Thursday, May 18, 2017

Travel: 5 wildlife destinations across India to visit before monsoon

For Apes: Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, Assam
Kaziranga and its rhinos overshadow Assam's other gems, but the entire Northeast is, in fact, home to fascinating flora and fauna.

And this sanctuary, situated amidst lush tea plantations, is where you will find one such rare species — the Hoolock Gibbon. India's only apes, these adorable creatures spend most of their time up in the trees, swinging from branch to branch, picking fruits along the way.

Hoolock Gibbons are an endangered species, with their population having severely diminished over the last three decades. Set out early in the morning with a guide for a chance to spot one.

How to get there
The airport in Jorhat (30km away) is connected by flights via Kolkata and Guwahati.

For birds: Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka
This national park in Karnataka is known to be a birdwatcher's paradise. The best time to go birding is early in the morning, before it starts getting hot.

You will find around 200 species of birds here, from common ones like painted storks (in pic) and kingfishers to the critically endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture and the yellow-beaked Malabar Pied Hornbill.

There are also animals to be spotted here, including the Chital, Sambar, Gaur, and Asian Elephant. The forest department conducts safaris through the park in the mornings and evenings.

How to get there
Nagarhole National Park is 90km away from Mysore, which is connected by train to Bengaluru.

For lions: Gir National Park, Gujarat
Catch a glimpse of the king of the jungle by going on a lion safari through this national park. Gir is the only natural habitat of the Asiatic Lion, and housed around 523 of them at last count (2015 census). This number that has gone up steadily over the last few years. However, that's not all you get to sight here. The park is also home to leopards, sloth bears, striped hyenas, blackbucks and monitor lizards, among a variety of other species. Gir National Park is open till mid-June, from 6 am to 12 pm and from 3 pm to 6 pm.

How to get there
Gir National Park is 78km away from Junagadh, which has a railway station that connects to bigger cities.

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