National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuaries in Northeast India

National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuaries in Northeast India

The Northeastern part of India is a natural kaleidoscope. Blessed with rich natural vegetation, the northeastern states are the home to a varied flora and fauna. The wilderness kingdom is spectacular; the species rare and exotic, these parts of the country also remain least explored. The wildlife corridor is situated between the Himalayan ranges in the north with Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar bordering it. The northeast region comprises of the Seven Sister states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura along with Sikkim. All these states host a number of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. The region is also crisscrossed by a number of rivers with the mighty Brahmaputra flowing through Assam. Along with that, the presence of Himalayas in the northern parts influences the ecosystem in such a way that makes the place a safe haven for wildlife.

The region is also recognized as the global 200 Ecoregions by the WWF. The biodiversity found in this region is varied. Travelling and wildlife tourism in this area is fragile and centres on the environment and culture of the place. Nevertheless, you will definitely be awed with the varied wildlife in the northeastern part of India. For all the wildlife aficionados, these national parks in the easternmost part of India should surely be on your bucket list.

Kanchendzonga National Park, Sikkim

The Kanchendzonga National Park is the only national park in Sikkim and has spectacular wilderness with one of the highest mountain peaks of the world towering over the park. The park has been declared as the UNESCO World Heritage site not only for its natural significance but also for its cultural importance. Being enclosed by the Himalayan ranges, the Kanchendzonga National Park preserves a rich biosphere that includes many medicinal plants and herbs, alpine grasses as well as a rich variety of flora and fauna. The park is the home to many endangered species like the red panda, Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear and the Asiatic Wild Dog. The Himalayan sloth Bear, Himalayan Tahr, civet, Tibetan Wild Ass are a few other mammals that are found here. More than 500 species of birds are found at different zones of the National Park that includes Himalayan griffon, tragopan pheasant, blood pheasant, osprey, impeyan pheasant, Sunbird, Tibetan snowcock among the most common ones.

The National Park also contains a number of high altitude lakes and glaciers that attracts trekkers from around the globe. The Kanchendzonga National Park thus has the most varied wildlife and exotic Himalayan species that can enchant all the wildlife lovers.

Best Time to Visit: Mid October to March

Kaziranga National Park, Assam

The home to the endangered and rare one-horned rhinoceros, the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve is one of the most sought-after wildlife destinations in India. Spread across an area of 430 sq km, you will find elephant-grass meadows, swampy lagoons and dense forests in it providing the habitat to around 2200 India one-horned rhinos.

Along with the rhinoceros that happens to be the main attraction of the park, it is also the breeding ground for elephants, wild water buffaloes and swamp deer. The tiger population is also on the increase in Kaziranga and so the national park was also declared a tiger reserve in 2006. The bird population includes Indian vulture, slender-billed vulture, the critically endangered Bengal florican, babblers, weavers and the hornbills. The park also has a number of reptile species and almost 15 species of turtles. Wildlife safari can be done at Kaziranga National Park by elephant or jeep.

Best Time to Visit: Mid October to March

Dibru Saikhowa National Park, Assam

Sprawling across an area of 650 sq km, the Dibru Saikhowa National Park is known for its white-winged wood ducks as well as feral horses. Located at the eastern borders of Assam covering parts of both Tinsukia and Dibrugarh district, the park is an identified Important Bird Area (IBA). The national park comprises of moist deciduous forests, tropical semi-green forests, moist evergreen forests, Salix swamps, grasslands and canebrakes. It is also one of the 19 biodiversity hotspots of the world. The Dibru Saikhowa National Park is the home to many endangered mammals, reptiles and birds. The park is also the home to almost 50 feral horses that can be spotted in the northern part of the park. These horses are said to be descended from the horses that had escaped the army camps during the World War II. No wonder, The National Park is one of the most interesting wildlife destinations in Assam.

Best Time to Visit: Any time of the year, but late winters are preferable.

Manas National Park, Assam

Manas National Park is a World Heritage site and is the habitat of rare and endangered endemic wildlife species like Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur and Pygmy Hog. The park is also an important tiger and big cat habitat. Located in the Himalayan foothills and spreading across a vast area of 950 sq km, Manas National Park provides shelter to 22 of India’s most endangered mammalian species. There are nearly 60 mammal species, 42 reptile species, 7 amphibians and 500 species of birds out of which 26 are globally threatened. The animal species include elephant, tiger, one-horned rhinoceros, clouded leopard, sloth bear, barking deer, sambar, chital, slow loris, hoolock gibbons and many more. Bird species like giant hornbills, jungle fowls, Brahmani duck, egrets, pelican, eagles, falcons, bee-eaters, herons and ospreys form the major population that attracts bird lovers from around the world.

Best Time to Visit: November to April

Nameri National Park, Assam

The third national park of Assam, Nameri is a bird watchers’ paradise. The National Park is located on the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in the Sonitpur district of Assam and shares its boundary with the Pakhui Wildlife sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh. The entire area is crisscrossed by the Jia-Bhoroli river and its tributaries, Nameri National Park consists of over 600 species of plants. Animals such as elephants, tigers, leopards, Himalayan Black Bears, hog, sloth bear, gaur, capped langur, wild boars and Indian Giant Squirrel are found here. The varied bird species include white-winged wood duck, great pied hornbill, wreathed hornbill, Rufous-necked hornbill, ibis bill, babblers, plovers and many others.

River rafting in the Nameri River and hiking tours around the Nameri National Park are some of the adventure activities that you can indulge in along with wildlife spotting.

Best Time to Visit: November to March

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

Pobitora Wildlife sanctuary is nestled in the grassland of Assam and is the natural habitat of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros. It covers an area of 38.3 sq km and is situated in the border of Nagaon and Kamrup districts. Besides being the natural habitat of the one-horned rhinos, Pobitora also shelters the leopard, wild bear, civet cat, Asiatic buffalo and many more. The sanctuary also provides a temporary home to as many as 2000 migratory birds. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary has more than 190 species of birds, including many endangered species like the Spot-billed Pelican White-bellied Heron, Lesser Adjutant, Greater Adjutant and Swamp Francolin. The grasslands are the home for the most of the representative birds of the Brahmaputra floodplains such as Striated Babbler and Yellow Weaver.

Best Time to Visit: November to March

Balpakram National Park, Meghalaya

The Balpakram National Park is located in the South Garo Hills in Meghalaya, the abode of clouds. The place is of extremely scenic beauty situated at an altitude of 3000 ft above sea level and covering an area of 200 sq km. Balpakram is famous for its canyon and gorges amidst the dense woodlands. The local tribes believe that the hills and the gorges are the resting places for the departed souls. The dense forest at Balpakram is undoubtedly one of the richest in biodiversity with varied flora and fauna. Balpakram National Park is the natural habitat for red panda, elephants, tigers, leopards, bear and hoolock gibbons. Balpakram is also an important bird site where birds like the Great Indian hornbill, Long-tailed Broadbill, Scarlet Minivet, Burmese Roller, Blue-throated Barbet, Red-vented Bulbul, Himalayan Black Bulbul, Himalayan Whistling Thrush, Spotted Forktail, Black-breasted Kalij Pheasant, Red Jungle Fowl, Jungle Mynas, Hill Mynas, Florican, Indian great horned owl, Black drongo and others are found. Varied butterfly species are also found here.

Best Time to Visit: November to June.

Nokrek National Park

The Nokrek National Park is one of the most beautiful wildlife destinations in northeast India. Situated at the East Garo Hills district of Meghalaya, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Also a biosphere reserve, the park spreads across an area of 47 sq km and is a biodiversity hotspot of Meghalaya.

The flora is astounding with a thick canopy of lush green forest trees covering the park. The area is also noted for its wild variety of citrus fruits. The park is the habitat of many species of birds, animals, reptiles and amphibians. Home to the endangered red-panda, Asian elephant, tiger, marbled cat, stump-tailed macaque, Hoolock Gibbons, Capped Langur, Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Fishing-Cat, Golden Cat, Pangolin, Wild Buffalo, Python, pig-tailed macaque and seven species of primates, Nokrek is also an important area for birds.

Best Time to Visit: October to May

Namdhapa National Park

Located on the banks of the Brahmaputra River and spread across a sprawling area of 1985 sq km, Namdhapa National Park is the largest national park in the northeast of India. The Noa-Dihing River flows through the park making the place picturesque and beautiful. The park boasts of the richest bio-diversity of flora and fauna in the Indian subcontinent. It is the only national park in India that is the home to foul kinds of felines – the tiger, leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard. The other species found here include the red panda, Himalayan black bear, red giant flying squirrel, common palm civet, mongoose, cats, wild boar, musk deer, sambar, gaur, goral, serow, takin and bharal. There are around 430 species of beautiful butterflies and Moths are present here.

Namdhapa consists of various vegetation zones including tropical rainforest, deciduous forest, temperate and Alpine forests. The Park has around 150 species of trees. Several species of flowers and Orchids including the rare Blue Vanda are found here.

Best Time to Visit: December to March

Mouling National Park, Arunachal Pradesh

Mouling National Park is known for its three variety of goats – the takin, coral and the serow. Situated in the Eastern Himalayan region in Arunachal Pradesh, the national park is a biodiversity hotspot with unique flora and fauna species. The park is named after the nearby Moulin peak and the landscape comprises of mountainous land with steep slopes covered with dense vegetation. The flora consists of a mix of tropical wet evergreen, semi-evergreen, subtropical broad-leaved hill forests, montane wet temperate forests and bamboo.

Mouling National Park is known for Red Pandas, Deers, Hoolock Gibbons and Tigers. The other fauna found in the park are wild buffalo, panther, elephant, hog deer, barking deer, sambar, python, pheasants and several species of birds.

Best Time to Visit: November to April

Murlen National Park, Mizoram

Murlen National Park is one of the most popular wildlife destinations in Mizoram. It covers an area of 200 sq km and lies very close to the Indo-Myanmar border in the Champhai district of Mizoram. The Park is filled with cliffs and is popularly a home to a variety of endangered species of birds and wildlife. Birds like Hume’s Pheasant, Common partridges, Hill myna, dark rumped swift, Peacock, Pheasant, Sunbirds, Hornbills, Kalej Pheasant are found in the National Park. Tiger, Leopard, Sambar, Barking deer, Himalayan Black Bear, Wild boar, Serow, Hoolock Gibbon, Rhesus macaque, Malayan giant squirrel and others form the animal population of the National Park.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

Phawngpui Blue Mountain National Park, Mizoram

A lesser-known national park, but no less in its wildlife and beauty, Phawngpui National Park in Mizoram is the home to the elusive clouded leopard. Other exotic animal species include Slow Loris, Tiger, Leopard, Leopard Cat, Serow, Goral, Asiatic Black Bear, Stump-tailed Macaque and Capped Langur.

The park gets its name from the mountain peak Phawngpui, often called the blue mountains of Mizoram. Most of the time, the mountain area is covered by a thin stretch of clouds thereby giving it a bluish appearance. Hence the mountains are named as the Blue Mountains.

You can also find a number of avian species here like the Blyth’s Tragopan, Dark Rumped Swift, Hume’s pheasant and others.

Best Time to Visit: October to April

Keibul Lamjao National Park, Manipur

The Keibul Lamjao National Park is the natural habitat of the Manipur brow-antlered deer, commonly known as the Sangai – dancing deer of Manipur. The National park covers an area of 40 sq km and is located in the south-eastern part of the Loktak Lake, the largest lake in northeast India.

The most important feature of this national park is that it is a floating park and the floating decomposed plant material is locally known as ‘phoomdis’. About 80 % of the flora is submerged in water.

Apart from being the natural habitat of the endangered Sangai deer, the park is also the habitat for the endangered species of Python, Python molurus. Other animals include the hog deer, sambar, stump-tailed macaques, Hoolock Gibbon, Rhesus monkey, the large Indian civet and wild boar. During winter, the park provides a home to a large number of migratory birds.

Best Time to Visit: October to May

Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary, Tripura

The Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary is the biodiversity haven of Tripura. Located very near to Agartala, it covers an area of 18.53 sq km and has a rich wildlife, especially birds and primates. During the winter months, the sanctuary becomes the host of a variety of migratory birds. Primates like Rhesus macaque, Pigtailed macaque, Capped langur, Spectacled monkey, Slow loris and several other wild animals like Leopard, Clouded leopard, Jungle fowl, Civets, Barking, Deer, Wild pig are found in Sepahijala Wildlife sanctuary. The avian population includes a variety of winged stork, Whistling teal and the White Ibis.

An additional attraction of the Sepahijala is the wonderful view of the coffee and rubber plantations around the wildlife sanctuary. The Clouded Leopard National Park is a part of the Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary.

Best Time to Visit: November to February

Intanki Wildlife sanctuary, Nagaland

An impressive wildlife destination of Nagaland, the Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary is situated near Dimapur. Also known as the Ntangki National park, the name “Ntangki” is derived from the Zeme dialect of the Zeliangrong tribe.

Surrounded by mountain cliffs, the sanctuary is covered with lush green grass and tropical trees. The rainforests make it a perfect habitat for a large number of mammals, reptiles and birds. Mammals like Tiger, Elephant, Wild Dog, Mithun, Hoolock Gibbon, Goral, Barking Deer, Sloth Bear, Flying Squirrel, Palm civets, Leopards, Pangolins, Porcupine, Sambar and elephants are found here. Birds species include White breasted kingfishers, Hornbills, Pheasants, Kaleej, Black stork and others.

Best Time to Visit: November to February

Do you want to explore such offbeat and unexplored destinations? Are you looking for trips and customized tours to the exotic Northeast India? Get in touch with our Northeast specialists who offer the best rates to our readers and followers. Pan your trip here.

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