5 National Parks In South India You Can Travel To During Covid
understandable if you seek some days out of the concrete jungle and stay in an actual one – disconnected from the everyday chaos of urban life and technology. Keeping that in mind, a visit to a national park would be an ideal change of space. You get to breathe in air that’s clean, you get to wake up to the twittering of birds instead of the cacophony of traffic, and you get to get back in touch with nature, as we all ideally should.
However, traveling anywhere during the pandemic isn’t a great idea. But if you must, take all the necessary precautions to be as safe as possible. National parks are ideal vacation spots during Covid, as they offer wide open spaces, so social distancing shouldn’t be a problem. With its diverse landscape and ecosystems, South India doesn’t lack green spaces where plants and animals thrive. Here are five such places which you can visit.
Kali Tiger Reserve, Karnataka
Originally known as Anshi National Park, this patch of wilderness in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka is one of the 50 tiger reserves in India. What sets this park apart from the others is that it’s the only place where the black panther is found.
Of course, as the name suggests, there are tigers here too, along with a large number of animals including sloth bears, bonnet macaques, pangolins and a lot more. The park is also a bird watcher’s heaven, with birds like hornbills, frogmouths and over 200 species living here. The waters of the Kali River, in turn, are home to crocodiles.
Things To Do
Exploring the wilderness of the Kali Tiger Reserve is a given. With patience and a bit of luck, you might be able to see and maybe even photograph the tigers, or even the incredibly rare black panther. If you’re up for it, you can set out on treks and even camp in the park (seek prior permission). Remember that the wild can be a potentially hostile environment. So follow the advice of the park officials to have an adventurous yet safe holiday.
Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park, Telangana
For the traveler visiting Hyderabad and seeking a relaxing holiday in the wilderness, the Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park may be an ideal spot to visit. Being in close proximity to Hyderabad city, the park plays the role of the city’s green lung. This park used to be the Nizam’s hunting grounds back in the day, but now the animals living in this park roam about freely.
This small 15 sq km park is home to a surprisingly large number of flora and fauna. You’re sure to come across the endangered black bucks. Also living in the park are panthers, chitals and over 120 species of birds.
Things To Do
You can embark on a wildlife safari to experience the park to its fullest extent. Make sure that you have your camera with you. The park is also dotted with watchtowers that will offer you unhindered views of the wilderness.
As the park is right on the outskirts of Hyderabad, you could just as easily explore the city as well. But bear in mind the social distancing norms, always!
Nearest Airport: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport
Nearest Railway Station: Nampally
Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Located on the banks of the Godavari delta, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh boasts of being the second largest mangrove forests in India, after the Sunderbans of West Bengal.
Being a confluence of the Godavari River and the Bay of Bengal, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary offers the best of both worlds – with a wide variety of flora and fauna that call this place home. The most prominent among them are the critically endangered white-backed vulture and the long billed vulture. Also, this is the place where the small Olive-Ridley turtles nest. Being a swamp, this dappled green landscape is also home to mosquitoes, so make sure that you have enough repellant on you.
Keep in mind that this is a delicate ecosystem, so do your best to not disturb it.
Things To Do
For the traveler whose priority is to observe nature and be enveloped by it, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary is great. You can walk through the mangrove forests on a two-kilometer stretch of footbridge, which leads you to the vast river. Boating services are available, so you can experience this watery world to its fullest.
Nearest Airport: Rajahmundry Airport
Nearest Railway Station: Kakinada Port
Pampadum Shola National Park, Kerala
The smallest national park in the state, Pampadum Shola is about 35 km away from the popular Munnar. Being off-the-radar, this park offers the explorer the solitude that’s not only ideal, but recommended during Covid.
As the name suggests, Pampadum Shola National Park comprises mostly evergreen sholas, a threatened form of vegetation found only in South India. While the park may be small, it is still rich in flora and fauna. Notable animals here are the Nilgiri marten, which are only found in these forests, leopards and gaurs, and birds like the Nilgiri flycatcher, Nilgiri wood pigeon and blue rock-thrush.
While August to October is considered the best time to visit Pampadum Shola, the weather here remains pleasant throughout the year. So you can set out on hikes (with prior permission from the officials, if required)
Things To Do
There are hiking packages available at Pampadum Shola. You can explore the unique forest to your heart’s content and witness the local wildlife going about their lives. If you’ve developed a passion for shola forests, you can even avail yourself of an eco-trek at the nearby Anamudi Shola National Park.
Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport
Nearest Railway Station: Aluva
Gulf Of Mannar Marine National Park, TamilNadu
For the traveler with a passion for the great seas and what lies beneath the waters, this is the place to be. Not a park in a general sense, the Gulf Of Mannar Marine National Park is actually a chain of 21 islands in the eastern tip of Tamil Nadu in the Indian Ocean. Its unique location has led it to become a biodiversity hotspot, home to over 3600 species of flora and fauna.
Particularly interesting are the coral reefs of Gulf of Mannar – over 117 types of them. You can also see marine life including sea turtles, dugongs and dolphins, and the waters around the Park are also home to the humongous blue whale. Not only the endemic species, this hotspot is also the place where migratory birds like waders and terns spend their summer.
Things To Do
Being a place which is home to beautiful marine flora and fauna, it’s a given that you want to observe them closer. You can do just that in glass-bottomed boats and watch the spellbinding marine world. The islands around the park see many species of birds, so it’s perfect for the bird enthusiast.
If you want to explore more, the nearby locations of Adam’s Bridge, Dhanushkodi and Pamban Island are worth a visit too.
Nearest Airport: Madurai Airport
Nearest Railway Station: Rameswaram
To reiterate, Covid is still a very real threat, so you must practise social distancing at all times. Also, the rules on Covid can change dynamically, so be up-to-date on all the lockdown rules (including the Covid-related documents to be carried) and confirm if the places you wish to visit are open and Covid-ready. Lastly, don’t take any undue risks with respect to Covid. If you feel sick, get help immediately.