Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Kaziranga diary in brief


Kolkata to Guwahati (Indigo) 5.30 am and back (6.40 pm flight by Air India from Guwahati)  = Total fare Rs 4500/-

Car from Guwahati to Kaziranga (back to Guwahati ) = 5 hours journey each way ( Rs 11,000/- for Innova). But there is no carrier in the car. So make sure there is a carrier, otherwise 7 people cannot travel by same car. The car stayed in Kaziranga throughout the tour with us. Gobindo took another car for them.

We stayed in Aranya lodge of Assam Tourism Deptt. The rooms are really good. We paid Rs 1450/-. Gobindo stayed at Camp rhino which is 25 Km from our resort. But location of Camp rhino is better  - it is far from the madding crowd.

Camp rhino

Evening Safari - (1750/- + 400)+ 100/- per head is entry fee at   the central zone (there are 4 zones). We left for 2.30 pm for the evening safari. For foreigners the entry fee is Rs 650 ! For extra person they charged Rs 475/- (since we were 7 - normally per car they allow 6 persons.We are seven. Unlike Tadoba, Bandhvgarh etc you cannot book the safaris online. You have to come here before the tour starts.

We did the evening safari at Central zone.

The diversity of Kaziranga is unparalleled in India. The forest is mainly Grassland and has similarity to the savannah of Africa in some parts.  Grasslands have many names—prairies in North America, Asian steppes, savannahs and veldts in Africa, Australian rangelands, and pampas, llanos and cerrados in South America. But they are all places where there is too little rain for trees to grow in great numbers, but not so little to form a desert . They are however scattered with trees mostly Acacia and Bobab.

Based on climatic dryness there are 2 types of Savannahs - Tropical grassland (also know as Savannah are located near equatory) and Temperate Grassland. African tropical grassland or Savannah has more variety compared to South American Savannah like Pantanal. One fourth of the earth's land is grassland. According to WWF there is third type called Flooded grassland.


Morning Safari at West Zone. The morning safari starts at 7 am. But because of rain, we started late at 9 pm. Our safari jeep got stuck once, because of the mud.

The elephant safari starts at 5 am and 6 am. The ride is Rs 950 per person and the charges for taking the car to elephant ride zone is Rs 500 for the whole car. We did not take it.

We came back at around 12 pm

Evening safari starts at 2.30 pm. We went to the East zone.

hog deer

Pond heron


Indian roller bird - nilkantha pakhi

Hill myna

Rufous treepie

Jungle fowl

Open Bill Stork


Shrike or butcher bird




Back naped Stork


Crested eagle

Bar headed goose

Eurasian coot

Rudy shell duck

Lesser whistling duck

water buffalo



Today we left for Pobitora. Out of 4 zones , we have covered Central, East and West zone and left out only Burapahar which is 45 Km from our resort. The safari jeep charges Rs 2750 for pick up and drop at the hotel as per rate chart. We were told it is not interesting. We went to meet Gobindo at Camp Rhino resort (it is on the way Guwahati and Burapahar). After meeting them we left for safari at Pobitora ( it is around 20-25 Km from Guwahati and 20 Km from the main road of Guwahati) and they will skip the safari and left for Shillong.

In Pobitora the rates are lower compared to Kaziranga.

There is no tiger in Pobitora. Actually on the way to Pobitora - you can see Rhino.

After doing the safari at Pobitora we left for Guwahati airport. The road towards the airport is not very congested. But it took around 1.30 hours to reach Guwahati airport. We dropped Anindya and Isabella on the way - they will go to Shillong.

Our flight at 6.40 actually left at 7.15 and we reached Kolkata at 8.30 pm.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Two night three days trip to Satjelia (Sundarban)


We left for Gadkhali by Tata winger from Tottee Lane (at Sudder street) by Tata Winger. From the ITC Sonar 5 Star hotel side towards Ruby hospital, you have to take the road towards left , JUST before the bridge - to go towards Gadkhali. 

The Malancha and Basanti Highway falls on the way to Gadkhali . On the way to Gadkhali tyre of our car tyre got punctured. In the meantime we had a chance to see the greenery of Bengal !

At Gadkhali one can cross the river to go to the other side which is Gosaba - the main market and locality in Sundarban. 

We were told that there is a plan to construct Gosaba bridge. From Gosaba one can take an share auto  rickshaw and reach ferry ghat in more than 1 hour at Dutta River. From there you have to cross the river and then proceed towards Satjelia - where the resort of Rajesh of Tour de Sundarban is located. 

However from Gadkhali , we boarded the steamer and our steamer started proceeding towards Satjelia. On the way we saw the sign board of Sundarban tiger camp at Dayapur.

Sundarban consists of around 104 riverine Island , out of that only 48 is inhabited. The water here is backwater and not tributary of Hooghly. Since water is saline not many living being can survive in this atmosphere. The trees of Sundarban are not tress , in fact they are shrubs or bushes - that is why it is so difficult to spot animals. The Mangrove forests because of saline water either use the root to get oxygen or the in some trees/bushes roots are stilted.

People go to collect honey only 2 months in Sundarban from April to May, after taking prior permission. They have to sale a portion of the collection to Govt at pre-determined price of around Rs 150. They sale the honey in the market at Rs 220 approx. Apparently these honey bees come from Himalaya. They collect honey from 3 flowering plants here - that is why the honey is very tasty. They normally collect around 60-100 kg honey during the season. People here are either agriculturists or collect honey or catch prawn / crab to survive.

We reached our resort around 1.00 pm. The resort is indeed very nice. After having our quick lunch we left for a waking tour in the village at 2.30 pm. We learnt most of the people cannot grow winter or Rabi crop because of lack of sweet water. Then we left for evening safari at 3.30 pm and went to one of the creeks. It looked like as if we are in Amazon!  We caught some crabs are getting down from the boat.

Our tour guide Manjit

We came back at around 6 pm. After having our dinner at 8 pm ,  it is again time for night safari. Due to full moon we could not see the light emitting "bacteria".

After returning to our resort we heard some baul,bhatiwali and kirtan song.


Today we left early at around 6.30 pm for Dobanki and Sajnekhali. We got our permission form Sajnekhali. I driving my skill in riding the lauch !

Dobanki is quite fire - but is not interesting at all. However we saw some Rhesus monkey, monitor lizard, spotted deer, wild boar,shrike,green dove, common kingfisher at Sajnekhali watch tower and also crocodile.

With the local tourist creating so much noise - it is impossible to see something more exciting.

All of our group members left for Kolkata at around 4 pm and we left for our resort by another boat. We could have gone for night safari again - but we skipped it today


Today our boat left for Kolkata around 9.30 pm. In the boat we met Biswajit Mistry (helper) and Sareng. We learnt that a helper gets Rs 200 per day and Sareng or launch driver get Rs 7000 per month. Biswajit has a wife and two chilren. His elder son (in class 7)  takes tuition from a local teacher, after school hours, 6 days a week along with other students and pay Rs 400 for the tuition fee. His younger son is in class 2 - he pays only Rs 150 for the tuition for the same number of days ! Biswajit is however is not literate. Every month they required around 25 Kg of rice for the family of four. They eat fish almost everyday. The electricity has come around 1 year back to their village, just after he bought a solar panel for Rs 18,000 from Gosaba (with installation charges included). Normally people here pay electricity charges of around Rs 300. They have a paddy field. They had a harvest of around 30 sacks @ 50 kg per sack this year. They sold around 8-10 sacks. The paddy is sold at around 16 kg , which is then para boiled in rice meal to remove the husk and sold in the market later by mill owner. He told me mid-day meal is not doing more harm, since people eagerly wait for the lunch , instead of concentrating on studies !

He told us that they don't have to take 2 hours boat journey to see a doctor any more. There are good doctors from Kolkata who comes to Gosaba. They go by a combo of auto and boat to reach Gosaba. Things are good these days !

We reached South Kolkata (near Gariahat) at around 3.10 pm.

Chronological order