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Thrilling National Parks in India That You Should Not Miss in 2018!

Wildlife has always fascinated us! To think that wild animals lurk in the very jungles and dense forests that sometimes line the perimeter of our cities is a terrifying thought indeed! Well, to be honest, humans have since time immemorial encroached on the natural habitat of the wild; so it is but natural that wildlife from the jungles sometimes spills over into our cities and then faces the wrath of mankind (Read animals caught and harmed fatally!). Several wildlife species, bird varieties and even underwater marine animals have suffered due to the increasing intrusion of man into the wild; right from stranded whales and dolphins on beaches that get caught up in the selfie drama of humans to the recent incident of the Arctic Polar Bear that was killed by a cruise ship employee for self-defence! In reality, the cruise ship made an unscheduled stop on the Arctic island which the innocent animal assumed was a threat to his natural habitat (Remember, it is in their nature to fight when provoked). Animals are not even safe in their own homes! And maybe that’s why the importance of national parks and protected areas for wildlife and endangered species of flora fauna is of prime importance today. National Parks in India have increasingly taken efforts to protect and preserve the wildlife of our nation but it is also up to us, as tourists and humans to respect the wildlife and give them their space… their home!

Elephant Safari at Kaziranga (Too Close for Comfort?); Image Courtesy – shikhar.com

In an effort to take advantage of wildlife safaris and to experience the jungle at its best, we often head to the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India. Our country is truly blessed to host an incredible array of forests and landscapes that enable a large variety of wildlife species and flora to survive and flourish in this land. All we need to do as vigilant tourists, nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts is to head to these national parks, follow the guidelines of the forest and have the best wildlife experience of our lives; all this while taking care not to harm the wildlife and forest eco-system in any way!

Here are 5 thrilling national parks that are truly some of the best-protected tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries of the country! The 2018 prime wildlife season starts October onwards and we present you a wonderful opportunity to make this winter even more incredible with a visit to these national parks in India.

 

1.) Dudhwa National Park

Elephants at Dudhwa, Image Courtesy – dudhwa.net

Located near the Indo-Nepal Border in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh is a national park unheard by many! This is Dudhwa National Park, famous for its Terai landscape and abundance of wildlife such as the Exotic Indian Rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger and approximately 350 bird species that include resident as well as migratory birds. Dudhwa National Park is one of the few remaining examples of a diverse Terai lowland that is mainly characterized by landscapes of tall grasslands, semi-evergreen forests and swampy marshlands. The flora and fauna found in this region are spectacularly diverse and unique; some trees date as far back as 150+ years and grow in height to almost 21 metres and the Terai ecosystem encourages the survival of several endangered and endemic animal species. Most of the bird species found in the national park are aquatic in nature and hence, found near the lakes of Dudhwa.

Which animals can be found here?

Tiger, Elephant, Indian one-horned Rhino, Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, Langur, Hog Deer, Barasingha Deer, Otter and various species of birds.

When should you go?

Dudhwa National Park can be visited from 15 November to 15 June when the forest opens its gates for the public. Please note the forest only remains open during this period and remains closed from July to October on account of the rainy season. November to June is the best time to plan your Dudhwa National Park tour package and to take advantage of a wonderful safari in these forests.

Safari Timings:

Morning – 06:00 AM to 10:30 AM

Evening – 14:30 PM to 18:30 PM

Temperature:

The weather also plays an important role in determining when to plan your Dudhwa National Park tour package. Take a note of the temperature and weather conditions during winters and summers so you can plan and book your safari timings accordingly.

In Winters: Min – 9 Degree; Max – 25 Degrees

In Summers: Min – 25 Degrees; Max – 45 Degrees

How to reach?

The closest airport to Dudhwa National Park is Lucknow. The national park is located at a road distance of almost 240 km from the city. This journey can be covered by either road or railway. The nearest railway station is Dudhwa which is about 4 km from the national park. This is also one of the most convenient travelling routes you can opt for when you plan your wildlife tour packages to Dudhwa National Park.

 

2.) Tadoba National Park

Tiger at Tadoba, Image Courtesy – tour2maharashtra.in

The largest and oldest tiger reserve of Maharashtra! Tadoba National Park, created in the year 1955 and Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary, created in the year 1986, were together combined in 1995 to form the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve which is one of the most premier and protected tiger reserves in the country. Located in Chandrapur district, about 150 km away from Nagpur city, Tadoba is undeniably one of the top 5 national parks in India offering sightings of the striped feline, unlike any other. With a rich diversity of wildlife and a spectacular array of flora that includes Teak and Palas (flame of the forest), this national park has become the favourite destination of wildlife enthusiasts, professional wildlife photographers and tourists. In recent years, tiger spotting at this forest has become very common along with sightings of a wide variety of water birds and raptors (birds of prey e.g. eagle, hawk). Open-top jeeps and buses with trained local guides are available at the national park who can also relay Tadoba National Park information in Marathi (regional language of Maharashtra) if required.

Which animals can be found here?

Leopard, Tiger, Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, Langur, Wild Dogs, Nilgai, Indian Gaur, Sloth Bear, Marsh Crocodile and various species of birds have made Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve one of the top 5 national parks in India.

When should you go?

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is open for visitors from 15 October to 30 June every year (fully shut every Tuesday). The national park remains closed from July to September due to the rainy season. This is because animals take shelter during the rains and sightings are extremely rare. Plan your wildlife tours accordingly to take advantage of the wonderful safari experience at Tadoba National Park.

Safari Timings:

Morning – 06:00 AM to 10:30 AM

Evening – 14:30 PM to 18:30 PM

Temperature:

The climate during your safari experience depends on the season in which you visit Tadoba National Park. Summers are warm and dry during the day and mildly pleasant during nights. Maybe that’s why many people prefer to experience the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve during the winters when the weather is cool and pleasant throughout the day and chilly at nights.

In Winters: Min – 2 Degree; Max – 30 Degrees

In Summers: Min – 20 Degrees; Max – 48 Degrees

How to Reach?

The nearest metro city to Tadoba National Park is Nagpur which is located at a distance of about 150 km. You can catch a flight to Nagpur and then travel by road to reach Tadoba, which will take approximately 3 hours. The nearest railway station to Tadoba National Park is Chandrapur which is located at a distance of 45 km. Taxis and buses are available from the railway station to take you to the national park.

To know more about stars of the jungle (Tigers, Of Course!), read our blog: Celebrity Tigers Of Indian National Parks – Spot The Stars Of The Jungle!

 

3.) Kabini/Nagarhole National Park

Black Panther at Kabini (Phantom of the Forest), Image Courtesy – Praveen Siddannavar

The Nagarhole National Park is located in the Kodagu and Mysore district of Karnataka with the Kabini River lying to its south. It derives its name from ‘Nag’ which means ‘Snake’ and ‘Hole’ which means ‘Stream’ referring to a snake-like river that winds its way through the forests of the national park. With a bountiful landscape that is rich with forests, streams, hills, valleys and waterfalls, Nagarhole National Park and by virtue, Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a plethora of diverse wildlife that includes predators, herbivores, birds and some unique reptile species. Besides several endangered wildlife species, Kabini is also one of the only habitats in the world that is home to the rare melanistic leopard, also known as Black Panther (Bagheera from Jungle Book). The Nagarhole National Park or Rajiv Gandhi National Park, as it is officially known, offers wildlife safaris by way of mini-buses and private jeeps. Government-operated boat rides are also available from the Kabini River Lodge.

Which animals can be found here?

Elephant, Black Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Indian Gaur, Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, Dhole, Sloth Bear, Langur, Crocodile and various species of birds such as Osprey, Malabar Trogan and Heron form an integral part of wildlife tours at Kabini National Park.

When should you go?

The Kabini National Park is open throughout the year unlike many national parks in the northern part of India. However, the best time to visit Nagarhole National Park is from November to May. There is a road that runs through the national park which is open from 6 AM to 6 PM every day enabling private vehicles to pass through this forest whilst enjoying this incredibly green jungle route. Who knows? You could even encounter wild animals crossing this path during your road journey.

Safari Timings:

Morning – 06:00 AM to 09:30 AM

Evening – 15:30 PM to 18:30 PM

Temperature:

The weather is pleasant during the winter months of November, December and January whereas the dry summer months of March and April are ideal for animal sightings since the animals come out in search of water and usually approach the lakes in the national park. The rainy season from June to September is very unpredictable and animal sightings could be difficult owing to heavy rains.

In Winters: Min – 10 Degrees; Max – 25 Degrees

In Summers: Min – 20 Degrees; Max – 35 Degrees

How to Reach?

The nearest airport to Kabini National Park is Bangalore which is located at a distance of approximately 230 km. Fly to Bangalore and journey ahead to Kabini National Park which will take about 6 hours by road. You can also consider travelling by railway; the nearest railway station is Mysore and it takes about 4 hours to reach Nagarhole National Park by road. Generally, Bandipur National Park is also combined along with Kabini while planning wildlife tour packages. This is because Bandipur National Park is located at a distance of 100 km which can be covered within 2 hours by road.

 

4.) Bandipur National Park

Leopard at Bandipur National Park, Image Courtesy – raynatours.com

A short distance away from Kabini lies the evergreen expanse of Bandipur National Park that forms one of the prominent tiger reserves of the country! The forests of Bandipur once resonated with the hunting calls of the Maharaja of Mysore, whose private hunting playground was the landscape of Bandipur forest. Since then, it has become one of the largest protected forest reserves of Southern India and the largest habitat of wild elephants in South Asia. Bandipur National Park along with Nagarhole National Park, Mudumalai National Park and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, together form the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve that helps protect the rich diversity of flora and fauna found in the Western Ghats. The park helps protect several species of endangered wildlife and serves as the natural habitat for many threatened species of flora and fauna. It is a major tourist attraction in the state of Karnataka and visitors travelling to Ooty Mysore Coorg, go the extra mile to make Bandipur National Park, a part of their  Ooty tour packages!

Which animals can be found here?

Tiger, Elephant, Leopard, Gaur, Sloth Bear, Indian Rock Python, Four-horned Antelope, Jackal, Dhole, Chital, Sambar Deer, Langur and over 200 species of birds that comprise of the Bandipur wildlife.

When should you go?

Bandipur National Park is open throughout the year. However, the best time to visit this national park, like many others, is from October to May.

Safari Timings:

Morning – 06:30 AM to 09:30 AM

Evening – 15:30 PM to 18:30 PM

Temperature:

Heavy rains during the monsoon season from July to September could dampen the safari experience and offer fewer animal sightings as compared to winters and summers. When you plan for Bandipur National Park tour packages, keep in mind the weather conditions and average temperatures at this location to book morning or evening safaris accordingly. Goes without saying but pack woollens and thermals during winters since the temperature is extremely cool in the forests and wear light clothes and caps/hat/scarves during summer to avoid extreme heat.

In Winters: Min – 10 Degrees; Max – 25 Degrees

In Summers: Min – 20 Degrees; Max – 35 Degrees

How to Reach?

Bandipur National Park is located a short distance away from Kabini/Nagarhole National Park. Usually, wildlife tour packages are planned in such a way that wildlife safaris at both forests are combined into one fantastic jungle experience. If you are travelling to Bandipur National Park directly, the closest airport is Coimbatore which is located at a distance of 84 km and can be covered by road in about 2 hours. The nearest railway station is Mysore which is about 80 km away from Bandipur National Park.

 

5.) Dandeli National Park

Malabar Pied Hornbill at Dandeli, Image Courtesy – wikipedia.com

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka on the banks of River Kali. It is the second largest wildlife sanctuary of Karnataka with a rich diversity of forests and exotic wildlife. The best part, along with the traditional wildlife safaris, Dandeli also offers a huge range of activities from white water rafting, kayaking, trekking to camping, rappelling and zorbing to its visitors. The enchanting and colourful forest is a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees along with several bamboo, teak plantations and fruit-bearing trees. Above all, Dandeli is well-known for being a bird- watchers paradise with over 200 varieties of bird species which can found in its forests. An excursion which can be very well combined with Dandeli National Park is Yana Rocks, Sathodi Falls near Yellapur and  Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa.

Which animals can be found here?

Elephant, Wild Pig, Tiger, Rare Black Panther, Wild Dog, Monkey, Barking Deer, Mongoose, Sloth Bear, Indian Pangolin, Malabar Giant Squirrel and over 200 species of birds form the diverse wildlife of Dandeli National Park.

When should you go?

Dandeli National Park remains open throughout the year and offers different kinds of fun experiences in different seasons. January to March is considered to be ideal for bird watching and activities such as hiking, trekking and river rafting. April to June is the best time to spot wildlife and enjoy water sports such as rafting, kayaking, zorbing, coracle rides and natural jacuzzi. July to September is when visitors can take advantage of rappelling, trekking, monsoon camping, monsoon cycling and wildlife safaris (although animal sightings could be less due to the rains). October to December is the perfect season to enjoy wildlife safaris at Dandeli National Park and enjoy various adventure activities.

Safari Timings:

Morning – 06:30 AM to 09:30 AM

Evening – 15:30 PM to 18:30 PM

Temperature:

Just as the seasons play an important role in determining our wildlife tour packages, so does the weather in every season. The climate helps us decide which Dandeli National Park safari to schedule according to the temperature variations during the morning and evening. The weather during early morning safaris tends to be cooler than the warmth of the afternoon safaris.

In Winters: Min – 14 Degrees; Max – 33 Degrees

In Summers: Min – 20 Degrees; Max – 39 Degrees

How to Reach?

The closest airport is Hubli in Karnataka which is located at a distance of almost 80 km from Dandeli National Park. From Hubli, you can reach Dandeli by road in about 2 hours. The next closest airport is Goa (150 km) and the time taken to reach Dandeli from Goa by road is anywhere between 3-4 hours. The closest railway station is Alnavar (32 km) followed by Londa (48 km), Dharwad (57 km) and Hubli (75 km). If you have time at leisure, you can also opt for a fun road trip to Dandeli which is well-connected by road to Mumbai, Bangalore, Belgaum and Karwar.

 

The best season for wildlife is upon us! If there is one common thread among all the national parks in this list, it is that starting October onwards is the best season for visiting national parks and enjoying jungle safaris. So, what are you waiting for? Now that you have your must-visit national park list for 2018, get ready with your cameras and your necessary wildlife safari accessories to have an incredible experience in the jungle.

Listen to the roars of the tiger, hum along with the birds of the forest and feel yourself getting immersed in the embrace of the quiet yet wild jungle; a peace that can perhaps only be matched by meditation!

 

*Feature Image Courtesy – dudhwa.net

*Information Source – theterritoryindia.com, wikipedia.com, tripsavvy.com, tadobanationalpark.in, bandipurnationalpark.in, dudhwanationalpark.in

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