National Parks to visit post pandemic
With sanitised safari vehicles, limited visitor batches and a strong will to bring wildlife tourism back on track, national parks and game reserves across the world are opening their doors to tourists.
With wildlife tourism coming to a complete grinding halt due to the pandemic, it has put a risk not only on the welfare of the wild animals, but also on the communities that depend on it. Now as wildlife tours are picking up pace, here is a list of some timeless destinations to head for after spending week after week under stay-at-home orders.
Katmai National Park, Alaska
From coastal beaches to volcanoes, Katmai National Park in Alaska is truly a unique place where so many different landscapes can be found within one preserve. Spread over an area of five million acres, the only way to access this vast wilderness is by boat or float plane, as no roads lead to Katmai.
While even before the pandemic very few people ventured into Katmai, the limited number of travellers who still visit are rewarded with excellent sightings of brown bears which are concentrated along a two kilometres long fishing stretch in large numbers.
Tip – Brands like Naturetrek offer guided wildlife travel solutions to enthusiasts keeping post pandemic safety in mind.
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
The town of El Calafate, on the banks of the turquoise blue waters of Lake Argentino, forms the gateway to a kingdom of snow and ice called Los Glaciares National Park in the southern region of Argentine Patagonia. Apart from being home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, the 1722 square mile park’s stellar attractions are the 300 odd glaciers that are spread over nearly half the area of the park. Visitors can explore the frigid terrain of the third largest expanse of a continental ice shelf by boat and hiking up the glacier to discover jaw-dropping ice formations and blue waterfalls.
Yosemite National Park, USA
To keep a control on the crowds, Yosemite National Park has opened its doors to only drive-in visitors holding a reservation, irrespective of if you are a lifetime member. Vehicle numbers are limited to 50% of the original allowed and facilities like Upper Pines Ground, Yosemite Lodge, Curry Village and Alwahnee are also running at half their capacity. Hikers need to keep a distance from each other and roads, restrooms and most of the trails are open. Food service is however limited as are the Ranger programs.
Badlands National Park, USA
The South Dakota region is surprisingly off the tourist radar, which in turn has made this National Park all the more welcoming. While the main draw at Badlands are its stunning rock formations, what lies below them is still more fascinating. As bighorn sheep and bison roam around freely, the rich fossil beds of the park depict ancient horses and rhinos. The best way to get a feel of this magical place is by driving around the Badlands Loop Road or opting for one of the many hikes on offer.
Dinder National Park, Sudan
Gazetted as a protected area since 1933, the Dinder National Park in Sudan has become an extremely popular tourist destination post pandemic. The park is located on the clay filled floodplain of the Rahad and Dinder rivers and occupies an area of roughly 7123 square kilometres. Wildlife includes hartebeest, giraffe, roan antelope, lion, buffalo, black rhinoceros among others.
National Marine Park, Greece
Limited human activity, since its establishment in 1992, has made the National Marine Park of Alonissos, Greece a haven for the endangered monk seal. Add to this an eerie shipwreck whose remains lie just below the ocean surface, an amazing underwater museum has been thrown open to recreational divers.
The park is said to be the largest marine protected area in Europe and a home for a number of marine and terrestrial species found in the Mediterranean Sea, apart from some remarkable monuments of historical and archaeological fame. For those unable to swim, the visitor information centre on the island of Alonissos embarks on a virtual reality show of the wrecks at the bottom of the island of Peristera.
Coined as “Africa’s Last Living Eden,” each of the thirteen national parks that are spread all over Gabon showcase the continent’s remarkable bio-diversity and a wealth of wildlife encounters like none other on the planet.
While the UNESCO designated Lope National Park offers a vital refuge to the biggest gatherings of mandrills, the lowland gorilla can be found in Loango National Park where a group of four is allowed each day with no guarantee of finding them. Gabon holds the highest number of forest elephants in the whole of Africa. Big herds can be seen at Ivindo National Park. The more intrepid travellers can witness the migration of hundreds of sea turtles on the shores of Pongara National Park.
The Cerrado, Brazil
Although the wooded grasslands of the Cerrado cover an area half the size of Europe, this region between the Amazon rainforests and Pantanal in Brazil forms the largest savannah region in South America.
Lurking in these amazing surroundings are rare animals such as the jaguar, giant anteaters and the maned wolf. Home to nearly 10,000 plant species, of which half are endemic to Brazil, and the related environmental value, the Cerrado is fighting to stay afloat. The giant palm tree biroti provides shelter to some 850+ bird species and is a source of food for many other wild animals as well.
Bandhavgarh National Park, India
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic had a crippling effect on the Indian wildlife sector, as in other countries around the world. In Bandhavgarh National Park in Central India, the lockdown coincided with the peak tourist season. The park is now open, albeit with a few restrictions, and offers a perfect opportunity to spot a tiger in the wild.
Your journey through the grasslands and forests of Bandhavgarh will reveal the diverse wildlife of the Indian forests and an insight on the unique flora and fauna of the forests of central India. The less number of tourists has resulted in good tiger sightings in this high density park of India. Bandhavgarh also shelters sloth bears, leopards, bison and a large number of bird species.
Despite the pandemic bringing journeys to a standstill, it has not dampened the enthusiasm or quieted the curiosity of the ardent wildlife fan. Though visiting a National Park is undoubtedly different than it was before the pandemic, we sincerely hope this new year’s list of wildlife destinations will inspire you to lay the foundation of your next dream safari. We are looking forward to see you out in the wilds of the world soon.
Posted by: Sarah Dixon | Posted on: February 19, 2021 | Posted in: TRAVEL