National Parks

5 National Parks that you must visit on your Backpacking Trip to India

It’s just not possible for one to associate India with a typical landscape! From the mighty Himalayas to the tropical rainforests of Nilgiris, the geography and ecology change every few hundred kilometres. These beautiful biospheres are also rich in natural flora and fauna and some of them are protected as National Parks. If you are backpacking through India, then these five unique National Parks are a must visit.

1. Navigate the Mangroves in Sundarbans National Park – West Bengal

TThe alien-looking conical roots of the Sundari Mangrove trees rising from the mud flats create a surreal environment, even as you see herds of Chital Deer moving around. If you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse of a salt-water crocodile basking in the sun.
This is a scene right out of Sundarbans National Park; the core wildlife area of the Sundarbans Delta is the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers Ganga, Brahmaputra, and Meghna. For years it was a forbidden and mystical region with reports of man-eating Tigers, but in 1984 it was declared a National Park and tourism was developed. The unique biosphere is a treat for the wildlife backpacker and is home to more than 85 Tigers which lead an amphibious lifestyle, swimming and hunting for fish! The UNESCO World Heritage Site also has more than 78 Mangrove species making it the world’s richest Mangrove Forest.

How to Reach –

You can only access the region by waterways and the nearest locations are Port Canning (Rail head) and Basanti (Bus Station) from where you can reach Sajnekhali for tourist activities.

Where to Stay –

The Government of West Bengal has Tourist Lodges and Forest Rest Houses which are affordable and convenient for backpackers.

2. Chase the monsoon in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve – Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu

The lush verdant hills of Nilgiri are abundant with nature’s bounty. Driving through the ever-changing ecosystem you can catch a glimpse of elephants strolling down the highway or wait for the herd of monkeys and Chital Deer to cross the road!
The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the combined area of the Mudumalai, Bandipur, Nagarhole and Mukurthi National Parks as well as the Wayanad and Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuaries. This entire circuit is a fantastic opportunity for backpackers who are interested in nature and wildlife. One can sight unique animals like the Lion-tailed macaque, Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian Elephant, Malabar Giant Squirrel and Nilgiri Tahr. In fact, researchers are still discovering new species of flora and fauna in this region! The best time to explore this Biosphere Reserve is during the monsoons when the entire jungle comes alive.

How to Reach –

You can start your journey from Bangalore and head to Nagarhole National Park. From there head down to Wayanad (Kalpetta) and on to Bandipur National Park. Complete the circuit by heading to Mudumalai, Mukurthi and then Sathyamangalam. Several government buses ply to these destinations; however, there are no rail heads.

Where to Stay –

In Bangalore, you can stay at the Backpackers Hostel – AAO Hostels, during the journey you can stay at the Forest Dept. properties. The Forest Departments of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala have their own guest houses and lodges which suit the need of backpackers.

3. Sight the Big Mammals in Kaziranga National Park – Assam

The tall Elephant grass almost hides the mighty One-Horned Rhinoceros but the flock of white egrets gives them away! Further away, a herd of wild water buffalo frolic in the swamps, while you are bewildered at the variety of birds around you.
The Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to over two-thirds of the world’s population of the One Horned Rhinoceros. Along with this powerful beast are the other big mammals – Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian Elephant, Wild Water Buffalo and Swamp Deer which call Kaziranga their home. Backpackers love the variety of flora and fauna that the national park offers. It not only has tropical forests but also has marshlands and elephant grass marshlands. There are several water bodies formed by four rivers including the Brahmaputra. The best way to experience Kaziranga is on Elephant back or through a jeep safari.

How to Reach –

The National Park has five ranges however the most convenient for travelers is the Central Range where tourist activities are located. Kohora is the destination and it can be reached from Guwahati and Jorhat which are both rail and air heads.

Where to Stay –

There are several private homestays and guest houses that provide basic and safe accommodation for backpackers. Some of them have been vetted by the Forest Department of Assam.

4. Catch Tigers at Ranthambore National Park – Rajasthan

The Ranthambore National Park is one of the best places in India to sight Tigers, its unique grassland and scrub vegetation with deciduous forests make it easy for travelers to sight them. An erstwhile hunting ground of the Maharajas is a protected National Park today and has more than 60 tigers. The Ranthambore Fortress inside the Park forms a unique backdrop and Tigers are known to visit the ruins as well. The best way to explore the National Park is through a Jeep Safari. This Park is a favorite of backpackers as it conveniently falls in the Backpacking circuit of Rajasthan’s nest destinations – Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Delhi, and Agra.
How to Reach –The nearest town is Sawai Madhopur, it can be reached by road from Jaipur (Airport), Agra (Rail Head) and Udaipur (Airport).

Where to Stay –

Rajasthan is a popular backpacker’s destination and has many backpackers’ hostels. In Sawai Madhopur, you can choose to stay at the many Guesthouses and Budget Hotels.

4. . Trek through the Great Himalayan National Park – Himachal Pradesh

Trekking through the rich oak and conifer forests, you head to the higher altitude grassland meadows where the clouds come to welcome you. From the meadows on to the cold and spectacular peaks from where you can see the entire valleys carved by glaciers and mighty rivers!

The Great Himalayan National Parks is one of the most pristine and beautiful National Parks in India. The uniqueness of this Park is that it cannot be accessed by road; one has to trek up the trails to witness the beauty of this spectacular National Park. Located in the Kullu District, it has four valleys that can be explored through treks – Tirthan Valley, Sainj Valley, Jiwa Nal Valley and Parvati Valley. Treks often start from Shamshi near Kullu. While the National Park is known for its dramatic views and splendid landscapes one can also sight unique animals at higher altitudes like the Himalayan Tahr, Musk Deer, Bharal (Blue Sheep), Himalayan Bear, and the extremely lucky ones can find the Snow Leopard. This is a great option for Backpackers who are undertaking the Kullu, Manali and Spiti Backpacking circuit.

How to Reach –

You can reach Shamshi which is about 8KM away from Kullu by local taxi or bus. Kullu is only accessible by road from Chandigarh (276 KM) and Delhi (600 KM), both have airports.

Where to Stay –

Kullu has several Backpackers hostels and homestays while you can carry your own tents for the trek or can tie up with local tourist guides who will provide you all the trekking gear.
Go ahead plan your backpacking trip across these amazing and diverse National Parks in India!

Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong. George Carlin

Booking for National Parks