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Best India wildlife tours – The magic of a stay in an Assam Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted in: India, Posted in: India Wildlife


Best India wildlife tours – The magic of a stay in an Assam Wildlife Sanctuary

Talk to people about an India wildlife holiday in Assam and they will immediately mention the chance to see the Indian One-Horned Rhino at Kaziranga national park. What they may not speak about is the chance to see tigers in Manas national park; or the opportunity to hear the beautiful calls of India’s only Gibbon, in Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary. Very few will have heard of Nameri national park or Pakke tiger reserve (they have adjoining forests) – both home to the four different Hornbill species; as well as the endangered white-winged wood duck. At Wildlife Trails we want to showcase the true diversity and magic of all of Assam’s wildlife treasures and that is why we have put together out Extraordinary 15 day ‘Primates, Rhinos and Hornbills’ India wildlife tour.

Kaziranga National Park

By far the most well known of Assam’s wildlife sanctuaries, Kaziranga will for ever be associated with saving India’s Rhinos from extinction and for sure it was a very close thing! To manage to secure the last remaining 12 Rhinos back in the 1930’s and to now see close to 3000 Rhinos inside – and sometimes outside! – the park; is a monumental wildlife conservation success story. How they have achieved that with a ‘shoot to kill’ policy on poachers is in itself a huge story and one that has vociferous supporters and objectors on both sides. However, as someone luck enough to have visited Kaziranga national park on a couple of occasions, I can tell you that leaving the park at sunset and literally seeing hundreds of Rhino’s in the vast grasslands is a joy to behold.

How to enjoy the best safari at Kaziranga national park?

This vast park has 4 distinct zones which can be accessed by different gates. Some of these gates are nearly 1 hour apart; travelling on a road where the public traffic is notorious for its speeding – despite the many signs warning them to slow down for wild animals. So firstly, think about which zones you want to spend the most time in and choose the best located Kaziranga wildlife resort you want to stay in. Over the last few years the western and central zones have offered the best chance to see tigers in Kaziranga and the eastern zone has to be visited at least once (more if you are a serious birder) for the chance to see amazing bird life in the winters and a great chance to see smooth coated otters! To be honest the elephant safaris at Kaziranga national park are more of a ‘joy ride’ to see Rhino’s and you will have much more flexibility and better angles for wildlife photography if you stick with the open jeeps.

Hoolock Gibbons – Why India’s only Gibbon is a must see when visiting Assam

In April 2018 we spent a full morning in Gibbon Sanctuary, Assam and were privileged to see three different groups of Hoolock Gibbons; as we walked through the beautiful forest of this extraordinary reserve. The dominant female and male gibbons of one group continuously called and performed acrobatics for 15 minutes and it was for sure one of my most memorable primate encounters I have ever had.
The Hoolock Gibbon is a highly endangered primate due to the fragmentation of its forest habitat in North East India and localised hunting. We can clearly see as we travel through this part of Assam the huge number of tea estates and for sure they have also played a part in the declining number of this species; which is on the ICUN Red List.

The most beautiful tiger reserve in India – Manas National Park?

Everyone will have their opinion on which India tiger reserve is the most pleasing to the eye in India, but there is no doubt that Manas has a strong claim to the title. Just the stunning views from the colourful Forest Guesthouse located on the Bhutan border, is enough for many visitors to fall in love with Manas -especially when enjoying some local tea. As you drive through the park the Bhutanese mountains form an impressive backdrop and you switch from huge meadows (favoured hunting grounds of the big cats!), to thick, dense, humid jungles; where capped langurs play in large family groups – finally, to sandy river beds, where fresh tiger pugmarks are often visible. To visit Assam and not have at least 3 days of tiger safaris in Manas, is to miss out on one of the real wildlife gems on the specialist India wildlife holiday circuit.

Nameri national park and Pakke tiger reserve – double your chances of Hornbill success!

We first visited Nameri back in 2002 and I still remember vividly the excitement of walking through this protected tiger reserve, with just the protection of one park guard and his antiquated 1950’s rifle. I remember climbing a rickety Machan, which did not look like it would support our weight and then feeling the excitement levels rise, as a female elephant with a bay came to enjoy the salt lick below. Most of all I remember the prehistoric feeling of hearing a Giant Hornbill wings, as they passed just above our heads, in search of the next good fruiting tree. At both Nameri and Pakke you have the chance to see 4 of India’s Hornbills species; they are, Great Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill and Rufous-Necked Hornbill.

If you want to explore the majestic wildlife of Assam and visit amazing national parks – with very few human visitors -  in the company of an expert local naturalist who was born and raised in the North East, then please check out our Extraordinary 15 day ‘Primates, Rhinos and Hornbills’ India wildlife tour.

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