||Vansda National Park
The 24 square km national park lies east of Navsari district in South Gujarat. It forms a continuous tract with both the forests of Valsad district to the south and the forests of Dangs to the east. The park is managed by the South Dangs Forest Division. It used to belong to the King of Vansda until he gave it to the state. It was declared as a protected area in April 1979.
The best time to visit is from the post-monsoon season to winter, when the forest is lush and the streams are full. Ahwa is 28 km away, Saputara is 60 km away. Waghai, the nearest town, is 4 km away.
The terrain here is flat in parts and undulating in others, and it is drained by the river Ambika into the sea near Navsari. The area that surrounds the park marks the northern and western limits of the Western Ghats, also known as the Sahyadris.
The area receives 2,000 mm of average rainfall a year, which keeps the forest lush. Parts of it are so dense that they are dark even during the day. The thick canopy is most easily recognisable by its tall teak and bamboo, with some trees reaching a height of 120 ft. Just southeast of the centre of the park there are also the Bharadi grasslands. Vansda Park cradles 450 species of plants, and including the bamboo and teak; 443 species of these are flowering plants, such as adad, dudhkod, khakhro, timru, haldu, chopadi, bondaro, shimlo, and ambla. The north-eastern side of the park where the Ambika winds its way through is home to many varieties of orchids.
Vansda lost the tiger, wild dog, otter, sambar, and sloth bear, but is still home to a diversity of mammals, including the leopard, hyena, chital, chausinga, jungle cat, common palm civet, small Indian civet, mongoose, macaque, rhesus macaque, barking deer, wild boar, hanuman langur, Indian porcupine, flying squirrel, Indian flying fox, pangolin, rusty-spotted cats, as well as the endangered great Indian squirrel.
There is also an abundance of pythons and 30 other species of snakes, including venomous ones like Russel's viper, cobras, and kraits. Along with a variety of insects, centipedes, millipedes, and snails, there are 121 species of spiders, including the largest in Gujarat, the giant wood spider. There are about 11 types of frogs and toads to keep the snakes well-fed.
The main draw of Vansda is for bird-watchers. There are 115 species of birds, including the racket-tailed drongo, paradise flycatcher, pompadour pigeon, grey hornbill, jungle babbler, yellow back sunbird, leaf birds, thrushes, peafowl, as well as the globally threatened forest spotted owlet, and birds found only in the Western Ghats, like the Indian great black woodpecker, Malabar trogon, shama, emerald dove.
There are various Adivasi settlements in Vansda from the Dangi tribes, which are made up of the Bhils, Kunbi, Warli, Chowdry, Gamit, Bhoi, and Kukna.
By Road: The park lies close to National Highway 8 and is bisected by the Waghai-Vansda State Highway. The nearest town is Waghai, 4 km away. It is 28 km from Ahwa, 40 km from Billimora, and 60 km from Saputara. The area is easiest explored with a private vehicle, but public transport is available, though less convenient. There are buses from Surat, Billimora, and Valsad to Vansda village, and from there you can hire a jeep to the park.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is Waghai.
By Air: The nearest airport is in Surat, 120 km away.