Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Weather :

Timings : Sunrise to Sunset

Time Required : 3-4 hrs

Entry Fee : Indian Tourists: INR 150,
Indian Students (upon showing ID): INR 75,
Foreign Tourists: INR 650,
Small Vehicle: INR 250,
Medium Vehicle: INR 500,
Heavy Vehicle: INR 800

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Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, Binsar Overview

Located within a distance of 30 kilometres from the Almora town of Uttarakhand, Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is a paradise for the nature lovers and explorers. Nestled amidst the high mountains of the beautiful Kumaon, Binsar is not a town or a village, but entirely a forest region. Established in 1988 mainly to protect the broad-leaved oak trees of Himalayas, it has now become a haven for more than 200 species of birds and almost half as many plants and animals. The best part about Binsar is that every experience is real and as authentic as it gets.

There is a government rest house inside the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary and other private properties where you can stay for the night. Nevertheless, when you visit Binsar, you still get the feeling of stepping into the real wilderness where nature has the last word. You do not get a car or jeep to roam around the forest - it needs to be done on foot. It is an excellent opportunity for the adventure-hearted to be one with nature and take in the beauty and mystic appeal of it all. There are some trekking trails as well, established over the years for the tourism purposes - some easy to walk, others a bit strenuous. However, all of them guarantee a great deal of fun and adventure, that is a given.

Another great attraction of the forest is the majestic panoramic view of the Himalayas, stretching for over 300 kilometres right into our neighbouring country Nepal is a huge attraction of Binsar sanctuary, more than wildlife or anything else.

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Flora and Fauna at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Since the sanctuary was made to protect the broad-leaved oaks, you will see many of those. Other than that, there are a variety of big trees, bushes and grasses like pine, deodar, cedar - all sorts of tropical deciduous and evergreen trees at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. The special flora attraction of this place is the ruby coloured rhododendrons, which bloom once a year during the small period of spring and cover the entire forest with blood red.

Among the fauna, you will find the leopard, musk deer, chital deer, jungle cats, wild boar, black bear, red fox, langur, macaque, flying squirrel, muntjac, serow, goral and a whole lot of species. Antelopes are aplenty, and so are birds. Tits, forktails, blackbirds, woodpeckers, jays, magpies, thrushes, pheasants in many varieties are always flying around in the forest. Butterflies can be spotted as well.

Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary Trekking

Unlike most of the jungle safaris in India, this one has no option for jeeps or elephant rides. You can drive up to the temple or to the forest rest house of KMVN in your private or hired car. However, if you want to explore the forest, the only way to do it is on your feet.

The Zero Point view tower trek is the simple one which anyone staying in the forest rest house can pursue easily. It is a walk of only around 2 kilometres and takes 1 hour 45 minutes to two hours to go and come back. You can hire a guide from the KMVN rest house or from the main gate itself, and he will take you via the trekking route amidst oaks, pines and cedars to the watchtower, also called Zhandi Dhar, from where you can take a look at the mountain ranges all around and the whole forest underneath. If you are lucky enough, you will spot lots of birds as well.

There are other treks available here, like the Mayoulikhan trek for 7 km and the Jageshwar trek for 17 km. In these treks, you will be taken by the guide further deep into the Binsar sanctuary and can see the animals residing in the heart of the jungle. No need to worry, they are not wild or dangerous ones - mountain goats, gorals, chital and musk deer, squirrels are the ones you will mostly see. The occasional leopards or bears stay deeper inside, and it is hard to spot them. There are other treks for bird watching at points down the streams as well. These are held during the early dawn and evening time when the birds are leaving their nests or coming back to it.

Since this is as remote a place as it can get, it is always better to hire a guide to take you along the safest and easiest routes instead of trying it on your own and getting lost or facing any inconvenience. That is why you should hire one either from the guest house or the office at the entrance at Ayarpani. For the smallest route to zero point, the charge is INR 250. Other than that for any half-day trek, it is INR 500, and for full day trek, it is INR 1000.

Things To See and Experience at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Bineshwar Temple
Bineshwar Temple is an old holy place of worship dedicated to Lord Shiva, built inside the Binsar sanctuary. It was constructed in the 16th century by Kalyan Chand of the Chand dynasty who ruled from the 11th to 18th century in the Almora region. The temple stands like a reminiscent of the past in a green clearing amidst the jungle. It is an bonus for the religious-minded tourists to get a pilgrimage site and pay their respect. This place is around 6 km uphill drive from the gate at Ayarpani.

Zero Point View Tower
Once you reach the destination of the first trek, the stunning view from atop the Zero Point view tower will blow your mind. With your naked eyes, you can see the famous snow-clad peaks of Kumaon like Kamet, Nanda Devi, Trishul, Kedarnath, Shivling, Gauri Parbat and many more.

Sunset Point
There is a beautiful spot only 1 km from the rest house, from where you can witness the sunsets at their best. Experience the last rays of sun illuminating the oak and pine leaves all around before settling beyond the horizon. Do not forget to carry a good SLR camera to capture the moment.

Bird Watching
The forest of Binsar Sanctuary is mainly known for its collection of avian wildlife. You can witness with your own eyes the cacophonous groups of birds - both common like pheasants, thrushes and magpies and unconventional like forktails and eagles. There are said to be more than 200 different species here, making their nests in the tall deciduous trees of Binsar. Birds can be seen all over the forest and even from the terrace of the forest rest house. Other than that, there are certain particular spots for more extensive viewing that people enthusiastic about ornithology, avian photography or birds, in general, will enjoy.

Best Time To Visit Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

During the spring-early summer months, the rhododendrons are in full bloom. So, the best time to visit the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is either from March to April. The autumn-early winter months are ideal as well if you want to enjoy the first chills of the air and a guaranteed clear visibility of the mountain ranges.

Stay Near Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

The ideal place to stay inside the sanctuary is the KMVN forest rest house. The package costs around INR 3100 without tax and consists of breakfast and dinner and lunch is available on demand and payment if ordered before 2:30 PM. There are certain limitations because of its locations, like the supply of electricity being restricted to only three hours from 6:00 PM to 9:-- PM or a ban on non-vegetarian food or liquor, but the wonderful watch deck looking over the entire Binsar valley makes up for it. The establishment being a government one, you can book your trek guides from here only. The location of this rest house is near to the mountain viewing Zero Point.

Other than this, the other options are Mountain Resort Khali Estate, Mary Budden Estate, The Binsar Retreat and Grand Oak Manor owned by the Shah's of Almora.

Tips For Visiting Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

1. Carry water and small food items while trekking. Do not expect to find shops inside the dense jungle.
2. Book your guide at the rest house or the entrance gate the evening before.
3. Carry your national citizenship ID. They might be asked for at the gate. Students should carry their school, college or university ID also to get the student concession.
4. Carry warmer, full sleeved clothes even during summer. In winter, carry the best warm clothes you have got - the temperature falls below 0 degree Celsius, and there might be snowfall.
5. Carry all the essentials like medicines, emergency supplies, dry food and everything necessary if you have kids with you. Finding anything at a moment's notice will be hard.
6. The place is open from sunrise to sunset. There are no limited hours. However, since it is a forest area, the officials are not there at the gate while it is dark. So, try to get there while there is still sunlight. 

How To Reach Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

The checkpoint and the entry gate at Ayarpani on the south-eastern edge and the road that follows up to the forest rest house is around 25-30 kilometres from Almora, which is the nearest big town to Binsar forest. There is hardly any public transport even on the main road. Your best option is to hire a car and travel right up to where you are staying in Binsar. Remember you have to pay fees for your vehicle at the gate. The nearest rail station is at Kathgodaam.

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