Namdapha National Park

Arunachal Pradesh

Namdapha National Park, spread over 1985 sq km of dense forest in far eastern Arunachal Pradesh, is an ecological hot spot with a mind-boggling array of animal and plant species, and habitats ranging from warm tropical plains to icy Himalayan highlands. It's famous for being the only park in India with four big-cat species (leopard, tiger, clouded leopard, snow leopard), though you'd be very lucky to see any of them. It’s also a birdwatcher’s delight, with around 500 recorded species.

The park is a long haul from anywhere; most foreigners who get here are either birders or botanists. From Dibrugarh in Assam, you need to travel about 160km east to the small town of Miao, where park permits are issued at the Field Director's office, renowned for its long lunch breaks. Miao has a small handful of accommodation options, the best being Namdapha Jungle Camp near the sandy banks of the Noa-Dihing River, with hot-water bathrooms attached to its rooms in thatched cottages. From Miao it’s a rough 26km drive to Deban, where the basic Forest Rest House is the only accommodation inside the park.

You can do day hikes from Deban, but to get deeper into the forest and reward the effort of getting here, you really need to take a camping trek of three to five days, best organised through a travel company or Namdapha Jungle Camp. Expect to pay ₹5000 to ₹6000 per person per day.

The best season to go is November to March, when it's relatively dry and cool, with fewer leeches.