Top 5 Wildlife Destinations in Odisha

Updated: Sep 17


Bhitarkanika National Park

Image source: EcoTour Odisha

Popularly known as “Mini Amazon of India”. It is the second-largest Mangrove ecosystem of our country and home of saltwater crocodiles.


It is situated in the Northeast Kendrapara district in Odisha. It is encompassed by Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary are to the east, isolating swamp vicinity and mangroves from the Bay of Bengal. It is the only Marine Sanctuary of the state and is the world’s most important nesting location for Olive Ridleys.


Wildlife:

Flora consists of about 62 mangrove species occur including Avicenna, Bruguiera, Heritiera, and Rhizophora. The pneumatophores, better known as breathing roots are another attraction for the tourists visiting the nature Camps. Fauna accommodates the Saltwater Crocodile, King Cobra, Indian Python, Chital, Rhesus Monkey, Fishing Cat, Leopard Cat, Water Monitor Lizard, Wild Boar, etc. Olive Ridley turtles nest on Gahirmatha and different close-by beaches. Birds include seven different varieties of Kingfishers, Asian Openbill, Cormorants, Darters, Ibises, Egrets, Herons, etc. Every year close to 120,000 birds arrive from abroad for wintering and 80,000 resident birds from different parts of India arrive for nesting during the monsoon season. View of Bottle-Nose Dolphins, Irrawaddy Dolphin’s and Finless Porpoise Dolphins from different beaches of Bhitarkanika is worth watching. Popular beaches are Habalikhati Beach, Gahirmatha and Pentha Beach.


Best time to visit-

Wintertime between November to February is the best time for camping, witnessing flocks of migratory birds, and sunbathing crocodiles.

Transport facility-

The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar 160 km away from Bhitarkanika. The nearest rail station is Bhadrak junction from there is nearly 140 km away. From the airport and railway station, it takes 4 hours to reach Bhitarkanika by road.

Activities-

Boating, camping, sports, bird watching, trekking, dolphin watching, safari, and stargazing are some of the activities that can be carried out in Bhitarkanika. Dangamal Nature Camp, Habalikhati, and Gupti Nature Camps are located inside Bhitarkanika with good accommodation.



Mangalajodi


“The Birds Paradise of Asia” is in the North-Eastern part of Chilika lagoon, Mangalajodi, Odisha. It is the only place in India where large flocks of different species of colorful native and migratory birds can be seen from close proximity on boats. It is the most important wintering floor for migratory birds in the Indian sub-continent. Over 160 species of birds are hosted by the lagoon in the peak migratory season. Birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, the Aral Sea, and other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Kazakhstan, Central and Southeast Asia, Ladakh, and the Himalayas come here. The sunset view from the blue lagoon is pure bliss.


This place has beautiful landscapes which attract a lot of photographers. Chilika lake has been declared as a “Destination Flyway” by the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) because of its natural treasure and bio-diversity.


Wildlife-

Flora consists of 726 species of flowering plants belonging to 496 genera and 120 families.

The avifauna comprises White-bellied Sea Eagles, Greylag Geese, Swamphen, Moorhen, Jacanas, Flamingos, Egrets, Herons, Indian Roller, Storks, Ibises, Spoonbill, Ruddy Shelducks, Shovellers, Pintails, etc. Fishing Cat, Jackals, Jungle Cat, etc are some mentionable mammals in the area.

Aqua fauna includes 261 fish species, 28 species of prawns, and 34 species of crabs.

The Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) is the flagship species of Chilika lake.

Best time to visit-

The best time to visit is in the winter months of November to February so that a variety of migratory birds can be observed.


Transport-

The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar 85km away from Chilika.

The nearest rail station is Bhubaneswar 80km away from Chilika.

From Bhubaneswar to North West Chilika it takes 1 hrs 30 mins by road.


Activities-

Trekking, Boating, Photography, star gazing, dolphin and bird watching, beach activity.

Enjoy the cottages of Mangalajodi Nature Camp on a hill slope.



Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary

Image source: EcoTour Odisha

Held by the solace of Hirakud Dam and Reservoir, this wildlife sanctuary is located in the Bargarh district of Odisha. From both ecological and environmental points of view, it is an eco-sensitive zone and hence prohibits industries and their operations in the zone. During the rebellion against the British, Veer Surendra Sai made his base at ‘Barapathara” located within the sanctuary.

Wildlife -

It is home to diversified flora and fauna. It comprises 250 plant species, which have ethnobotanical and medicinal value. Over 40 species of mammals including leopards, elephants, gaur, wild boar, deer are there. 200 species of birds, 85 species of butterflies, 42 species of fishes, 40 species of reptiles, 39 species of odonates, 12 species of amphibians, and 38 species of spiders are also found in the sanctuary. It also attracts plenty of migratory waterfowl during winter.


Best time to visit - From November to February.


Transport facilities -

The nearest airport Jharsuguda is 289km away.

The nearest railway station is Sambalpur.

Sambalpur is well connected by roads.

Activities - Trekking, bird watching, jeep safari, visiting Hirakud Dam, photography, star gazing. Accommodation is available inside the sanctuary by Ecotour Odisha.



Satkosia Tiger Reserve

Image source: EcoTour Odisha

With River Mahanadi by its side, this wildlife sanctuary provides quite a picturesque view attracts tourists all over the world. It is a tiger reserve located in the Angul district of Odisha. It has various nature camps, with sightings of endangered flora and fauna species and ending the day with a beautiful sunset from River Mahanadi.


Wildlife-

Flora consists of mixed deciduous forests including Sal (Shorea robusta), and riverine forest. Fauna includes mammals like the leopard, Indian wild dog, wild boars, striped hyena, sloth bear, leopard cat and the jungle cat, Asian elephant, spotted deer, sambar deer, barking deer, pangolins, porcupines, and langurs are the other herbivores found here.

The reptiles include the Mugger Crocodile, Gharials, and Indian python which can feed on large mammals like the spotted deer. You can spot the Indian Giant Squirrel here.

It also has many fishes like the catfish which can have a weight of about 30 kilograms. It has a last resident Tiger alive when this post was written.

Best time to visit - During the winter season, between months of November to February.

Transport facilities -

The nearest Air Port is at Bhubaneswar which is 124 km from Angul.

The nearest Railway station is at Angul, 33 km from Satkosia.

Angul is connected with Bhubaneswar and other cities of Odisha by road.

Activities -

Safari, camping, star gazing, bonfire, photography, trekking. Various nature camps like Chhotkei, Tikarpada, Baghamunda, Tarava gives adventurous experience, luxury stays, and sightseeing of beautiful landscapes.



Satapada

Image source: EcoTour Odisha

Satapada, group of seven villages known for being home to the Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris). It is located 50 kilometers from Puri district in Odisha. Also known for Sea Mouth Island where Chilika Lake meets the Bay of Bengal. A small island called Rajahamsa, named after mute swan is situated near this place at the mouth of the lagoon.

Wildlife-

It is home to almost 100 endangered Irrawaddy dolphins. It also comprises various aquatic wildlife. Migratory birds from Siberia visit the nearby Nalabana bird sanctuary every winter.


Best time to visit- From October to March.


Transport facilities -

The nearest airport is at Bhubaneswar, around 120 km away. Puri rail station is almost 50 km away. Satpada is connected to Puri via National Highway 203A, almost 49 km away. Bhubaneshwar and Puri have daily bus services along with taxis to Satapada.


Activities - Boating, watching the sunset, dolphin watching, photography, bird watching.


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