When is the best time to visit Kaziranga national park in Assam?
When is the best time to visit Kaziranga national park in Assam
We have just returned from a 30 day recce trip of the North East of India in April 2018; visiting Kolkata, Sunderbans, Gibbon Sanctuary, Kaziranga national park, Orang national Park, Manas national park, Kalimpong and Darjeeling – Yes, it was a pretty epic trip and very enjoyable. Many people visiting the north east on an India wildlife holiday only visit Kaziranga national park; which is a shame, as we found some amazing wildlife and relatively empty wildlife sanctuaries in other parts of the state. However, there is no doubt that Kaziranga remains the ‘jewel in the crown’ of India’s national parks in the north east of the country. So if you are going to visit, it is really important to understand the different seasons. If you would like to follow in our footsteps in the company of one of the best wildlife guides in north east India then check out our ‘Primates, Rhino and Hornbills’ India wildlife tour.
When does Kaziranga national park open and close?
The dates for the opening and closing of most of India’s national parks are a little fluid based on the effect of the Indian monsoon on the infrastructure of the park – particularly the road network. So, for example, if the monsoon is late and strong in intensity, parks like Kaziranga may not open until the start of November. Otherwise, with a ‘standard’ monsoon you can expect them to open a few days earlier.
A few years ago, it was normal for Kaziranga national park to close at the end of April; which always seemed very early to us, as apart from some short rains in the middle of this month, you would not expect the main monsoon to arrive until June. During our visit in mid-April we did experience a few evening showers, but nothing which affected our safari activities. We also heard that this year the park would be staying open until May. However, I would warn visitors that this could be a very hot and potentially humid time to be on a wildlife safari in Kaziranga.
Best time to visit Kaziranga for tigers?
Firstly, it needs to be said from a transparency and honesty point of view, if you are coming from tiger sanctuaries in central and northern India like Tadoba, Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh, you need to lessen your expectations when visiting Kaziranga. There is no doubt from the census readings and the abundance of prey that this national park still represents your best chance to see tigers in north east India. However, the long grasses and much less extensive road networks compared to other tiger parks, does not provide you with the ideal conditions to see tigers. That said, tiger sightings are relatively common in the central and western zones, but far from guaranteed – especially if you are only taking two or three game drives. We would always recommend a minimum of 6 safaris in Kaziranga and have designed our own bespoke Kaziranga wildlife holiday based on that principal.
Best time to visit Kaziranga national park if you are a birder?
There is absolutely no doubt that the winter time in Kaziranga is a magnificent spectacle when it comes to seeing all type of birds. A special mention need to be made about the incredible ‘Sohola Lake’; which you will encounter during the early stages of your jeep safari in the eastern zone of Kaziranga. WOW, WOW, WOW! Imagine a huge lake of several sq km in size full of every description of waders, ducks and other water birds. Above them, grey headed fish eagles, ospreys, Brahminy kites and many other species of raptors, search for an easy meal. As a birder, you could just switch off the engine and stay here for hours, enjoying the ornithological drama.
A quick mention should be made about April/early May as this is the time when you will see several species of birds in breeding plumage and when you have the possibility of seeing Hornbills prepare their nest in a favourite tree. In addition, some of the raptors are extremely vocal during the mating season; so, the lack of birds compared to the winter time, is somewhat made up for my more specialist sightings. It is also the time to see many beautiful Orchid species in the park, so if you don’t mind the higher temperatures and you are interested in plants and birds this is the best time to visit Kaziranga national park for you.
Which is the best range in Kaziranga
While doing your trip research on Kaziranga national park as you plan you wildlife safari in India, you will come across descriptions of various ranges; infact, there are 4 different ranges possible to visit. They are the eastern, central, western and far western ranges. It should be said that until recently the far western range was the worst affected by poaching and encroachment and this of course can have an effect on wildlife sightings. When we were there in April 2018, it was touted as a possible place to see Gibbons and Leopard. Also, it was noted that the forest here was thicker and more atmospheric. Most first time visitors to Kaziranga national park focus their safari in the eastern zone for birds and smooth coated otters and then focus on the western and central zones for tigers – taking a combination of jeep and elephant safaris inside the park. We also note that foreign visitors can only take elephant safaris in the central zone; as per our visit there in 2018.
We hope you have found this very personal and up to date blog on the ‘best time to visit Kaziranga national park in Assam’ useful? We have been visiting the best India national parks and wildlife sanctuaries since 1997 and work with the best local Indian wildlife guides. We would encourage you to take a look at our bespoke India wildlife holidays.