Ultimate Guide To Visiting National Parks

by Gizel Menezes
Ultimate Guide To Visiting National Parks

After nearly 2.5 months of being shut to visitors, several wildlife havens and national parks in the country have opened up, delighting nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts and honestly everyone in general. Because after being cooped up at home for such a long period, one naturally craves for some interrupted and secluded time with nature. And national parks with their open spaces, fresh air, greenery and warble, not only act as perfect spaces to calm our sore screen-stressed eyes and minds, but also help us relax and escape from feeling the pandemic blues.

Currently, National Parks in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Karnataka have reopened in the country. And while all of them have opened up with strict rules, which include wearing of masks, 50% safari capacity and non-disembarkment from vehicles, it is extremely important to follow the rules of social distancing if we plan to visit any of them. Yes, you might think that going to an open space will reduce your chances of getting infected with the virus, but truth be told, the pandemic has significantly changed where and how we can recreate outside. Hence, staying safe, following some rules and tips to protect ourselves and others seems like the only sensible way to move forward.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park - Curly Tales

Ways To Maintain Social Distancing In National Parks

Here are a few tips and tricks you must follow to protect yourself and maintain social distancing in national parks!

1. Follow The Rules, Listen To The Authorities

The simplest but the most important tip in the rule book. Follow the rules without fail. Wear your masks, gloves and face shields. Observe physical distancing as much as possible from other people. Whether it is on jeeps during a safari or while hiking around (if and when allowed), practice it. Also, ensure that you sanitize your vehicles when you drive down to the park.

2. Pay Digitally

While most national parks and wildlife reserves have allowed for online booking of permits and planning, if you ever have to stand in line for buying tickets, ensure that you have a digital payment mode ready so you don’t have to end up getting ‘handsy’ with someone at the counter. :p The same applies even while purchasing water/food items.

ways to maintain social distancing in parks
Image Courtesy: Pixabay

3. Avoid Crowds

Yes, there’s surely going to be a cap on the number of visitors in the park and even during the safari, but you need to be mindful of those around you. If you’ve been allowed to disembark and visit a viewpoint, do not crowd at one particular place altogether. If you see people already gathered, wait, walk around and try going there when they disperse. You need to maintain the recommended social distancing space at all times. Also, do not indulge in any group game or activity at the park which will require any sort of physical contact. Such activities are a total no-go for the current circumstances.

4. Maintain Distance From Animals

This hold true while at all times, pandemic or not. When you are visiting a national park, you have to respect animals and their habitat. Do not go too close, and observe from afar. And as always, do not feed them anything.

While many reports have suggested better sightings due to a lesser number of people in the park, do not get excited and do not go too close. Just as you maintain social distancing with people, do the same with them animals. Did you know that a Tiger At NYC’s Bronx Zoo Tested Positive For The Coronavirus.

ways to maintain social distancing in parks
Image Courtesy: Pixabay

5. Limit The Surfaces You Touch

You got to be extremely careful outdoors. Yes, wear a pair of gloves but don’t go on touching everything or anything that you see. Some of us have a habit, or some of us just do so subconsciously. So be alert and ensure that you aren’t touching too many surfaces. Whether on the safari or while walking, avoid handles, benches or even touching enclosures. And in case you do, ensure you sanitize your hands immediately.

Also Read: Bandipur Tiger Reserve In Karnataka Wins Best National Park Award In India

6. Washroom Usage

You may find many public restrooms closed in the national parks, so be prepared before you leave so that you are not dependent on public restrooms. But if you are forced to use one, sanitize sanitize sanitize! This needs to become your mantra!

ways to maintain social distancing in parks
Image Courtesy: Pixabay

7. Carry All The Necessary Personal Hygiene Products

Going out in times of COVID-19 seems like going on a war. Except you will end up carrying hygiene essentials instead of war equipment. But even so, you have to be ready. Carry your gloves, hand sanitizer, tissues, hand towels, etc. Sanitize your hands at regular intervals.

8. Do Not Drink Water From The Regular Water Stations

Carry your own water bottle. And carry enough that you do not have to fill from any public drinking water source. Mostly, these may be disabled and even if they are operable, they should not be used.

Also Read: Madhya Pradesh Tourism Promotes ‘Caravans’ To Explore The Heart Of India In COVID Times

9. Limited Staff So Do Not Try Doing Anything Off Grid

Because of the coronavirus, there might result in a paucity of staff. So please do yourself and everyone a favor and do not wander off in isolated places. Because if anything happens, the limited staff and forest rangers won’t be able to come to your rescue immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

ways to maintain social distancing in parks
Image Courtesy: Pixabay

10. Do Not Visit If You Are Suffering From Even The Slightest Of Symptoms

Do not, I repeat, do not visit a national park, or any outdoor place for that matter, if you have symptoms related to the coronavirus. Maintain basic personal hygiene methods when you cough, sneeze, etc. And ensure that you wash or sanitize your hands when you do so.

Also, something that is told to us each time we visit a park or a sanctuary, but is never followed is the act of not littering. Use a trash can or if not, put it into your bag. You have to ensure that you take everything out to protect park workers who are working hard to keep you safe and most importantly, the animals.

These are a few tips and tricks to ensure that you are safe and maintain social distancing at all times while visiting a national park. But, if going outdoors seems like a huge risk, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. You can still enjoy the calm and thrill of a national park from the comfort of your home. These National Parks Are Offering These Fascinating Virtual Tours To Take You Outdoors.

Also Read: 5 Fun Facts About India’s Sundarbans National Park