It is a lifelong dream of mine to experience a Safari to see the amazing wild animals. Since I left the Philippines a year ago to travel around Asia, I often look??for South African Flights that would fit my budget. While I’m in Kolkata, I’ve learned that ??India has a lot of National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. I got excited about it because at the time being, I know that could not go to Africa so might as well visit any National Park in India. I started researching about the Safaris in India and immediately change our itinerary. From Kolkata, we headed to Siliguri in New Jalpaiguri en route to Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, one of India’s National Park.
My trip to Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal was the first time I experienced a wildlife tour. Although it’s not in Africa, Being the first, It was certainly one that I would never forget. While in Siliguri, we visited the West Bengal tourism office and inquired about the sanctuary tour. The guy from the tourism office informed us that they can arrange the tour and from the options that he provided, and having a limited budget, we opted the one where in transportation in going to/from the Sanctuary/Siliguri is not included. From Siliguri, we took the inter-city train which is the best way possible to reach Madarihat, a small village that serves as the gateway to Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary.
Some facts about Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary from Times of India:
'The Jaldapara forest was given a “wildlife sanctuary” status in the British Era in 1941 when its area was 141 sq km. At present, Jaldapara is spread??over in an area of 216.51 sq km and houses more than 160 rhinos, apart from numerous bison, deers, leopards and six Bengal tigers. Other animals found in Jaldapara include wild elephants, deers, swamp deers, hog deers and bisons. Some rare species like the hispid hare and the hog-badger are also found here.
Jaldapara is exceptionally rich in avifauna because of varied terrain, mosaic of vegetation and rich insect life. More than 240 species of birds – including Orioles, Barbets, Woodpeckers, Parakeets, Hornbills, Drongos, Cuckoos, Babblers, Brahminy ducks, and whistling teals – are found in variety of habitat- Grassland, water bodies, woodland. A wide variety of vegetation makes it a botanist’s paradise as well.”
Jalpadara Wildlife Sanctuary is 15 km away from Madarihat train station. By noon, we reached Madarihat and a car picked us up and brought us to Hollong Forest Bungalow, a lodge run by West Bengal Forest Department and the only accommodation inside the core forest area. On our way to the sanctuary, I saw a lot of peacocks and peahens moving along the road. The lodge is usually fully booked, they advised to make a reservation 3 months before your scheduled trip. Another option is to stay outside the sanctuary as there are numerous hotels and guest houses. The good thing about staying in Hollong is that you'll able to see the wild animals in the front view of the lodge. They put salt pits for the wild animals. According to the people from the lodge, salt is a good source of minerals. It attracts the animals and they are visible from the window of the rooms.
Hollong Forest Bungalow
The next day, we woke up early morning for the Elephant safari. The Elephant ride takes tourists inside the forest and sighting of the famous one-horned rhino is quite common. The elephants, along with their mahouts leave as early as 5:30 in the morning. The safaris leave in groups of 3-5 elephants, each carrying a maximum of four people not including the mahaut. For its size, the elephant is an extremely mentally alert animal and maneuvers easily through the various streams running through the forest.
Here are the wild animals we saw in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary:
Parakeets and One-horned Rhino
Peacock and Peahen
Elephant and One-horned Rhino
If ever you’ll come to visit India, I suggest that you go to any of their National Park. Seeing animals in their natural habitat is definitely a once in a lifetime experience.