Wandering Destination : Namdapha National Park (part 1: preparation)

Wandering Destination : Namdapha National Park (part 1: preparation)

In India there are over 1500 different butterfly species can be found. If one thinks to watch them, photograph them and increase ones lifetime checklist, visit to Namdapha National Park is a must. I will be writing a series about my experiences in a recent visit to the park made in November 2011. It will run in several parts and hope will be helpful to the people who wish to visit that peaceful land. Before proceeding further, some quick Facts about Namdapha: 

1. Its basically a tiger project, situated in easternmost Arunachal Pradesh.
2. Inner line permit is required to visit the park, which can be easily obtained from concerned officers.
3. Its so remote that there is no electricity, no mobile range and no cheap transportation at the cottages. Accommodation and food is excellent.
4. Best butterflying season is March to May. Rainy clouds may appear any time and may rain for several consecutive days.

In the month of September, I came to know that Rohan (then just FB friend) is visiting Namdapha. I quickly called him and asked "See I would love to join you, how much will it cost?". The numbers and timing were in my favor and I started dreaming about butterfly paradise. Other team members were Hemant (Amboli) and Ajay from Kolhapur. Apart from Rohan, it was first trip to Namdapha for rest of us. Tickets were booked and required shopping was done. For this trip I decided to sell my old D3000 and buy D7000 along with a Nikkor 105 mm VR IF-ED  true macro lens. Here I give a list of the things which are necessary to Namdapha trip for butterflying. 

Photography: DSLR with minimum 3-4 batteries. Point and shoot wont be helpful as they allow shooting 200 odd photos and no electricity at park. Flash is a real boost, plenty of charged use-and-throw cells for flash. Tripod might be necessary to shoot HDR and landscapes. Three-Four 8GB cards to store the photographs. A mini-trekker or higher version of DSLR back-pack is advised.

Electronics:  At least one full charged note-book to transfer photos is necessary. Memory cards wont store all the data from the trip, specially when there is good season. In Namdapha, one never knows when and which surprise will come one's way. Fully charged mobile with airtel connection would be helpful, there is a single spot in Deban from where one can contact outsiders, if god permits. Music player / i-pod can become necessity. After 3-4 days, urban dwellers may not know how to pass the night time :-).

Lighting: Sun sets at around 4 and no natural light after about 5 o'clock. Torch, candles, matchbox. Wood is available in plenty and can be used for camp-fire. 

Apparels: Usual cloths, shoes usable in mud and water, an umbrella / raincoat. Warm cloth for nights, bedding material is available at accommodation. Leech guard is must. 

Food: Packed food items such as biscuits, glucon-D etc, as per taste. These are required when one goes out for butterfly watching. A water bottle for drinking water is useful. Continuous flowing river streams brings fresh water from glaciers, so one bottle in the group is enough. A fantastic cook, Gopal, is there at Deban for all the time so no worry.

Medicine:  Every day one may have to walk 5 miles and run after butterflies alot. Daily one has to spend minimum 8 hours in the field. So some ointment / body spray might be useful. Dettol, pain-killer, antacid, penicillins can be helpful.

Planning the traveling:

Any trip to North-east require well-thought planning at-least 2 months in advance. Inner-line-permit needs to be obtained. For this one has to stay one day in Guwahati or need some friends in Guwahati who can do it for you. Remember without ILP no-body is allowed inside Arunachal.

Guwahati is the entrance point for most of trips, and air-route would be wise option. Train from any city to Guwahati would take long time, as many as 72 hours and further its not reliable. Considering time saving, 3-tier AC fare seems comparable to airline fare, if made in advance. Journey from Guwahati to New Tinsukia is done with train. Booking for both must be done two month in advance.I followed this route : Mumbai  to Guwhati (by air), Guwhati to New-tinsukia (By rail), Tinsukia to Miao (by road), Miao to Deban (By road).

A buffer day at Guwahati is advised on the return journey. No-body knows where thee could be bomb-blast or Assam Bandh. To add to it, trains run several hours late and tests the vistor for patience. This forces one day at Guwahati, which can be utilized for shopping, site-seeing or rest.

Important websites (Click the name to follow):

1. Changlang district official site
2. Google map of the place
3. Amazing Arunachal

Next part of the series....read here.

By Paresh Kale

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