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TonyQ

Satpura and Kaziranga February 2019

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TonyQ

Summing Up – Satpura and Forsyth Lodge

 

We loved Satpura. It is a beautiful park, a good range of wildlife, lots of birds. The ability to do a range of activities in the core part of the park and in the buffer zone adds a lot to the experience. Although we did see Tigers, it is not really a park for viewing tigers.

 

Forsyth Lodge was superb – we rate it very highly and were very happy that we chose it.

The room was very good. The grounds were good for birds.

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Part of the lounge area

 

Food was excellent.

Tea/coffee and biscuits delivered with wake-up call.

A light breakfast – sandwiches - when out during the morning. Water and tea/coffee carried by the guide.

Back for Brunch or Lunch. Two days we had lunch cooked by women from the local village – excellent. The other days we had brunch – which seemed to be breakfast plus lunch – also excellent.

 

In the evening meet at an open air terrace for drinks/snacks and then to a very good dinner.

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Stairs up to the terrace

 

On one evening tables were set up outside, beautifully lit.

 

They cope very well with dietary requirements and were very careful (and there were a lot of combinations when we were there). The food is mainly Indian (though not very spicy hot) with some western dishes.

 

Meals are around one or two shared tables (depending on numbers) and each table is hosted by one of the guides (they take it in turns.)

 

Soft drinks are included in the price (we recommend fresh lime soda, no salt, no sugar).

Alcoholic drinks are extra. We only had one beer which was a reasonable price. Many people drank wine but I do not know how much it costs.

 

All of the activities ran very smoothly and we were very happy with our guide Sidanthe. Most of the “hotel” staff were recruited from local villages and trained by the lodge. The guides are recruited from a wider area and trained by the lodge. Forsyth Lodge (and Reni Pani) have also organised joint training for the forest guides with the lodge guides.

 

On our last day, we ended up with a later flight than originally planned. The manager was talking to us about what time we would be leaving. When we mentioned the time in the original itinerary, he said that is too early – you will wait around a lot at the airport. Let us get Sidanthe to some more birding around the lodge grounds with you.

 

When we said we would be very pleased to do that but wouldn’t it mean more work for our guide, he said ‘that’s what you’re here for (seeing the wildlife) and that’s what we’re here for’

 

That seemed to sum up their ethos and probably explains why we rate Forsyth Lodge so highly.

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TonyQ

Back to Delhi

So a 4 to 5 hour drive, road mostly good with one patch being re-surfaced and very dusty. It was interesting going through a number of small towns. As we arrived at Bhopal it was getting dark and we drove past a number of colourfully illuminated Wedding Gardens – it seems to be a major local “industry”.

 

The flight back to Delhi was fine., arriving at about 10.30pm.  We had decided to stay 2 nights in Delhi – it would have been perfectly possible to head off to Kaziranga the next morning but we wanted to relax rather than head off straight away on a very early flight (6.30am) . We stayed at The Claridges, had a lie in (relatively) and a very good breakfast. We then spent a leisurely day by walking to a local park called Lodhi Gardens

 

Lodhi Gardens

Popular with local residents, and also visited by @michael-ibk and @Atravelynn during their trip. It is a good place to walk, look for birds and enjoy people watching

 

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Chinese Goose (a feral introduced species)

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Red-whiskered Bulbul

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Mongoose enjoying the sun

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Black Kite - very common birds in Delhi

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TonyQ

754477560_IndiaTRLodhi-9.jpg.26c77528787b6eddd891caab712db950.jpg

School outing

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Jungle Babbler

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Rose-ringed Parakeet

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House Crow

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Palm Squirrel - very common

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Spotted Owlet -we were very pleased to find these lovely birds

 

So a lovely relaxing way to spend a day in Delhi. We went back to the hotel and had a pot of tea in the grounds and later went out for a fine meal Then early to bed in preparation for another early start as we head towards Kaziranga.

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Antee

Congratulations to the Rusty spotted cat! 

As a cat freak trying to see all the felines in the world I know very well they are hard to see and even harder to have in your camera.

To see two in one nightdrive is exceptional good!  

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michael-ibk

Enjoyed catching up on this very much! The Leopard sighting must have been super thrilling, and how cool about the Rusty Spotted Cats. Looking forward to Kaziranga!

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TonyQ

@Antee thank you - I have enjoyed following your search for a wide range of cats

@michael-ibk thank you

 

On to Kaziranga

Next day, an early pick up for a two and a half hour flight flight to (6.05) Guwahati and a long drive (4 hours or so) to Diphlu River Lodge and Kaziranga National Park.

 

Kaziranga is in the state of Assam, about 2000Km to the east of Delhi. We hoped to see the One-horned Rhino. If you do go, you would have to be exceptionally unlucky not to see them. We saw 3 of them as we were driving along the main road towards our lodge – so before we had even entered the National Park.

 

We had taken the early flight from Delhi so that we would get to Kaziranga in time for a late lunch and an afternoon game drive. After arriving at Diphlu River Lodge, we were shown to our room, and then had lunch.

 

We were introduced to our guide (Anuj) and our driver (Biru) and were pleased to find that we would have both of them for all of our activities. Most of our activities were game drives in different sections of the National Park. During the report I will attempt to give a flavour of what we saw.

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Our jeep

Kaziranga has a range of environments. Most of it is more open than Satpura, with a lot of grassland. However there are wooded areas, rivers and lakes. To get to the different sections of the park you join the main road and drive along this to one of the different entrances.

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Road sign

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Distant Rhino with baby

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Wild Pig

1970589826_KazTRDeer-1.jpg.af149107875d78a8b683caa73fe8198d.jpg

 

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Edited by TonyQ

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TonyQ

First morning we went to the Eastern Section.

We were delighted to see

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Capped Langur

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We were joined by a forest ranger and this also allowed us to go on a walk.

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Giant Squirrel

 

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Anuj with Park Guide.

Another family and their guide from the lodge joined us for the walking part of this activity. This was fortunate for us –as we were having the same guide and driver for all out activities, we intended to tip at the end so stupidly did not bring any money out with us. Luckily we were able to borrow some money from this family so that we were able to tip the Park guide.

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Rhino footprint - fresh

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Tiger footprint

 

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Herd of Buffalo

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Edited by TonyQ

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TonyQ

After a return for lunch, we were out early (first photo at 1.30pm)

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Controlled burning is one of the ways the grasslands are managed

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The bird flying above the flames is an Indian Roller. Apparently they fly in to catch insects that are forced in to the air to escape the fire.

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After the burning

 

803478530_TRKazElephant-1.jpg.5603a166ef907e287ddcb6514b67ebad.jpgOur first Wild Elephant

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1217591361_TRKazElephant-3.jpg.8defd3afb693316206588973b5d2d183.jpgFamily group

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While watching, Anuj spotted

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A family of Otters

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1820178040_TRKazOtter-3.jpg.62f764401d0a1d9f50a56aec7a9ac086.jpg

 

Getting dark , watching us watching them.

Edited by TonyQ

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TonyQ

And more elephants....

1246737851_TRKazElephant-6.jpg.a7e3b3b14670f84d3df1b54b36b951af.jpg

 

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In the later stages of pregnancy

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We really hoped to see Wild Elephants, so were delighted to have such good views of them

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Getting wet, but the elephants didn't mind. (We had a canvas roof that was put on to protect us!)

As we began to head towards the exit to the national park, we began to have a problem with one of the wheels. When we reached the exit, another jeep was waiting for us. Anuj had phoned through so that one would meet us, so no problem to us. Our jeep was fine for the rest of the trip.

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Towlersonsafari

Love the otter and ele photos @TonyQ

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TonyQ

Thank you @Towlersonsafari

 

Diphlu River Lodge

During our stay at Kaziranga we were based at Diphlu River Lodge -  very nice lodge.

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View showing some rooms and the dining area - all buildings are on stilts because the area floods each year

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Dining area

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Our room

 

We had a river view room. A fairly famous couple had stayed in the room a couple of years ago, and the Lodge were very proud of that. We were pleased that we were not the first Aston Villa fans to stay there.

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Views from room

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The day starts with a cup of tea in the room

Proper tea, not tea bags!

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There were tea estates along the main road, so it seemed appropriate to go for the Assam Orthodox

 

and then breakfast at 6.00. Breakfast was a buffet but also fresh cooked eggs. Then head out to the park. Return at about 11.00, lunch at 12 (buffet, mostly Indian with some western dishes. Good selection of vegetarian, fish and meat. Head out at about 1.15/1.30 (depending on which sector you are going to). Evening meal about 7/7.30. Tea and coffee was free, soft drinks and alcohol were extra. Water was provided. Dining was at individual tables, which I think would be a disadvantage if travelling alone.

We enjoyed the food and thought there was a good selection. Assamese food tends to use less chilli than many other areas of India.

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TonyQ

A few more sightings in the National Park

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People are very proud of their Rhinos

 

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Great Hornbill

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Black-necked Stork

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Buffalo

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Another family of Otters

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Some more elephants

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Reaching for a wild fruit that looks like an apple but is much harder

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Rhino

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Big powerful animals, looking quite different ot African Rhinos

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Sambar male

 

 

 

Edited by TonyQ

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Towlersonsafari

I will try to forget you are Villa fans @@TonyQ   -the rhino looks very prehistoric-have they been dehorned? and some more otters-do you know what species?

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TonyQ

@Towlersonsafari At least we have one thing in common with Prince WIlliam:D

 

I am not sure if the Rhinos are de-horned. Our guide didn't mention it and we didn't think to ask! Some appear to have a horn.

The otters are (I think) Smooth Coated Otters.

 

 

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TonyQ

We had planned to make a visit to the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary. ( @michael-ibk and @Atravelynn   discussed a successful visit in their trip report).This would involve a very early start, but worth it for a chance to see Gibbons. On the afternoon/evening before we were due to go there was very heavy rain. We discussed our trip with our guide Anuj and he said it would be very wet and muddy in the forest. In the end we opted out, and following discussion with Anuj and Diphlu’s manager, we decided to do some birding around the lodge before breakfast, and then to look for local Gibbons and do more birding in the local area.

 

The plan worked well for us

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Small Niltava

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Squirrel

After a quick breakfast, we headed out to search along the main road. Anuj said that Gibbons are sometimes seen in particular areas. He was right!

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Female Gibbon

All of these next photos were taken from the vehicle as Anuj and Biru follwed them and kept pace with them

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Baby holds tight as mother moves through the trees

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Male walks up tree trunk - it was fascinating to watch their different ways of locomotion

1429738040_KazTRGibbon-4.jpg.51ef6c112544b01a169c48c0f04bbfa0.jpg

 

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When they were swinging from their arms they moved really quickly

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We found it interesting to see their feet - with many hand-like features

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Female swinging with firmly attached baby

141283513_KazTRGibbon-8.jpg.1b3710b4e239db0342d5400df019dede.jpg

 

So we were thrilled with our morning outing, and were very excited to see the Gibbons so well

 

 

Edited by TonyQ

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TonyQ

We did some more local birding, and then returned to the lodge for lunch. In the afternoon we visited the National Park agin and enjoyed sightings of a range of wildlife.

1606106742_Kazpiedhornbill-1.jpg.d0198eb6da4d95ae26fd882144220a13.jpg

Oriental Pied Hornbill

1541651830_KazTRbirds-4.jpg.8340284118c0b49035424d18e0b87547.jpg

Grey-headed Fish Eagle

1782995653_KazTRDeer-7.jpg.fb02061d31c0524479701a5c2e08a1e5.jpg

 

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Not a great photo, but it does show the environment and numbers of some of the wildlife

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2077977197_TRKazElephant-16.jpg.7a67d271f8e9d43706669330eb75fdf5.jpg

Elephant and baby crossing river

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TonyQ

We were pleased to see some more otters (always a treat!)

827956301_TRKazOtter-6.jpg.5ab9d55a702b50c7f030e8718e3a069a.jpg

 

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Kaleej Pheasant

 

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Buffalo youngster suckling

And some more Rhino

1114156003_TRKazRhino-7.jpg.834387cdb29b3d0b4903ead6d22314a6.jpg

 

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1337253750_TRKazRhino-9.jpg.514e34c278966593d58f1bb290ff0287.jpg

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TonyQ

446296927_KazTRbirds-6.jpg.92e1cc7244cc0b03738c96174368bf7f.jpg

Changeable Hawk Eagle

 

1850771718_KazTRRhinox(1of2).jpg.47c11491157958e825eb5eca8a1d9e3d.jpg

More Rhino - this one with quite a large horn ( @Towlersonsafari )

1970328744_KazTRRhinox(2of2).jpg.4262516daec1126164bf785d8a1e6931.jpg

 

479503365_TRKazElephant-17.jpg.2a1d9616aace1ec994826c955ee15d17.jpg

 

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Elephant crossing the track

1300886457_KazTRSunset-1.jpg.3181fb2806b67ad0b02e107a79e36271.jpg

Elephant Sunset

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Earthian

Beautiful photos Tony

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Zim Girl

Loving the 'Elephant Sunset'.

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TonyQ

@Earthian @Zim Girl  thank you!
 

Another trip to the park -

496413940_KazTRbirds-7.jpg.2a89c3c23c5d7f97fed593f8b61379ac.jpg

Indian Roller (a different sub-species to that found in Satpura)

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Golden-fronted Leafbird

2112268595_KazTRbirds-9.jpg.04e1cfa8ecb93fd7ede469b0cb90b39e.jpg

Chesnut-headed Bee-eater

128987510_KazTRbirds-10.jpg.0b8e48a3ac55d96638e61d9bd574a2b3.jpg

Osprey with large fish - always distant if seen in the UK, but possible to get much closer here

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A large tusker cooling off

And again we see a family of otters - a real pleasure on this trip to see so many otters and to have good sightings

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On land and in the water

1969923295_TRKazOtter-10.jpg.031d2bfe8ebfea3cf98dddacda1f776d.jpg

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TonyQ

One afternoon we went on a boat trip in an attempt to see River Dolphins. Setting out after lunch, it is about an hour’s drive through interesting villages to reach the river. Unfortunately we only saw a couple of splashes! Another family from the lodge had been the previous day and watched dolphins for about half an hour as they splashed up from underwater.

 

The river was much wider than we had expected (basic research!) so when travelling up and down the river we tended to be a long way from the banks.

1626785776_TRKazScene-14.jpg.3d7ade839f37738780cc724eae4dab57.jpg

Fishing boat on the river - showing how wide the river is

 

A few birds were seen but they tended to be very distant. So a bit of a disappointing activity really.

 

1982577308_KazLong-leggedBuzzard-1.jpg.3238ec2394a27c03dcad88288cb85928.jpg

But we did see a Long-legged Buzzard as we returned to our car

 

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TonyQ

Next morning at the lodge

2099038097_KazTRbirds-11.jpg.38bef4d78c9c7b1efcd20e54fef02159.jpg

Black-hooded Oriole – seen from our balcony!

Then heading into the park

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Long-tailed Shrike

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Buffalo in long grass

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Bar-headed Goose – amongst the highest flying birds in the world, they migrate across The Himalayas

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Asian Openbill

267015226_KazTRbirds-15.jpg.0b5ffa96db5cad02a0634ee7aa89b887.jpg

Blossom-headed Parakeet

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TonyQ

1850118390_KazTRbirds-16.jpg.d1a7464f2264225b9987266a2609e892.jpg

White-rumped Shama

689545085_KazTRbirds-17.jpg.aa1e6c88bfa48871a1063835ff214f39.jpg

Crested Serpent Eagle

293338566_TRKazElephant-20.jpg.c4119b44f1aba3dfaaf47eb745155f31.jpg

 

776463363_TRKazElephant-21.jpg.27da4c810bdf0f0a74f14a945f1e167b.jpg

Some final elephants – still a treat

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And a final rhino.

 

 

Kaziranga and Diphlu River Lodge –summing up

 

Kaziranga has a variety of different environments which make for an interesting range of game drives. Some sections were busy near the main entrance gates, but none were busy once we moved away from those areas. Most of the time we were on our own and really enjoyed our time in the park.

 

It is possible to do Elephant rides to view Rhino, and these are popular. (One woman in our lodge had come to Kaziranga to specifically do an Elephant ride). We decided not to as we have come to the view that the whole process is cruel. This is not a criticism of people who have chosen to do them – indeed we have in the past in other Indian Parks. It is just our choice now.

 

Although Tigers are found in the park, and sometimes seen, we did not see any (and did not expect to). If your aim is to see tigers, it is not a good choice, but you will see Rhino and Elephant and a range of other wildlife.

 

A main road runs alongside the park. You are not really aware of this when in the park, but you do have to travel on it when going to or returning from the park. In the morning and during the middle of the day the journey is interesting. At night as it gets dark it is not so pleasant. In Assam, most lorries are only allowed to travel at night, so as it gets dark lots of lorries that have been parked up during the day take to the roads making the journey back potentially very busy.

 

Diphlu River Lodge was very good, comfortable rooms and very good food. Our guide was good and we were pleased to have him for all of our activities. Guides are from local villages and are trained by the lodge. We were happy with our choice.

 

93602588_TRKazElephant-22.jpg.0c6a481b15df8986b4ca427235e8a9cd.jpg

Edited by TonyQ

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After lunch we drove to Guwahati for a flight to Delhi, arriving late evening.

Another night at The Claridges, and excellent breakfast and we are picked up at 8.15 for a  roughly 4 hour drive to Bharatpur and our stay at the Birder’s Inn.

 

We were going to Bharatpur to visit Keoladeo National Park to do some birding. We arranged the transport through The Birder’s Inn, and also got them to arrange a guide for us.

The plan was to have lunch when we arrived, then spend the afternoon in the park. We would also spend the next morning in the park before returning to Delhi.

 

The Birders Inn

Bharatpur-1.jpg.5ac4667ad374a3c8f5649d5278330b53.jpg

 

Bharatpur-2.jpg.798175e5774f4030aa6ea0f27835f46f.jpg

 

We had a very nice room The food was good (2 lunches, evening meal and breakfast).

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