5 National Parks In North India You Can Travel To During Covid
Oh, for traveling again! The Covid lockdown has put a clampdown on any travel plans that you might have had. While the early lockdown days were relaxing, the novelty wore out soon and we’d like to step out again. Now that most lockdown restrictions are relaxed and tourism spots are reopening, we could set out to travel. However, since the Covid threat is still out there, it’s not a safe idea to travel just yet.
Of all the travel destinations, national parks are among the most ideal to visit during Covid. You get to be isolated from the tourist crowd that mills about the holiday destinations. Also, you’re back in touch with nature away from the maddening city life. So long as you’re careful with social distancing and sanitation, here are 5 national parks you can visit in North India during the Covid pandemic.
This location is exactly what its name is – a national park in the Thar Desert. It’s a vast 3000 sq km park on the outskirts of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. For those who’d love to understand and explore a desert ecosystem, this is the perfect place to be in.
At first glance, this hostile terrain landscape of sands, sparse vegetation and craggy rocks seem devoid of life. But that’s not the case here. This park is home to a variety of flora and fauna. You’ll see chinkaras and with a bit of luck, even the desert cats, desert foxes and wolves.
However, the main attraction of Desert National Park is its avian population. It is home to the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard. In addition to this, the winter months attract even more birds here.
What To Do
You can set out on wildlife safaris in this park which will let you experience this extreme yet beautiful place and its wildlife to its fullest. Also, if you’re interested to camp in the sands, the Sam Sand Dunes aren’t far off either.
Nearest Airport: Jodhpur Airport
Nearest Railway Station: Jaisalmer
Road: Desert National Park is a mere 10 km away from Jaisalmer, which in turn is well-connected to major cities.
A motorcycle trip to Ladakh is considered the ultimate trip of a biker. The hostile terrain and the freezing temperatures make it very challenging. As a wildlife traveler, you can do it too and experience the hardy flora and fauna of Hemis National Park in Ladakh.
Spread over 4400 sq km, this is the largest national park in south Asia and is home to over 200 snow leopards. While the landscape is barren, it sustains life for animals including Tibetan wolves, Eurasian bears and the endemic Shapu.
While Hemis may be the perfect national park to visit during Covid, keep in mind that Ladakh’s terrain and climate aren’t something to trifle with, especially in the winters. Make sure that you’re physically fit before setting out.
What To Do
The challenging landscape of Ladakh means that it’s a haven for adventure travelers and trekkers. You can set out on a trek from the famous Hemis Monastery to the Gotsang Gompa nearby.
While the best season for bird watching is during the summer months, the cold winter months are the time for a snow leopard safari. Mind you, there are no vehicles allowed in the park, so you’ll have to move on foot.
Road: Public transport is available to the park from Leh, which is connected to major cities.
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Uttar Pradesh
Located along the Indo-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh is the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. As this park is away from the mainstream tourist radar, it makes for an ideal national park to visit during Covid in north India.
The fertile lands of this park have nurtured plants and forests which in turn have supported the fascinating wildlife here. This wasn’t always the case as these lands were indiscriminately exploited by poachers. It took the efforts of “Billy” Arjan Singh, a hunter-turned-conservationist, to make these lands a wildlife sanctuary and reintroduce animals here.
Thanks to him, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve now has a sizable population of tigers and rhinoceroses. Along the marshes, you can spot large numbers of the Barasingha and the black-necked stork.
What To Do
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve has opened but with strict Covid guidelines. While you aren’t allowed to get your own vehicle in the park, there are jeep safaris with social distancing norms enforced. You can stay within the park premises in Dudhwa huts, although only two people can share one hut owing to Covid guidelines.
Nearest Airport: Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport, Lucknow
Nearest Railway Station: Palia Kalan
Road: Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is connected to Mailani and Bareilly, which are connected to major cities.
Kaziranga National Park, Assam
With its swamps, dense forests and meadows teeming fascinating wildlife and the mighty Brahmaputra roaring beside it, Kaziranga National Park in Assam is sure to amaze you.
Within the calm of this wilderness live many, many species of animals – the most renowned among them being the greater one-horned rhinoceros. While you’re almost sure to see these majestic creatures, if you’re lucky, you might even get to see elephants or even the elusive tiger – at a distance, hopefully.
Visiting during the winters is the best as along with seeing more animals, you’ll be treated to sightings of migratory birds in the park’s wetlands.
What To Do
Kaziranga National Park has a lot of activities that would enthrall the wildlife lover and even if you’re not, it’s sure to make you one. In addition to the jeep safaris, you can also set out on package tours that would get you even more acquainted with places in and around the park. You’d also get a chance to live among the many tribes of Northeast India.
Nearest Airport: Jorhat Airport
Nearest Railway Station: Furkating Junction
Road: The main gate at Kohora is connected with all major cities of Assam.
Mouling National Park, Arunachal Pradesh
This national park is for the wildlife traveler who ventures into trails rarely taken. Mouling National Park of Arunachal Pradesh is explored so little that it’s believed that there are many undiscovered plant and animal species here.
The unique location of the park has resulted in it being a biodiversity hotspot – there are conifers in the higher altitudes which experience snow. On the other hand, the lower altitudes are extremely humid tropical rainforests with many cascading waterfalls. Depending on your preference, you could choose where to go!
With patience and luck, you might sight a clouded leopard or the majestic Bengal tiger. And if you gaze upwards, perhaps you’ll see a hornbill or the vibrant Sclater’s monal.
What To Do
Considering how isolated and underdeveloped Mouling National Park is, you can enjoy the largely untouched wilderness in complete isolation. However, make sure that you’re sure of the park’s rules.
So long as you’re following social distancing norms, you could interact with the Adi tribe and if you have the stomach for it, try crossing their cane-and-bamboo bridges built across the Brahmaputra.
Nearest Airport: Pasighat Airport
Nearest Railway Station:Murkongselek
Road:The nearest major city is Guwahati. From there you go to Pasighat and then you reach Yinkiong and then enter Mouling National Park.
Things To Remember
The pandemic is far from over. So, social distancing rules have to be followed to a T, no compromises there.
If you’re unwell, skip this trip. Don’t take any unnecessary risks in these times.
Those below 10 and above 65 years of age are more susceptible to infection. They should avoid going on trips too.
Book accommodations that are Covid ready and confirm if the national park you intend to visit is open to the public.
Cashless transactions reduce risk of infection.
Keep yourself up-to-date on the Covid regulations of the state you’re planning to visit and also of your home state.
Install the Aarogya Setu app on your phone and a Covid self-declaration form, irrespective of the rules, to be on the safer side.
If you develop symptoms of Covid, seek help immediately.