Located in the remote north east corner India on the flood plains of the Brahmaputra River, Kaziranga National Park in Assam is one of the last bastions of the Indian One horned Rhinoceros.
Kaziranga is quite unlike any other national park in India and though small it supports an extraordinary high diversity of species. The park’s 430 km² contain a unique habitat of swamps, sandy riverine islands and grasslands interspersed with moist tropical woods. The environment is ideal for the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros, and there are also healthy populations of Royal Bengal Tiger and Asian Elephant.
When the park opens in November the summer flood waters have receded and the animals have returned to the plains from the Karbi Anglong Hills to the south. Unlike in India’s other parks it is not the tiger that most visitors come in search of, but to see Kaziranga’s great conservation success story – the rhinoceros is the star attraction. Habitual by nature, sightings are virtually guaranteed as they return to familiar spots every day while you spy on them from a machan (lookout platform).
Using a jeep you can get deep into each of the parks four zones, but there’s nothing quite like the excitement of trekking into the grasslands on elephant back and getting within a few meters of rhinoceros, herds of Wild Buffalo, Barasingha (Eastern Swamp Deer) or Asian Elephant. Kaziranga is also a bird watcher’s paradise. The grasslands are excellent raptor country and during the winter months huge numbers of migratory birds descend to the lakes and marshes. You might also spot the rare Bengal Florican.
Walking is not permitted in the park, but getting out on foot in the nearby Reserve Forests with a guide is highly recommended for bird watching and you are also likely to come across the charismatic and vocal Hoolock Gibbon.
Being one of India’s lesser visited national parks the service and facilities around Kaziranga are less polished than in other destinations but the whole experience here is wonderfully relaxed. Access to Kaziranga is usually by flight from Calcutta to Tezpur a one hour drive away or otherwise as part of a leisurely river cruise along the Brahmaputra.