If you are enthusiastic to travel to Dooars, you must be acquainted with the known destinations and attractions of Dooars. Thanks to the internet. Information regarding Dooars is ample in number. The objective of the Blog is to suggest the best itinerary and stay options in Dooars based on the number of days you plan for the trip, your interests and expectations from the trip.
Fist Things First
Let me first tell you how we have suggested the places in Dooars. It’s based on the number of ‘Days’ or alternatively, you can say ‘Nights’ you have in your hand. So the criterion is the no of ‘NIGHTS’. The blog answers your basic queries required for any trip based three parameters-
a) Why visit the place.
b) Best accommodation options available.
c) Things to Do/ Sightseeing Options/ and Details about Jungle/Watchtower Safari.
Lastly, we conclude the blog with tips or suggestions from being as local and our travel experiences in Dooars.
a) No of Nights 3 or Less
If you have no of nights 3 or less, in my opinion, the best option to explore Dooars in a jiffy is – Gorumara National Park and its surroundings with a periphery of 100 km.
Why? – Gorumara
a) Small is Beautiful – When you are tight on no of days, you will surely love to make the most of it. This is where Gorumara aptly fits into your plan. Gorumara National Park has an area of 79.99 sq km. Please note an area of only 79.99 sq km. Jaldapara National Park has an area of 216.51 sq km and Buxa Tiger Reserve has an area of 760 sq km. Smaller size with higher animal density increases the chances of wildlife sightings. Gorumara is a perfect example of the aphorism ‘Small is Beautiful’.
b) The Best Watchtowers of Dooars – Jatraprasad, Chapramari and Medla watchtowers are located in Gorumara. In no other National Park or jungle of Dooars, you have the option of watchtower safari.
c) Best Stay Options are at Lataguri and Murti, which are hardly half an hour journey from New Mal or Jalpaiguri Road Station. Proximity to railheads saves your journey time and gives you more time to explore the place.
d) Explore Offbeat Destinations – Staying at Lataguri or Murti gives you the option to explore offbeat places like – Rongo, Dalgaon, Upper Fagu, Jhandi, Samabeong, Paperkheti and Kumai. You can also go for a day visit to known destinations like – Samsing, Suntalekhola, Rocky Island, Jhalong, Bindu and Paren.
e) Proximity to Gajoldoba – If you love birding and its in the winters you should come to Dooars(Last week of November to the first week of March). Gajoldoba is a paradise for birders. Waterbirds/ waders from Central Asia and Ladakh congregate in large numbers during winters. Gajoldoba is at a distance of 35 km from Lataguri. To know more about Gajoldoba please visit – Birdsong Gajoldoba
Where to Stay at Gorumara?
Neora Jungle Camp – It’s a Govt. property and is located deep inside Gorumara National Park. If you can come out of your comfort zone and want to enjoy raw and pristine jungle this is the place to stay. From your balcony, you can enjoy the free-flowing Neora River and the “Kalakhawa” watchtower is within the periphery of the property. There is a waterhole in front of the tower where animals like Elephants, Gaurs and Deers congregate especially in the dry season.
Bannani – This is a Govt. property and maintained by West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Ltd. The property is located on the banks of Murti River. One has a sweeping view of the jungle of Gorumara from the property itself. If you love the cosiness and don’t mind taking a pinch on your pocket, you should opt for this property.
All about Jungle / Watchtower Safari at Gorumara
Jungle Safari – To know all about Jungle Safari at Gorumara National Park, please visit – Gorumara Jungle Safari
Watchtower Safari – If you opt for watchtower safari, I will suggest you go for either Medla or Jatraprasad. Now, why? The habitat around both the watchtowers is grassland rather than woodland and has Observation Lanes. Observation Lane is a patch of land devoid of any foliage and gives a clear view deep into the forest. I guess now you can understand why I prefer Medla and Jatraprasad over other watchtowers. So, if you sight wildlife(both the watchtowers are famous for One-horned rhinoceros) its clean and clear. Tip – please do carry a binocular for watchtower safari.
To know all about Medla Watchtower Safari, please visit – Medla Watchtower Safari
b) No of Nights 4
If you plan for a 4 nights stay at Dooars I will suggest for 2 days stay at Lataguri/ Murti and 2 days stay at Jaldapara.
Why? – Jaldapara
a) Highest Population of Rhinos – Jaldapara National Park has the highest population of Rhinos amongst all the jungles of Dooars. The entire stretch of the jungle is grassland which increases chances of wildlife sighting.
b) Salt Licks – The jungle safari at Jaldapara is roughly about 1 and 1/2 hr and takes you the vast expanse of the grasslands of Jaldapara and covers three points- Hollong, Harindanga and Jaldapara Watchtower. Both Hollong and Jaldapara Watchtower has salt licks which lures animals like – Rhinos, Gaurs, Sambhars and Elephants. Jungle safari is conducted from two gates – a) Madarihat Gate b) Salkumar Gate. Both are equally good and covers all the points mentioned above. Tip – Opt for last safari(evening) to enhance your wildlife sighting chances. To know more about Jaldapara Jungle Safari please visit – Jaldapara Jungle Safari
c) Totopara, South Khayerbari and Phuntsholing – You can go a day visit to said places for a full day outing. To know more about Totopara, please visit – Totopara
d) Well Connectivity – Nearest rail heads are Hasimara and Falakata. Its hardly 1/2 hr drive.
Where to stay at Jaldapara
Hollong – Without any hint of doubt and most sought after and best place to stay at Jaldapara is Hollong Bungalow. A wooden bungalow located 8 km deep inside the forest. To know about Hollong please visit – Hollong Bungalow
Sisamara – To get your reservation at Hollong you need really to have some luck. Now I come to the second-best option to stay at Jaldapara. It’s Sisamara. Most of you may not be familiar with the name of Sisamara. But trust me nothing like – Sisamara. Why?? Just read my blog on Sisamara – Sisamara – Jaldapara
No of Nights 5 or More
If you have more than 5 nights in hand, I will take you to the most beautiful jungle of Dooars the Buxa Tiger Reserve. Now the most pertinent question in your mind will be why you need to have 5 or more days to explore the jungle of Buxa or Jayanti.
Let me explain – The jungle of Buxa is in Indo-Bhutan border spreading over an area of 760 sq km. Much larger in size in comparison to other jungles of Dooars. The habitat is primarily woodland. Large area, vicinity with Bhutan and woodland dampens your chances sighting of wildlife. Also, there are multiple hiking trails, historic Buxa Fort, Pokhri Lake, the beautiful hamlet of Lepchakha are the places to visit at Buxa. The point I want to make is that you may have to take multiple safaris and devote more time to explore Buxa-Jayanti.
a)Bio Diversity – Buxa has a rich species diversity. Animals like Clouded Leopard, Asiatic Golden Cat and Black Panther are found in Dooars. The last sighting of Black Panther by a tourist group was in the month of January 2020 and it made a news headline.
b) Hiking Trails – You can go for a trail along the Jayanti River till Boro Mahakal. Breathtaking backdrops and surreal silhouettes define our Trail along Jayanti River. Many tourists avoid the trail from their itinerary of Buxa-Jayanti. But, trust me if you really want to explore Buxa go for the trail and it will be a lifetime experience. To know more about the trail please visit – Jayanti River Trail
c) Sprawling population of Butterflies – While this was once a famous tiger landscape, it is better known today for its more than 550 species of butterflies, with new ones being added to the list year by year. Best time to visit to watch butterflies – March to April
d) Buxa Fort Trek – Once can trek from 28 Mile to Buxa Fort. It’s a mild trek about 1 hr one way. Should not be a problem for middle-aged and even older people who are physically fit. To know more about Buxa Fort Trek please visit our Blog – Buxa Fort Trek
e) Chunia Watchtower Trail – Chunia Trail is famous for Leopard sighting primarily on the banks of semi-dry Bala River. Tip: From my personal experiences, I will suggest to go for Chunia Trail after 4 pm during summers and after 3 pm during winters. At dusk sighting of leopard is more than at other time of the day.
f) Lepchakha – You can trek to Lepchakha and stay at one of the Drukpa Homestays.
g) Day Visit to Sikiajhora – You can go to Sikiajhora and enjoy country ride through meandering jungle stream. Sikiajhora is about an hour drive from Jayanti. Tip: Opt for the last boat ride at 4 pm.
Where to stay at Buxa-Jayanti
Staying at Govt. properties are not available at Buxa-Jayanti. You can stay at homestays located at Jayanti or Santhalabari. Most of us will love to stay at any of the homestays on the banks of Jayanti River and overlooking the jungle. But I will suggest you stay at Santhalabari. But why to avoid Jayanti and stay at Santhalabari – most of the homestays on the banks of Jayanti are very rudimentary in nature with no backup power. Power cut and load-shedding are quite frequent in Jayanti, and sometimes there is a continuous power cut for a day or two. Such scenarios may pose a few challenges, especially if you are with your family. Due to space constraint dining section of most of the homestays are a makeshift arrangement in the common open verandah in front of our room. If it rains during your stay which is again very common in the months of March to June, it’s likely that the verandas will get flooded with water and to dine in such an atmosphere may throw up hygiene issues. But there are exceptions. In my opinion homestays at Santhalabari are better in terms of safety and security also.
- If you are a wildlife lover and interested in the wildlife of Dooars, please carry a binocular with you. In case you don’t have one, we are there for you. We provide Nikon Prostaff (8 * 42) binoculars as complimentary for all tours conducted by us.
- Please carry ID Proofs along with 3 photocopies(photocopies are required for jungle safari), some general medicines, umbrella, water-resistant shoes and enough cash with you, as most of the tourist destinations in Dooars don’t have ATM.
- Please opt for Taxi(Cars with Commercial no) instead for private number vehicles carrying passengers. Reason- Firstly it is unauthorised. Checking has been bumped up in Dooars especially post COVID-19. Such issues may jeopardise your entire trip. Secondly, most of the drivers of private vehicles are not well acquainted, with the routes and nuances of Dooars, which again can be agony and anguish for you. Even if you have to pay a few extra bugs, please go for a commercial vehicle. One thing you can rest assured that you will get a quality and well-behaved driver. Post COVID-19 please insist your cab provider to properly sanitize car prior to commencement of your trip.
- It is always better to pre-book your accommodation and vehicles. Otherwise, you may end up paying exorbitant rates. In my opinion, it also saves time and you have a hassle-free trip.
- If you are one of those who want to shun off other tourists and still want to relax in cosy and homely place, places like – Rongo, Kumai, Gorubathan, Chisang, Samabeong, Ramsai and Sisamara are the ones you should head for.
- From my personal experiences, I will suggest opting for evening safaris to enhance wildlife sighting chances.