This was the day I was seriously looking forward to during our Kaziranga trip.
Today we will be making inroads into the unspoiled wilderness of the Kaziranga national Park, first on an elephant and then on a 4X4.
The day started pretty early at 4.30 AM and after quick refreshment at the resort we drove towards the elephant boarding point on the periphery of the park. There are several boarding points and ours was the western range, which is around 10 KMs from the resort. We were accompanied by Mr. Rintu Hazarika from the resort who made everything very smooth, right from buying the park entry tickets to boarding the elephants. And yes, we only paid INR 100 per camera! As we were walking towards the boarding point we were spellbound by the beauty of the park in the morning sunlight. At around 5.30 our elephant was ready to move and it was quite an experience climbing up the platform and starting our safari. It takes just a little bit of time to get used to the rhythm of the elephant as it walks but it’s very smooth and comfortable compared to the camel ride we took in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
Now what is really good about elephant safari is that elephants don’t need any roads they make their own roads and we experienced it firsthand.
The Mahout, who is the elephant rider or keeper, realized that there was a male rhino right in front of us in the thickets and decided to flush him gently. So what do you do is clear the bushes yourself if you are an elephant or riding an elephant. Easy!!
As expected we saw the amazing one horned rhino for which Kaziranga National Park is renowned across the globe and also witnessed a huge herd of pygmy hogs. It is interesting to note that Pygmy hogs are found only in Assam in the whole world. The elephant ride continued for another hour and it was quite an exhilarating experience not just for all the wildlife around but for witnessing the shear strength of the elephant first hand.
Our elephant was called ‘Sunmala‘ and after disembarking I tipped her as well. It was once again very interesting to observe how easily an elephant can pick up smallest of the things with their trunk with great ease. Out elephant safari was done by 7 AM and that was also the end of the shift for Sunmala, the elephant we rode. She made two trips that morning and now she will be foraging and chilling out the whole day in the forest. In short, the elephants are treated very well and are really having a good time.
After our elephant safari my anticipation was already building for our jeep safari scheduled for 8.00 AM. We had a rather quick breakfast at the resort and were picked up at around 8. This time we went into a different range called the Kohora range. The jeep safari takes you around 10 kms into the forest and it was a completely different experience all together. The ride was bumpy and that is how it should be inside the park. This only goes on to emphasize the virginity of the forest. This time I was really anticipating a tiger because we were also be visiting a spot where a tiger is being spotted continuously for the last 3 days. However luck was not on our side and we were told that chances to spot a tiger are much higher in the evening time.
None the less, we once again enjoyed a very different landscape of the park, saw rhinos and lots of birds including pelicans and the beautiful blue-throated blue flycatcher. We simply enjoyed the open jeep safari and I promised to myself that I will back again very soon because I am yet to tick off the tiger from my list.
With the jeep safari, our trip to Kaziranga was also coming to an end. Since it was almost lunch time, we wanted to have another meal of traditional delicacies in Eco Camp Resort (the place where we were staying). We still had some time left so we took a small walk around inside the villages surrounding our resort. It was fresh, green and rustic and we wanted to continue further towards the orange orchards which was at a walk-able from our resort. But it was too hot and humid to walk around for long and unfortunately, our camera batteries died as well. So we cut the walk short and came back to have lunch instead.
We drove back home with lots of amazing photographs, fun stories to share and beautiful memories that we will cherish forever. If you wish to spend time amidst wilderness, Kaziranga National Park is the place for you. It’s not just the jungle and the wildlife, the overall vibe of the place has the power to rejuvenates you to the core!
Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel for a video diary of our experiences in Kaziranga.