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Bhitarkanika National Park Tourism And Travel Guide
16.7° C / 62.1° F
October to March
2 to 3 Days
Biju Patnaik International Airport (145 kms)
Bhadrak Railway Station (125 kms)
Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara of Orissa constitutes the core region of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. Previously known to be the hunting grounds of the erstwhile king of Kanika, today Bhitarkanika is home hundreds of exotic and indigenous species, with reptiles like the saltwater crocodiles being the highlight of the park.
A number of rivers flow through Bhitarkanika and contribute significantly to its extensive biodiversity. The luxuriant greenery and rich ecosystem of the park attracts a lot of visitors to this part of the district and together with the exotic wildlife, contributes significantly to tourism in the region. Here is a comprehensive travel guide for your next trip to Bhitarkanika National Park.
How to Reach
The most convenient way to reach Bhitarkanika National Park for those travelling from outside the state or overseas is to fly into Biju Patnaik International Airport located in the capital city Bhubaneswar. It is around 145 km away from the entry points to the park, which is easily accessible via buses and taxis available outside the airport.
Bhadrak Railway Station is the nearest railhead from Bhitarkanika National Park, which is situated roughly 45 km away from Chandbali, from where travellers can get a boat to reach Bhitarkanika. Some people choose to travel to Cuttack Railway Station instead while journeying by train, which is a little further away but has more connectivity to the rest of the country.
Buses are easily available to both Khola and Gupti, the two main entry points to Bhitarkanika, from Bhadrak, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. Locals can choose to drive to these destinations by themselves as well. The river ports Chandbali and Jayanagar are 52 km and 70 km away from Bhadrak respectively, from where visitors can hire boats to reach Bhitarkanika in a couple of hours.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Winter (October – February):
Winter in the region of Bhitarkanika National Park is the most ideal weather to visit the sanctuary. With temperatures that rarely go below 16⁰C, the climate remains cool and enjoyable all through the season. The good weather brings the animals out into the open, making it the perfect time to explore all the varieties of flora and fauna on offer here. Bird watchers also love to visit during this time to observe the migratory birds that travel all the way from Europe and Central Asia.
Summer (March – September):
The early months of summer are pleasant enough to enjoy a short trip to the park. But with the beginning of May, the temperature starts to rise and becomes too hot for any kind of outdoor activity in or around the sanctuary. The park remains closed from 14th May to 31st July; however, even after reopening, the monsoon rains make exploring the park an inconvenient option.
Things to Do
Boating in the Creeks:
One of the best ways to explore Bhitarkanika National Park is to go sightseeing on the local ferries and boats. The rivers that flow through the park offer amazing opportunities for boat tours and observing the spectacular aquatic life residing within the sanctuary. Cruising through the mangrove forests on silent boats is a great way to witness the indigenous wildlife without intruding in their natural habitat.
Since Bhitarkanika does not have any carnivorous or dangerous species residing within its boundaries, it is perfectly safe to trek through the park on its numerous well-trodden trails; albeit with a travel guide. Even without the animals, the natural beauty of Bhitarkanika itself creates the perfect ambience to enjoy a rejuvenating hike through the forests on a good weather day.
The winter season witnesses the migration of numerous species of exotic birds to Bhitarkanika from colder regions of Central Asia and Europe. This is an exciting time for all bird lovers to visit the park as they get the opportunity to experience a variety of different bird species in one place and observe them in this foreign habitat that becomes their temporary home each year.
Where to Stay
Visitors will find a guest house run by Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) in Chandbali called Aranya Nivas, which is one of the most common stopover points for people travelling to Bhitarkanika. There are also Forest Department guest houses within the park itself where guests can spend a couple of days, including one on the Habalikhoti Island that is a few hours’ boat ride away from Chandbali. Food is mostly restricted to whatever is available in these guest houses, but visitors are assured of freshly cooked decent meals and clean rooms. Most of these places can be booked beforehand, which helps in the planning of a trip to a large extent.