Today was our final day in Kaziranga National Park and we had arranged and elephant back safari to get really close to the Rhino. The weather today had taken a turn for the worse and it was rather cool with heavy rain. The forecast for the next few days was the same so everybody who had waterproofs took them and those that did not took umbrellas. Assam is the wettest place on Earth so a little rain is to be expected, even in the dry season.
We went out on the Elephants and got close to a number of the Rhinos but after an hour or so with everyone soaked through, legs stretched from straddling the elephants and rather cold we disembarked our four legged friends and went in search of breakfast. On the elephant backs we were lucky enough to see a Bengal Florican, these birds are on the brink of extinction so it was a real privelege to see one. We went to a nearby lodge for breakfast before transferring for about an hour to the Western range were we had another jeep safari lined up for us.
The weather had decided to clear up a little for this outing, much to everybody's relief. We got some great sightings of the Rhinos, one was actually closer to us than when we were on the elephant back safari.
In the evening when we were back on the boat I managed to electrocute myself after turning on my room's light. I flew across the room and hit the other wall, this was not a pleasant sensation at all and for the rest of the evening my left side was dead.
Today was our second day exploring the unusual landscape of Kaziranga. This park consists of tropical lush forest and large tracts of grassland. This grassland is primarily made up of Elephant Grass, which as its name suggests is as tall as an Elephant. Once an animal moves into this grassland it is nearly impossible to see it until it decides to show itself. This time we were visiting the central range of Kaziranga which was over an hour drive from the boat.
Today we got much closer to some wild Asian Elephant and I was able to get some photographs through the extremely high Elephant Grass. The Rhinos also decided that today they would co-operate a little better and I was able to get some nice photographs of a mother and her calf before a vehicle spooked them and they disappeared in the wall of grass. The light was not particualrly favourable as the Sun was rather bright at this point but it was a wonderful moment anyway.
After our drive we headed to a nearby lodge for lunch and we were able to give a tame elephant a bath, or in my case photograph the bath. On our way back to the boat we visited a tea plantation and stocked up on some Assam Tea and fresh Peppercorns.
In the evening the local villagers came to show us a traditional dance which was both very loud and also a rather colourful affair.
Today we were to go on our first adventure into Kaziranga National Park. This wild place in Assam is home to around 80 adult tigers and nearly 2,000 Greater One-horned Rhinos. The other famous inhabitants of the park are, Pygmy Hogs, the Bengal Florican, the mighty Asian Elephant and the increasingly rare Asian water buffalo.
We had a very early start with a transfer from Charaidew to the park boundary with the help of our day boat (country boat). When we got to shore there were 6 jeeps lined up on the bank waiting to take us into this wilderness. I shared my jeep with my room mate and off we went into the park to look for the amazing armour plated One-horned Rhino. These animals are critically endangered and around 2/3rds of the world's population live in this one national park.
The most unusual sighting of the day was a Hog Badger, this is a strictly nocturnal animal that is almost never seen and hardly ever photographed. I was also lucky and got to see plenty of the Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo as well as many species of different deer (including the Muntjac).
The photos below include the Hog Badger and some of the other local wildlife.