32 Important Points before Going for a Safari in Indian National Parks
- If travelling with friends and family be as silent as possible. Listen to the Jungle, it has a language. Ask the guide for the sounds of animals and birds that you hear during the safari.
- Minimum movements in the vehicle, especially during the time you sight an animal. Such movements can distract the animal and they can move away.
- Wear environment colors like greens, beige, browns etc.
- Do research on weather, expected temperatures during safaris, as it is better to be prepared for the same. A lot of guests coming from cold countries under-estimate the winter temperatures in the forest and are surprised.
- Avoid wearing strong perfumes as many animals have strong smell sense and it can distract them.
- Listen to what the guide and drivers have to say.
- Getting off from the vehicle is not permitted, the guides will tell you of the spots where it is allowed.
- No firearms to be carried inside the park.
- The animals in the park should NOT be fed at all by anything.
- Do not litter outside the vehicle.
- Flash photography is prohibited.
- If carrying a mobile phone keep it on silent or vibratory mode. Mostly carrying a mobile will be quite futile as you will not have networks inside the park.
- Smoking or drinking liquor is prohibited inside the park.
- If any animal gets closer to the Jeep do not try and touch it by stretching your arms. And if you are not comfortable with any animals present in the vicinity tell the guide or the driver about it. Usually, animals do not get so close as to be in touching distance.
- Use the washrooms in the hotel, or near the park entry gate (not all the park entries have washrooms). Avoid drinking a lot of water before the safari to avoid a visit to the washroom. There are some makeshift toilets in the forest.
- Carry a sanitizer always.
- Carry your own bottle of water, but only sip on water inside the park and avoid drinking a lot of water to prevent point no 15 above.
- The vehicle is not covered, so you are exposed to direct sun, hence carry or apply a sunscreen lotion. A hat is a good option to have.
- As the parks you are travelling in Dry and deciduous so there is a lot of dust when the vehicles move on these tracks. If you are sensitive to dust then carry a mask to cover your nostrils.
- Generally, it does not rain in the months of safaris, but there are a couple of odd showers light or heavy. Before going for a safari, do look at the sky if you see some clouds definitely carry some bag to protect your camera equipment.
- Carrying some cookies is a good idea if you are habituated of eating something every few hours.
- Have a light lunch before the afternoon safari as a full tummy, and the wind on your face can make you sleepy.
- When going for a morning safari one tends to have morning tea/coffee with some biscuits. In some parks like Kanha and Bandhavgarh, the breakfast is carried in the Jeep and served at some designated spots. But in Corbett, you tend to come back and have breakfast. In winters the morning safari closure time is around 1030hrs or later, so one tends to miss out on breakfast, hence carrying a couple of cookies helps. The choice is yours if you wish to sacrifice your breakfast for a safari, or safari for a breakfast. Let the guide and driver know and they will act accordingly.
- Always hold on to the iron bar in front or side of your seat to prevent any jerks while in the Jeep. The drivers are very experienced but at times they focus also on alarm calls, and seeing pug marks so missing a ditch is possible. Hence be alert.
- Ask as many questions as come to your mind. The guides and drivers have been doing their job for years, so at times they might have a tendency to be quiet or their mind could be pre-occupied by some other thought. To maximise your learning ask a lot of questions.
- The communication skills of the drivers and guides are not very fluent, however, they are able to explain and make you understand any query on flora and fauna that you may have.
- The type of vehicle used in most of the national parks is a Maruti Gypsy. You may see my video here to get an idea of the same. This was shot by me in a national park using a handheld mobile phone.
- If you are carrying a big lens like a 400mm upwards or any prime lens for photography do inform the resort in advance and ask for a bean bag.
- Please be cautious of your personal belongings. Do not leave them behind in the open vehicle while going to the toilet.
- Carry your passport with you or the photo id that you gave while booking the safari permits. The same in original needs to be shown at the park gate to enable entry.
- It helps to tip the guide and driver at the end of the safari. Tipping is not necessary, however, if you are happy with their service you might like to give them. Before tipping ask them if they will be there with you for next safari also. It is ideal to tip at the end of the last safari. But in most of the national parks, the guides and drivers are on a rotation basis, so tip them at the end of each safari.
- If you have any feedback from any safari please share immediately on your return to the resort.
I hope the above points are of use to you, should you have any more suggestions, do put in a comment, i shall incorporate the same.
– Sharad Vats