Kaziranga National Park is a world-famous park famous for its one-horned rhinos. It is also a World UNESCO Heritage Site.
How to reach:
Kaziranga National Park is surrounded by many major North-East cities like Guwahati, Jorhat, & Tezpur. The biggest airport & the city is Guwahati.
From Guwahati – 220 km: It’s a 4 hours’ drive from Guwahati airport to Kohora (The entrance of Kaziranga National Park). Kohora is the town where most of the accommodations are available.
From Tezpur – 77 km: It’s the nearest city from Kaziranga National Park. You can easily reach the park from Tezpur under 2 hours.
From Jorhat – 89 km: Jorhat is another place from where you can come to the park under 2 hours. If you are planning to go to Jorhat after your Kaziranga safari, do not forget to visit Majuli district.
Transport options to reach the park:
There are many bus services to the national park on regular intervals from these cities. You can also hire a private taxi to reach the park. Also, look out for shared cabs around the bus stations of these cities, usually this mode of the transport is the most comfortable & pocket-friendly way to reach the park.
You can also rent a car & drive yourself to the national park. The road from Guwahati to Kaziranga National Park is flawless. Awe Rides in Guwahati is one great option to rent a car or a bike.
Best Season: October to March
Things to do in Kaziranga National Park:
Ranges of Kaziranga National Park
Before booking any safari, know the ranges of the park. It is mainly divided between 3 ranges.
- Eastern Range
- Western Range
- Central Range
If you want to visit Agaratoli for its famous bird sanctuary, you have to go deep in the Eastern range. Northern Range is not very famous & it’s far away. Burapahar Range is also a lesser known range but a true heaven for photographers.
Which Range to choose?
The most popular ranges are Western range at Bagori & Central range at Kohora. Most of the Elephant & jeep safaris start & end here.
I took up an Elephant Safari in Western range. It has 3 timeslots:
- 5 am to 6 am
- 6 am to 7 am
- 7 am to 8 am
To be honest, my experience in this safari ranges from bad to frustrating.
- They put about 6 adults on ONE Elephant which is inhuman. It is not possible for all these 6 adults to sit comfortably as well.
- You can only see the side view, hence if there is a Rhino in front of the Elephant, you have to adjust a lot just to get glimpses of it.
- Elephants do not stand still at one place even after spotting a rhino (Or maybe that’s up to the Mahavat), hence forget good pictures. It is not possible to click even a single clear picture despite of carrying the best equipment.
- Another problem (if you are an animal lover) is that they hit the Elephant a lot. It is just painful to see that.
I do not recommend the Elephant Safari in any of these ranges because of these problems.
Cost: About Rs. 825 per person including the one-day entry permit. Camera fee is 100 per camera. For foreigners, different rates are applicable.
I took up a Jeep Safari in the Central range. It was a lot better experience than the Elephant ride. The Jeep Safari can be done between 7 am to 11 am or 1 pm to 4 pm. You don’t need any advanced booking for this safari.
- Jeeps can’t get as close to Rhinos as Elephants so do not forget to bring Zoom lens for your camera. Or carry a binocular. Usually the jeep has at least 1 binocular but it’s better to ask before.
- Jeeps can do deeper in the jungle because of its speed. You can explore a lot more area than you can on an Elephant. The chances of seeing Rhinos & other animals automatically increase.
- Jeeps can stand still whenever you spot an animal. You can quietly take perfect pictures without disturbing the animal.
- Most importantly, jeeps are open hence it gives you a good 360* view of the jungle. Spot an animal or a bird, ask the driver to stop, take pictures & move on.
I’d definitely recommend jeep safari for both Western & Central ranges. Avoid Elephant Safari for above reasons & opt for the Jeep.
Cost: Different ranges have different prices. I paid Rs. 2,000 for a complete Central Range Safari (entire Jeep). You can share the cost with other passengers. 6 people (+1 driver) can be fitted in a single jeep.
Days to spend:
Day 1: If you are coming to Guwahati by air & then to Kaziranga National Park, you will spend almost the entire day reaching here. Sunset around 4:30 PM.
Don’t miss out on a Kohora Sanskritik Sandhya which happens just behind the booking office. You can experience the Assamese culture, ethic food & beautiful traditional dances & music. The event starts from 7 PM goes on for about 1.5 hours. There’s an entry fee of Rs. 100.
Day 2: If you are going for the Elephant safari, you’ll be done with it by at the most 8 am. After that, go for a Jeep safari almost instantly to avoid heat. Try to go for a Jeep safari on the same day to save on the park entrance fees & camera fees.
Here are few things that you need to keep in mind:
- Resorts in Kaziranga National Park are expensive as shit. Go for government lodges for a night stay. I stayed at Bonoshri Lodge (Government lodge) for 600 per night.
- You might not like the food. There are very few options for good dinner but even that might not satisfy your taste buds. It is better to stock up some snacks to munch on at night.
- Do not fall for special safari trips for higher prices. There are restrictions for certain areas & tourists can’t venture there without special permissions.
- Check with the Assam government’s ticket booking office for the accurate prices. Others might try to rip you off with weird charges.
- Behave responsibly in the jungle & around animals. Kaziranga National Park is very clean & let’s try to keep it that way.
Picture Credits: Parichay Mehta