If you talk about wildlife safaris in India, some of the prominent names like Corbett and Kanha come immediately to mind. That said, there are a plethora of other protected areas, all adorned with unique features, that not only make them off-beat, but exclusive as well.
Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, Sikkim
Away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Gangtok, the Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal place to observe the unique flora and fauna of the state, far away from human disturbance.
Due to its close proximity to Gangtok, the park is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike. There are plenty of good staying options within the park from where visitors can take short treks to observe the spectacular bird life, apart from animals like the Black Bear and the extremely elusive leopard.
Nagzira Sanctuary, Maharashtra
Push aside Tadoba and Melghat and instead focus on the untouched forests of the Vidarbha region where the pristine Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary is located.
Named after the serpent God Nag, whose temple lies within the forest, the dry deciduous forests are home to leopards,tigers and more importantly the dhole also known as the Indian wild dog.
Hemis National Park, Ladakh
The high altitude Hemis National Park is located in the remote region of eastern Ladakh in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.This protected area on the banks of the Indus river has a sizable population of the highly endangered snow leopard.
Other endemic animals found here include Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Black Bear, Asiatic Ibex among others. Well laid out trekking routes serve as an access for visitors to explore the fascinating wildlife of this region.
Jhalana Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
Surrounded by the Aravalli range on one side and the city of Jaipur on the other, the Jhalana Wildlife Sanctuary is actually a safe abode for relocated leopards. Spread over an area of 20 sq km, the reserve finds a mention as one of the best places in the country to spot and photograph these magnificent felines.
The sanctuary has a healthy population of about 40 leopards, striped hyena, golden jackal, deer, nilgai and a wide variety of birds. One can book a safari from the entrance gate on arrival, unlike other parks in India where you need to book months in advance.
Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh
Situated in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh, the Dudhwa National Park lies adjacent to the border with Nepal and as such shares a lot of flora and fauna with the neighboring Himalayan country. Unlike other parks of India, Dudhwa is far less crowded, which makes wildlife viewing here a pleasant experience.
Dudhwa’s thriving rhinoceros population has been termed as a major conservation success, as such a sighting of these beautiful creatures is more or less guaranteed. Additionally, the park holds a healthy population of swamp deer and over 400 species of birds, the star among them being the rare Bengal Florican.
Rajaji National Park, Uttrakhand
Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, between the two holy towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh, Rajaji National Park enjoys an excellent eco-system as it lies at the beginning of the massive Indo-Gangetic plain.
Rajaji has a sizable population of Asian elephants since it lies on north-western migratory route of these animals. Besides elephant herds, the park is home to tiger, leopard, deer and a good variety of birds within its area of 820.42 sq km.
Jawai National Park, Rajasthan
The Pali district of Rajasthan is surrounded by hills and caves of the Aravali range of mountains and forms an ideal habitat for the sizable leopard population known to exist in the state. In recent years, eco-tourism has risen dramatically in the Jawai region and many lodges and homestays have sprung up here.
Leopard safaris, in open 4x4D jeeps are the best ways to see the leopards from up close as they can venture as close to their dens as possible. Ample availability of prey has ensured minimum conflict between man and animal. The catchment area of the Jawai Dam is a paradise for birdwatchers as visitors can drive close to the edge of the water to observe waders, ducks, lesser flamingos and vast colonies of painted storks.
Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh
The eastern Himalayan location of the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary comprises deep valleys, fast flowing rivers, lush green forests and abundant bird and animal life. With altitude ranging from 500m to 3250m, it goes without saying how enjoyable and eventful a trip to the region could be.
Moreover, Eaglenest is a mecca for birders as more than 500 species have been recorded here. Trogons, hornbills, flycatchers and the rediscovered Bugun Liocichla attract visitors to this important birding area. Mammals found here are Himalayan Black Bear, Serow, golden cat, leopard cat, giant flying squirrel and the iconic red panda.
National Chambal Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh
Wildlife and birds thrive on the banks of the Chambal River as it meanders along the Jalaun district of Uttar Pradesh. Since the river is relatively pollution free, it gives refuge to several birds, animals and reptiles.
A boat safari on the river can uncover the Indian Skimmer (in winters), gharials, mugger crocodiles and the very very endangered Gangetic dolphin. Of the 28 river turtle species in India, eight are found here including the red-crowned roof turtle.
Dibru Saikhowa National Park, Assam
Dibru Saikhowa is one of the most unique national parks that’s located on the border of Assam and Arunachal, exactly at the point where three different rivers meet to for the mighty Brahmaputra. Bulk of it is located in the middle of the crisscrossing streams and can be navigated only through boats.
In the winters it becomes a paradise for migratory birds while you can spot gangetic river dolphins at any point. Apart from the usual attractions, it’s also known for feral horses, which are the progenies of Horses left behind by allied forces after the WWII.
Note: Ways to fund your safari to India
It is well worth shopping around before making a commitment to pay money for your Indian safari from your home country. If, for example, you want to send money from the UK, calculate the cost of converting your £ sterling into INR, paying attention to the upfront fees and the exchange rate.
The cheapest, easiest and fastest way is to send money through Wise, a reputed money transfer company. While a bank would take 3-4 days, a transfer by Wise is instant-2 days.
Few other options are:
- Bank transfers
- Card Debit or Credit
- Physical money remittance store
So no matter what mode you choose to pay, head to these amazing parks now for an unforgettable adventure.