Best for: Tigers, water buffalo, rhinos, (wild) elephants, golden langur, (a rare orange-furred monkey), Bengal florican (an endangered two-foot-tall bird)
Logistics: Situated on the border between Bhutan and Assam, India, this refuge is a four-hour drive from the city of Guwahati (and near Kaziranga park). Divided by the Manas River, this 89,000-acre preserve maintains UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is currently recovering from a decade of tribal and political turmoil. Safari options include Jeep tours and elephant rides, plus outboard raft excursions on the water. The park is open from October to April; January to March is peak period for fine weather and wildlife spotting.
Accommodations: The rustic, 16-room Bansbari Lodge is simple, clean, and convenient, and will arrange boat tours on the Manas Rivers. An on-site camp naturalist will help arrange terrestrial and water-based safaris (doubles from $120; www.assambengalnavigation.com).
Tip: Sip refreshment at a local tea garden like Adabarie Tea Estate—a century-old, 22-acre property an hour by car from the lodge and sanctuary; your hotel will provide directions.