After leaving Kolkata I now headed towards
the remote frontiers of the north eastern states of India. Bordered by
Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar and Bangladesh these are little visited areas
therefor I had decided to organize this part of my adventure through
Savion, the company Paul and I had used on our previous Indian
adventures. It turned out to be a wise decision. I would never have
received the inner line permit for restricted areas on my own and public
transport over here is extremely irregular and not trustworthy, to say
On arrival at Guwahati
Airport I was met by Burul, my driver, and we started our “three” hour
drive to Khaziranga national park. The first thing I noticed was how
clean things were compared to Kolkata. Also the air seemed the much more
breathable. We left the city and not much later enjoyed lunch. After
that we continued our journey. In spite of the bumpy road I managed to
nap for a while and after I woke up we were now in a much hillier area.
Finally we arrived at the outskirts of Kazaringa National park. It did
not take me long before I spotted the first deer and buffalo without
even leaving the car. And not much later, a rhino, no two, three four…
I could not believe my eyes… And that already before my first safari
who’s was planned for the next day, unbelievable.
Just before six we arrived
at the resort. A three hour journey had magically turned in an almost
six hour journey… I refreshed and went to the lobby to update my
journal whilst enjoying a Kingfisher strong.
Dinner was served at seven
and not much later I was informed about the time of my elephant safari
next morning. I had already noticed evenings were rather chilly over
here so before going to bed I grabbed an extra set of blankets, I did
sleep well that night.
At 5:30 there was a loud
bang on my door, “Good morning Sir”, yes, and a good morning to you as
well. A quick wash through the face, a pair of warm clothes and I was
ready to go. Shortly after six I was picked up by Burul and we were off
on a short drive to the park. On the way up there we already saw the
first Rhino, a good start of the day.
Of course formalities were
essential before being allowed to enter the park but not much later I
found myself on an elephant, the driver in front of me and an armed
ranger behind me. In total there were four elephants carrying people but
they were accompanied by at least 6 toddlers, together we formed a
It did not take us long
before we spotted the first deer, being on elephants we really could get
close without frightening them, it was a breathtaking experience. And
our elephants, for them it must have been like a breakfast walk through a
big tali, as they kept on eating non stop. No branches or grass was
safe for them, they were all all teared off their roots and then
carefully put in their ever hungry mouths.
Not much later, as we were
wondering brought the grasslands, it was rhino time. The driver had
spotted one in the high grass. As we came very close I noticed there
were even more gathered. Kazaringa national park is the only place in
the world where the one horned rhino lives. But as slow and friendly as
they look, they can be rather aggressive and run very fast.
Wild Buffaloes were
grazing in the grass as well, however somehow they and our elephants did
not seem to be the best of friends. The elephants trumpeted agitated so
the buffaloes went to another, more peaceful, place to finish their
There were plenty of birds
to be spotted, and I even was lucky enough to see a jackal. He must
have been looking for leftovers of a killing by a tiger that was spotted
yesterday. At some places beautiful pink flowers grew and I was told
they only flourish on rhino shit.
We had some more rhino
encounters, most of them with an infant next to them. Then it was time
to return to the resort, but not before I gave a 100Rp. tip to my
elephant who handed it over graciously to its driver. What an exciting
start of the day it had been.
A hot shower, breakfast, a
short time to relax and it was time to hit the road again… This time
we went to the largest orchid and bio-diversity park in India (whatever
that was supposed to mean). It was laid out beautifully and at every
exhibition someone was waiting for me to explain what I saw. The mean
orchid blooming season is from March to April so there were not much
flowers to see, however the enthusiasm of the girl showing me around
made up for the lack of blooming orchids. I was lucky enough though to
see some very special ones.
I made a short stroll
through the park where I was asked by an Indian family join them on a
photo. Their excitement must have been equal to when I get a good shot
of a local.
Then I got attracted by
noise coming from a central parlor where a small folklore show was
performed. Once again the enthusiasm of the performers was infecting,
although there were only a handful of spectators present.
After I finished my rounds
we returned to the hotel where I went for a short afternoon nap. Later
that afternoon we returned to the national park for a 2nd safari, by
jeep this time.
We drove to a different
range of the park where my driver was already waiting for me. After the
unavoidable paperwork I jumped in the back of the jeep and we were off.
It did not take long before I saw the first rhinos, water buffalos and
elephants peacefully drinking at the shores of the plentiful water
meadows. Further on I spotted some deer, and birds were to be seen
The scenery was completely
different than this morning, we drove on an unpaved road through a
forested area. Some trees had no leaves left but beautiful red flowers
and fruits gave them a complete different appearance.
Other trees were filled
with vultures, eagerly waiting for a dead corpse or leftover from a
kill. As there was none of that available at the time they were just
hanging around, time seemed to be of no importance to them.
A couple of times I saw eagles, some of them high in the sky, others resting on a tree branch. Impressive creatures indeed.
It was a lovely ride and
time passed by too quickly, still I must admit this morning’s drive was
definitely the most spectacular of the two. Being on top of an elephant I
felt so much more in touch with nature and we could get closer than the
animals than in a jeep. Still I would not have missed out on either
Back at the hotel I was
given the option to attend a cultural show later at the evening but to
be honest I was not very eager. Tomorrow would be a long day so I choose
for a relaxing evening at the hotel and.. Yes, a kingfisher followed by
another early night… Life is good.
Continue to the Arunachal Pradesh Experience