Kaziranga National park (Assamese: কাজিৰঙা Kājiraṅā) in Upper Assam is famous throughout India as the home of the rhinoceros. As the region's principal tourist attraction, the park draws over 170,000 visitors every year. It has been very effective in protecting species at risk such as the Indian one-horned rhinoceros (of the 3600 left worldwide, 2400 are in Kaziranga park).
Kaziranga (kah-zih-rawng-ah) is one of the oldest national parks in India and is the largest habitat for Indian single-horned rhino (rhinoceros unicornis). Kaziranga is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Its success in conservation has had a price. Forest guards, heavily armed and largely immune to prosecution, killed 50 people from 2013-2015. There are no fences or signs marking the edge of the park; alleged poachers and anyone wandering within the park at night risks being shot on sight or with very little warning. Local villagers and tribal peoples have often been maimed or killed. Many villagers have been dispossessed of homes and land to allow park expansion.
Kaziranga National Park was said to be first recognised around 1940, but was established in 1974. It has been substantially expanded over the years, resulting in neighbouring villages being demolished for land reclamation, leading to controversy.
The park was devastated by the July 2019 flooding, which had killed over 140 large mammals, which included at least 12 rhinos.
Flora and fauna
Kaziranga 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, there are almost 86 tigers (2000 census), 1048 elephants (2002 census), 2048 rhinos (2009 census), 1431 buffalo (2001 census) and 486 swamp deer. Kaziranga also houses more than 546 species of flora. Kaziranga is said to have about 86 tigers, which is the highest density of tigers in the world (1 every 5 km², 2000 census)
Visitors seldom see tigers due to the dense, tall grass. The rhinoceros is the real star of the park. Kaziranga also has one of the very last populations of truly wild Asian water buffalo, but even here there are many feral descendants of domesticated water buffalo, and hybridization occurs. The park is also the last haven for greater adjutant storks, with fewer than one hundred nesting pairs.
The climate is typically tropical. It varies from very hot and humid in the summer (April to June) to cold nights and warm days in thewinter (from November to January). Kaziranga gets flooded by the water of the Brahmaputra River almost every year during the monsoon. The rainy season prevails from June to August. When it rains, Kaziranga becomes inaccessible. The best time to visit Kaziranga is in September - October or February/March.
By bus - Guwahati (217 km, ₹200), Jorhat (96 km, ₹70), Nagaon, Dibrugarh, Tezpur (75 km, ₹50) or Tinsukia. Get down at Kohora Town on Guwahati-Jorhat route. If visiting Kaziranga after a trip to Arunachal Pradesh, Tezpur is the best destination from which to catch a bus here. If entering the state of Assam via Guwahati, take a bus from there to Kaziranga National Park. Bus fare varies between private service and Government service.
By air- Nearest airport is in Jorhat town, which is 96 km away from Kaziranga. Jorhat is connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati by regular flights.
By rail- The nearest railway station to Kaziranga is Furkating, which is 80 km away. Furkating is connected by trains from Delhi and Kolkata.
By motorcycle- Another way to reach Kaziranga from Guwahati and Kohima is by riding a motorcycle in a group, which is conducted as guided motorcycle tours in the state of Assam and adjoining states. Tours are operated by various adventure tourism firms. These adventure motorbike tours covers the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh, giving a traveller to visit to not only popular places but also rural parts of the region to experience first-hand of tribal cultures and traditions.
Fees and permits
₹500 (₹100) entry fee
Terrain vehicle ride: Based on which part of the National Park one wants to visit, the terrain vehicle fare may vary. Central Range: ₹1800, Western Range: ₹1900, Eastern Range : ₹1800, Kalapahar Range: ₹2200 as of Feb 2016. It is recommended to visit the Western and the Central Ranges both by Terrain vehicle and elephant. If you prefer birds and have a good camera, the Eastern Range is preferred. The costs will vary depending on your hotel. The price will be the for Indians and foreigners.
Elephant ride: ₹1950 (₹950) Central Range. You can see rhinos very up and close while on an elephant ride. There are two batches (015-06:15, 06:15-07:15) for the elephant ride. It is advisable to make the trip in the second slot during winter months as fog and a late sunrise does not allow one to see anything during the first slot.
There are extra charges for carrying a nicer camera (still or video) inside the park. The charges are different for Indian and foreign tourists. The charges are also different for amateurs and professionals depending on the level of equipment you bring in.
Your hotel should be able to book everything for you if you advise them before 19:00 the day before.
The only ways of getting around inside Kaziranga National Park is in a Terrain vehicle or by elephant safari.
Watch wildlife either from on top of an elephant or from a Terrain vehicle. All of the plain lands are infested by tall elephant grass, so it is more convenient to watch wildlife from an elephant's back. Rhinos, wild buffalo, hog deer, etc can be easily seen from an elephant back's view. Most of the animals are habituated with human presence and don't feel shy. Carrying a good pair of binoculars is a must whether watching from a Terrain vehicle or while riding an elephant.
- Stay at one of the local lodges, such as Nature hunt Eco Camp, Wild Grass Resort or Diphlu River Lodge. A evening of music and great food rounds off the day so nicely.
- Take an elephant ride into the grassland for up-close encounters with the famous one-horned rhinocerous. Elephant rides take place very early in the morning and last about an hour.
- Take a terrain vehicle tour of the park to see other wildlife such as storks, fish-eagles, and barasingha (swamp deer).
Different forest products are sold near Mihimukh entrance of Kaziranga NP. In Kohora, there are many shops, selling different kinds of forest products and local handicrafts.
There are few restaurants in the area. All of he tourist lodges have their own facilities for food. Most of the time the food is a little expensive. There is an office cum resting place for Network Buses and there is food available for non-passengers too. There are only a few rice hotels at Kohora near National Highway.
There are several wine shops at Kohora though the liquor is not cheap. Getting chilled bottles is not possible every time because there are acute power shortages in the area.
In Kohora (on Guwahati-Jorhat route) there is a huge campus of Assam Tourism Department just opposite to Kohora bus stop (when coming from Guwahati/Tezpur side). Here you can find a number of economical and deluxe accommodations (₹400-2000 per night per room) in a number of tourist lodges. It is very convenient to stay here as the office of "Kaziranga Development and Jeep safari association" is also located here hence you can directly book all your safaris without going through any agents in between.
Tourist lodges inside Assam Tourism Complex:
- Bonani (Bon Habi) - ☏ , ☏ , ☏
- Aranya- ☏
- Kohora forest IB-☏
- Bagori - ☏
Director of Tourism can be also contacted: Guwahati : ☏, ☏ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some other commercial private resorts are:
- Aranya, ☏ , email@example.com. Under Assam Tourism Development Corporation.
- Borgos Resort, No. 1 Sildubi Goan, Kohora, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a lush green resort at the gate of the Kaziranga National Park.
- IORA, The Retreat, Bogorijuri, ☏ . Around 2 km from Kaziranga National Park. IORA has 42 rooms including 4 thematic suites, 4 supreme rooms, 23 luxury rooms and 11 deluxe rooms.
- Landmark Woods, ☏ , email@example.com. A resort near the western range of the park.
- The Nature-Hunt Eco Camp, ☏ . Relatively new and not commercialized. They provide excellent service as the owners personally take care of the guests. Apart from offering services in Kaziranga they also offer services in other North Eastern states and can arrange stay in all the national parks.
- Wild Grass, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. They have specialist guides and very beautiful grounds. The resorts offer an old world charm Jungle resort environment, with no distractions of Cable Television. The rooms are large and comfortable, and staff efficient. Make advance reservations during season to avoid disappointment. The resort is a little away from the highway, and easy to miss. A simple phone call, and the lodge's vehicle will come to the highway to receive guests.
- Wild Mahseer, ☏ , email@example.com. Wild Mahaseer is a Colonial Plantation Bungalow. This property is a historic one characterized by its Victorian architecture and has spacious rooms across four bungalows.
- Bonani/Banashree/Kunajabon Tourist Lodge, ☏ .
- Agaratoli Resort, Agaratoli, ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 1 Tesco Resort (Tesco Resort), kaziranga (Bokakhat), ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. Tesco is 7 km from Kaziranga National Park. Tesco has 25 rooms including 1 suite, 12 Supreme deluxe rooms, and 10 Deluxe rooms. ₹2000, 3000, 5000.
Camping is possible near Laudubi.
Hiking in Kaziranga is prohibited to stop man-animal conflicts, so going on a terrain vehicle or elephant-back tour are the only options. There is malaria in the region, but night-flying mosquitos are not active during the winter months which are the ideal time for visiting. Most local cases of malaria occur in the summer, when the park is closed.
If you head to Kohora across from the main entrance to Kaziranga, you can reserve a bus there or just wait for a bus heading to your location as it passes by. Buses pass frequently.