India: Tigers & the Taj Mahal [15th February – 1st March 2019]
This is a safari through the heartland of wild India, involving both indulgence & excitement. The focus of the tour will be to observe the majestic tiger in some of the best wild habitats of India. The prime attraction is the combination of tigers and the iconic Taj Mahal, as well as avian delights.
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Difficulty Level Fairly Easy
Group Size Small Group
This is a safari through the heartland of wild India, involving both indulgence & excitement. The focus of the tour will be to observe the majestic tiger & some more mammals and a good selection of birds in some of the best wild habitats of India. The prime attraction is the combination of the tiger and the iconic Taj Mahal, as well as the avian delights. The tour is 0f a leisurely pace, offering the traveler relaxed and enjoyable sightings without rushing through it. The food is excellent, with light lunches and extensive dinners, with a wide selection to choose from. The colours and spectacle of India plus the birds, mammals and people, make this a wonderful tour to experience.
2019 Travel Dates:
15th February – 1st March 2019
2019 Single supplement:
- Meals as per itinerary
- Accommodation as per itinerary
- Guide services of tour leader
- Group tips & gratuities
- Transfers once tour has started
- Travel insurance and other emergencies
- Visa fees and entry clearing fees
- Flights (Domestic & International)
- Items of a personal nature
Arrival day. On arrival a representative with a driver and car meets us and take us to our hotel. If time permits, there will be a privately guided tour of Delhi visiting the Humayun’s Tomb and the Qutub Minar – two wonderful monuments, one from the 16th century and the later from the 10th century. If time permits a visit to an open art gallery which showcases the rural and folk crafts of different parts of India before heading back to the hotel. We hope to see birds like the Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, House Sparrow, Red-vented Bulbul, Rose-ringed and Alexandrine Parakeet, Brown Rock Chat, Large Grey Babbler and Indian Jungle Babbler etc during this time. If we are lucky we may also see the Spotted Owlet today.
Raipur & Kanha National Park
After an early breakfast we will head to the airport and take the flight to Raipur. On arrival at Raipur airport, we will be driven to Kanha National Park, a journey of 250 kilometres which will take approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes. On arrival at Kanha – check in at the lodge.
Kanha is a beautiful and large national park where tigers rub shoulders with leopards, dhole (wild dogs), sloth bears and many herbivores. The park is divided in four zones and the area that we will be covering will be spread out in these zones.
Days 3 - 5
Safaris during this time will be in 4X4 open jeeps with a forest guide and a trained driver (who is conversant with the forests and the wildlife) and in some cases with a lodge naturalist. Morning drives in most places are from 0545 hours till 1030-1130 hours, with packed cold breakfast and hot and cold beverages. Afternoon drives are from 1400-1730/1800 hours in the same cars. Lodges mostly provide blankets in case it is cold-but it is advised to carry a water-proof, a scarf for the dust, a dust proof bag for the camera and other optics, a warm fleece, a pair of gloves and a hat. Normally in the winters one de-layers pretty quick but the first two hours can be very cold. The forest department allocates a zone and a route in most places, and one has to stick to that.
The forest has some basic comfort/convenience stops within the forests and one can use them while on safari – do note that off-roading is not allowed anywhere in a national park or sanctuary within India.
Morning safari & flight to Delhi
After a morning safari – we will head back to Raipur and take a flight back to Delhi. On arrival at New Delhi airport transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay.
After a relaxed breakfast – we will be drive to Agra (which will take approximately 4 hours 30 minutes) – the drive is via an expressway that allows us to see the changing face of the suburbs of Delhi,along with a few birds and even mammals like Nilghai (Bluebulls), Small Indian Mongoose etc. On arrival at Agra we will enjoy a sit down lunch at the Trident Agra, and after that we will be taken out for a privately guided tour of the magnificent Agra Fort – from where we will see the Taj for the first time. After the tour of the Fort there will be an opportunity to enjoy a spot of retail therapy looking at finely crafted marble inlay work that is locally done in Agra. The evening is at leisure – dinner at the hotel.
Taj Mahal & Ranthambhor National Park
Early today enjoy a view of the Taj Mahal by sunrise with a privately guided tour of the monument. After this – return to our hotel for breakfast. Post breakfast, we will head to the railway station at Mathura (45 minutes drive) to board our air-conditioned sleeper rail coach to Sawaimadhopur. On arrival at the station – we will head to Ranthambhor National Park (approx. 30 minutes travel time). On arrival – we will enjoy a nice sit down lunch and in a short while before re-grouping and leaving for our first safari to the park.
Ranthambhor is a rugged beautiful park nestled in the folds of the Aravalli chain of hills in northwestern India. The park is home to about 55 – 65 tigers that roam free with a good population of herbivores and a no of other carnivores like the Asiatic Leopard, Jungle Cat, Bengal Fox, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar etc. The bird-life is excellent though by summer the migrants (warblers and some of the flycatchers) have left but it is still a wonderful park for birding. Ranthambhor is also interesting because there are a number of mammals in the outskirts of the park that can be explored in the evenings – during our stay at least once we will be taken outside the park instead of the safari inside to look for species like Bengal Fox, White-footed Fox, Indian Grey Wolf and Striped Hyena. The lodge that we will be staying in also has some wild mammals that visit the lodge – Indian Porcupine, Pale Hedgehog and Indian Flying Fox are expected to be sighted inside the lodge.
Day 9 - 11
Enjoy morning and afternoon safaris to the national park – safaris will be in open 4-wheel petrol driven trucks. The park manages tourism judiciously with pre-allocated routes that one needs to follow and which overall work well for everyone. We will be taken through this with a private guide.
Morning Safari, Jaipur & Amer Fort
After our morning safari – we will be driven to Jaipur (4 hours drive). On arrival at Jaipur, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then a privately guided tour of the Amer Fort. As the tour ends, if it is not yet dark – we will be driven up to the Nahargarh Fort from where we will enjoy a view of the Jaipur city below. This area has a small population of mammals and some birds and on the drive down we may come across a Common Palm Civet or a Black-naped Hare. On arrival at the hotel – check in for overnight stay. Dinner will be at the hotel.
City tour & New Delhi
After a relaxed breakfast, we will be driven out for a tour of Jaipur city – we will see the observatory, the City Palace and the Palace of Winds – a façade that stalled the advancing enemy some centuries back. Jaipur is very well known for its gems and jewels and we will definitely get a chance to go shopping in the town, and after this we will be driven back to New Delhi (approx. a 4 hours drive). On arrival – check in at the airport hotel inside the international terminus.
Transfer to airport for our connecting flights home.
Accommodation is in comfortable western style hotels except at Kanha National Park were we will be staying in Luxury air-cooled tents.
This is not a difficult tour. Walking will be done at a leisurely pace and a lot of the wildlife watching will be done from the comfort of the vehicle.