What is the best time to visit Kaziranga National Park?
“What is the best time to visit Kaziranga” would solicit different answers from different interest groups. The flood alluvial plain forests of Kaziranga is a dynamic entity, displaying varying characteristics based on seasonal variations. For students of ecology and environment, the monsoons might unveil the answers to many of their questions. The same would apply for ornithologists and birders, wanting to study the breeding behaviours and habitats of birds. The wildlife filmmaker will never miss the migration of the animals from the floodplains to the Karbi hills in the south during the floods in July-August. However, from the perspective of a tourist, the period from November to April is definitely the best time to visit Kaziranga.
Should Kaziranga be open from October to May?
Recently the park authorities have extended the tourist season from October to May, which might give the impression that the best time to visit Kaziranga would be during this period. But this decision has sparked off many debates – both for and against. Quite a few stakeholders – in the form of hoteliers and tourist guides have welcomed this decision, saying this would benefit the local economy. However, those from the opposite camp argue that animal sightings in October are very poor because of the dense undergrowth. Since the authorities cannot repair the entire tourist route, damaged during floods, by September, they truncate the tourist route. They also point out that the absence of elephant safari in October justifies their stand. They argue that it is not fair for visitors to explore only a truncated area of the park as this might affect the reputation of Kaziranga.
But everyone seems to agree on extending the season till May. Since there are no elephant safaris in May, jeeps are the only option available for entering the park. Being in the northeastern part of India, the monsoon arrives early in Kaziranga. This might hamper the Jeep Safari during the month, but overall the animal sighting remains good.
The only point where everyone seems to agree is regarding the boat safari, which is available right from October to May.
We believe the park authorities can end this debate by publishing the situation that exists in October in the public domain. This would enable visitors to make an informed opinion on their own.
Monsoons in Kaziranga
Though Kaziranga is off-limits for visitors from June to September, it offers some exciting propositions during the monsoons. When the floodplains of Kaziranga get inundated, a massive animal migration occurs south towards the adjoining Karbi Hills. This phenomenon offers immense opportunities for observing animal behaviour from very close quarters. A lot of animal rescue and rehabilitation works surface during this season. The entire local community joins in the effort of the authorities and becomes an integral part of these rescue operations. There is also immense scope for Volunteer Tourism to flourish during this period.
Myriad shades of green envelop the entire Kaziranga landscape during this time. This being a breeding period for most woodland birds, the monsoon is a perfect time here for bird watching. This is also the time when hundreds of species of butterflies unveil a multicoloured panorama in the entire Kaziranga landscape. This splendid act of nature entices the butterfly lovers to throng the area with their macro lenses and camouflaged clothes. Besides, various species of snakes, spiders, frogs, and insects are out in their full splendour during the monsoon.
Monsoon is also the time when community fishing in Assam reaches its crescendo. Being on the banks of the Brahmaputra, the floods bring with it an abundance of fish into the area. This presents a golden opportunity for serious anglers.
To summarize, the best time to visit Kaziranga is throughout the year.