Home to arguably the world’s richest cultural landscape, India is of course also famous for its rich avifauna and iconic mammalian megafauna, foremost of which is the regal Bengal Tiger. This safari visits two famous tiger reserves: Kanha & Bandhavgarh National Parks, where the BBC recently filmed their dynasty series, as well as the holy city of Varanasi - the centre of Hindu culture. Our focus will be on tigers and Indian wildlife along with colourful people and streets of both Delhi and Varanasi.
24 March - 05 APRIL 2020
Delhi: the Old & New City
The Holy City of Varanasi, the Ganges by boat
Bandhavgarh National Park - Tiger Reserve
Kanha National Park - Tiger Reserve
Day 1 Arrive in Delhi [24 March]
Day 2, Delhi
Day 3, 4 Varanasi, the Holy City
Day 6 - 9 Bandhavgarh NP
Day 10 - 12 Kanha NP
Day 13 Delhi to depart [08 April]
Delhi 2 nts
24 & 25 Mar
On your arrival at the international airport in Delhi and after clearing customs & immigration, our representative will receive and escort you to your hotel.
Delhi, the capital of India, is a city that offers a glimpse of both ancient and modern day India. It is the third largest city in India and one of the fastest growing in Asia. This city is rich in culture, always changing with time but never hiding its splendid past. The various ancient ruins seen in the city are silent witnesses to its magnificent history.
Old Delhi pulses with the energy and color, the hustle and bustle of thronged bazaars and is laced by a maze of narrow lanes which twist and turn between tall, leaning houses full of the sights, sounds and aromas of the Indian subcontinent.
You will visit Jama Masjid with its tapering minarets and wonderful marble domes. In Old Delhi you will also have an opportunity to enjoy rickshaw ride.
In Old Delhi you will also have an opportunity to enjoy rickshaw ride.
Rickshaw Ride: A ride in the old city market laid by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, would give you an experience of life time. Pass through the colourful shops of bustling ChandaniChowk, one of the largest wholesale markets in Asia also an important landmark in the history of India. If you feel up to it take a short walk in the market and explore another facet of Indian life.
Afternoon enjoy sightseeing tour of New Delhi.
New Delhi offers more historical sites than the Old Delhi. The city founded by the imperial British government founded in 1911 to move their capital from Kolkata (called Calcutta earlier)
The sight-seeing tour of New Delhi would include a visit to Humayun’s Tomb, a drive along the ceremonial avenue - Rajpath, past the imposing India Gate, Parliament House and the President's Residence and would end with a drive through the Diplomatic Enclave.
Varanasi 2 nts
26 & 27 Mar
River view room
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board flight to Varanasi.
AI – 406 (Air India) Delhi/Varanasi 1015/1135 hrs
On arrival at Varanasi airport, our representative will meet you and transfer to the hotel.
Varanasi, known to the devout as Kashi, is said to have been founded by Shiva, Lord of the Universe. One of the oldest living cities in the world, as also one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India, Varanasi is a major tourist attraction. Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges, the city has been a center of learning and civilization for over 2000 years.
Evening visit Dashaswamedh Ghat for glittering “aarti” ceremony of the holy river Ganges. Huge lamps are set ablaze and the priest holds forth the lamp as the multitude chants the hymns. We will be driven to a place called Beniabagh and from there walk to Dashaswamedh Ghat amidst the crowded local market famous for spices, local shops, cloths and daily vendors selling fruits, pickles, vegetables etc on hand-pulled carts.
Sunrise boat ride on River Ganges to see people praying and bathing and to witness burning ghat, later a walk through the mystical landscape of poets, sacred temples, holy ponds near Assighat, the southernmost embankment of the holy Ganga river, walk in the footsteps of 16th century Banaras poet and mystic Pandit Goswami Tulsidas, translator of the sacred Ramanyana text, you will hear about the history and special culture of Varanasi while visiting the Southern temple established by Tulsidas! The walk ends with a special darshan, meaning 'taking sight' of a hidden sun temple behind his home
Visit the small alleys surrounding the Ghat for photography. Evening visit to the Ganges for glittering evening Aarti (prayer) ceremony
Panna 1 nt
Serai at Toria
After breakfast transfer to Varanasi airport to board flight to Khajuraho.
AI – 406 (Air India) Varanasi/Khajuraho 1210/1440 hrs
(Flights operates only on Monday, Wednesday & Saturday)
Upon arrival at Khajuraho airport, transfer to hotel.
Meet upon arrival and visit the magnificent Jain and Hindu temples and intricate stone sculptures. Known as the erotic temples, the craftsmanship exhibits images of gods and goddesses, celestial maidens and dancers, animals and musicians, all frozen in stone, many in the act of courtship. Khajuraho is a UNESCO World Heritage Site to preserve this collective glorification of life, love, and joy, and reflect the spirit of creativity and human relationships of the Chandela period (9th & 10th century CE). The Eastern group of temples include the Parasvanath Temple - the only Jain Temple surviving at Khajuraho with excellent sculptures on the outer walls of the Sanctum, the Javeri Temple dedicated to Vishnu, and other temples dedicated to Brahma, the Goddess Kali, the Visha Temple of Shiva, and the Bharatji Temple with a lovely image of 11 headed Vishnu.
After sightseeing, continue drive to Panna. Upon arrival, Check in at Serai at Toria.
Sarai (or Serai) is an ancient Persian term for a roadside inn or caravanserai - Toria is the nearby village. The luxurious Sarai at Toria plays a positive role in the economic and social development of the local area; it also exists as a base for conservation activities and for wildlife and climate change research.
Your host, Dr Raghu Chundawat, is a conservation biologist immortalized in the BBC documentary "Tigers of the Emerald Forest", while his wife Joanna Van Gruisen is an accomplished photographer, writer, and conservationist. Both will join us for dinner at Sarai at Toria & discuss on conservation. (Subject to their availability).
Bandhavgarh National Park 4 nts
29 Mar - 01 Apr
Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge
From Panna it is a half day drive to Bandavgarh, Upon arrival, check in to Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge. Since we have had a travel day, we will take it easy in the evening and whoever wishes to go on a nature walk, will be accompanied by a naturalist.
Bandhavgarh National Park: Set amongst The Vindhya Hills in Madhya Pradesh, consists of 168 sq miles of Sal and a mixed forest of bamboo, grassland, and a complex of deciduous forests. There are at least 150 species of birds in the park, along with other mammals such as Tigers, Sloth Bear, Langur Monkeys, Wild Boar, Mongoose, 3 Kinds of deer - Chital, Sambar and Barking, to name a few.
Bandhavgarh has been the backdrop of numerous wildlife documentaries where legendary Tigresses have raised over 20 cubs to adulthood. Sita, was one of these star tigresses. Bandhavgarh boasts one of the highest density of Tigers anywhere in the world, in a beautiful setting which are set amongst Vindhya Hills.
Early morning wake-up call with a knock on your room door and Tea/Coffee. You are likely to find misty mornings and sounds of birds calling, which will make an exciting start to your day. As soon as dawn breaks, leave for your Jungle Safari, accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest park guides in 4x 4 Jeeps.
In the winter months morning safaris require warm clothes and woolen caps and gloves to keep you warm from the wind chill factor in your open jeep. The lodges provide blankets and sometimes even a hot water bottle to keep you comfortable.
Lunch back at the lodge is followed by an afternoon safari by 4x4 jeep accompanied by resident naturalist and forest guide.
Kanha National Park 3 nts
02 - 04 Apr
Kanha Jungle Lodge
After morning Jungle Safari, drive to Kanha (250 kms, 6 hr drive).
Our drive takes us through rural countryside & colorful town & villages and stop in the sleepy town of Mandla (sacred city for Gond tribes) where the Narmada River, second holiest to the Ganges, is the center of activity. En-route we enjoy a picnic lunch & arrive Kanha late afternoon.
Kanha National Park has vistas of grassy plains and strands of sal forest. This 366 sq mile preserve was set to save two endangered species i.e. Tiger and The Barasingha. One of the largest and most scenic National Parks in India, Kanha is an Ideal habitat for both tigers and their prey, the lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha shelter a significant population of rare species such as tiger, leopard, sloth bear, Barasingha, wild dog to name a few. Kanha'ʹs mixed forests are interspersed with vast meadows known as maidens. Perennial streams run through a number of such meadows, providing a source of water for the wildlife even in the hot summers. Kanha is particularly well known for its endangered swamp deer, or hard water barasingha, which populate the large open tracks of grass amidst the forests of teak and bamboo. Brought back from the brink of extinction, these handsome animals are a remarkable conservation success story for Kanha.
Sal trees and open grasslands dominate the lowlands of Kanha. These grasslands or also known as maidan, are results of once relocated villages under Project Tiger. This was a countrywide project launched in 1971 to protect the Tigers and its habitat. One of its initiatives was to control man-animal conflict by moving villages from core areas into the buffer, so that corridors can be linked once again.
We will be staying with a family whose heritage dates back 3 generations in Tiger Conservation. Kailash Sankhala, was the founder-director of Project Tiger, under which the inceptions of the Project Tiger Reserves in India took place. Their Grandchildren run and manage Kanha Jungle Lodge and Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge.
Delhi - depart [or 1 nt]
Radisson Blu [dayroom or overnight]
After breakfast, drive to Raipur airport to board flight to Delhi.
6E 2204 (Indigo Airlines) Raipur/Delhi 1450/1645 hrs
Upon arrival in Delhi, transfer to hotel or airport.
Stay overnight at Delhi if flying the following day.
What YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Regional flights at current rates
Accommodation on twin sharing full board at hotels mentioned above or in similar category. All hotels cost are based on their base category (standard room) unless otherwise specified with check in time is 1400 hrs and check out time being 1200
Services of Air Conditioned Tempo Traveler for (up to 4 paying pax) and Mini coach (up to 07 paying pax) for all transfers, drives and sightseeing except for transfers between Jabalpur – Bandhavgarh, Bandhavgarh-Kanha, Kanha – Pench, Pench –Nagpur where we will provide Air Conditioned Toyota Innova (max 3 paying pax per vehicle) for smoother and faster driving experience on narrow country side road.
All meals with combination of packed lunch / hot lunches to be served as required depending upon feasibility.
Services of English Speaking resident naturalist services at Bandhavgarh, Kanha National Park.
Jeep Safaris at Bandhavgarh, Kanha National Park inclusive of entry fee to park.
Packaged drinking water will be made available during all transfers, sightseeing and drives. It will also be provided at lodges and during safaris in Bandhavgarh, Kanha National Park.
Assistance at airport station and at all major city hotels at the time of check in/out
Mandatory Government Service Tax.
Gratuities or tips
VEHICLES & NUMBERS:
The safari time is costed on us being in two safari jeeps, either 2 or 3 people per vehicle - depending how many of us are on the trip.
Visas are generally required for India, please read the government website and apply online
Please read the CDC and UK government recommendations for medical requirements and recommendations into India
Aircraft flight limits are 20kg check-in and hand luggage
Madhya Pradesh has a subtropical climate with a hot dry summer (April–June), followed by monsoon rains (July–September) and a cool and relatively dry winter. The average rainfall is about 1,371 mm (54.0 in). The southeastern districts have the heaviest rainfall, some places receiving as much as 2,150 mm (84.6 in), while the western and northwestern districts receive 1,000 mm (39.4 in) or less.