Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga is one of the oldest National parks in India and it is the largest habitat for Indian single horned rhinos (rhinoceros unicornis). Kaziranga is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kaziranga National Park was said to be first recognized around 1940, but was established in 1974
Flora and fauna
103 tigers (2017 census), 1048 elephants (2002 census), 2048 rhinos (2009 census), 1431 buffalo (2001 census) and 486 swamp deer. Kaziranga also houses more than 546 species of flora. Kaziranga is said to have about 86 tigers, which is the highest density of tigers in the world (1 every 5 sq. km, 2000 census)
Visitors seldom see tigers due to the dense, tall grass. The rhinoceros is the real star of the park. Kaziranga also has one of the very last populations of truly wild Asian water buffalo, but even here there are many feral descendants of domesticated water buffalo, and hybridization occurs. The park is also the last haven for greater adjutant storks, with fewer than one hundred nesting pairs.
Climate is typically tropical. Varies from very hot and humid in summer (April to June) and cold nights and warm days in winter (from November to January). Kaziranga gets flooded by the water of Brahmaputra almost every year, during monsoon. The rainy season prevails from June to August. During rain, Kaziranga becomes inaccessible. Best time to visit Kaziranga is in September - October or February/March.
Guwahati (217 KM, Rs. 500), Jorhat (96 KM, Rs. 70), Nawgaon, Dibrugarh, Tezpur (75 KM, Rs. 50)or Tinsukia. Get down at Kohora, which is nearly the central part of the park on Guwahati-Jorhat route, would be around 6 hours in bus. If visiting Kaziranga from Arunachal Pradesh, Tezpur is the best destination from which to catch a bus towards Kaziranga. Bus fare varies between private services and Government service and are usually comfortable means considering its longest journey from Guwahati. Buses are also preferred to avoid any unwanted disturbances in the journey as they are considered safer.
Nearest airport is in Jorhat town 96 km in east and Guwahati airport 225 Km away in west from Kaziranga. More flights are from Guwahati connecting to Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati by regular flights.
The nearest railway station to Kaziranga is Furkating on east, which is 80 km away. Furkating is connected by trains from Guwahati, apart from Delhi and Kolkata. Guwahati is the nearest major railway station in west and is well connected with rest of India by train. However rail station Jakhalabandha on the west is just 40 Km away with 01 weekly train.
By Motorcycle ride
Another way to reach Kaziranga from Guwahati and kohima is by riding a motorcycle in a group, which is conducted as guided motorcycle tours in the state of Assam and adjoining states. Tours are operated by various adventure tourism firms. These adventure motorbike tours covers the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh, giving a traveller to visit to not only popular places but also rural parts of the region to experience first-hand of tribal cultures and traditions.
As of November 2016 the entrance fee is Rs. 650 for foreign nationals and Rs. 100 for Indian citizens.
Jeep Ride: Based on which part of the National Park one wants to visit, the jeep fare may vary. Central Range: Rs. 2550 for 6 person from Kohora, Western Range: Rs. 2750 for 6 person from Kohora, Eastern Range : Rs. 2550 for 6 person from Bokakhat , Kalapahar Range: Rs. 3550 for 6 person from Kohora as of Jan 2015. It is recommended to visit the Western and the Central Ranges both by Elephant and Jeep Eastern Range only by jeep. Eastern Range is also a must for bird lovers, which can be visited during the morning session to have more time in watching their habitat. Also one can have more possible chance to see the Royal Bengal Tiger in the Eastern Range
Elephant Ride: Rs. 500 per person (Central Range) + Rs. 25 guard fee + Rs50 entry fee. One can see Rhinos very up and close while on an elephant ride. There are two batches (0515-0615 Hrs & 0615-0715 Hrs) for the elephant ride. It is advisable to take the trip in the later slot during the months of winter as fog and late sunrise does not allow one to see anything during the first slot.
There are extra charges for carrying cameras (Rs. 500 [Rs. 50] still, Rs. 1000 [Rs. 500] video) inside the park.
The charges are different for Indian and foreign tourists. First mentioned prices apply to foreigners, prices for Indian citizens follow in brackets. Higher charges apply for professional photographers and film makers.
Two methods of getting closer to wildlife are by authorised jeeps and elephant backs. The jeep can be booked at government kiosks early morning, where you might probably find the driver to be accomodating and getting all premissions done by himself. You may as well request to get that jeep for the afternoon ride as well and plan accordingly.
The planning is better done before you start your safari, not just for the lunch breaks and timings but as well as the parts you would like to visit. The Central and western park can be visited for spotting rhino, elephants and deers, which are in abundance. The tiger can as well be spotted based on few other factors apart form luck, e.g., the timing of the year like February would be ideal as well as early morning and late afternoon are time you should be inside Kaziranga on a Jeep.
The Western park is usually meant for migratory birds and the ideal time to visit the place is during the winters and the trip could be a little longer than the other sides but the gear you might need to satisfy yourself are a good pair of binoculars, if your other financial responsibilities hasn't eaten away a zoom lens for your camera.
The Forest Range officers are as good as anyone on this earth to help you plan your stay as well, the best part being they are approachable. In case you are not of the metal to talk to any Government officials or cannot bear the sight of them, the second best alternative is the jeep kiosk where you can as well gather information.
Watch wildlife either from elephant back or from jeep. All the plain lands are infested by tall elephant grass, so it is more convenient to watch wildlife from elephant back. Rhinos, wild buffalo, hog deer etc can be easily seen from elephant back. Most of the animals are habituated with human presence and don't feel shy. Keeping a good binocular is a must on jeep or elephant back.
Different forest products are sold near Mihimukh entrance of Kaziranga NP. In Kohora, there are many shops, selling different kinds of forest products and local handicrafts.
Number of restaurants are limited in that area. All the tourist lodges have their own facility for food. Most of the time the food is little expensive. There is a office cum resting place for Network Buses, there food is available for non passengers too. Only few hotels are available at Kohora near National highway.
There are several wine shops at Kohora. Though liqueur is not cheap. Getting chilled bottle is not possible every time because there is acute power shortage in that area.
In Kohora (on Guwahati-Jorhat route) there is a huge campus of Assam Tourism Department just opposite to Kohora bus stop (when coming from Guwahati/Tezpur side). Here you can find a number of economical as well as deluxe accommodation (Rs 400-2000 per night per room) in a number of tourist lodges. It is very convenient to stay here as the office of "Kaziranga Development and Jeep safari association" is also located here hence you can directly book all your safari's without going through any agents in between.
Contact information for tourist lodges inside Assam Tourism Complex are as follows- Bonani (Bon Habi) - 03776-262423, 03776-262675, 03776-262575 Aranya- 03776-262429, Kohora forest IB-03776-262428, Bagori - 03672-283463
Director of Tourism can be also contacted: Guwahati : 0361-2547102, 2542748 Email: [email protected]
Some other commercial private resorts are:-
Camping is possible near laudubi.
Hiking in Kaziranga is prohibited to stop man-animal conflicts, so going on a jeep or elephant-back tour are the only options. There is malaria in the region, but night-flying mosquitos are not active during the winter months which are the ideal time for visiting. Most local cases of malaria occur in the summer, when the park is closed anyway.
Drive down to Sibsagar, in Upper Assam, to visit the famed "Rong Ghor", an Amphitheatre built by Ahom Kings for their entertainment.