Neora Valley National Park
Covering an area of 88sq kms, Neora Valley National Park is located in Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling district in West Bengal. It stretches in the north upto an altitude of 3,200m. The highest point of this park is Rachela Pass, where it forms a boundary with Sikkim in the North and Bhutan in the North East. This links Neora Valley National Park with the Pangolakha Wild Life Sanctuary in Sikkim and Toorsa Strict Reserve in Bhutan.
The altitude at its southern limit is 183m and the forests of Jalpaiguri forms its southern boundary connecting it with Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary and the Gorumara National Park.
The entire forest is crisscrossed by mountain streams. In fact the name Neora Valley is given after the river Neora flowing through it. This forested land on a hilly terrain was earmarked as a National Park in 1986. This park has challenged the never ending human interference, biotope changes and environmental pollution. It has preserved its natural biodiversity and much of the national park still has inaccessible forests in its territory.
The popular tourist destination Lava (which is about 105kms from NJP and 34kms from Kalimpong) is located quite close to Neora Valley National Park. The entrance to the park at a village named Kolakham is about 10kms from Lava. It takes over 1 hour to reach Lava from Kalimpong and over 3 hours from NJP (via Kalimpong). From Lava the distance of 10kms to Neora Valley would easily take another 1 hour because of the bad road condition. You should take a jeep type vehicle to negotiate this approach road to Neora.
From NJP, you can also reach Lava via Gorubathan. Take NH-31 towards Sevoke Road, cross Coronation Bridge, go via Odlabari, Damdim, and Gorubathan, then to Lava. Takes about 3 hours to reach Lava.
There is one more route to reach Neora Valley which is via Samsing. This route passes through places in Dooars area like Malbazaar, Chalsa and Metli and then reaches Samsing. This alternative route takes about 3.5 hours to reach Neora Valley and is mostly preferred by the trekkers who plan to camp and trek the area over several days.
You need a permit to enter the park. The permit is available at the forest range office at Lava (and also at Samsing). So if you are staying near the entrance of the park, then you need to come down to Lava early in the morning, take your permit and go back. The whole process of going down to forest office and getting back with the permit can easily take about two & half hours. In summer and spring, they usually start issuing the permits by 6am.
What can you see in & around the park?
Halt at Lava for a while and first make a visit to the Nature Interpretation Center for Neora Valley National Park which is located at Lava. Here you will know about the landscape, flora and fauna of the park. The center is open from 8am – 12noon, 1pm – 4pm (closed on Thursdays). This is a good place to get your understanding of what the park offers.
Note that vehicles can go up to the Zero Point which is about 13kms inside the forest. While this drive through the forest can be a great experience, best is to take a guide and trek through the various trails in the forest, or just go for a stroll. That is the best way you can closely explore the birdlife, colorful butterflies as well as diverse flora and fauna.
Flora: The park has an abundance of Sal trees, Ferns and Bamboo groves. During spring and summer, varieties of colorful Rhododendrons bloom in full. There are some 10 different species of rhododendrons found here and some are about 300years old. The pink, white and red flowers are really a feast to the eye. The wild orchids form a canopy in the forest. Yews, Hemlocks and wild Strawberries also form a part of the forest vegetation.
For complete details about the sanctuary, exact location, kind of animals, birds & reptiles you get to see there, best season to visit, how to book a wildlife package for this sanctuary, how to reach there, which saafri gate to take, also recent sighting details for all popular sanctuaries & tiger reserves, and LOT MORE, download our app – WildTrails India – available both on Android and iOS
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