Avijit (Avi) Sarkhel

Avi was born in eastern India in Kolkata but soon after he moved to the beautiful state of Meghalaya in the eastern Himalayas for four years. His interest in nature and all things natural was ingrained in his mind in this time. Meghalaya, with pristine forests and beautiful scenics was a perfect introduction to nature. After that he lived for 8 years in North-eastern India in Tripura and Assam before moving back to Kolkata in 1985. His deep interests in the eastern Himalayas was cemented in these years.

After completing college he did short stints in Radio and television and then joined a small travel company as a naturalist. His travels took him to the coastal areas of Orissa in south-eastern India where he went looking for the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, Saltwater Crocodiles and other wildlife. In 1998 he took up a post in Kanha at a lodge where he worked as a naturalist till 2001 taking international guests to look for tigers and other wildlife and birds.

In 2002 he returned to the north-eastern hills spending a year in the Darjeeling hills as part of a tea-tourism initiative as a manager and naturalist. In 2003 he moved to Delhi and started designing and leading tours for a number of international companies.

In July 2016 he started Vana Safaris – where he continues to design and lead tours. He is a keen wildlife lover, birder and also has a deep passion for remote tribal cultures. Through his work at Vana Safaris Avi meets both wildlife and cultural travelers to India and he enjoys showing them all that India has to offer.

While he has a broad interest he is a bit partial to cats. Avi has been trying to complete sighting all of the 15 cats in India, he has managed to see 13 of them and is waiting for the remaining two (Eurasian Lynx and the Pallas’ Cat) to complete the set.

He has been working with Sicklebill Safaris as a guide and ground agent in India since 2014.