Tucked in the heart of Assam, lies a milestone in the annals of Indian natural history – Kaziranga National Park. This UNESCO designated World Heritage site is not only home to the greatest population of the Indian Rhinoceros, but a dazzling array of flora and fauna that few other places in the world can match. Our plan was quite simple – spend more than a week exploring the vast ranges of national park and document its denizens.
We arrived at Jorhat Airport and were greeted by the effervescent Gautam Saikia, a veteran naturalist who runs the beautiful Dhansiri Eco-Camp. A short drive later, we were at the camp, having tea with the Bramhaputra on side and Kaziranga on the other. The next morning, Gautam Da drove us in to the Eastern Range of the park; the first of a dozen drives where we discovered why Kaziranga is truly, one of the jewels of India
Our constant friend in the Eastern range was this family of Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) that had a large den in mud-bank. While the adults spent most of the afternoons resting, the energetic young were ever on the lookout for a spot of mischief.One of the most endearing sights of the trip was this baby rhino, barely a few months old – foraging with its mother. Young rhinos stay with their mothers for nearly four years – one of the longest for any mammal. Sometimes, older calves continue to accompany their mothers even after a newborn arrives.
Leaving you with a short video of the astounding wildlife of Kaziranga
Even after a week, and more than 200 GB of images and videos – we felt that we had barely scratched the surface of what Kaziranga had to offer. Needless to say, it will be park that will be visited often. And in case you plan to go any time soon, sharing a few tips that might be useful
Location – Golaghat and Nagaon Districts, Assam – India 26°40′N 93°21′E
Access – Nearest major airports are Guwahati (240km away) for the Central and Western zones and Jorhat (75km) for the Eastern zone. Jorhat however, has lesser flight connectivity than Guwahati. Nagaon and Furkating Jn are convenient railheads for the Central and Easter zones respectively.
Eat / Drink – Except for the Central zone, where there are plenty of cafes and restaurants on the main highway at Kohora – there is little to eat at the main gates in Eastern and Western ranges. Ask your hotel to provide packed lunches.
Other Tips – November toFebruary is the best time to visit Kaziranga. The forest department burns parts of grasslands to manage them, in early March. This potentially disturbs sightings. The park stays open till May – and then closes for the monsoons. Park re-opening is dependent on the extent of monsoons and flooding. Typically parts of the park reopen in mid to late October.
Wildlife is often spotted at a distance. Hence it is advisable to carry telephoto lenses of at least 400mm. Do carry wide angle lenses for spectacular landscape shots as well.