Introducing Jaldhapara Wildlife Sanctuary
This little-visited sanctuary protects 114 sq km of lush forests and grasslands along the Torsa River and is a refuge for 150 Indian one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis).
The best time to visit is mid-October to May, particularly March and April when wild elephants, deer and tigers (rarely seen) are attracted by new grass growth. Your best chance of spotting a rhino is on an elephant ride, though these lumbering safaris are often booked out by the tourist lodges. Even if you are staying at Jaldaphara Tourist Lodge for a night you are not guaranteed a ride, as full occupancy is double that of their daily elephant quota. Weekdays offer the best chance.
Jeep safaris operate in the early morning and afternoon and stop at viewing platforms, but again these can be hard to arrange unless you are on a tour.
The West Bengal tourist offices in Kolkata and Siliguri organise weekend tours from Siliguri to Jaldhapara, which include an elephant ride, transport, accommodation at the Hollong Tourist Lodge and all meals.
Mithun of Wild Planet Travel Desk and Hotel Relax can often book accommodation and elephant rides when no-one else can and is probably your best option for a DIY trip. Budget travellers should bear in mind that an hour-long elephant ride is probably going to end up costing a minimum US$40 per person, after all costs are added in.
Bring mosquito repellent.