Rajaji Tiger Reserve with an area of 820 square kilometers is located in the picturesque hills of Shiwalik mountain ranges not too far from Rishikesh. The Park is home to tiger, Asian elephant, leopard, king cobra, 315 species of birds besides others. In the 1980s, Chilla, Motichur and Rajaji wildlife sanctuaries were merged in to one to form Rajaji Tiger Reserve. A visit to Rajaji National Park is a much desired experience for many when they are in Rishikesh.
Ladakh roadtrip along the Indus River
Rajaji National Park constitutes an important part of the Terai Arc Landscape between Yamuna in north-west and Sharda river in the south-east. The Park closes for the monsoon from July 1 to November 15 every year. It’s easier to get safari permits for Rajaji than it is for the more popular – Corbett National Park. There are a couple of hotels near one of the Park’s gates but they’re basic and most visitors stay in Rishikesh as there are hotels for all kinds of travelers. Besides there is plenty more to do in Rishikesh than just the jungle safari.
Having said that if the purpose of your holiday is wildlife then you should stay near Rajaji. Staying close to the Park’s entry gates gives you an extra hour of sleep and also cuts down your transportation costs if you have hired a taxi. The commute from Rishikesh to Rajaji is about 45 minutes one way so if you’re doing the morning safari you will have to depart from Rishikesh by 5:30AM in order to make it in time for the safari. In the afternoon it may take longer to get to Rajaji due to traffic.
Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh at dawn
Red Avadavat or Red Munia
If you’re not interested in visiting the Park for a jeep safari, then we can organize other experiences in Rishikesh. We can organize nature walks, hikes and river rafting (season dependent and from March to June) in Rishikesh. We can also organize heritage walks in Mussoorie which is a 2.5 hour drive from Rishikesh and one hour from Dehradun. If you’re planning to head further north in to the Himalayas then we can also plan a trip for you to visit Harsil, a small town before Gangotri. As you make your way to Harsil you will see the turquoise blue color of the Ganga river. Harsil has a very interesting history mainly because of an Englishman – Frederick Wilson or better known by the locals as Pahari Wilson. More about Harsil and it’s Raja here.
Suggested Itinerary for Rajaji National Park
Day 1: Pick up and transfer to Rajaji
Afternoon pick up from Rishikesh / Dehradun airport and transfer to Rajaji (1 hour drive). Our naturalist will meet you at the resort and will discuss with you the plan, expected wildlife sightings and other vital information.
Pin-tailed Green Pigeon
Oriental Pied Hornbill
Day 2: Chilla Safari & Ranipur Safari or Motichur Safari
Early morning after getting a quick tea/coffee and with packed breakfast we proceed for our first guided jeep safari in Chilla zone of Rajaji which is for around four hours. Chilla zone is well known for big herds of elephants and if you’re lucky you may get to see a tiger. Back to the resort for a shower and lunch. In the afternoon we do a game drive in Ranipur/Motichur zone of the Park.
Day 3: Jhilmil Jheel Conservation Reserve and Chilla Safari
Today, we drive to Jhilmil Jheel for a morning safari. Jhilmil Jheel is a saucer (circular) shaped wetland situated on the left bank of the Ganga river in Chiriyapur forest range, Haridwar district. It is a corridor for various animals of Rajaji Tiger Reserve as both share common boundaries. It is one of the few places where you can see the Swamp deer also known as the barasingha (12 horns). Back to resort for lunch. Post lunch we do another safari in Chilla zone.
Post breakfast, depart for your onward journey or to Rishikesh or Mussoorie.
Elephant in Rajaji National Park
Asian Barred Owlet
How to get to Rajaji
From Delhi, Rajaji and Rishikesh are now a 4-5 hour drive. You can also take a train to Haridwar from where I can get you picked up. Another option is to fly to Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun. The flight time is one hour from Delhi. From the airport it takes about 1.5 hours to reach Chilla Range in Rajaji Tiger Reserve and about 45 minutes to reach Rishikesh.
• Safari permits once issued are non-refundable and non-transferable under any circumstances.
• It is recommended to wear dull color clothes (brown, grey, olive green) during safaris.
• There is no guarantee that you will see the above wildlife. The river and / or sanctuary is their habitat and sightings depend on water level in the river, human interference, climatic conditions, weather and other factors, migratory pattern of birds, most of which are beyond your and my control. We will do our best to show you the entire gambit of flora and fauna.
• Bring with you photo ID, camera, binoculars, warm jacket (in the winter), backpack, sun glasses, cap, vizer, sun block and drinking water.
• Smoking and drinking alcohol is not permitted in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
• Please do not throw trash on the floor even if you don’t see a trash can. Ask your guide and they will help you to dispose it off properly.
• To prevent any disturbance to wildlife, we do not encourage the use of call playback to attract birds, feeding or baiting of wildlife.
Crested Hawk Eagle