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Are you curious about visiting a National Park in India? Visiting national parks when you travel is a great way to connect with nature, learn about the local environment, stay healthy, and see unique species in the wild you might not see back home. It’s important to be respectful and prepared when visiting national parks in different countries for your safety and to protect nature. While there are some general guidelines to visiting national parks that can be applied anywhere, it’s important to learn regional and local guidelines and safety tips because they might be different than what you’re used to. Guest author Ketki from Explore with Ecokats is an ecologist from India and she’s going to share with you some of the essential do’s and don’ts when visiting a National Park in India. Make sure you stick around to the end to learn more about Ketki and ways you can connect with her. Let’s give her a warm welcome.

WHAT WE’RE COVERING

QUICK LOOK

  • India has 105 National Parks
  • India has rich biodiversity and many species are protected in the parks
  • Learning the Do’s and Don’t protects you and the environment

Introduction to India’s National Parks

As popular as India is for its vibrant destinations, architectural wonders, and delicious food, it is equally enthralling for its nature and wildlife. Thanks to the varied landscape and climatic conditions, many ecosystems exist which serve as the perfect habitat for many mammals, reptiles, and birds. Most of these species are protected under Wildlife Sanctuaries or National Parks and have seen many generations in the Indian forests. India is known for its rich biodiversity and is home to many unique species which exist only in India – the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Asiatic Lion, the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, the White-footed Fox, and the Asiatic Elephant amongst others.

A Greater One-horned Rhinoceros in an National Park in India

With over a hundred national parks to choose from, a wildlife sojourn in India is a bucket-list item. It doesn’t matter whether you are travelling to the north, south, east, or west of India, each state in India has a national park or a wildlife sanctuary which must be included in your itinerary. A vacation in Indian forests could be one of the most cherished experiences for visitors.

Since national parks are protected areas, open as sustainable eco-tourism hotspots for tourists, it is important to have certain rules for the welfare and safety of animals as well as visitors. Although each national park has its own set of rules, most of them are common across all protected areas. While these are the suggested rules, they are not as strict as punishable which makes the visitors ignore and flaunt them. But it is highly recommended to follow these rules. This blog is the perfect guide to a national park in India with the do’s and don’ts to follow for a memorable trip.

A river surrounded by dry grasses and green trees National Park in India

General Do’s and Don’t for India’s National Parks

Do’s

  • Do carry the original photo ID that has been used to make an online reservation as you will not be allowed entry without a valid photo ID.
  • Do use the washrooms in the hotel, or near the park entry gate before the safari starts as there is no provision inside the park in most parks. Avoid drinking a lot of water before the safari to avoid a visit to the washroom. 
  • Do bring a face mask. Face masks are now compulsory in the national park since the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Do book a tour. Most safaris are in an open jeep and not in a private vehicle. However private vehicles are allowed in certain parks such as Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar. Some parks allow walking safari such as in Eravikulam National Park.
  • Do look beyond the big cats and enjoy sighting smaller mammals, reptiles, birds and even trees.

Bright blue and teal bird found in India's National Parks perched on a dead tree

Don’ts

  • Do not approach any animal too closely. Keep a respectful distance of around 20 meters to respect their privacy.
  • Avoid taking babies, small children or pets on the safari as the duration may take a toll on them. They may start crying and distract the wild animal.
  • Do not play music or make noises to get a reaction from animals.
  • Do not use mobile phones in the parks except while clicking photos. 
  • Do not talk unless necessary. If you must speak, simply whisper.
  • Do not collect any plants, rocks, soil or animals as souvenirs. They belong to the forest.
  • Do not get disappointed in case of no sighting and do not blame the driver/guide for it. Remember it is not a zoo. Instead, interact with them to learn about different forest stories
  • Do not carry firearms, cigarettes, lighters or any items which may start a fire in the forest.
  • Do not feed the animals in the jungle.

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Safari Behavior Do’s and Don’ts

Do’s

  • Do keep the movement within the vehicle to the minimum, especially when you sight an animal as this can scare the animals and birds. 
  • Do stay in the vehicle. Getting down from the vehicle is not permitted, except at certain specified places which will be indicated by the guide and driver.
  • Do hold on to the iron bar in front or side of your seat to prevent falling or hurting yourself. 

Asian Tiger lying in dry grass India National Park

Don’ts

  • Do not keep your mobile phone in the side pockets of the pants. The undulating forest terrain may bump the phone from the pocket onto the road.
  • Do not stand in the vehicle unless permitted by the guide/driver.
  • Do not point towards birds. Raptors may notice smaller birds or their nests and attack them for food.
  • Do not dispose of polythene bags, tetra packs or food in the national park during the safari. Take them back with you and dispose of them at the entry gates or in hotel trash bins.
  • Do not deviate from the allotted routes or leave the road.
  • Do not enter forest premises without permits.
  • Do not enter before sunrise or stay after sunset. It is important to maintain the decorum of the park.
  • Do not encourage your driver to break the national park rules such as regarding the speed of the vehicle, the route to be followed, the distance to be kept from other vehicles and wild animals.

Jeep drives down a dirty road at dusk in a National Park in India

Clothing and Hygiene Do’s and Don’ts

Do’s

  • Do carry a mask/stole to cover your face as the roads in the park are mostly dry and dusty.
  • Do wear sunscreen. The safari vehicle is open, so you are exposed to direct sun, hence carry or apply a sunscreen lotion if you get tanned too soon.
  • Do come prepared for the forest weather. Mornings are chilly in the forests and afternoon safaris especially in summers can get extremely hot. Carry a jacket and hat/cap respectively. Wear clothes that are comfortable in summer.
  • Do read my post on packing tips for Gir National Park Safari to give you an idea of some additional things to pack.

Ruined building on a flood plain in India's National Parks

Don’ts

  • Do not wear perfumes or deodorants during the safari. Animals have a strong sense of smell and this can distract the animals.
  • Do not wear bright colours during the safari. Instead choose earth colours such as greens, grey, and brown. Shades of red, yellow and blue are a strict no-no.

Equipment Do’s and Don’ts

Do’s

  • Do carry binoculars and cameras to enhance the experience of the national park. In some national parks, binoculars are available for rent from the entry gate.
  • Do carry camera bags to protect the equipment from sudden brakes and weather – rain or dust.
  • Do pay the extra camera ticket if carrying a DSLR with a telephoto lens.

Small deer like animal native to India's National Parks

Don’ts

  • Do not use a flash. Flash photography is prohibited.

Conclusions, Discuss, Share

While it is important to appreciate the fresh air, unique wildlife and nature at its best, it is important to be attentive and sensitive towards the rules laid down by the Forest department. Hope that this guide to the do’s and don’ts in Indian National Parks gave you a fair idea of planning a wildlife trip to India and how to be best prepared. Make sure you leave a comment and save to Pinterest so you can have this guide ready to go for your next sustainable eco-tour to one of India’s National Parks.  

Leave me a comment

  • Have you been to a National Park in India? What was something you learned that you can pass along to other readers?
  • What is one thing you will make sure to do – or not to do when visiting your next National Park in India?
Guide for Visiting India National Parks Do's and Don'ts
Guide for visiting National Parks in India dos and don'ts