Kaziranga National Park: Famous for One-Horned Rhinos, Awesome Assam
Kaziranga National Park is a wildlife sanctuary nestled in the lush green landscapes of the state of Assam in North east of India. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, tucked between the Golaghat and Nagaon districts in Lower Assam, is home to the world’s largest population of rare, great one-horned rhinoceros. Spread across 1000+ square km area, live around 2500+ beautiful one-horned rhinos along with many other species of birds and animals.
Kaziranga National Park has long been on our must-visit list. Luckily, we recently had the chance to experience Kaziranga's wildlife wonders for ourselves on an open-top jeep safari adventure. Kaziranga seriously amazed us with its diverse animals lurking around every corner. The national park houses over 2000 animals, including tigers, Asian elephants, hoolock gibbon, capped langurs, sloth bears, and of course, one-horned rhinos. All we can say is, get your cameras ready for an adventure of a lifetime! In this blog, we'll share everything you need to plan your own memorable trip to Kaziranga National Park. Ready? Let us show you how this animal lover's paradise in northeast India can dazzle you.
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Reaching Kaziranga National Park in Assam
Whether you're a wildlife enthusiast, nature lover, or simply looking for a unique travel experience in India, a visit to Kaziranga National Park should be on your bucket list! Located in Assam - the largest state in North east of India, the park does not have direct air or rail connectivity. However, it can easily be accessed through the nearest airports, train stations, and roads.
The closest airport is Rowriah Airport in Jorhat, located 97 kilometers from Kaziranga National Park in Assam. There are regular flights to Jorhat from major cities like Delhi and Kolkata. We hopped on to a shared taxi from the Jorhat town to reach Kaziranga, which took us about 2.5 hours.
Though flying to Jorhat is an easy option, the more well-connected option is Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, 217 kilometres away from Kaziranga National Park. From Guwahati, you can take a private taxi, shared taxi, train, or a bus to cover the 5-6 hour journey to Kaziranga.
The nearest railway station to Kaziranga National Park is Furkating Junction in the Golaghat district, which is about 80 kilometers away. Regular trains connect Furkating to Guwahati and Upper Assam. The onward journey to Kaziranga National Park by taxi or bus takes 2-3 hours.
Guwahati railway station, 240 km away, has connectivity across India. Take an overnight or day train to Furkating to continue your onward journey.
Kaziranga is located just off NH-37 connecting Guwahati, so there are regular buses between Guwahati and Kohora town (main town in Kaziranga) near the park entrance. The 230 km journey from Guwahati takes about 5-6 hours by bus. Shared taxis are also available from Guwahati, taking 4-5 hours. The nearby city of Tezpur in North Assam is 180 km away and is well connected to Guwahati and Upper Assam.
Best Time to Visit Kaziranga National Park
Winter: The winter months from November through April are the best to visit Kaziranga National Park. The weather is just perfect - sunny days, cool nights, not too hot or cold. Better than the humid summers! With clearer skies, winter brings a ton of cool migratory birds alongside Kaziranga's usual feathery residents. Grab your binoculars because it's a birdwatcher's paradise!
More importantly, February to April is when you'll spot the most animals. The grass is shorter, so the Kaziranga rhinoceros, elephants, and maybe even a tiger are easier to spot as they hang out in the marshes and grasslands. The water is lower too, so there are lots of animals gathering around the few watering holes that are still filled. And the cute baby animals are super playful this time of year!
Monsoon: The park closes due to flooding in monsoon months - May, June, July, August, and September.
Pro tip - Aim for November or April if you can. The national park officials cut the grass shorter in March, hence spotting animals in April becomes easier. Mid-winter (read, December) gets really crowded. Unless you don't mind the crowds and love a good Indian festival: The Magh Bihu celebrations, mid-December is also fine to visit Kaziranga National Park!
Types of Safaris in Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park offers a plethora of activities to immerse yourself in the treasure trove of wildlife. You can indulge in elephant safaris or adventurous jeep/gypsy safaris to truly explore the rich biodiversity the park harbors. To safeguard and manage this precious wildlife gem, the park has been divided into four zones: the Central/Kohora zone, the Eastern/Agaratoli zone, the Western/Bagori zone, and the Burapahar zone. Each range presents unique opportunities to witness diverse flora and fauna.
Jeep/gypsy safaris are conducted in all zones, whereas elephant safaris are limited to Bagori and Kohora gates.
1. Kaziranga National Park Elephant Safari
While we do not promote elephant safaris, the elephant ride allows visitors to traverse through various vegetation types, including tropical semi-evergreen, alluvial savanna woodlands, and tropical moist mixed deciduous forests. The chances of spotting one-horned rhinos are higher during elephant safaris, adding to the unique experience of exploring Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The mammal takes you on a guided tour on the periphery of the national park.
Timings for Elephant Safari:
Twice every morning (1 hour ride): 5 AM to 6 AM and 6 AM to 7 AM (Elephant safari slots are to be booked one day prior to your safari date)
Note: Elephant safaris run only from the Bagori gate (for Indians) and Kohora gate (for foreigners and VIPs)
2. Kaziranga National Park Jeep Safari
One of the most exciting ways to explore Kaziranga National Park in Assam is Kaziranga jeep safari. These guided tours allow visitors to cover expansive ground throughout the park in search of diverse wildlife. The jeep safari takes you to the heart of the dense national park. Cruising in 4x4 vehicles provides prime wildlife spotting opportunities.
Knowledgeable naturalist guides expertly navigate the dirt trails, stopping frequently when animals are sighted. Kaziranga jeep safari goers can hope to encounter iconic species like the Indian one-horned rhinoceros as well as elephants, tigers, wild buffaloes, and a myriad of birds.
Timings for Jeep Safari:
Twice each day (2 hour ride): 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM and 2 PM to 4 PM
Note: The early morning ride from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM is ideal for viewing active wildlife against the sunrise. Each elephant seats 2 passengers on its back.
Price of Safaris in Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Here is a quick insight into the cost of Safaris in Kaziranga National Park. However these could have changed and would request you to check the latest rates.
Disclaimer: Jeep/Elephant safari timings and rates change from season to season. Also note that separate camera charges may apply.
How to Book a Safari at Kaziranga National Park
The most convenient way for Kaziranga National Park safari booking is through your accommodation. Most resorts/hotels have safari help desks that can make all arrangements for you. Share your preferences with the staff and they will organize the vehicle pickup, entry permits, taxes, guide, etc. Payment is also handled via the hotel/resort. And no, they don't tend to charge you more. Just a couple of bucks extra.
You can also head to the official Kaziranga National Park Safari booking office located opposite to the park's main entrance gate (Central/Kohora gate). Go to the ticket counters to check availability and reserve your slots. Rates are displayed on a signboard outside.
Tip: If you are not in a group (maybe a couple/ solo traveller) and the entire jeep is expensive for you, wait at the ticket counter to share the jeep with other passengers. The jeep seats 6 passengers. Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure to complete formalities. Carry ID proof and a mosquito-repellant. Set out early to catch the best wildlife action!
Our Jeep Safari Experience
We do not promote/encourage animal riding. So, from early on we knew that we wouldn’t opt for elephant safari. Hence, we booked an early morning 7:30 AM open-top jeep safari through our resort in Kaziranga National Park in Assam. Our driver arrived at the hotel entrance to pick us up in a 4x4 vehicle right on time (around 7 AM). He had already handled purchasing the permits, taxes, and fees, so we just showed the entry tickets at the gate before cruising into the park. We had opted to enter through the Central/Kohora gate. Our enthusiastic naturalist guide cum driver reminded us to have cameras ready as he expertly navigated the bumpy dirt trails.
It wasn't long before we spotted our first wildlife - a large herd of Indian elephants with playful young calves staying close to their mothers. We stopped for 15 minutes as they crossed the road, admiring their graceful movements through our zoom lenses. Further along, noisy monkeys were shaking the tree branches and peering down curiously at our jeep and massive wild buffalos wallowed in a marsh nearby.
After about an hour spotting varied species of wildlife, our driver brought us to a wooden tower. We eagerly climbed up the platform, which offered an incredible 360-degree view over the vast grassland expanse. In the distance, we finally spotted two rare greater one-horned Kaziranga rhinoceros peacefully grazing by a wetland. A thrilling sight! We spent quite some time at the tower-top, admiring the rhinoceros with our camera’s zoom lens.
Just before exiting the park, we caught a glimpse of a lone adult rhino bathing in a marsh, dangerously close to the road. We held our breath as the massive beast slowly emerged, allowing us to admire its intricate skin texture and prominent horn up-close before it snorted and retreated into the tall grass.
Inside Kaziranga National Park, you are not allowed to disembark from the jeep, with the exception of specifically designated areas, such as the viewing tower and a lake. Despite this restriction, our overall experience was delightful, and we were fortunate enough to spot some Kaziranga one-horned rhinoceros during the safari.
Other Things to Do in Kaziranga
1. Enjoy Leisure Time at Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park
The Orchid Park in Kaziranga is a really cool spot that any nature lover should check out. They've got a super impressive collection of rare orchids. They also have vegetable garden, cactus garden, nursery, bamboo garden, museum, souvenir shop, restaurant and more. The best part is wandering through right before sunset when all the flowers are blooming - it's gorgeous!
Besides the orchids, they also have traditional music and dance shows at night. Grab a seat and watch the colorful costumes twirling around. It's thrilling to see the local culture. And you can't leave without trying the tasty tea they serve. There's also a nice little restaurant if you fancy a huge lunch/dinner platter. Do not forget to try out authentic Assamese thali to taste the local cuisine.
Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park is an awesome spot to really experience Kaziranga National Park's natural beauty and cultural traditions up close. After spending the day on safari spotting rhinoceros and other wildlife, it's the perfect place to kick back amidst the gorgeous flowers, sip some chai, and absorb the local vibe.
2. Visit the Kakochang Waterfall
Kakochang Waterfall is a serene escape hidden in pristine wilderness in Kaziranga town. You can also admire the ruins of the historic Numaligarh fort from this picturesque spot. The natural beauty of the falls is enhanced by the surrounding vistas of lush tea plantations blanketing the landscape. The trek to reach the waterfall's base takes you on an enchanting journey through untamed nature at its finest.
3. Take a Tour of the Tea Estates
Exploring the sprawling tea gardens surrounding Kaziranga offers an unforgettable experience for the senses. These gardens are exquisite gems that fill the region with immense pride and charm. Globally famous for producing Assam's distinctive, bold black tea, these plantations contain one of the largest tea growing areas in the world. For any tea lover, walking through the seemingly endless rows of lush green tea bushes, learning about cultivation practices, and sipping fresh brews at local factories promises a one-of-a-kind tea tourism adventure.
4. Shop for Traditional Souvenirs
Kaziranga offers many unique opportunities to shop for traditional Assamese souvenirs - each infused with artistic flair and cultural symbolism. Chat with friendly shopkeepers to learn about tribal designs and the stories behind the crafts. Haggle for deals on these wonderful handmade treasures to take a piece of Assam’s rich artistic heritage home with you.
5. Visit Assamese Tribal Village
Visiting the tribal villages near Kaziranga provides a fascinating glimpse into traditional local lifestyles and culture. You can get an authentic understanding of indigenous communities' daily existence and way of life. Witnessing their artistic talents firsthand is truly captivating - residents craft intricate handicrafts brimming with cultural meaning and creativity.
Where to stay in Kaziranga
You can find various types of accommodations in Kaziranga to suit your needs. From luxury resorts to budgeted homestays, all these accommodations should be able to arrange a visit to national park for you. We would suggest booking a suitable accommodation in advance, at least during peak seasons (November to April). If you are visiting in peak season, it is also advisable to call them in advance to ensure there is no double booking or any other issues with your stay. Below table gives you some shortlisted stays across different price ranges that you could consider for stay in Kaziranga. Click on icons to check availability and current price.
Kaziranga National Park showcases India's incredible wildlife and natural heritage. Safaris offer adventurous ways to admire exotic species roaming freely in their native habitat. We highly recommend adding this UNESCO site to your travel bucket list! Save this pin if you find this article useful and would like to save it for later.
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