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Mode Of Safaris In the National Parks Of India

National Parks - jeep Safari - 3
Mode Of Safaris In the National Parks Of India. The national parks of India are not so big as their African counterparts. The terrain and the flora are also substantially different. Hence the Government and the Forest department have permitted only 20% of the national park area to be open for safaris. The remaining area remains inviolate for all purposes including tourism. Having said this, the beauty of our national parks is unique and so it the bio-diversity. For first-timers traveling to the national parks for safaris in India, it is important to understand the different modes of safaris. What types of vehicles, and what are the benefits of each type of vehicle. Does the vehicle serve your purpose of safari? The various mode of safaris in the national parks of India to explore the flora and fauna are:

 

  1. Jeep Safaris
  2. Canter (open safari bus) Safaris
  3. Boat safaris
  4. Canoe safaris
  5. Walking safari
  6. Cycle safaris
  7. Cycle Rickshaw Safari
  8. Elephant Safari
  9. Camping Safari

Jeep Safaris

 

This vehicle is ideal to experience the safaris in the national parks of India. The model used for safaris in most of the parks is the Maruti Gypsy, it is a petrol 4X4 vehicle. It is very silent, and comfortable. In some parks, Mahindra Thar is also used for safaris. They are diesel vehicles, hence a bit noisy. But they are all-terrain vehicles and comfortable. Maximum 6 people are allowed to sit in the Jeep besides the guide and the driver. But these vehicles do not have bucket seats, hence the seating is a bit compact and ideal for 4 guests. In the case of professional photographers carrying camera equipment, just two guests are recommended.

Some Lodges have modified some other vehicles with bucket seats, thus making them more comfortable for 6 guests. They are slightly larger in size with higher seats thus giving a slightly better view of the wildlife in front and on sides. But if the tiger is behind the vehicle then it is a bit of an effort to see it from these big vehicles.  They are diesel vehicles thus a bit noisy also. Being slightly higher you cannot get good eye-level shots of a tiger from this vehicle.

I am a big fan of Maruti Gypsy vehicles as they are maneuvered easily, smaller in size, and ideal for our national parks.

Please see the video I shot in the park to understand this vehicle.

Canter Safaris

 

In some busy parks like Ranthambhore, Nagarhole, Corbett they have another famous mode of safaris – Canter safaris. Lately, this has started in a very limited way in Kanha and Bandhavgarh also. Canter is an open safari bus that seats 12-20 people depending on the model and park. There is only one guide in the canter. For a serious wildlife enthusiast, this is not the ideal way to do a safari. But if there is a group of friends, or family, then Canter works very well as it keeps everyone together. To avoid getting a canter safari you must book yourself at least 120 days before the safari in some parks, 90 days in some, and 1 year in some parks. But if it is a last-minute booking, then you will have to be content with the Canter. The interesting part is that wildlife does not discriminate between a Jeep and a canter, it shows up nevertheless. But a Jeep is far less disturbing to wildlife compared to a canter.

 

Modes of doing safaris in the National Parks of India

Elephant Safaris

 

Kaziranga and Nagarhole have Elephant safaris. These safaris are of one to two hours duration. For guests who have never experienced an Elephant back ride, it is a good experience. It is very fruitful in Kaziranga when you go for a safari to see Rhinos. The best part about an elephant safari is that it cuts through the Jungle. These pachyderms do not follow any fixed routes, hence you experience a Jungle in its true sense. If you book a full day safari in Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Panna, Satpura, then you can book an Elephant for up to 3 hours. But we as a company do not recommend Elephant safari as we consider it inappropriate to ride Elephants.

 

Walking Safaris

 

Mode Of Safaris. Corbett, Kanha, and Satpura National park in Madhya Pradesh have walking safaris too. One goes on a trail of 4-10 km. A forest guide and a couple of hotel staff also accompany you as you are entering the Tiger country. You walk in the buffer zone of the park, but the wildlife does not distinguish between buffer or core. So at times you will see some prey animals and at times some predators during the walking safaris. It is a great way to experience the tiger country. Good those in birding it is a good way to do birding. If you are doing more than two national parks, then we recommend doing at least one walking safari. In Corbett, you can walk along the dry river bed to do birding, and if you are lucky you can see some tigers as well.

Cycle and Cycle Rickshaw Safaris

 

These are best for bird watching in Bharatpur. You can hire a cycle for yourself, and go around the sanctuary cycling and watching birds. This is perfect when you do not need guides, and you are an accomplished birder yourself. But if you need a guide, then Cycle Rickshaw safaris are the best. Most of the rickshaw drivers have been working in this sanctuary for decades. They know exactly which bird is in which area, which tree and which branch.

Boat Safaris

 

These are common mode of safaris done in Chambal, Dhaulpur, Bharatpur, Ranganathithu, Katarniaghat, Nameri, Panna, Nagarhole, Pench, Satpura, Periyar, and Sunderbans. The boats get close to the birds, and then the boatmen cut the engines for you to peacefully spend time with the birds. If one wants to take photos then it is important to stay as still as possible, as the water does not make it easy for the boat to remain still in the water. One can also see Crocodiles, and Gharials in most of the above parks via boats. A maximum one-hour boat ride is good for such an experience.

boat-safari-india

Camping Safari

 

There are camping and walking safaris in Satpura, and while tracking Snow Leopards in Rumbak and Ulley valley in Hemis National Park. The camping to see the Snow Leopards is serious camping, hence precautions must be taken in carrying enough of winter warm clothing. One encounters temperatures below 20 degrees celsius. In Satpura, the camping is done in the buffer zone, you can choose to do one to three-day camping safari in Satpura. You walk during the day, have your lunch by the riverside, and a bush dinner by your camp next to a river.

 

Outdoors, Tourist, Hiking, Walking, Explorer

Safari timings

 

In almost all the national parks in India where tourism happens there are 2 safaris in a day. Except in Gir National Park, there are 3 safaris in a day. In certain bird sanctuaries, you can be inside doing birding from sunrise to sunset. The first safari starts at sunrise and is usually 4 hours. In Kanha, the morning safari is 5 hours. The afternoon safari commences about 3 pm and lasts until sunset.

Depending on the sunrise and sunset timings the safari timings change practically every month. So in winter, the safari might start at 0645hrs, while in summers the safari might start at 0545hrs. Similarly, as the sunset in summers is late, hence the safaris start around 4 pm until 7 pm, and in winter from 3 till 6 pm.

Some parks have full-day safaris as well, these safaris cost almost 4-5 times more than a single safari. You are allowed entry 20 minutes before sunrise, and you may exit 20 minutes after sunset. Photographers generally prefer to experience full-day safaris. But I will recommend these safaris for either professional photographers, or people who wish to experience how it is to be inside the national park for a full day.

 

Best Wishes

Sharad Vats

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