I’ve been to a lot of Safari parks around the world, from Ghana, Botswana, South Africa, Indonesia to most of the parks in India plus more, and Kaziranga, by far, is my favourite park in India and on my top list of all park I visited.
Located in the state of Assam in North-East India, Kaziranga National Park was created back on 1 June 1905, a year after Marz Curzon visited the area in 1904 but failed to see any Rhinos at all. After the disappointed she urged her husband, Lord Curzon of Kedleston the Viceroy of India (head of the British Administration at that time) to protect the area and the wildlife. And the park was finally declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its unique natural environment in 1985.
Kaziranga National Park hosts a rich and diverse population of almost 42 species of fish, 9 species of amphibians, 27 species of reptiles, more than 491 species of birds, and 35 species of mammals. Among the larger mammals in the park are, Tigers, Elephants and the One-horned Rhinos.
However, it’s very rear to see the Tigers. The park is very untouched with very thick and dense vegetation, so a lot of places for the tigers to hide away. But you almost guaranteed to see the wild One-horned Rhinos. I myself saw about 25 of them in less than one hour.
I’ve been to most of the National parks in India, and Kaziranga National Park is the best organised, best kept, but very few tourists.
During my trip, I only saw 2 other tourists in the 2 days I was there, both where local Indians. So the change of meeting big noisy groups is very low in Kaziranga compared to the other parks in the country.
You have two options how to get around inside the park. The first options are with a jeep, and the others are by elephant ride. One very important thing to note is that you have to sign up for the options you choose the DAY BEFORE, you go to the safari since it’s only a certain amount of people allowed to go inside the park each day.
The elephants leave two times a day: 05.15-06.15 am and 06.15-07.15 am. It is advisable to take the trip in the later slot during the months of winter, as fog and late sunrise make people would not see anything during the first departure in the morning.
When going on the back of the elephant you will get as close as a few meters to rhinos group, -absolutely no need zoom lens on your camera. You will get so close to if you fell off the elephant you would land on the One-horned Rhino. I didn’t try it yet. But maybe someday.
The elephant ride only goes to the Central part of the park, but with the jeep, you can visit all areas of Kaziranga National Park. Jeep Safari started from 7.30 am to 9.30 am & 2 pm to 3.30 pm. If going around with a jeep, you will cover much bigger areas of the park, but you will not get up close to the One Horned Rhinos as if you with elephant ride.
The best season to visit Kaziranga National Park is between November 1st to April 30th when the park is open every day. The park is partly open between October 1st to October 30th and May 1st to May 31st, depends on weather conditions. But it’s CLOSED between June 1st to September 30th.
Price: Like all another national park in India, there is different price between local tourist and foreign tourist.
Based on the latest info, the prices for park ticket are 50 Rs (Rupees) for locals and 250 Rs for the foreigner. You should pay additional if you bring the camera; 50 Rs for locals, and 500 Rs for the foreigner. So, if you are the foreigner, you should pay total 750 Rs for ticket and camera.
The good news is there is the same price for elephant ride between locals and foreigners.
They charge 500 Rs for one ride, plus 25 Rs for guard fee.
For Jeep Ride, the price depends on which part of the National Park you want to visit. For Central Range: Rs. 1900, Western Range: Rs. 2100, Eastern Range: Rs. 2500, and Kalapahar Range: Rs. 3000.
The price is for the one full car, which can fit up to 5 persons. So, you can share the fee with other in the car (not with the driver and guard off course).
Additional info about Kaziranga National Park
How to get there:
Assume you already in the state of Assam in North-East India, if you are then it’s really easy to get there. From all other places in Assam, they’re at least a few buses a day. But if you’re not in Assam, you need to head to Guwahati, the state capital.
Guwahati can reach by train from Kolkata (17 – 22 hours) or New Delhi (27 – 44 hours).
There’s NO direct bus from Guwahati to Kaziranga National Park, but all bus from Guwahati to heads further east in the northeast of India passes Kaziranga. You just need to tell the bus driver to drop you off there. The most common route is Guwahati – Jorhot that departure every hour from 6 is to 6 pm.
When leaving Kaziranga National Park, just head to the same spot in the highway the bus that you arrived with dropped you off, and just wave down any bus going by.It shouldn’t take more than 20 min between a bus passes by.
When back in Guwahati, you can take the train out to any of the big cities in India, or by flight. Air Asia just started a route between New Delhi and Guwahati, and other airlines operate to all other big cities in the country.
A big problem in Assam is that very few budget hotels/guesthouses accept foreigners, so you will have to stay in mid-range hotels. If you travelling alone, that would be a bit pricey compared to the rest of India. I walked around for 4 hours before I found a hotel that accepted foreigners the first time I arrived in Guwahati.
Sundarban Guest House 1000Rs (Fan) – 1200Rs (Air-con)
Located less than 10 min walk from the train station and bus station The rooms nothing fancy, but you get your own room with western style bathroom, wi-fi, a tv (only local channels), and a towel. The room was clean and the person who working spoke good English. You only need a short walk to shops, restaurants and it’s even a Dominos Pizza not too far away.
Prashanti Tourist Lodge 1000Rs (Single room AC) 1550RS (Dubbel room AC)
Only a few min walk north of the train station main entrance. The hotel running by the Official Assam tourism. It’s nice and clean hotel, with very helpful staffs. There is Guawathi tourist information outside the hotel, where you can get free maps and great information about everything in Assam.
Kaziranga National Park
There’re quite a few accommodation options around Kaziranga National Park, and most of the seemed to accept foreigners too.
I recommend not to stay close to the highway. The yellow coloured guesthouse on the right side on the highway (heading to Guwahati) is 200Rs for a basic room. But the walls are so thin so every time a truck passes by, and they’re a lot of big trucks passing by, it feel like the roof is the gone collapse.
It’s better to walk up the small hill on the up site of the road, where the gate with Kaziranga National Park is located. There are about 10 different hotels there; from dorm to Deluxe room in eco hotel that holds high European standard
Aranya Tourist Lodge, Kohara, Kaziranga National Park.
Dorm 200Rs. Standard room1400Rs. Deluxe room 1500Rs. Cottage 1600Rs. Suite 3500Rs. The dorm is very basic, but good value. They have western styled toilet and mosquito net around every bed. But, you really have to insist that you want to stay in the dorm to the person in reception, or, they will tell you that the room is full.
I spend two days in the Kaziranga National Park, with very nice experience, and none of them I regret, except for walking 4 hours to find the hotel. Well, you got my note on this, and I highly recommend to visit this national park when you land your foot in India. You’ll never regret it.