Gorumara Elephant Safari | Gorumara Jeep Safari
Situated on the banks of rivers Murti and Raidak in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, the Gorumara National Park is a site that you cannot miss to afford on your next trip to Dooars. Spread over an area of 80 square kilometres, this medium-sized forest is situated in the foothills of the Great Himalayas and has a large variety of flora and fauna on display for the curious visitors, nature lovers and wildlife photographers, who visit the place to catch a glimpse of the miraculous workings of nature.
Full of riverine grasslands and moist deciduous forests, the place is especially famous for its Asiatic One-Horned Rhino, but also houses many other mammals, reptiles, insects and birds, including the majestic Asian Elephants, The Royal Bengal Tigers and the Great Indian Hornbill. Indian Wild Dogs, Giant Squirrels, Wild Boars, Deer, Cobra, Python, Woodpeckers and a variety of other species can also be easily spotted here. Owing to its magnificent beauty and richness in flora and fauna, Gorumara National Park has come up as an emerging popular tourist destination in the last decade or so. Today, the area in the vicinity of the forest has the largest concentration of tourist accommodation in Dooars, which bears testimony to the increase in travel that the national park has witnessed.
Gorumara Jungle Safari
The Gorumara Jungle Safari is a real treat to the jungle-buffs who enjoy being in the midst of forest fauna and revel in watching their lives in the jungle. The experience that you would encounter here will be etched in your memory for posterity. The surrounding areas, rich with flora and fauna are a birdwatchers paradise. To experience this we arrange the early morning and evening safari through Forest Department in an open Jeep you can also experience Elephant Safari. Elephant ride to take a safari in the core forest area is a romantic yet thrilling way of spotting.
IMPORTANT: – Gorumara National Park as well as the Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary, The Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary as well as the Buxa Tiger Reserve remains closed from 15th June till the 15th September every year.
Also, entry to the Forest remains closed on Thursday throughout the year.
Watch Tower Jeep Safari
The entire Gorumara National Park has been divided into several sections and there are separate jeep trips (on Maruti Gypsy vehicles) to visit watchtowers located in different sections. You need to purchase separate tickets to visit different watchtowers.
Apart from watchtower visits, there is also a separate Jeep Safari which you can avail. It takes you around various parts of the forest to spot wildlife. However, no watchtower is covered in this safari. Jeep safari takes place for a total of 2 hours including transfers and is accompanied by a guide along with the driver. There are both early mornings as well as afternoon Jeep Safaris.
Note that the last afternoon watchtower trip has a special attraction other than visits to the watchtowers. In the end, the visitors are taken to a spot where tribal dance is performed by the local Santhal community. Tea is also served during the ethnic cultural performance. Out of all, Jatraprasad is the most popular one as you get to visit two watchtowers in one go and animal sighting chances are best in this. Chukchuki is great for bird watching.
Having purchased your tickets from the safari counter at Lataguri (which is separate from the one for watchtowers), you need to report at the counter before the safari starts. Here you will meet your guide who too will board the vehicle and sit next to the driver.
The entry to the forest for jeep safari is at Lataguri and from the main road itself. Having driven for 10 minutes and before it takes a left turn into the dense jungle.
Here are the watchtowers in Gorumara National Park. Visit the links to know our experiences:
Jatraprasad Watch Tower and Rhino Point
Named after a female elephant that provided long diligent service to the forest department, this is one of the most coveted watchtowers. The salt licks located below the tower by the riverside attract a lot of wild animals which can be easily seen from the tower. Rhino Point is another watchtower located close to Jatraprasad and is covered in the same trip.
Medla Watch Tower
This watchtower is located at Kalipur Eco Village at the eastern side of Gorumara. Once you reach the village, you can avail a Bullock Cart ride to reach the watchtower which is located next to Murti river. Along the river banks and across on the grassy land you can sight wildlife such as elephants, rhinos, bison, deers, and various kinds of birds including peacocks.
Chandrachur Watch Tower (also known as Khunia Watch Tower)
It’s located amidst a vast grassy land and also has a salt lick that attracts animals.
Chukchuki Watch Tower
It’s located between Ramsai village within Gorumara and Lataguri. Other than occasional wildlife, this is excellent for watching the bird life.
Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary is more like an extension of Gorumara but separated by the Murti River. There is a watchtower here near the forest bungalow and you can see wildlife similar to what you see in Gorumara.
Jeep Safari at Gorumara
Gorumara was a reserve forest since 1895. The park was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1949, on account of its breeding population of Indian Rhinoceros. It was declared an Indian National Park on January 31, 1994. Evening enjoys taking a stroll around the resort at your own Leisure.
The Jeep Safari moves through dense jungle and you will come across several villages along the way which is nestled in the national park. Some villages located inside the Gorumara national park includes Sarswati, Budhuram, Bichabhanga, Chatua, Kailipur, Murti forest village etc. The villagers here work for the forest department or are engaged in eco-tourism activities.
While on a jeep safari, sighting of bison, deers of different types including chital and spotted deers, wild boars and sometimes even elephants are quite common. However one has to be lucky as there is never any guarantee. Often the guides from the previous safari shift would inform the next guide about the locations where they could spot animals. With such information, your guide would try his best to visit such locations hoping to locate the animals nearby. But sometimes that too doesn’t work.
If you get a good guide and a driver as we did and if you are unable to spot enough wildlife, you can request them to take you little off the designated route. They can oblige. In fact, our guide and driver took extra efforts to take us to areas which were practically non-motorable. At one point the guide got off, walked deeper into the forest trying to spot wild animals for us. We were able to spot several wildlife including bison, wild boars and many peacocks and other beautiful birds.
Having scanned one part of the forest, the jeep would get to a tarred motorable road and then enter another part of the jungle on the other side of the road. Here you will come to the forest office area with the Neora Jungle Camp cottages located next to it. There are toilet facilities here. The guide walked us down at the grassland behind and showed us a wonderful view of Kanchenjunga snow peaks. From here the return journey to Lataguri begins.
Exploring the dense forest while riding on the majestic elephant’s back can be an experience of a lifetime. The elephant safari in Gorumara National Park of Dooars has caught the attention of many travellers. Gorumara is a national park of Northern West Bengal which has been declared as the best-protected area in India by the Ministry of Environment and Forest for the year 2009.
Elephant ride to take a safari in the core forest area is a romantic yet thrilling way of spotting wildlife. This is one of the best ways of sighting animals because elephants help you explore deep areas of the forest and they have a sense of animal presence. But unfortunately, most tourists visiting Gorumara cannot avail the elephant safari. It is available only to a lucky few who can get accommodation at Gorumara Eco Village at Kalipur, Gorumara Rhino Camp located at Ramsai and Gorumara Elephant Camp at Dhupjhora villages nestled deep inside the forest.
These camp cottages are managed by the state forest department. You can book the cottages through the Divisional Forest Department’s Office ‘Aranya Bhavan’ located at Jalpaiguri. Elephant safari is not accessible to those staying at private lodges or resorts in Gorumara area including even those staying at tourist lodges of WBFDC and WBTDCL.
Ticket Counters and Booking:
Forest department’s main ticket counter is located at Lataguri. There are also other counters elsewhere including in Murti area.
Note that the ticket counters for watchtower trips and Jeep Safari are different, but both are located at Lataguri little apart. The entry gate for the Jeep Safari is at Lataguri itself. However, the entry gates of the different watchtowers are scattered and located some distances away. But pick up and drop takes place at Lataguri near the ticket counter.
Ticket counters open and entry permits or tickets are issued at specific timings before a visit takes place, remain open for some time and then close down. They re-open before the next visit. One person in your group availing the watchtower visit or safari needs to be personally present at the counter and carry a photocopy of self-ID Proof (Adhaar, Voter’s ID, and Driving License etc).
Once your watchtower is allocated they will first issue a form at the counter which you need to fill up (so carry a pen as well). You need to then hand over the filled up form at the counter along with entry fees, the man at the counter then issues the entry permits along with a brochure about the forest and complimentary green caps for your group, all tucked into a nice little paper bag.
Timings of Ticket Issue and Safari
March to September, except for the period when Forest remains closed
|Shift||Ticket Issue Timings||Safari Timings|
|1st||5:30 am to 6:30 am||6 am to 7:30 am|
|2nd||0 6:30am to 7:30am||8:30 am to 7:30 am|
|3rd||1 pm to 2 pm||2 pm to 3:30 pm|
|4th||2 pm to 3 pm||4:30 pm to 6 pm|
October to February
|Shift||Ticket Issue Timings||Safari Timings|
|1st||6 am to 7 am||6:30 am to 8 am|
|2nd||7 am to 8 am||9 am to 10:30 am|
|3rd||12 noon to 1 pm||1 pm to 2:30 pm|
|4th||1 pm to 2 pm||3:30 pm to 5 pm|
Watchtower visits and jeep safaris take place both in the morning as well as in the afternoon at specific entry timings. However, at any point in time, only 40 persons are allowed to enter for a particular watchtower or safari. Each jeep (open Gypsy vehicle) can take up to 6 persons.
You can also book a full jeep for your family … we were four of us and booked a full Jeep for ourselves. Looking at some vehicles I thought it can get a little uncomfortable with six persons to find adequate space on the jeep to sit or stand. But that’s how most do.
So with a total of 40 persons allowed per entry to a watchtower, up to 7-8 jeeps may be allowed depending on the number of tourists in the vehicles. Now, this leads to a problem… you need to queue up at the counter long before it opens to ensure you get a fair chance to visit a specific watchtower of your choice and at your preferred entry time.
We were at the counter 2 hours before it opened in the afternoon and we were the lucky last four to get entry tickets for the day’s final Jatraprasad Watchtower trip. This is usually not a problem for the general jeep safari in the forest.
The Gorumara Forest Entry Fees, as well as the Various Charges, are tabled below for Ready reference. Please note the rates may be changed/altered by the Forest Department without notice and every effort is made to upload the updated rates. The rates on this website are the updated prevalent rates as on 31.05.2014.
Fares for watchtower visits (Fare updated: February 2019)
There are several costs components in the total fare including entry fee per person, guide charge, video camera charge, vehicle entry charge, vehicle booking charge etc. The per person charge for the last entry (4th shift) costs more because of the cultural show at the end. Jatraprasad Watch Tower has the highest per person entry fee compared to the others because it also covers a second watchtower Rhino Point and has the maximum demand. A Jeep can take up to 6 tourists.
Visitors Entry Fees
|Watch Tower Entry Fees||1st Shift||2nd Shift||3rd Shift||4th Shift|
|(Rs. Per Person)||(Rs. Per Person)||(Rs. Per Person)||(Rs. Per Person)|
|Jatraprosad Watch Tower||120||120||120||160|
|Medla Watch Tower||120||120||120||120|
|Chandrachur Watch Tower||70||70||70||120|
|Chapramari Entry fees||70||70||70||120|
|Chukchuki Watch Tower||70||70||70||120|
Gypsy Fare for Tourists (Maximum 06 Persons in One Gypsy)
|Gypsy Fare||1st Shift||2nd Shift||3rd Shift||4th Shift|
|(Rs. Per Gypsy)||(Rs. Per Gypsy)||(Rs. Per Gypsy)||(Rs. Per Gypsy)|
|Jatraprosad Watch Tower||990||990||990||990|
|Medla Watch Tower||930||930||930||930|
|Chandrachur Watch Tower||930||930||930||930|
|Chapramari Watch Tower||1140||1140||1140||1320 (with tribal dance program)|
|Chukchuki Watch Tower||720||720||720||720|
|Guide Charges Per Gypsy: Rs.180 per Gypsy|
|Gypsy Entry Fees: Rs.100 per Gypsy|
|Video Camera Charges: Rs.200 per camera|
If you are in a group of less than six and want to book the full Jeep, you need to pay the entry fee for all six. If you are single or a couple not wanting to book the full jeep, you can pay a per person charge and join a group of others in a jeep who too are availing such rates.
For example, per person overall charge for a visit to Jatraprasad & Rhino Point for the 4th shift would be around Rs. 400/-, while the fare for booking a full jeep for a similar trip would be around Rs. 2400/-.
Note that per person entry fee for foreign nationals (except SAARC countries) is double.
Fares for Jeep Safari
The Jeep Safari costs about Rs. 2,200/- if you book the whole vehicle. We were staying at Murti Tourist Lodge of WBTDCL and took their help to book the early morning Jeep Safari. If you go at the counter, it would cost a little lesser though.