It appeared out of absolute nihility. Indifferently, it started walking on the relatively clearer path towards the more dense forest. There was a barricade between us beyond which tourists are not allowed to go. “Click Click Click!” The sound from our cameras was the only sound breaking the silence at the moment. Probably, it could hear it too and it turned around. I was thrilled to look at once very close to extinction, the One Horned Rhino from so close. The sun rays filtered through the leaves of trees and shrubs gave it the spotlight it deserves. The grey toned skin of the rhino glistened with the sparkling sunrays making it the most desirable sight of the safari in Kaziranga National Park. It posed for us giving us enough time to appreciate its beauty and capture it through our lens too. The sight left me numb for a while.
Safari in Central Zone, Kaziranga National Park
On my 6 day trip to Assam with Koyeli Tours & Travels, I reached Kaziranga on the evening of third day after a 4 hours drive from Guwahati. We were just in time to grab a quick-lunch at Iora Retreat, Kaziranga (where we were staying) and head to a jeep safari in Central zone of Kaziranga National Park. We entered the national park and in no time spotted a herd of swamp deers lazily grazing in the grasslands. We traversed through the dense jungle appreciating the wilderness and unspoilt nature. The migratory birds which were almost impossible to name if not for our knowledgeable guide from Koyeli Tours & Travels were seen throughout the safari . The sun was about to set and it shone the brightest one last time over a huge lake before setting for the day . The driver slowed the jeep upon listening to our clicks to capture the golden glow of the sun on the lake.
We were barely talking and were immersed in the surroundings when our guide told that we’ll now cross a spot where the chances of spotting a tiger are the most. The jeep almost tiptoed to the spot, we waited there for a while, tried to see tiger’s foot marks and even focused on the animals’ call. We were hopeful all this while but decided to move ahead to the watch tower by the lake. I enthusiastically climbed the two-floor watch tower to get the bird’s eye view of the jungle, secretly hoping to see a glance of the king of the jungle. My eyes stretched far and wide to spot one but to my dismay all I could see was some elephants and rhinos across the lake. That too from quite a distance. The guide approached me with binoculars and pointed to gorgeous migratory birds on the lake right under the sun rays. That’s when I learnt the art of deciding what to do the with the time that is given to us. I wasn’t really disappointed much on not seeing the big ones but took absolute delight in soaking the feel of being amidst most unspoilt nature.
Also Read – Minneriya National Park, Srilanka
Safari in Western Zone, Kaziranga National Park
Next day began very early for fellow travellers from Travel By Karma, who opted for elephant safari. I somehow avoid troubling the animals, but to each his own. The elephant safari in Kaziranga National Park takes the visitors right in the middle of the jungle and in very close vicinity to the rhinos and other animals. What I heard from the people who went for safari sounded straight from one of those intriguing series from Animal Planet. The perk of waking up early and going on elephant safari was to see two rhinos in action ending up in a fearful fight. The rhinos generally stay in seclusion and have not so clearly marked boundaries, so it was probably the scene when one rhino tried to enter the unmarked territory of other. I kept wondering about this nerve wrecking spectacle.
In the afternoon, another safari in Western zone of Kaziranga National Park which is more popular for rhino sightings was scheduled. In no time of entering the park, we saw the domestic elephants with mahout standing on it and I couldn’t help myself but click them. As we penetrated the jungle with our sheer most attention, I gazed at this rhino who had just appeared from oblivion with its skin gleaming under the sunshine. From there on, we spotted a plethora of migratory as well as resident birds. Few in flight, few perched atop the trees and few by pond side. We moved further and saw a wild boar and then a wild water buffalo. The jungle looked insanely beautiful and unadulterated. The vibe of being amidst such wilderness yet verdant green was so calming and relaxing that I did not realize that it was almost time for sun to set.
We were still in deep jungle but in grasslands when we saw the rhino with its baby up close. I mean real close. The indifferent rhino hardly took our notice but the baby certainly posed for us a couple of times. The desire of seeing the wild up close got satiated with this encounter in Kaziranga National Park. But wait, there began a series of call wherein the animals inform each other of arrival of the king. We saw another jeep driving towards us confirming that there could be a tiger nearby. We halted for a while, did back and forth a few times to just get a glimpse of one of the most ferocious animal. The sun had set, painting the expansive sky with hues of red, orange and pink. I wanted to stay back in the dust, the orchestrated sounds of birds, the huge dense trees, the small lakes and ponds here and there and of course amidst living tales of jungle book for some more time. I was certainly transported to a different world, a world of most unexploited nature and a world of tranquility and serenity.
Where to Stay in Kaziranga?
About Iora – The Retreat, Kaziranga
While there are abundant options available to stay but handcrafted luxury in the middle of the town which is known for wild comes as a relaxing and pampered experience. We stayed in Iora – The Retreat which is a renowned name in Kaziranga. A sprawling property of 20 acres amidst the lush green tea gardens with tastefully done suites, landscaped gardens, an integral touch of Assamese culture and out-and-out luxury made it for a true blend of tranquility and an opulent resort.
Curated experiences at Iora – The Retreat, Kaziranga
There were a series of curated experiences offered to us during our stay in Iora and I was getting blown over everytime one of those was unfolded in front of me. When Chilly Vodka made of one of the chilliest chilly in the world, Bhut Jolokia was served, I was skeptical to give it a try but once tasted, I forgot the count of the drinks I had. It was one of the best cocktails I have ever had and what better place to try it than the resort which pioneered it. Then was the turn to indulge in an authentic Assamese thali. I can’t be more grateful to Joya, the Guest relationship manager at Iora to not only to introduce me the variety of dishes served but also the right sequence of relishing the cuisine. It was so intriguing to religiously follow her instructions to savor each dish on the platter. Tenga Aanja (the tangy fish curry) will remain as my favorite delicacy from the Assamese meal I tried.
Rooms at Iora – The Retreat, Kaziranga
The 3 categories of rooms – luxury, supreme and suites are spacious, designed for comfort and are well equipped with modern amenities. I stayed in a Supreme room which had a balcony opening to a rejuvenating view of nature. The mornings were so relaxing in Iora that could charge me up for the entire day in jungle. We were given a resort tour where we visited the magnificent luxurious suites whose elements were gracefully done to give any luxury property a run for their money. Of all the 4 suites, Keteki, Camellia, Wild Silk and Patkai, my pick is Patkai for my next trip to Kaziranga. I was fascinated by the raw yet such intricate work portraying the tribal region of North East. These suites absolutely looked straight from my reverie.
Restaurants at Iora – The Retreat, Kaziranga
With plethora of restaurants and bars at the luxury resort, we picked up a different place for every meal and I must mention that every time along with the lip smacking dishes came the refreshing ambiance of the restaurants and bars. Of Scarlet flame – a western and oriental cuisine restaurant, Bhatbaan – an authentic local cuisine restaurant, The Bar – which serves exotic cocktails and tempting snacks, I would go to Bhatbaan every single time for its classic seating arrangement, authentic traditional Assamese food and delectable sweet called Payas.
Other Highlights at Iora – The Retreat, Kaziranga
The exquisite Retussa, the spa is a delight after the tiring day in jungle. The spa looked every bit grand and rejuvenating. Also, other interesting thing to do at the resort was to understand the silk production and then coloring of it using natural dyes from the flora in vicinity. That’s Iora’s bit of contributing to the development of local women by helping them cultivate this craft and help them sell it.
With nature’s splendor in abundance, this luxury resort makes it to one of the most gorgeous properties I have ever stayed in. The modern comfort blended with traditions surely delighted me to the core. The hospitality at this resort has left me in awe of it as for me, that’s what makes or breaks the deal at any resort.
What else to see on your visit to Kaziranga National Park?
Kaziranga National Orchid & Biodiversity Park
One of its kind Orchid park which flaunts over 500 varieties of over 1300 species found in North East India is closely situated to Central Zone. The orchids are every bit exotic and fascinating. I was quite captivated at the details of the orchids explained at the park. Don’t go by the name, this park also boasts of displays of traditional farming practices, silk weaving and multiple plant species. The dance performances which happen every half an hour or so are a must watch as they narrate the daily lives of the locals in Assam.
Some facts & tips about Kaziranga National Park
1. Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site known for hosting two-third of world’s one horned rhinoceros spreads over 380 square kms across Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam.
2. Kaziranga boasts of highest density of tigers, a huge population of elephants, wild water buffalos and swamp deers. It also houses a variety of migratory birds, water birds and resident birds like Open Billed Stork, Indian Roller, Spotted Dove, White throated kingfisher and many more.
3. The park area is circumscribed by Brahmaputra River forming the eastern and northern boundaries. During the months of July and August, the western region gets submerged due to flooding of Brahmaputra river. That’s when most of the animals migrate to elevated regions towards southern boundaries.
4. The best season to visit Kaziranga National Park is from November to March.
5. The tourist information centre by Koyeli tours and travels is located in Kohora just before the Central zone gate for all the guidance and planning your trip to Kaziranga National Park.
6. One can reach Kaziranga National park by any of the following modes-
a. By air – nearest airport being Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwhati from where Kaziranga National park is 245kms away.
b. By Rail – Guwahati Railway stations is connected with all the major cities of the country from where Kaziranga is around 200kms away.
c. By Road – Guwahati city is at a distance of around 220 kms from Kaziranga National Park and a smooth drive away.
Drop a comment if you have any queries regarding planning your trip to Kaziranga National Park.
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