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Keibul Lamjao GuideMats of dense aquatic grass in Loktak Lake create the appearance of a floating park in India’s Keibul Lamjao National Park. The 25 square-mile park, located about six miles from the Moriang Bazar in the Bishnupur district of Manipur, has a variety of different ecosystems. Sangai, a species of brown-antler deer, live among the almost five-foot-thick phumdis, or floating vegetation islands, and green forest. They use the Pabot, Toya and Chingiao hills within the park as shelter from dangerous monsoons during the summer months. In 1951, the Sangai were labelled as extinct; in 1975, though, 14 deer were found within the national park. Two years later, in 1977, the area was declared a sanctuary for the deer.

Sangai DeerWhen to go: The best time to visit is from October to April, when the weather is temperate. You should plan to go early in the morning or later in the afternoon to see wildlife. You’ll want to avoid visiting during monsoon season, though, from June to September.Keibul LamjaoWhat to do: Head into the Keilam Hills of Churachandpur district and try to spot a clouded leopard or marbled cat – both rare species that live in the park. Take a boat through the wetlands and learn about the area’s ecosystem. You can also journey to the southern shore of Loktak Lake, the largest body of fresh water in Eastern India, for breathtaking views the landscape and wildlife. Make sure you bring the proper gear if you plan on traveling across the phumdi – rubber boots are a necessity for this trek.

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