Tuesday, 30 August 2016

JEEP SAFARI & ELEPHANT SAFARI IN KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK

JEEP SAFARI & ELEPHANT SAFARI IN KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK





Kaziranga National Park is surrounded in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts in the state of Assam. The main attraction of this great sanctuary is the home to the unique One Horned Rhinoceroses. The two third of these Rhinoceroses in the entire world are preserved in this sanctuary. This is also selected by UNESCO as one of the great World Heritage Sites.

Reasons to Visit:

1.      Kaziranga is one of the best wildlife experiences in Assam along the southern bank of the Brahmaputra
2.      In 1985 it is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
3.      Enjoy one of the best national park experiences in India
4.      Kaziranga is renowned as home for the great Indian One-horned Rhinoceros.
5.      The Park is also well visited by its tiger population and migratory birds
Range, Burapahar (Ghoraketi) Range are present to enjoy game drive i.e. Jeep Safari.
7.      And one must not miss the Elephant Safari early in the morning in its vacation menu.

It has been noted that many tourists need to know the details & information about the Game Drive of Kaziranga National Park i.e. Elephant Safari & Jeep Safari. Please find details of the Safari available as of year 2016 and till March 2017.

In Kaziranga at present you need not pre-book Jeep Safari but Elephant ride is a problem. If clients are foreigners they get preference in Central Range for Elephant Ride.

With Indian clients you would need to pre-book and please read below to understand why and how it is done.

There is a Park Fees for Indians as well as Foreigners. Also for Elephant Ride there is compulsory contribution to Forest Guard Welfare Fund. There is no concession to children below 12 years as it is used to be earlier.


As you know elephant ride trip is conducted in the early hours. There are 2 trips, one is at 5 am and the other is at 6 am. The duration is for 1 hour. A group of riding elephants goes on an ascertained route on the border of the Park and close sighting of rhino, swamp deer and buffalo is possible. There are two places where this can be done.

There are two places where elephant ride is conducted:

The Kaziranga National Park and Kaziranga Tiger Reserve authorities have their own Department elephants and the ride conducted in Mihimukh (i.e. on the edge of Central Range area) is done by these elephants. Kaziranga Department elephants are part of their anti-poaching staff. These Department elephant are in that sense government servants and they go on retirement and get a pension for their upkeep. The Departmental elephants main duty is in anti poaching and related activities  In normal times i.e. in all seasons elephants are the only mode of traversing to check poaching, comb wet grassland areas for animal carcass. In the wet season more places get inaccessible including the 200 anti poaching forest guard camps inside the Park and these elephants need to take rations and aid normal patrolling activities and help traverse upto the boat embarking points. . During the dry months starting from Nov to about April some of these elephants are used for taking tourists. And thus for the visitors who are permitted to come to Kaziranga during the dry months (the winter months Nov to April) these elephants are deployed to carry visitors on their back. These elephants not only carry visitors on their back but also carry the burden of being the main stay of our State’s tourism attraction. In the elephant ride conducted in Mihimukh (Central Range) i.e. where Department elephants carry visitors on their back foreign tourists are allowed and as their rates are distinct from that of Indians the Forest Department gives them first preference. In the other elephant ride conducted by the Department in the Western Range foreigners are not allowed. In the Central Range elephant ride you cannot book elephant seats in advance you need to line up the day before.

The   elephant ride conducted by the Forest Department in the Western Range of the Park was started a decade or so ago. This was done to in order to accommodate Indian tourists and also the Department were sensitive about the  pressure on their own colleagues (the elephants of the Department) For this purpose captive  elephants belonging to private individuals were invited under a screening system and  engaged by the Forest Department. It was also an exercise to mitigate a problem that surfaced due to the lack of trees in our Managed Forests. North East Indian states have a population of about 2000 captive bred elephants and traditionally elephants were used by both government and timber contractors for logging and carrying timber logs as also in traversing inaccessible areas. However over the years forest have become depleted of trees and so timber operations have come to a near standstill  and also more and more places have become accessible by way of motorable roads and because of this over 1500 elephants have become idle in the seven states of the NE region. Because of this some owners of captive bred elephants have come under an arrangement with the Forest Department in places like Kaziranga and other National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.  And in Kaziranga this ride is being conducted in the Western range (Baguri).

Why booking of seats for visiting by elephant back can be done in advance in Western Range Elephant ride area?

Kindly note that  other than Fridays, Saturdays eve of public holidays and the period between 21st December to 2nd Jan there is little demand for elephant seats and as it is not feasible for private owners to keep elephants idle the Government allows some of the owners to book seats also. The owners are remunerated only if there elephants are used for rides and so they have to try selling seats on days when the demand for seats is not there. It is understood that out of compulsion the owners are sending their elephants for visitor’s purpose and paid a pittance (but natural fodder for the elephants are available in Kaziranga area which may not be available in the elephant owners home area) so as they get only a percentage of the revenue earnings they are allowed to sell seats in advance. In any case on crowded days they too cannot give elephant seats.


Every day in season time the representative goes to line up in the Elephant counter on behalf of their guests. The counter opens every evening at 7.30 pm. On days there are no crowds it is a bit easy to obtain seats. Over the years visitors to Kaziranga has increased and accommodation providers like us also grew in numbers and so the representatives of visitors increased especially on crowded days i.e. weekends and eve of public holidays and soon Tiger Reserve (TR) authorities insisted that they carry a form duly filled up by the concerned guests (we enclose in attachment the said form) along with an identity card. However in the recent times  it has been noticed that the demand  for getting a seat on elephant back has grown tremendously and people began to queue up from 2 pm in the afternoon for a seat (when counter opens at 7.30 pm).

The matter has become a bit unmanageable for TR authorities on crowded days. And there has been cause to believe that genuine visitors queuing up were being denied. So the TR authorities have ruled that   the visitor himself should line up in queue and so we cannot represent them in the queue. Those coming in for 2 nights (as you are proposing to) you cannot possibly stand in line from 2 pm to ensure seats on elephant back. On certain dates when there is no crowd then elephant seats can be obtained. So we have given you this information.

So now under normal circumstances you will be able to get elephant ride if you are lucky. However on dates when there is no overcrowding then we behalf of our guests get it done along with the form duly filled up and an identity card or similar document. But it is difficult to pin point on which dates there will be overcrowding.

After elephant ride you can take a Gypsy game drive (safari) for either half day in morning and again on same day in the afternoon.  

However note that these elephant rides take place at the very edge of the Park. Entry by vehicle (i.e. the game drives which is also called Jeep Safari) is more interesting and important. Jeep Safari is allowed in three ranges and one visit we call it as half day game rides.  The Central Range entry is allowed after 7.45 am and the Eastern Range & Western Range entry is allowed at 7.30 am.


In Kaziranga at present you need not pre-book Jeep safaris. Only Gypsy (Suzuki Samurai type vehicles) are allowed and those registered by Park authorities. They sit six comfortably if a guide and a forest guard accompanies then 4-5 can only go.

The cost of Jeep Safari differs in all the Ranges i.e. Central Range, Western Range, Eastern Range and Ghorakati Range and it is not same. The Cost includes Jeep hire, Road Toll and Guard fees. If you want a naturalist guide than it can charge from Rs 1000/- to Rs 1500/-

DESCRIPTION OF ABOVE ROUTES / RANGES:

Kaziranga is a marshland & lowland habitat which guests must understand so the game drive is on tracks and vehicles cannot go off these pathways. At the same time you are not allowed to walk as the Park has a huge large herbivore population as for example park has over 2000+ rhinos, about 1000+ swamp buffaloes and 900+ plus elephants and it is dangerous  sometimes. We wish also to convey that in Kaziranga there is very lofty grass so animal viewing is mainly near the edge of wetlands and in short grass areas. The grassland is preserved by not permitting to colonize the trees in what is the sequence cycle. Tree or wood land is not favorable for the lowland species which the park authorities aim at conserving. This is done by patch wise annual burning of grass that burns all tree seedlings etc. These operations occur from January onwards depending on how dry the conditions are. Hence large scrapes of grassland are burned and it is said sometimes that viewing is better. But this is not exactly true. Actually from November onwards Park- visitation is recommended. Assam has a two-monthly seasonal change and so in the environs in Kaziranga such change are perceptible. It gets drier and drier till around March but occasional unseasonal rain settles the dust.

CENTRAL RANGE:

This Jeep Safari (Game drive) covers central region of the park. It is a perfect opening to the park and its environmentalism as the route covers the entire gamut of surroundings types prevalent in the Kaziranga area. (Though Brahmaputra view is not available but a stretch of the route goes by the tributary river Difloo)  Possibly you can view elephants along with the other big animals especially the swamp buffalo and of course the rhino. In the extensive short grass yards next to the wetlands the rare Swamp Deer groups can be seen easily. Technically Swamp Deer is more endangered than the Asian one-horned Rhino as far as world population is concerned.  Birding in a wide range of habitats. Birding looks for look for Spot billed Pelican, Pallas Fish Eagle, Swamp Francolin, Lesser Adjutant etc. Also other water birds such as Bareheaded Goose, Grey headed Lapwing, Black necked Stork etc. Part of the Jeep Safari is also through forests (key species: Himalayan Flame back, Khaleej pheasant, Streak throated woodpecker several species of In ornate Warblers, Parakeet, Greenish and Blue-bearded Bee-eater etc. are good sunset pictures. It takes 15-30 minutes to get to the entry point. The total circuit of approx. 25 km in mid- November total access of the permitted tourist route may not be possible. But this does not affect sighting mid- November is an excellent time please note and as far as sighting is concerned the deliberation of most of the animal is on the southern side of the Park and the  permissible tourist route goes along this area  We allot a guide for your purpose who will orient you about the Park and this may make things better (you pay him according to your satisfaction but if you need special guide it will cost Rs 1000 you talk direct as a matter of fact you will pay all forest related activities direct or to or through him).

WESTERN RANGE:

In order to reach the entrance of this Range it takes 25-40 minutes by jeep depending on the hotel / resort you are staying. The route traverses the southwest portion of the park. This range is most favorable habitat for Rhinos and Water buffaloes because of the maximum short grass areas. From the Dunga Tower you can view a panorama of short grass edged wetland, patches of tall grassland and woodland in the background and animals can be sighted in its natural representation.  Some part of the drive is also all the way through Low Alluvial Savannah Woodland.  Immigration of grassland by Lagerstroemia trees can be seen.  A round of the entire circuit is around 12 km.  Birding mainly grassland and water birds as also raptors, Look for Chestnut-capped Babbler, Swamp Francolin, Black faced and Yellow Breasted Buntings (probable) Finn's Weaver is also possible among commoner sightings Baya and Black-Throated. It is advised that if you want to see Rhinos than visit Western Range and Central Range.

EASTERN (AGARATULI) RANGE:

Situated towards the Eastern part of the park. Also less frequented.  The area is excellent for birding which includes nesting of the internationally endangered Pallas's Fish Eagle and a gathering of Spot-billed Pelicans. Migrant waterfowl may be observed at Sohola Beel. A variety of woodland birds can be spotted by the side of the drive through very scenic Dillenia Swamp Forest. Elephants may be encountered, along with Swamp Deer and Water Buffalo. It takes 40-50 minutes to reach depending on the area of hotel / resort you stay.  Tourist route approximately 20 km. part of the route gives an idea of the Brahmaputra River (only tourist route that goes partly by the river). 

GHORAKATI RANGE:  

This area is part of the addition to Kaziranga National Park. Scrubland some forty years ago it was under forest conservation management who apply for fast growing tree plantation but the low lying areas (now grassland ) was found not cost-effective for tree planting. A portion of this Range has areas having perfect wet lowland habitat attributes for transitory animals from Kaziranga National Park. Kaziranga management was in search for more areas for the ecological integrity of Kaziranga NP and with this in view The Ghorakati area as well as the hilly Kukrakata Reserve Forest has been taking over to Kaziranga. And only 5 years ago has been opened to visitors. You have to take a pass from Burapahar Range and you go on NH reach Panijuri camp Casual walk is allowed in Kukrakata hills which forms a firm bank for the Brahmaputra. In the forest region around you can spot sometimes Kukrata Hollock Gibbon. And game ride (Jeep Safari) is allowed now in Ghorakati range. 

BOAT RIDE IN NORTH EASTERN POINT OF THE PARK: Boat ride has been described already. If it is done in the morning, it can be followed by a Jeep Safari in Eastern Range (already described above). Eastern Range is the area around which the boat ride can be done.

BIRDING IN TEA GARDENS: This is 15 - 30 minute walk from few resorts in Kaziranga National Park; early morning birding in Tea Gardens can be done. Elsewhere spotting woodland birds difficult,  4 species of laughing thrush (Whitecrested, Lesser and Greater Necklaced and Rufous-necked)  White-browed Scimitair Babbler, Siberian Ruby throat, Black backed Fork tail, Green Magpie, Shrike Babbler,  White-hooded etc.

CAMERA FEES IN KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK: (2016-2017)

1.      Mobile phone Smart Phone Camera: for both Indian and foreigners with work or resident permit is FREE and for foreigners without work or resident permit is FREE.

2.      Still Photo (Amateur) for both Indian and foreigners with work or resident permit is Rs 100/- and for foreigners without work or resident permit is Rs 200/-

3.      Movie Camera (Amateur) for both Indian and foreigners with work or resident permit is Rs 1000/- and for foreigners without work or resident permit is Rs 1000/-

4.      Sill Photo (Professional) for both Indian and foreigners with work or resident permit is Rs 1000/- and for foreigners without work or resident permit is Rs 3000/-

5.      Movie (Professional): for both Indian and foreigners with work or resident permit is Rs 10000/- and for foreigners without work or resident permit is Rs 30000/-


Hope the above information will help our tourists who would like to visit Kaziranga National Park. For any further information or details you can contact me at asad@catholidays.com or catholidays@gmail.com


1 comment:

  1. Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broad leaf forests, crisscrossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra. Moreover, the park includes numerous small bodies of water. Kaziranga National Park has been the theme of several books, songs, and documentaries. http://www.iwte.in/kaziranga

    ReplyDelete