Bhitarkanika National Park, Odisha, India
Three rivers flow out to sea at Bhitarkanika forming a tidal maze of muddy creeks and mangroves. This is India’s second largest mangrove region after the Sunderbans, and most of the 672-sq-km delta forms this wonderful sanctuary, a significant biodiversity hotspot. The only way to get around most of the sanctuary is by boat, and the main reason to come is spot some of the hundreds of crocodiles that make these rivers their home.
There are three types: long-snouted gharials, short squat muggers, and the enormous estuarine crocodiles, or ‘salties’, which bask on mud flats before diving into the water for cover as your boat chugs past.
The best time to visit is from December to February, but you’ll see crocs all year round, and may also see monitor lizards, spotted deer, wild boar and all sorts of birds, including eight species of brilliantly coloured kingfishers. Herons arrive in early June and nest until early December, when they move on to Chilika Lake, while raucous open-billed storks have set up a permanent rookery here.
It’s also worth knowing that this area has the highest concentration of king cobras found anywhere in India, though hopefully you won’t meet any of those.
Visit India Epic India Route © Monika Newbound