Want To See Olive Ridley Turtles And India's Larget Croc? Head To This National Park In Odisha


    Love wildlife? Enjoy the idea of sitting on the banks of a river waiting to spot a croc? If you said yes, then make sure to hit up the Bhitarkanika National Park, in Odisha.

    What Is It?

    A national park and Ramsar Convention site, located in Kendrapada district of Odisha, the Bhitarkanika National Park is located within the larger Bhitarkanika sanctuary, that is actually spread across a whopping 672 square kilometers. Thanks to its location, there are estuaries on one side and the Bay Of Bengal on the other, and this means only one thing — plenty of birds, interesting flora and fauna, and massive crocodiles, bears, leopards and antelopes too.

    In fact, here’s where you can find Kalia — touted to be the biggest male salt water crocodile in the world. He even made it to the Guiness Book of records at measuring 23 feet, and a solid 2,000 kilograms! Good luck finding this monster in the swamps. Oh, there’s also Gauri, a white croc lurking somewhere.

    If reptiles are not your thing, perhaps the Olive Ridley turtles are. Usually found on the Gahirmatha Beach that separates the sanctuary from the Bay Of Bengal, these cuties come all the way from the Pacific to lay eggs, and when they hatch, you could see lakhs of baby turtles on the shores. So, make sure to go here in February-March, that’s when the season is.

    Who Is It For?

    For adventurists looking for a boat ride through mangrove forests, photographs looking to snap photos of birds, deer, crocodiles and other wildlife in their natural habitat, and anyone interested in exploring a very different side of India.

    More About The Experience

    I can just sit by the rivers and estuaries, inhaling the smell of mud and silt, bobbing down the rivers that eventually give way to the seas. In short, it’s a humbling experience to be surrounded by such intimidating nature. The main entrance into the park is from the Khola Gate, where you can buy tickets for the boats that will take you along the swamps and mangroves. The highlight is spotting crocodile, snakes, ibis, darters and deer too.

    Where To Stay?

    There are very few options, but my suggestion is the Sand Pebbles Jungle Resort with Swiss-style tented cottages, hammocks to lounge on, homely food and a few other activities like angling, it’s got you covered.

    How Do I Get There?

    Fly to Bhubaneswar or Cuttack, and then hit the road for the next 160 kilometres. The sanctuary is not well connected via either trains or flights {the latter being totally non-existent}. But, to the traveler’s rescue comes NH16, which directly connects Bhubaneswar and Bhitarkanika.