On each visit to a wildlife sanctuary in India, guides talk about the hard times they face in the rains when the park is shut and tourists stay away. The authorities have valid reasons to shut the gates. The monsoon wreaks havoc with the roads, putting tourists' lives at risk. Also, sightings are few. So while the big cats, elephants and rhinos enjoy some well-deserved time off, use the opportunity to visit species that revel in the rains.
The monsoon is the right time to head to Maldoli village near Chiplun and catch a glimpse of the area's top predator -- the crocodile. Caught basking on the banks to raise their body temperature, these cold-blooded creatures are quite easy to spot. You could take the crocodile safari offered by Konkan Crocodile Safari even as you enjoy luxury accommodation and delicious Konkan food on the side. Says Vishal Nayak, a wildlife enthusiast who made a trip to this spot last monsoon, "Even if the crocodiles residing in the Vashishti River don't catch your eye, the picturesque setting and various avian species definitely will."
But if the menacing croc isn't your idea of a visual delight, the feathered creatures at the Karnala Bird Sanctuary just outside city limits would pique your interest. Even though winter is considered the best time to visit this place, July to September brings in species like Paradise Flycatchers, Shamas, Nalabad Whistling Thrushes and Racket-tailed Dongos. And if you do manage that extended weekend, the Bharatpur Sanctuary near Rajasthan is a birdwatcher's delight and is home to some of the most exquisite species, including storks, herons, flamingos, pelicans, egrets and cormorants.
And if you somehow like creepy-crawlies, the monsoon revives hibernating insects. So if you want to catch a glimpse of these insects and understand their ecology, BNHS Nature Reserve is organising a walk in the woods. The trip will take place on June 24 at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park with bug expert Dr V Shubhalaxmi.
So don't wait. Take a trip on the wild side.
Glow in the dark
Witness millions of fireflies light up the Western Ghats in a village setting in Purushwadi. The fireflies emit their glow over a valley of darkness where they court their mates. This once in a year phenomenon happens towards the end of May or early June depending on the monsoon. Call 02355 253030 for trip details.
Valley of flowers
Give the wildflowers at the Valley of the Flowers in Uttarakhand a miss. The Kaas Plateau near Mahabaleshwar sports an equally fragrant offering every monsoon. But the trouble is the absence of guards, which means that people pluck the wildflowers or litter. Sajjangad Fort and Kanher Dam are also worth a visit.