If you think of popular spots across the country when we talk about wildlife and don’t include Odisha, we seriously think you are missing out on some of the best natural beauty India has to offer. Odisha may be under the radar, but it has now become one of the best places for wildlife lovers to enjoy and explore the state at their leisure.
For those wondering what type of wildlife and other activities are available in Odisha, keep reading and updating your to-do list.
1 – Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary
Let’s start with Chilika, Asia’s largest brackish water lake and bird watcher’s paradise. So much so that the lake hosts the Chilika National Bird Festival in January, when more than 200 species of birds flock to Odisha’s Mangalajodi in a spectacle worth watching. Nearby, the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary also witnesses nesting colonies for a variety of birds. Excursions to visit them, as well as greater flamingos which the locals call Hira Pakhi, are also organized during this period. At other times, simply swim around the lake surroundings on a boat ride and be your own bird watcher as you watch the many birds pass by.
2 – Bhitarkanika National Park
Bhitarkanika National Park is an important mangrove and coastal ecosystem in Odisha and the state’s second largest Ramsar site (a wetland site of international importance) after Chilika Lake. The national park is home to the largest population of endangered saltwater crocodiles in the Indian subcontinent, most of which are found sunbathing along the shores. Other reptiles in the national park include water monitor lizards and pythons, as well as animals such as deer, hyenas and wild boars. Bird watchers can visit the park’s Bagagahan Heronry, a nesting and mating ground for thousands of herons and other bird species, varieties of kingfishers and other migratory birds.
3 – Satkosia Tiger Reserve
For some adventure seekers, wildlife must include a visit to a tiger reserve. This is exactly what the Satkosia Tiger Reserve offers, which also boasts an impressive location next to where the Mahanadi River flows through a 22 kilometer long gorge. Once part of Abhaya Aranya (the Endless Forest Range), which linked Odisha to central India, the Satkosia Game Reserve is a hotbed of animal activity with sightings of leopard, striped hyena, Asian elephant, pangolin , langur, turtles, mugger crocodile, gharial and Indian python apart from tigers on the anvil for wildlife lovers. One can even go wildlife viewing inside the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary via a boat safari on the Mahandi River.
4 – Similipal Tiger Reserve
A tiger reserve set amid stunningly stunning waterfalls such as Joranda and Barehipani – some of the tallest waterfalls in India, Similipal is arguably the best location of any reserve in the country. Similipal takes its name from the simul tree (silk cotton) which grows in abundance in this favorable climate. While tigers are the main attraction here, one can also find elephants, hill mynahs, sambars, leopards, four-horned antelope, king cobras, tricarine hill tortoises and a variety of hornbills in this natural home. Visit Similipal Tiger Reserve now for the best wildlife experience of your life.
5 – Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary
Situated between the mighty Hirakud Dam and Reservoir, Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary has a thriving ecosystem of flora and fauna nestled in its surroundings. In fact, the sanctuary has over 40 species of mammals, 41 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians, 42 species of fish, 39 species of odonates, and 85 species of butterflies. Some of the most recognizable animals and birds include the Indian bison, wild boar, sambar, peacock, and chousingha, or four-horned antelope. We highly recommend visiting this amazing biodiversity hotspot when visiting Hirakud Dam.
6 – Nature camps and wildlife activities
Odisha Tourism has created a network of nature camps that will meet the standards of even the most discerning adventure seekers and has peppered the experience with wildlife activities to get the adrenaline pumping. At Satkosia Nature Camp, you can live right next to the gorge and enjoy views of the Mahanadi River while participating in activities such as boating in the gorge, bird watching, and hiking. Similipal Nature Camp offers rustic yet comfortable stay options surrounded by nature with activities such as guided hiking, bird watching and jungle safari to keep you up to date with the flora and fauna of the area.
You can also immerse yourself in the call of nature at Debrigarh Nature Camp and become one with nature while participating in a jungle safari and bird watching during the day. Bhitarkanika nature camps allow you to get up close to saltwater crocodiles, from a safe distance of course!
To have an immersive experience during your trip, we highly recommend booking yourself into one of Odisha Tourism’s glamping sites called Eco Retreats which not only offers great accommodation options but also amazing activities. You will find these eco retreats in popular tourist destinations such as Konark, Daringbadi, Satkosia, Hirakud and Bhitarkanika. Some of the activities offered include trekking, safari, rifle shooting, archery, zorbing, cycling, cultural shows, etc. which can be enjoyed once you visit nearby attractions. Just keep in mind that Eco Retreats are only operational for three months, between December and the end of February, and Odisha Tourism is currently offering great deals from just INR 7,000, including all meals and some activities.
With the opportunity not only to see wildlife in their natural habitat, but also to live in luxurious nature camps and participate in adventure activities, Odisha is sure to get your heart pumping and adrenaline pumping. Book your ticket for the adventure today!
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