This adventure takes us deep in to the heart of India, discovering magnificent wildlife and scenery in four different national parks which all have one thing in common: Bengal tigers. The different park environments are also perfect for seeing other endemic wildlife including sloth bear, sambar deer and crocodile. Satpura National Park- Venture out by boat, four-wheel drive and on foot in search of sloth bear, leopard and crocodile Kanha National Park- Chital, Sambar and Neelgai are often spotted Pench Tiger Reserve- The inspiration for Kipling's Jungle Book, as well as a healthy population of tigers, it is home to Chital, wild boar and jackal. Tadoba Andhari National Park- Go off the beaten path to a rarely visited park and tiger reserve
Arrive in New Delhi, India's bustling capital which successfully combines the ancient with the modern. Amidst the tall and modern skyscrapers, there are still the remnants of a bygone time with numerous monuments and temples. For those arriving on time today our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 1.30pm for the welcome meeting and to take us on our afternoon city tour which will visit Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India and Humayun's Tomb dating from the Mughal Dynasty. We also drive past the imposing India Gate (war memorial arch), the Parliament buildings and the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President's residence. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport (airport code DEL), which is 18km, around 40 minutes from our hotel. Please note that if you wish to join the city tour today, you must arrive at the hotel by 1.30pm. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself at least one hour to clear the airport. From the airport to the hotel is around 45 minutes drive, so therefore the latest your flight can arrive is 12.00pm. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
This morning we will take a tour of fascinatingly chaotic Old Delhi. Compared to New Delhi it is much closer to the image conjured up by Rudyard Kipling. We will discover Old Delhi by metro and on foot, culminating with a jamboree of deafening barter at Chandni Chowk Bazaar. A short cycle rickshaw ride then takes us to the Jama Masjid mosque. In the evening we will fly to Bhopal in central India and check in to our hotel.
After breakfast we leave Bhopal and make our way to Bhojpur, famous for the incomplete Bhojesvar temple dedicated to Shiva. The temple consists of the inner sanctum which houses one of the largest lingas (a phallic symbol that represents the god Shiva) in India, crafted from a single rock. It is topped with an elegant dome supported by massive pillars as the outer walls and superstructure of the temple were never built. We continue on our journey, stopping to visit the Stone Age Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, named after the mythological hero Bhima. The shelters are the site of the earliest traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent, and mark the beginning of the South Asian Stone Age. At least some of the shelters were inhabited by Homo Erectus more than 100,000 years ago and the oldest rock paintings are around 30,000 years old. A short drives brings us in to Satpura National Park, our base for the next two days.
Today we begin our search for wildlife with a visit to Satpura National Park with its rugged hills, sandstone peaks and deep gorges. The park is visited less than many in India and gives us a real sense of being out in the wilderness. We'll take a jeep safari in the morning seeking Bengal tigers, Sloth bears, Leopards and Malabar giant squirrels, amongst the many types of deer that inhabit the park. In the afternoon we will go on a guided walk in the park's buffer zone. Being on foot offers us the chance to take in the smaller residents of the park, from butterflies to ants, and gives us time to stop and smell wildflowers or appreciate the knarly trees of the native sal and teak forests.
This morning we head out by boat on Tewa Lake which has some delightful coves and bays. We glide silently along the lake, scanning the shore for leopards and the large Mugger crocodiles that bask alongside the lake. In the afternoon we take to jeeps and head in to the park in the hope of spotting a Bengal tiger, leopard or perhaps a pack of wild dogs.
Today we leave Satpura and make our way to Kanha National park. The drive will take us most of the day but there will be plenty of opportunities along the way to stretch our legs.
Kanha is one of India's larger parks and offers a very high chance of spotting tigers and their favourite prey, Chital and Sambar deer -The park is very different to Satpura, consisting of open grassland areas, meadows, bamboo forests and some hills covered with tropical forests. We take jeep safaris both in the early morning and late afternoon - the best times for seeing wildlife. While we hope to spot tigers many other species can be spotted including gaur, barking deer, sloth bear, jackal, macaques, mongoose and leopard.
After a final early morning safari in Kanha we drive to Pench National Park. The drive will take us approximately five hours, depending on the road conditions, but we will take plenty of opportunities to stop along the way.
Named after the River Pench which flows through the park, this beautiful area is generally considered to be the inspiration and setting for Kipling's 'Jungle Book'. Although Kipling himself never actually visited the area, he was an avid reader of the works of the British explorers that did. The park's teak forests have an unusually high density of wildlife including a good number of tigers and wild dogs known as Dholes. Pench sees quite a low number of visitors and offers a very good chance of spotting tigers.
We take one last early morning jeep safari in Pench National Park before we move on to Tadoba National Park. Again the drive between national parks is approximately five hours. On arrival in Tadoba we are free to relax ready for an early start in the morning ready to explore the park.
Tadoba is off the beaten track for most visitors to India, yet it is well worth visiting as tigers, honey badgers and leopards all thrive in the park. Predominantly teak and bamboo forest with a large lake lying to the south west, the park's densely forested hills are interspersed with meadows which are the favourite hunting grounds of the park's tiger population. We take an early morning jeep safari and a second afternoon safari to increase our chances of spotting the park's famous inhabitants.
We head out early morning for our final safari in Tadoba before driving to Nagpur, approximately three hours away, where we board a flight to Mumbai. We arrive into Mumbai late in the evening and check in to our hotel.
This morning we experience the vibrant, bustling and chaotic city of Mumbai. We'll explore the narrow alleys and ramshackle houses of the Dharavi slums, a thriving community made famous by the film 'Slumdog Millionaire' and the Mahatma Gandhi Museum where we'll discover fascinating remnants from the great man's life. We'll also visit the eerie Towers of Silence where the Parsis laid out their dead for birds to dispose of, thereby returning them to nature in line with their Zoroastrian belief, and the Dhobi Ghats, the world's largest outdoor laundry where clothes are cleaned by beating them on a huge stone. Finally we'll see the impressive Prince of Wales Museum which will take us through the natural and archeological history of India, and the nearby Gateway of India arch, built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary's visit in 1911 but not completed until 1924, and famously the exit point for the final British troops from the sub-continent after independence. Our trip ends in the early evening in the hotel in Mumbai after our city tour where we have a day room arranged for a shower and freshen up before your flight. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer, you need to depart from Mumbai's Sahar International Airport (airport code BOM), which is around 15 minutes from the hotel.
12 Break Fast(s) 3 Lunch(es) 9 Dinner(s)
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