Kaziranga – One horn nation
When I logged into my dashboard today, I realized that it’s been over 3 months since I wrote anything on my blog. What have I been up to? Well, besides the usual tripping on life minus a couple of chaotic weekends.. hmm.. a planned trip to Assam, couple of more chaotic weekends and then an “intervention” by my loved ones- I’ve been great! But, I did miss writing about a first-hand experience- which is why I’m here.
I’ll cut to the chase- this experience is about a wildlife safari at a national park- the Kaziranga National park. The planned trip to Assam was a week long trip for a good friend’s wedding. In the wedding itinerary was a surprise overnight trip for us to this popular wildlife reserve. The bride’s uncle happened to be the chairman of the Assam Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. and so we were accommodated at a guest house maintained by ATDC- Aranya lodge.
Kaziranga is roughly 200 km from Guwahati and the drive is about 3-4 hrs depending upon what mode of transport you choose. Since there were quite a few of us, we booked a mini-van (tempo traveler) and the journey took us about 5 hrs including a stop for breakfast. We reached the guest house at around 12.30 pm and our safari was scheduled at 3 pm. The safari was organized by the personnel at the guest house and price varied from INR 1500 to INR 2300 depending upon the “range” you choose to visit.
Kaziranga wildlife park is broadly divided into central, western and eastern range. We were scheduled for a visit to the Eastern range which is INR 2000 (cost per jeep). The next obvious question is- how do you decide which range to visit? The information I got from the locals is sketchy but reliable. If you visit the Eastern region you will be able to see Elephants, Sambar Deers and the One-horned Rhinoceros whereas the Western region is a sanctuary to migrating birds- so, you see more bird species.
The Central region is more dense and requires special permission and apparently foreigners are not allowed to take Elephant rides in this region owing to an accident that happened a couple of years back. If you are in it for the Tigers, let me tell you that you really need to be lucky to spot one since they are always said to be behind tall grass and many say that you really have to follow their trail to spot them- let alone come close to one (mad or what?).
Unfortunately, I do not have up close pictures of the wildlife we saw during the safari as I didn’t carry my DSLR and was happily operating my GoPro. The duration of the safari was about an hour and we got back to our guest house at around 5 pm (before sunset). Aranya lodge has cottages and deluxe rooms- both at reasonable rates. The guest house also houses a bar and the in-house restaurant serves amazing food- again at fairly reasonable rates.
Later in the evening, we were invited to an event that showcased traditional dances of Assam after which we were treated to a sumptuous dinner. For any queries pertaining to the hotel, please check the ATDC website or you can comment below- I will respond. That was pretty much what I can recall happened during this short trip because the rest of the night we pretty much sat around a bonfire- drinking, making merry and pretty much listening to ‘Deep House’ numbers.
What is surprising is- why didn’t I think about this- a wildlife safari? We grew up learning about these national parks, marvelling at their magnificence yet how many of us have actually paid a visit? It was a surreal experience and there were moments my eyes teared thinking about how beautiful and majestic these creatures are and yet, what are we doing to ensure the continuity of their species? It’s time that we really gave it a thought.