Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Counting Rhinos

The watchtower at Kaziranga National Park

We expected that during our two days in Kaziranga National Park we would be the ones counting rhinos, but it didn't turn out that way.  Instead the park rangers were the only ones doing the counting.

Before the trip we hadn't even heard of Kaziranga, but a friend we met traveling in Southeast Asia told us about it.  Kaziranga is in the northeast Indian state of Assam and is very difficult to get to, but we decided that the journey would be worth it to see the one-horned rhinos wake up each morning from the back of an elephant.

About 36 hours before boarding our first of three flights to Guwahati airport, we ducked into a tiny internet shop in Dickoya to check our email.  We were shocked to find out that the park would be closed to elephant rides and safaris during our visit because they would be taking a rhino census.  Two days notice?  They "encouraged" us not to come, but any thoughts of going elsewhere in India were quickly dismissed when we checked the flight prices.  So on to Kaziranga we went.

Entrance to Kaziranga

The first thing we heard after arriving was, "You came at the worst time."  "Yes," we said, "we know."  But, once we got across the idea that we couldn't just come back in a few weeks, a guy who worked at our lodge took us under his wings for both days to show us as much as we could see.

In the end, we saw eight rhinos (pretty good by our standards), elephants, egrits, eagles, deer, water buffalo, and a lot of cows.  We took a great boat ride down the Brahmaputra River, took a long walk in the park, and spent a couple hours each morning at a watchtower looking out over the grasslands.  We were a little disappointed that the visit wasn't what it could have been, but we still really enjoyed our visit!

A one-horned rhino
David saying good morning to a baby elephant

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