The history of Kaziranga National Park can be traced back to 1904 when the wife of Lord Curzon, Lady Mary Curzon visited the area. After hearing stories about the presence of the One-Horned Rhino in Kaziranga, Mary Curzon decided to embark on a trip to spot the wild animal. But she came back without having seen even one Rhino. Disappointed, she took it upon herself to persuade Lord Curzon to initiate conservation efforts to protect the One Horned Rhino.
Hence, in 1905 the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest came into existence with an initial area of 232 square kilometers. The forest area kept increasing over time and soon reached the banks of the Brahmaputra River. Then in 1908, it was designated as a Reserve Forest.
However, in 1916 it was again designated as a Game Sanctuary which meant that people could go in and engage in the hunting of wild animals. This continued till 1950 when the region was re-christened as Kaziranga National Park and hunting or poaching was completely banned. Due to its unique ecology and presence of endangered species, UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site in 1985!
Located in the Central part of Assam, Kaziranga National Park is spread across two districts – Nagaon and Golaghat. From the initial area of 232 square kilometers, the park now has an area of 378 square kilometers. The park consists of varied landscapes which primarily consist of sandbars, flood fed lakes called Beels, and elevated regions called Chapories that provide shelter to animals during rainfall and floods. The Indian Army has regularly contributed to building of artificial Chapories to increase the safe spaces for animals.
The Kaziranga forest is home to tall Elephant grass, marshlands, and dense forests that provide a conducive environment for its wildlife population. Four rivers – Brahmaputra, Diphlu, Mora Diphlu, and Mora Dhansiri – cut through the sanctuary and create numerous lakes and ponds in the region.
Surrounding the national park are several tea estates which are a major contributor to Assam’s economy. Due to its proximity to the Brahmaputra River, every year Kaziranga National Park faces flooding that results in loss of lives for numerous animals.
The Kaziranga National Park is located in the Middle Brahmaputra valley which gets heavy rainfall each year during the monsoons. The Brahmaputra is an integral part of the national reserve but due to heavy rainfall flooding is a common occurrence. Every year most parts of the reserve are submerged, especially the Western regions. This results in damage to the flora and fauna and the Assam government does all it can to maintain a balance in the wildlife numbers.
Kaziranga experiences three main seasons – summer, monsoon, and winter. From February to May the region experiences the summer season where temperatures can touch almost 40 degrees Celsius. During this time, most of the wildlife is concentrated in and around the watering holes as the animals rush to drink water and consume the last of the available green grass.
The animals get some respite from the heat when monsoons arrive in June and continue till the beginning of October. Heavy rainfall is very common that results in swelling up of the Brahmaputra River and leads to flooding. The winters arrive from mid-November onwards and offer mild weather that is perfect for spending time outdoors. This is the time when Kaziranga National Park remains open for tourism and winters are the best time to visit Assam as well. With the monsoons gone, the water sources begin to dry up a bit and short grass crops up around them. Most wild animals especially the Rhinos rush to these Beels (lakes) to eat the grass.
Flora and Fauna
The flora of a jungle refers to the plant species available and in Kaziranga National Park you will find four kinds of vegetation – grasslands, woodlands, deciduous forests, and tropical forests. Traveling through the different park zones, you will notice that Kaziranga doesn’t have a constant altitude across its area. The Western reaches are mostly flatlands and the landscape are dominated by grasslands. Typically, the taller Elephant grass grows on the higher ground whereas the shorter grass is found in flatlands and near the Beels.
In the regions around Kanchanjhuri, Panbari, and Tamulipathar blocks, you will find thick evergreen forests. The lakes or Beels, support aquatic flora like the invasive water hyacinth which is like weeds that dominate the water consumption.
Fauna refers to the wildlife found in a reserve and there is plenty of it in Kaziranga National Park. According to reports, there are about 35 mammal species in the park out of which 15 are endangered. Kaziranga also has the distinction of being home to the largest population of the One-Horned Rhino, something the park is very famous for. Along with the Rhino, it also has the highest population of the Water Buffalo and the Eastern Swamp Deer. 57% of the world’s population of the Wild Water Buffalo are said to reside in the Kaziranga forest! The One-Horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger, Asian elephant, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer are collectively known as ‘Big Five’ of Kaziranga.
Outside of the African sub-continent, Kaziranga National Park is one of the few breeding spots of the Leopard, Tiger, and other jungle cats. It also claims to have the highest density of tigers in the world at one Tiger every 5 sq. kilometers. Some of the other cat species found in Kaziranga include the Jungle cat, Fishing cat, and Leopard cat. Other mammals found in the region consist of the Indian Mongoose, Indian Civets, Bengal Fox, Pangolins, Sloth Bears, Ferret badgers, and Flying Squirrels. In the primate species, should be able to spot the Hoolock Gibbon, Golden Langur, and the Assamese Macaque.
Kaziranga is not just a place to spot the One-Horned Rhinos but is also a great spot for birding. It has been tagged as an Important Bird Area and is home to a variety of resident birds and migratory birds. In the birds of prey, there is the Grey Headed Fish Eagle, Eastern Imperial, Lesser kestrel, and Pallas’s Fish Eagle. Birding enthusiasts will be happy to spot other variety of birds such as the Openbill Stork, Black Necked Stork, White Fronted Goose, Baer’s Pochard Duck, and the Blyth’s Kingfisher. At one time, Kaziranga was home to seven species of Vultures but they reached a point of extinction due to a poisonous substance found in some animal carcasses. Now, only the Indian Vulture, India White Rumped Vulture, and the Slender Billed Vulture have survived and can be spotted in the national park.
And that’s not all! Two of the largest snakes in the world, the Rock Python and the Reticulated Python can be found in Kaziranga National Park. The world’s longest venomous snake, the King Cobra, also resides here. Some of the other snake species in Kaziranga are the Indian Cobra, Russel’s Viper, and the Common Krait. If you are lucky you might just find a few Monitor Lizards walking around!
How to get to Kaziranga
By air – The closest airports located to the national park are the Guwahati airport and the Jorhat airport. Even though Jorhat airport is the closest one between the two, the Guwahati airport offers better connectivity since most major cities in India offer flights to and from the city. From the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, you should be able to hire cabs that will take you to Kaziranga National Park. Alternatively, you can travel to Guwahati city and take a bus to Kaziranga from there. However, we can include pick up and drop services through our Kaziranga safari tour packages.
By train – Those wanting to travel by train can get to the Furkating train station located just 75 kilometers from Kaziranga. It offers connectivity to stations like Guwahati, Kolkata, and New Delhi but better alternatives would be the Guwahati railway station and the Jorhat railway station located at a distance of 240 km and 90 km respectively. Both of these stations are major railheads of the Northeast railways and from there you can hire a cab to get to Kaziranga.
By Road – Kaziranga national park is located at a distance of 220 km from Guwahati, 100 km from Jorhat, and 70 kms from Tezpur. From any of these points, you need to reach Kohora which has the main gate of the national park and situated on NH-37. All major cities of Assam are connected with Kaziranga through a network of luxury buses, local buses, mini-buses, and taxis.
Best time to visit Kaziranga National Park
Even though the park is open from November to April each year, you will need to know which is the best time for safari in Kaziranga. The park experiences summers between the months of February and May. In the simmering heat, most animals can be found loitering around the watering holes, and during the safaris you should be able to spot some of them. Check out our special Kaziranga safari deals to get the best out of your safari experience.
June onwards the rain bearing clouds hover over Kaziranga National Park, marking the advent of the monsoon season which will last till the end of October. This is not a good time to visit Kaziranga as heavy rainfall results in flooding in and around the national park. Some of the areas of the park remain submerged through the season due to the rising water levels in the Brahmaputra.
By early November the rains bid adieu to the region and Kaziranga National Park opens up for tourism. The winters are very mild and dry but it is during these months that the park witnesses the highest number of tourist footfalls. Winters are the best time to visit Kaziranga National Park as the pleasant weather makes safaris even more enjoyable. Tourists can take advantage of the many activities we offer such as Jeep safaris, Elephant safaris, bird watching, and camping near the national park.
Safari Zones in Kaziranga National Park
Central safari zone
Kohora town is the entry to the Central Zone of the Kaziranga National Park and is located just 2 kilometers from the National Highway. The demarcation of the Central zone starts from the Mihimukh riding tower, which is where all the Elephant safaris depart from. The Elephant safaris last for about one hour each and return to the Mihimukh riding tower from where tourists can depart to their hotels.
Western safari zone
The Western safari zone of the Kaziranga National Park has its entry gate at a place called Bagori, where the Bagori tourism office is located as well. If you are looking to book your safari from here, we can help you do so. It is said that the Western safari zone is the most popular zone as the landscapes in this region makes it possible to see the One-Horned Rhinos from close proximity.
Eastern safari zone
To reach the Eastern safari zone tourists will need to travel to a place called Agaratoli which is a small town located on the National Highway. The Eastern zone doesn’t offer an Elephant safari but we can help you book the Jeep safari from this zone. Only in the Eastern zone will you find a boat safari inside the park which gives you a totally different perspective of exploring the park through its water bodies. If you are a birding enthusiast, then the Eastern zone will get you closer to numerous bird species.
Burapahar safari zone
The last one is the Burapahar zone and you can do the safari here by reaching the Ghorakati village. The Jeep safari begins at a place called Rhinoland Park and the hilly terrain of this zone is perfect for spotting Rhinos and various bird species. This is also the only zone to offer short hikes through the forest during which you will embark on a guided tour of the beautiful forest landscapes.
All four zones differ from each other in terms of landscapes, sightings, and experiences and if you have the time you should try to explore multiple zones. Our tour packages include safaris from all these different zones. No private vehicles are allowed inside the park so you will have to hire the jeeps available near the park entry points.
Kaziranga National Park safari timings
The safari in Kaziranga operates between the months of November and April each year. The safari services are closed during the other months. At Kaziranga, you can opt to experience the boat, jeep and Elephant safaris.
The timings for the Elephant are between 5:30 am and 7:30 am and the one-hour safari is done in the Central and Western ranges. However, foreign nationals are only allowed to go for the safari in the Central zone which is managed by the Forest Department. Our travel experts can help you book the Elephant safari during your tour. This way you don’t have to stand in the queue to purchase your safari tickets.
The timings for the Jeep safari are from 7:30 to 11 am and from 2 pm till 4:30 pm. The two-hour safaris can be booked through our travel experts on the time slot that you prefer. If you are traveling in a big group, then we highly recommend that you experience the Jeep safaris.
Jeep safaris are almost always fun to go on as you sit in the open jeeps waiting to spot something as you travel through the forest. The Kaziranga jeep safaris operate in two slots – 7:30 to 11 am and then again from 2 pm till 4:30 pm. As you drive through the forest, you will get a chance to see tigers, one horned rhinoceros, wild buffaloes, elephants, a herd of deer, Pythons, and many other mammals & birds as well.
For the Kaziranga National Park safari, we will hire a Jeep (Maruti Gypsy) that is registered with Jeep Safari Associations at Kohora and Bagori booking place. The Jeep safaris, however, are more intrusive as they make a lot of sounds and can disturb the wildlife population. If you want a quieter experience, you must try the Elephant safari which can be arranged by us.
Imagine sitting atop a full-grown Elephant and meandering through the thick jungle foliage with a bird’s eye view of the surroundings! The slow-paced Elephant safari lasts for an hour and the best time to do it is during early mornings. Typically, 4-6 people get to share one Elephant and it’s the best way to traverse through the tall green grasslands from where you get a bird’s eye view of the landscape. The Elephant safari is available in Kohora, Bagori, and Burapahar ranges but the Jeep safari is permissible in all four zones.
The morning Elephant safari timings are from 5:30 am to 7:30 and another afternoon batch is from 3 pm to 4 pm. To make the most of your Elephant safari experience, do make sure that you carry binoculars or a zoom camera lens to be able to spot wildlife hiding in the undergrowth. In case you are not comfortable with getting on an Elephant or not in favor of using animals for safaris, then we can book the Jeep safari for you.
Available only at the Agoratoli range, the boat safari is a unique way of experiencing the wilderness of Kaziranga National Park. The one-hour long boat safari takes place on the confluence of the Brahmaputra and Dhansiri Rivers located near the park. During the boat safari, you will be able to cruise through the waterways of Kaziranga and get the opportunity to spot animals who come to the watering holes to quench their thirst. The increased gathering of wildlife near the water brings with it the predators who hide in the undergrowth, waiting for the opportune moment to hunt. To book the boat safari, you need a minimum of 2 persons else you will need to pay for the boat yourself. If the group is big, then the cost gets divided. The bookings for the boat safari can also be done through us if it’s not already included in your tour package.
To get the maximum out of your Kaziranga safari experience, it is recommended that you experience the Jeep, Elephant, and Boat safari. You can book the early morning Elephant safari from the Bagori range, then do the Jeep safari and finally head to the Agoratoli range for the boat safari.
Where to stay
To make the most of your Kaziranga tour, you definitely should go on multiple safaris over a couple of days. And to be able to do so, you will need accommodation close to the Kaziranga National Park. The Kohora and Bagori zones have the best tourist infrastructure with a number of hotels, resorts, and government-run lodges.
These accommodations offer services like camping, semi-luxury, and luxury stay options as well. Due to the rush of tourists during the safari season, it is recommended that you book our Kaziranga packages well in advance. We have an extensive network of partner hotels located in Kohora and Bagori. However, if you are looking to stay in the outskirts of the park, then we can put you up in places like Bokakhat, Nagaon or Tezpur city. All transportation to and from the hotels to Kaziranga National park can be arranged by us.