfishers, Golden Oriole, Magpie Robin, Purple Sunbirds, and flycatchers beckon wildlife photographers from all over the world. Another feature here is the King Cobra, the largest venomous snake!

Things to do: Wildlife safari, temple visit, trekking, birding, hiking

Location: Udupi district of Karnataka

Prominent tourists’ hubs: Mangalore, Udupi, Kollur

Best time to visit: between October to May

Stay option: Aanejari Butterfly Camp-junglelodges

Distance from Bangalore: 430 km

Safari Details: Trekking organized by the forest department and drives through the forest.


‘Horse face’ or Kudremukh gets its name from the highest peak in this part of the Western Ghats. Steep precipices, gorges and valleys characterize this unique evergreen wilderness. Legend has it, that this peak guided sailors far out in the Arabian sea long before navigation systems were invented.


Lesser known and relatively remote, the Kudremukh national park of Karnataka boasts of idyllic trekking trails and some magnificent peaks.  Some sort after trails known to insiders are Kurinjal Peak, Gangadikal Peak, Seethabumi Peak, Valikunda, and Narasimha Parvatha.

The monsoons spring up milky white cascades in the form of numerous waterfalls in this park. The Kadambi waterfalls and Hanuman Gundi Falls are truly the wonders of these forests. River Tunga, Bhadra and Netravathi originate in these divine hills.

The sanctuary is home to more than 200 bird species apart from the native flora and fauna of the western ghats.

Things to do: Mountaineering, trekking, birding, hiking, waterfalls

 Location: Chikmagalur district of Karnataka

Prominent tourists’ hubs: Chikmagalur, Kudremukh

Best time to visit: between October to May

Stay option: Bhagvathi Nature Camp

Distance from Bangalore: 330 km

Safari Details: Trekking organized by the forest department and drives through the forest.


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A 14 sq km heaven made up of lush scrub forest and plantations bordered by farmland in the Mandya district of Karnataka makes up the Arabithittu Wildlife Sanctuary. The Arabithittu wildlife sanctuary is the second smallest wildlife sanctuary of Karnataka and was established on 30th April 1985.It is a place people visit to spend some quiet time with nature

Leopard, spotted deer, wild boar, mongoose, and porcupine are some of the animals you can spot at this wildlife sanctuary.

Things to do: nature drives, birding, hiking, lakes

 Location: Hunsur, Mandya district of Karnataka

Prominent tourists’ hubs: Hunsur, Mysuru

Best time to visit: between October to May

Stay option: Mysuru

Distance from Bangalore: 170 km

Safari Details: Visit is as per permission and direction of the forest department.


For your next vacation, skip the touristy and expensive wildlife tour. Use the opportunity to get personal with nature. These 5 wildlife sanctuaries of Karnataka options are less crowded, easy to get to, and offer great stay options.

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