Kaziranga National Park (The call of the wild)
What happens when you have been waiting 20 years to visit a destination? Your expectations shoot through the roof and most often when you reach the destination you are disappointed that it was not worth the wait!! It was with such trepidation that I reached Kaziranga.
Kaziranga National Park in Assam is a World Heritage Site and hosts around two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses. There are two different ways to watch and experience these great beasts. The first option is the Elephant Safari and the second option is the Jeep Safari.
The Elephant Safaris start early in the morning and last for one hour. Usually it is done between 5:30-7:30 A.M, so you need to get your alarms ready and leave the hotel around 4:30 A.M. to reach the safari site. But, the pain of waking is worth it as the Elephants take you really close to the rhinos. We were almost in touching distance of a couple of rhinos and it was really a great view of watching these beasts in their own environments.
What is also great to watch and experience is the balance of the elephants as they walk through tough terrains with the weight of 6-8 visitors on their backs. Apart from the rhinos, we were also able to see bisons, deer and various other small animals. This undoubtedly was the highlight of our North East trip and is something that should not be missed!!
Note: If you have young kids then you need to be careful as there are not very good safety devices or belts. So parents need to keep a tight hold on the kids.
The second of the safaris is the Jeep Safari. This safari allow visitors to cover a larger distance of the park and gives a chance to view more animals and birds. But as the Jeeps can only travel on fixed roads, the view of the animals is from a distance. Also, the rides are more bumpy and dusty. During this safari we got to see some wild elephants, rhinos, bisons, lots of deer, birds, snakes etc. There was also a small lookout where we could get down and stretch our legs and watch the animals graze around a water hole. Unlike the Elephant Safari, the Jeep Safaris are there all through the day and one can select a suitable time as per their schedule. The best times though are the early part of the day or just before dusk which in these areas is around 4:30-5:00 p.m.
Note: Due to the dust, I would recommend visitors to have suitable dust masks or clothes to cover their nose and also hats or caps to cover their hairs.
Personal Rating on a scale of 10
10 (As an animal lover, this is the sanctuary to be in!! The Jeep Safari was good, but the Elephant Safari was simply brilliant!!)
Caution: The hotels in Kaziranga are not very much developed and only 1 or 2 of them are well developed. So in case you are looking for comfort in stay, better do your research and get the hotels right. This was one part of our trip that went sour, but we survived the hotel!!