You can add to your whole wildlife sighting experience in Sawai Madhopur by adding the Chambal river safari to your itinerary. The river safari at the Palighat Chambal Sanctuary is a great way to spot the big underwater predators. It is also a great place to see some wonderful native and migrant bird species.
While in Sawai Madhopur, keep half a day for Chambal River Safari at Palighat Chambal Sanctuary or National Chambal Sanctuary. It is around 35 km away from the centre of Sawai Madhopur and is a conservation site for Gharials and crocodiles.
While on a visit to Sawai Madhopur and Ranthambore National Park, we had half a day to spare. We had read about Palighat Chambal Safari and we decided to visit it. In my current blog, I will be explaining all the essential details you need to know for your Chambal river safari at Palighat.
Chambal River Safari: An Overview
The Palighat Chambal Sanctuary is situated on the banks of River Chambal and is an hour’s drive away from Ranthambore National Park. Here are a few details that you must know about the sanctuary:
35 km from Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan
|Nearest Railway Station
Sawai Madhopur Junction
|How to Reach?
Taxi from Sawai Madhopur
|Ideal Visiting Time
300-500 INR per head
|Best Time to Visit
Native and Migrating Birds
About Palighat Chambal Sanctuary
The Palighat Chambal Sanctuary is a part of the National Chambal Sanctuary or National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary. The National Chambal Sanctuary is spread over an area of 5,400 km2 in three states- Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on the banks of Chambal River.
The Palighat Chambal Sanctuary is home to the critically endangered Gharials, Marsh Crocodiles, Turtles and the Endangered Ganges river dolphin. The Palighat Sanctuary is also a delight for bird watchers as you can observe a lot of resident and migratory birds here.
Other than Rajasthan, the sanctuary can also be visited from Agra in Uttar Pradesh and Morena in Madhya Pradesh. These would, of course, be a different part of the sanctuary.
Palighat Chambal Sanctuary s located n the banks of river Chambal. Picture Credits: Divya Sarjolta
How to Reach Chambal River Safari?
Cabs are easily available from the main town. You can ask your hotel to arrange it or ask the local taxis near the railway station. Make sure you ask a few of them to get the minimum price. Bargaining always helps.
After asking 4 different people, we found a cab at the lowest cost. An auto driver we were travelling with gave us the contact number of a guy. We contacted him and hired his cab for Rs. 2000, thanks to the bargaining skills of our friend Srishti. The person picked us up from the hotel and dropped us back as well.
How & where to book Chambal River Safari?
When we first decided to go for Chambal River Safari, we searched the internet for safari details. Someone on TripAdvisor had mentioned a name along with a phone number- Mr Rudra Pratap Singh ( Contact No. 09783459569)
We took the contact details and booked it over the phone as we thought there were no other safari providers there. We later found out that there were two providers for safari. So, I would suggest you can go there are choose the cheaper option for yourself.
The price of the safari ranges anywhere between 200-500 INR per head depending on the season and the visitor count. You can either book seats per person on the Chambal river safari boat or book a whole boat. The ride lasts for about an hour.
Chambal River Safari is a great way of experiencing spotting wildlife up close. Picture Credits: Divya Sarjolta
Best Time for Chambal River Safari
Although you can see the crocodiles and gharials all through the day, the best time to visit is between 8 AM and 9 AM. This is the time when these predators come up to the land to bask in the heat of the morning sun.
What to expect at the Chambal River Safari?
Make sure you wake up early and start early on the day of your Chambal River Safari. Although the safari lasts for only about an hour, it is totally worth it.
Ride to the Palighat Crocodile Sanctuary
The driver picked us up at 7.30 and we reached Palighat in about an hour. The ride to Palighat is a little bumpy, especially in the last 15-20 minutes. To our disappointment, the whole Palighat area was covered in thick fog. We waited for an hour, but the fog wouldn’t lift. We sat in the car and our driver was kind enough to wait with us.
There are no shops or eating joints at the place, only a small little shack which provides tea and pakoras.
Chambal River Safari at Palighat Crocodile Sanctuary
After waiting for around one and a half hour, the fog finally started to lift but the visibility was still very poor. We decided to take our chances and hopped on into the boat but weren’t able to see anything.
After about 15 minutes of boat ride, the Sun finally decided to have mercy, the fog cleared up and we were able to see the Palighat River. It was beautiful. There was no sign of the reptiles yet. Our guide told us that it was today that the fog was heavy otherwise you are able to see a lot of crocodiles and gharials on the river banks basking in the sun at that hour. Along the boat ride, we also saw the confluence of two rivers- River Chambal and River Parbati.
After a few minutes, we saw the snout of a gharial under the water but as we moved closer, it went under water. The thrill was inexplicable, the gharials and crocodiles could just be swimming by the side of your boat!!!.
Finally, we were able to spot a big crocodile lying around in the sun. Our guide told us an interesting anecdote: If you see a single crocodile on the bank, there would always be one underneath the water i.e. they are never alone.
On a clear sunny day, you are able to spot many gharials and crocodiles on the banks of the river. The feeling of being up close this incredible creature is beyond thrilling.
Palighat is great for spotting birds too. Along the way, we also spotted a lot of birds including the Indian Skimmer, Great stone curlew, Black-bellied Tern, Ruddy Shelduck, Black-winged stilt, Lapwings, Eurasian Wigeon and Kingfishers. We also caught a Kingfisher in action – hovering over water, sighting the prey and taking a quick dive to catch the fish. It was pure delight. The boat ride lasted for about an hour and was truly an unforgettable experience.
The Indian Skimmer at Palighat Chambal Sanctuary. Picture Credits: Divya Sarjolta
Things to carry when Visiting Chambal River Safari?
When embarking upon a Chambal river safari, make sure you are carrying these essential things.
Palighat Chambal Safari is a great place to spot some rare birds including some migratory birds. If you are a bird enthusiast, make sure you carry a pair of good binoculars.
|Hat or Scarf
The boats on the Chambal river Safari do not have a sunroof. Get a scarf or a sunhat to protect yourself from the sun.
If you are visiting the Palighat sanctuary during winter months, make sure you carry warm clothes. It can get really chilly in the early morning. Dress up in layers so that it is easy to remove once it gets a little warm.
There are no places to buy things near the Palighat crocodile sanctuary, so carry some snacks to munch on.
You will be wanting to click a lot of pictures, so make sure to carry your camera
So, if you are planning to visit Sawai Madhopur or Ranthambore National Park make sure to spare some time for the Chambal river Safari. It is a must-visit place for wildlife and photography enthusiasts.
Another important thing, be a responsible traveller. Make sure to keep the environment clean and do not throw garbage near the river.
Happy Wayfaring 🙂