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Rajaji National Park

INDIA | Thursday, 15 March 2012 | Views [1417]

Got up pretty early this morning to get to Rajaji National Park. The trip would require bus rides to Dehradun, Rishikesh, then Rajaji. This time, keeping my eys shut did not save me from a really bad bout of motion sickness as the bus wound it's way down the mountain from Mussoorie to Dehradun. By the time I got to Rishikesh, I was so bad, I just decided to stay the night and travel by taxi to Rajaji the next morning.

Rajaji National Park is a wildlife reserve in Uttarakhand. As it lies between Rishikesh and Haridwar, it the perfect way to take advantage of a short journey for a peaceful getaway in between busy cities. There are options to stay inside the park in what's known as forest rest house. These are basic huts with basic facilities. I've opted for a hut provided by a government run hotel, Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam(GMVN). A chance for a little bit of fun "roughing" it, but with the option of a hotel room in case the excitement is too much. 

Rajaji National Park is wildlife sanctuary spread over 820 sq kms. The park is a tiger reserve, but sightings are not common. Elephants, wild boar, birds and a few type of deer are meant to be easy to spot. There's basically 3 options for seeing the park. A jeep safari, an elephant ride or a guided jungle trek. It's against my principles to ride animals for entertainment and the idea of 6km, mosquito infested walk in the searing heat, just lost out to the jeep safari by a close vote of one.

I managed to persude three Italian girls to let me share their jeep and off we went. At the very start of the safari, we saw one of the baby elephats out on some afternoon exercise:

As our journey progressed, it became evident that the park is sparsely populated at this time of the year. This despite being March, well within the beginning of the advised time to visit. There wasn't much to see in term of absolute numbers of animals. Although we witnessed a few birds, buffalos, deer, peacocks and wild boars. Few, being an accurate word.

The highlight of the safari has to be when we came across a forest elephant with her calf. Both were feeding when we arrived on the seen and stopped to watch and take photographs. After some time, both mother and child came down from the hill, wandering on the road a little before leaving. Never realised that elephants were so agile:

And then off they went to kick some tiger butt:

Despite the disappointing over the lack of wildlife, the four hour drive through the park was a lot of fun and more than compensated. One puzzling thing is that the ubiquitous monkeys of India doesn't seem to apply to the park.

One final thing. The Italian girls had just missed their bus to Rishikesh and the usual assortment of lying taxi driver attempted to scare the girls into a taxi ride with tales of no more buses and quoating outrageous prices. Fortunately, I'd asked about buses earlier and the girls managed to get their bus 10 minutes later.

So just for the record, there are buses to and from Rishikesh and Haridwar. At least as late as 8pm.

Tags: india, rajaji national park, safari, wildlife


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