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Old 24th February 2013, 22:58   #1
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Default Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

It had been quite some time since I visited the beloved forests of Assam and hence, this time going home for vacation, I decided that I would go and visit Kaziranga, no matter what else I do. Below is my first travelogue, of my roadtrip to Kaziranga from Guwahati.

I had this trip planned for quite some time and already made some enquires. It would be a family trip; hence the accommodation had to be good. After searching TripAdvisor and talking to relatives who had been to Kaziranga last year, I narrowed down the search to 2 places – Wild Grass Lodge and Aranya Tourist Lodge. While the former is a private lodge, the latter is run by the Tourism Dept. Nevertheless, from what I heard, even though it is govt. run, the staff and atmosphere are good and the best part is that it is located in the Kaziranga Tourist Complex itself, which is the hub of all commercial activities of the park. But again, of the two, the one rated higher at TripAdvisor is the Wild Grass Lodge, even though it is located about 5-6 kms further due east towards Bokakhat from the Tourist Complex. The reason is being this lodge is highly inspired by British style and is almost entirely self-contained. Also, people spoke highly of the courteous and homely nature of the owners there. So, listening to heart, I decided to choose Wild Grass lodge in the end.

Advice to people wanting to visit Kaziranga: There are a number of lodges and resorts to suit all budgets. Usually the govt. run are cheaper (Aranya, Bonani, Banashree, etc.) while there are some quite steep priced ones like Diphlu River Lodge, Iora Resort, etc. I would suggest anybody interested to check TripAdvisor as well as WikiTravel. If you plan to drive from outside Assam, I would suggest checking local news and newspapers online as sometimes, during times of unrest, people tend to block the National Highway that connects Guwahati with West Bengal. Guwahati to Kaziranga highway is much better though.

So, having decided Wild Grass Lodge, I had already mailed them asking for details like availability, tariff, etc. And they replied promptly (quite unexpected from a lodge from this region). After another email, the rooms were confirmed.

Finally my vacation started and I was home to find that the car had already been serviced and washed and ready for a sweet drive. I checked the OBD reader that I had bought online but that is another story (thread). Next day was rest and the day after, it was finally time to drive for a wildlife adventure.
We started at around 7:00 AM in the morning. Guwahati being on the east, the sun rises early.

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Somebody had constructed a "Bhela Ghar" for Bihu (near Nagaon)

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The condition of the road is excellent. In fact, upto Nagaon, which is almost 70% of the journey, it is a 4-lane road. At the Nagaon bypass, the 4-lane road turns right towards the Barak Valley but we need to go straight from that point following an old-style 2-lane road with no median. Still, the markings on the road are excellent and it feels like a highway. Although the traffic is not much, it rises occasionally when crossing a village. We reached a place called the “Gajaraj viewpoint” at around 11:30. It is on a hill called the Bura Pahar (Lateral translation = Old hill) and gives a magnificent bird’s eye view of the park (well, not the whole park, Kaziranga has a total area of 858 sq.km).

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A small break at a nice restaurant/dhaba near Kaliabor

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Cooling the wheels at Gajaraj view point

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A view of the Kaziranga from the view point

We reached the Lodge at around 12:15 PM. Check-in was butter smooth and we ordered the meal at the check-in time itself (as I had read that they sometimes take ages to prepare lunch).

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The floors are actually made of wood

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The cane lamp sheds add to the mood

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The great dining hall

Half an hour later, we were refreshed and hungry. Fortunately, the meal was ready by that time. All their meals are served on the giant dining hall which is some distance away from the rooms. The lunch was superb and they even threw in a complementary pudding cake. Hospitality was also superb. I never heard a waiter say ‘welcome’ after you say ‘thank you.’

No time to take pictures of the lodge as we were getting late for the 2 O’ Clock safari. They have their own jeeps and gave us one good guide. He suggested that we go to the Central range as they had seen lots of animals during the morning drive, tigers included. Next stop was the Tourist Complex where we had to get the passes done, which the guide took care of and off we went into the jungle. The pictures speak for themselves. To say the least, it was a mind blowing evening.

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The road leading to the Tourist Complex has tea gardens on both sides

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It would have been fun to drive one of these into the forest, but alas, this is not possible

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A small handicraft store is available who stocks rhinos (made of wood of course)

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The usuals

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Entrance to the park

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And so it was evening and we returned to the lodge.

As the sun set, so the cold came and riding back to the lodge in the open jeep was too chilling. Still, it was satisfying.

Next day we went for elephant safari. Coming soon.

Last edited by dutta_d1 : 24th February 2013 at 23:23.
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Old 25th February 2013, 08:44   #2
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam.

I voted for yes as myself, my wife and my Linea visited Kaziranga National Park in April 2012. It was a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dutta_d1 View Post
So, listening to heart, I decided to choose Wild Grass lodge in the end.
We too stayed at Wild Grass.

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Quote:
We reached a place called the “Gajaraj viewpoint” at around 11:30.
Kaziranga - The pride of Assam-dsc06105.jpg

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Kaziranga - The pride of Assam-dsc06106.jpg

Sorry for the interruption in the travelogue.
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Old 25th February 2013, 13:51   #3
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 25th February 2013, 15:05   #4
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J.Ravi View Post
We too stayed at Wild Grass.

Attachment 1055422
Oh. This is the building we got to stay too. We got the room right in front in this picture. The one at the bottom.

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Sorry for the interruption in the travelogue.
On the contrary, these are valuable additions to the thread. Thanks.
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Old 26th February 2013, 22:39   #5
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

Good to see a Kaziranga travelogue here! Also, I really loved to have a glimpse of the HR-99AQ turned AS-01AQ on tour. Get going with the updates faster.
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Old 27th February 2013, 19:59   #6
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

Nice Photograph of the one-horned Rhino you got there. Looks almost as if it was posing for your camera. What are the chances of sighting Tigers in this park?
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Old 3rd March 2013, 22:02   #7
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

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Originally Posted by sukhoi30 View Post
Nice Photograph of the one-horned Rhino you got there. Looks almost as if it was posing for your camera. What are the chances of sighting Tigers in this park?
Thanks for the compliments. Unfortunately, the chances of sighting tigers in the park is moderate to low. Although, statistically speaking, there are tigers in considerable numbers here and this is a declared tiger reserve, humans are not allowed in the core areas of the park making tiger sighting difficult.
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Old 4th March 2013, 22:43   #8
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

The shot of Elephant in the water body is marvelous. You are really lucky to see animals in the afternoon Jeep Safari as the noise of the Machines and crowds often distracts the animals. We are waiting for the morning Elephant Safari pictures.
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Old 5th March 2013, 22:47   #9
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

Thanks dutta_d1 for sharing this travelogue - brought back my old memories. I visited Kaziranga way back in 1981. We actually traveled from Tinsukia in Army jeeps. I don't remember where we stayed, but yes, remember the elephant safari - it was first of a kind experience for me - I was afraid the way the elephant warded through the lose soil at various places. But the safari was worth as we got to see the rhinos from a close distance.
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Old 17th March 2013, 22:09   #10
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

The picture of the elephant in the water is a nice one.

A few questions though, if I may.
a) I am planning to make a visit to Kaziranga in the coming month and I am looking to stay in a place which is close to nature, perhaps see some wildlife from the resort/accommodation itself. Do you by any chance know if there are any such?

b) Would 3 nights in Kaziranga suffice? We were told that there is a village tour, and a temple visit - did you all do it? Worthwhile?

c) Any must do/see @ Kaziranga, apart from maximising our chance to see animals?

Thanks in advance
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Old 17th March 2013, 22:41   #11
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

Quote:
Originally Posted by CountDracoola View Post
A few questions though, if I may.
a) I am planning to make a visit to Kaziranga in the coming month and I am looking to stay in a place which is close to nature, perhaps see some wildlife from the resort/accommodation itself. Do you by any chance know if there are any such?

b) Would 3 nights in Kaziranga suffice? We were told that there is a village tour, and a temple visit - did you all do it? Worthwhile?

c) Any must do/see @ Kaziranga, apart from maximising our chance to see animals?

Thanks in advance
a. Kaziranga would be closed for this season soon. Usually it happens in end of March or start of April. So you should confirm that before. If you want to stay in such a lodge, I heard that Diphlu River Lodge is a good one, although it might be expensive.

b. 3 Nights more than enough. Even 2 nights suffice to see everything (unless you want to go on all of the 3 game tracks).

c. Apart from seeing animals, there is nothing much to do here. The nearby scenery is good for walking (from the Kaziranga Tourist Complex) and also there are a few picnic spots. But not sure if this time would be good for picnic/trekking as it tends to be dry and dusty. If you have lots of time, I would recommend visiting Sivasagar (~ 120 Kms) which is the ancient capital of Ahom dynasty and lots of things to see here if you are interested in historical things.
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Old 18th March 2013, 00:01   #12
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

Sorry for the delay in updates. Been busy with life so much in the last few days that it became almost impossible to visit Team-BHP at all.

So continuing with the travelogue, we had a wonderful evening at the Lodge and booked the elephant safari early next morning. There are two slots for elephant safari in the morning – at 5:30 AM and 6:30 AM. It is better to go for the first one as you get to see the animals at the break of dawn and the animals are in undisturbed state.

Important note for elephant safari tourists: The start and end points for the elephant safari are not the same. The first trip starts from the entrance of the park and proceeds inwards, whereas the second trip starts from the inward point and ends at the entrance. Hence, either way, you will need a vehicle to get to or come from the inward point. Of course, this is not included in the safari ticket and needs to be managed on own. The good news is that private vehicles are allowed inside the park till the elephant safari point. But if it is self-driven, it’s of no use as there would be nobody left to drive the car while you are on the safari. We asked Wild Grass to provide us a car from their side which they did and sent us the same guide (of course they charged 450 bucks for it).

Next day, they woke us up at 4:30 AM in the morning with hot tea and biscuits. It was freezing cold but we were ready by 5:00 AM. After a drive which seemed like eternity in the winter morning on an open jeep with freezing cold winds hitting the face like icicles, we were finally there at 5:30 AM and it was still quite dark. Lighting improved a bit when we started and we saw sunrise while on the safari. The orange sun was unlike anything I had seen before through the fog and mist. The safari ended by about 6:15 AM and it was quite bright already. Then we were back at the lodge by 7:00 AM and after the breakfast, we were ready to leave by 9:00 AM. Photos from the safari are below. I say, don't miss the elephant safari if you visit Kaziranga. Otherwise, half the experience is gone.

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Photo can't do justice to this one. There were lots of them.


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There were 2 to 4 people on each elephant.


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This one came real close. I was scared for a moment.


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Excuse the poor quality of these photos. Lighting was not favorable. It was too dark and foggy. I had to bump up the ISO to maintain exposure.


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This is where, the mahout said, animals drink at night, including tigers.


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At this point inside the park, the first batch ends and the second batch starts.


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Back at the lodge, I decided to snap a few quick pics.

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This is where we stayed.


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The big red dining hall.


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Entrance.


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Kaziranga Fact Board.


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On the way back to Guwahati, we stopped for lunch near Sonapur. And they "Wellcome"d us



That concludes the Kaziranga single day tour. I would say that Kaziranga single day tour is feasible and you don't really miss much. Of course, 2 days would be great but not necessary. I heard there are few other things to do nearby like visiting villages. But being native to Assam, I was not much interested. Next time perhaps, I would be interested in the river cruise.

Total cost from Guwahati for 5 people was around Rs.13,000 including fuel costs.
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Old 18th March 2013, 02:11   #13
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

We too stayed at Wildgrass and I must say I loved their hospitality. The guides working there have very good knowledge of most of the birs and animals. Not very surprising considering the owners are famous naturalists themselves.
You only visited the Konhora i.e. the central range? We visited all the 3 ranges and surprisingly I loved the eastern range (Agaratali range, which is ignored by most of the tourists) most, in terms of scenic beauty and also the sighting was very good there.
Thanks for sharing the pics and the log.
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Old 18th March 2013, 09:56   #14
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

Thanks Dutta for the beautiful photos. Loved the Bhela Ghar photo.
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Old 18th March 2013, 15:31   #15
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Default Re: Kaziranga - The pride of Assam

Nice pics,Dutta.
I have visited several times but never managed such good animal pics.The rhino seemed to be posing for you.
How is the encroachment problem there at present?,last time I went,was disgusted to see all those huts and people right inside the park territory.
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