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Things To Do In Bhitarkanika National Park
The Bhitarkanika National Park is an extensive mangrove ecosystem that is located in north-east of Kendrapara district in Orissa. It is part of the much larger Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and is home to a wide range of aquatic animals and wildlife. The mangroves were part of the Zamindar forests up until the 1950s. When the government abolished the Zamindari system, the land was brought under the control of the State Forest Department. The wetlands were declared a Ramsar Convention site by UNESCO in 2002 and are of immense international importance today.
This splendid culmination of lush greenery, impressive wildlife and meandering streams create an environment that is worthy of a visit by people of all ages and backgrounds. Read on to know more about the best things to do in Bhitarkanika National Park.
Boating in the Creeks
Bhitarkanika Park is essentially an island surrounded by water and swampy areas, with a number of rivers that crisscross through its entire area. Naturally, one of the best ways to go sightseeing is on boats available in different areas of the park, which are all licensed by the Forest Department. Prior booking is required if you plan to hire an entire private boat for a day tour etc.
Bhitarkanika is one of those unique sanctuaries where trekking is a relatively more common activity to pursue compared to other wildlife reserves. This is because you won’t find any carnivorous or dangerous animals in the wild here and while hiking through the dense greens, you can make the most out of the natural beauty of this park and experience it on a personal level. Make sure to keep away from river banks though; crocodiles are abundant in this region. It is also advisable to always travel with a guide even if you are a seasoned trekker.
Watch the Nesting of Olive Ridley Turtles
The Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is situated to the east of Bhitarkanika National Park and separates the mangroves from the Bay of Bengal. The only marine wildlife reserve in the country, Gahirmatha is most well-known for the massive influx of the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles during the mating and nesting season that occurs sometime around January and February. The eggs hatch a couple months later and hundreds of baby turtles rush towards the ocean, creating a mesmerising spectacle.
There are more than 200 species of resident birds in Bhitarkanika, including eight species of just the Kingfisher bird alone, making it one of the favourite spots bird watchers love to frequent. Moreover, winter time in this region witnesses thousands of birds that migrate from colder areas of Central Asia and Europe to make these mangrove forests their new home. Undoubtedly, winter is the best time to visit the park if you are a bird lover.