For first timers traveling for safaris in India, it is important they understand how the safaris in national parks of India operate. What types of vehicles, and what are the benefits of each type of vehicle. Does the vehicle serve your purpose of safari? If you are an amateur or a professional photographer what type of vehicle is good for you?
Below are the various types of safaris in national parks of India.
- Jeep Safaris
- Canter (open safari bus) Safaris
- Boat safaris
- Canoe safaris
- Walking safari
- Cycle safaris
- Cycle Rickshaw Safari
- Elephant Safari
- Camping Safari
In almost all the national parks in India where tourism happens there are 2 safaris in a day. Except in Gir National Park there are 3 safaris in a day. In certain bird sanctuaries you can be inside doing birding from sunrise to sunset. The first safari starts at sun rise, and is usually of 4 hours. In Kanha the morning safari is 5 hours. The afternoon safari commences about 3pm and lasts until sunset.
Depending on the sunrise and sunset timings the safari timings change practically every month. So in winter the safari might start at 0645hrs, while in summers the safari might start at 0545hrs. Similarly as sunset in summers is late, hence the safaris start around 4pm until 7pm, and in winter from 3 till 6pm.
Some parks have full day safaris as well, these safaris cost almost 4-5 times more than a single safari. You are allowed entry 20 minutes before sunrise, and you may exit 20 minutes after sunset. Photographers generally prefer to experience full day safaris. But i will recommend these safaris for either professional photographers, or people who wish to experience how it is to be inside the national park for full day.
Gir national park has 3 safaris in a day, the first one starts at sunrise for 3 hours, the 2nd one immediately after the first one ends, and the 3rd safari at 3pm for 3 hours.
This vehicle is ideal to experience the safaris in national parks of India. The model used for safaris in most of the parks is the Maruti Gypsy. it is a 4X4 vehicle, very silent, and comfortable. In some parks Mahindra Thars are also used for safaris. They are diesel vehicles, hence a bit noisy. But they are also all terrain vehicles and comfortable. Maximum 6 people are allowed to sit in the Jeep besides the guide and the driver. But as it is a bit compact hence ideal for 4 guests. In case of professional photographers carrying camera equipments just two guests are recommended.
Some Lodges have recently started a modified version of a Jeep also. It is much more comfortable than a Jeep as it has bucket seats. But it is a slightly bigger vehicle, so not so easy to maneuver in the safari. But this also seats 6 people only.
Please see the video i shot in the park to understand this vehicle.
In some busy parks like Ranthambhore, Nagarhole, Corbett they have Canter safaris. Lately this has started in a very limited way in Kanha and Bandhavgarh also. Canter is a open safari bus which seats 12-20 people depending on the model and park. There is only one guide in the canter. For a serious wildlifer this is not the ideal way to do a safari. But if there is a group of friends, or family, then Canter works very well as it keeps everyone together. To avoid getting a canter safari you must book yourself atleast 120 days before the safari. But if it is a last minute booking, then you will have to be content with the Canter. Interesting part is that wildlife does not discriminate between a Jeep and a canter, it shows up nevertheless. But a Jeep is far less disturbing to wildlife compared to a canter.
Kaziranga, Corbett, Dudhwa, Nagarhole, Satpura, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Pench and a couple of more parks have Elephant safaris. These safaris are of one to two hours duration. it is worthwhile to experience atleast one such safaris during stay. It is an amazing way of seeing Wildlife. For guests who have never experienced an Elephant back ride, it is a great experience you must do atleast once. It is very fruitful in Kaziranga, and Dudhwa when you go for a safari to see Rhinos. Best part about an elephant safari is that it cuts through the Jungle. These pachyderms do not follow any fixed routes, hence you experience a Jungle in it’s true sense.
Satpura National park in Madhya Pradesh has walking safaris too. One goes on a trail of 5kms to about 10kms. A forest guide, and a couple of hotel staff also accompanies you as you are entering the Tiger country.
Cycle and Cycle Rickshaw Safaris
These are best for bird watching in Bharatpur. You can hire a cycle for yourself, and go around the sanctuary cycling and watching birds. This is perfect when you do not need guides, and you are an accomplished birder yourself. But if you need a guide, then Cycle Rickshaw safaris are the best. Most of the rickshaw drivers have been working in this sanctuary for decades. They know exactly which bird is in which area, which tree and which branch.
These are commonly done in Chambal, Dhaulpur, Bharatpur, Ranganathithu, Katarniaghat, Nameri, Panna, Nagarhole, Pench, and Satpura. The boats get close to the birds, and then the boatmen cut the engines for you to peacefully spend time with the birds. If one wants to take photos then it is important to stay as still as possible, as the water does not make it easy for the boat to go still in water. One can also see Crocodiles, and Gharials in most of the above parks via boats.
This mode of safari in national park of India is used when you are tracking the Snow Leopards in the Hemis National Park. One has to camp on frozen rivers, valleys in search of this elusive Himalayan ghost. It is serious camping, hence precautions must be taken in carrying enough of winter warm clothings. One encounters temperatures of below 20 degree celsius.
Above are the various modes to do safaris in national parks of India. Should you have any further queries regarding the same, please write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org