Wild Discovery - Land of the Tiger

An expedition through central India’s wilderness, including three of the best National Parks (NP) in India and also visits to Taj Mahal and Havelis of Jaipur

Duration : 16 days
Focus : Wildlife, Culture, Art and History
Route at a Glance: Mumbai – Nagpur – Pench N P – Kanha NP – Bandhavgarh NP – Agra – Jaipur – Mumbai

Day 1: Leave your country

Day 2: Arrive Mumbai
Assistance on arrival and transfer to pre-booked hotel; morning free to relax. In the afternoon a visit to Elephanta Caves by speedboat. Overnight in hotel.

Day 3: Mumbai / Nagpur / Pench National Park
After breakfast transfer to airport for flight to Nagpur. Arrive at Nagpur and drive about 2hr / 95km to Pench National Park. Check-in and after lunch game viewing in open jeep/s.
This scenic reserve covered in prime teak forest and grassland nestles in the undulating terrain of the Satpura Range, drained by the Pench and Wainganga rivers. The wildlife found here includes Gaur, Sambar, Chital, Barking Deer, Nilgai, Chowsingha, Wild Boar, Jackal, Wild Dog, Wolf, Hyena, Sloth Bear, Jungle Cat, Leopard and the Royal Bengal Tiger apart from exciting small mammals like Flying Squirrel, Palm and Small Civet, Common and Ruddy mongoose and over 250 species of birds that include Malabar Pied Hornbill, Painted Stork, Crested Serpent Eagle, Oriental Honey Buzzard and White-eyed Buzzard to name just a few.

Day 4: Pench National Park
Morning and evening jeep safari: day free to relax or walks to see birds in buffer zone of the park. All meals and overnight in resort.

Day 5: Pench to Kanha National Park
After breakfast a lovely drive through dense forest, cultivated fields and villages to Kanha National Park. Lunch en route, dinner and overnight in resort.

Day 06 & 07: Explore Kanha National Park
Over the next two days we unravel the jungle mysteries of one of the greatest wildlife havens on our planet, either in jeeps or on elephants, and track game in the great forests of sal that have given birth to many jungle adventures, especially the much loved English classic by Rudyard Kipling – The Jungle Book. Kipling based his tale on the wildlife of Kanha in the late 19th century and thus Kanha is also known as ‘Kipling Country’.

Romanticised by Kipling, Kanha National Park is among the most spectacular, protected wildlife reserves of the world. The 1,945 sq. km National Park has been compared to N’Gorongoro National Park of Tanzania. However like its African cousin, Kanha is not a volcanic crater though the surrounding hills are a result of geographically ancient volcanic activity. Above all Kanha is far greener and more densely wooded than N’Gorongoro.

The grassy plateaux, wooded hills and valleys of Kanha are home to the legendary Sher Khan the Tiger, the loveable Baloo the Bear, the wise Bagheera the Panther and dreaded Kaa the Rock Python. An important inhabitant of the Park is the Gaur, the largest wild ox in the world (sometimes wrongly referred to as the bison, which it is not). Besides them several great and small mammals, reptiles and birds inhabit the Park.

The more-than-300-species birdlist offers profitable occupation to keen birdwatchers. Black-shouldered Kite, Crested Serpent Eagle, White-eyed Buzzard, Shikra, Painted Francolin, Indian Roller, Red-wattled Lapwing, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Black-headed Oriole, and several others such as mynas, bush chats, kingfishers, treepies, falcons, owls, vultures etc. will provide unlimited hours of pleasure to those who choose to seek them. Overnight in a jungle lodge.

Day 8: Delightful drive of about 7hrs to Bandhavgarh
Today we bid adieu to the wonderland called Kanha and set out towards another green jewel of India – Bandhavgarh National Park.

Day 9 &10 Explore Bandhavgarh National Park
Over the next two days we shall explore the jungle in jeeps or on elephants.

Bandhavgarh’s claim to international fame is the discovery of white tigers by the Maharaja of the princely state of Rewa, in 1951. Unfortunately white tigers are not found in the wild state anymore and survive only in the various zoos around the world. The progeny of the white tigers captured by the Maharaja can be seen at the National Zoological Garden in New Delhi.

The Park covers an area of around 437 sq. km and although it is a relatively new National Park, it has a very long history. Historically this area has been a centre of human activity and settlement for over 2000 years. According to legend, Lord Rama (hero of the epic Ramayana) stopped at Bandhavgarh on his way back to Ayodhya, his homeland, after defeating the demon-king Ravana of Lanka. At one time around 10th-14th century AD, this region was ruled by the Chandela dynasty, which built the famous temples of Khajuraho.

The animal life in the Park is prolific: Nilgai, Chowsingha, Chinkara, Wild Boar, Jackal, Fox, Porcupine, Ratel and three species of deer are found in the Park along with the Leopard and the Tiger. The best way to look out for game is on elephant-back.

Birds of Bandhavgarh include hornbills, leafbirds, woodshrikes, drongos, fantails, bee-eaters, parakeets and pigeons, to name a few. As the Park is relatively new a checklist of 150 species has been drawn up, so there is ample scope for discovery and adding more to the existing list. Some of the rare birds recorded here are the White-bellied Drongo, White-browed Fantail, Steppe Eagle, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Malabar Hornbill, Racket-tailed Drongo and the Paradise Flycatcher.

One of the main attractions in the Park, besides the wildlife is the Fort of Bandhavgarh, atop a plateau, overlooking the National Park and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

Day 11: Drive to Umaria to board train to Agra
After morning safari we must pack our bags and get ready for journey in to the history. In the afternoon after bidding good-bye to jungle folk of Bandhavgarh we drive to Umaria to board overnight train (Dep: 2025 Hours) to Agra.

Day 12: Arrive Agra
Arrive in Agra early in the morning at 0630hrs: assistance on arrival and transfer to the hotel, morning free and afternoon visit to the Taj Mahal. Described as the most extravagant monument ever built in memory of love, the Taj Mahal is known the world over. Empress Mumtaz’s death, in 1629, left Shahjahan heartbroken. In memory of his beloved Queen he began construction of a building, which according to him was to be the most magnificent structure ever built. In 1631 construction of the tomb began, which took 22 years to complete and its glory has fulfilled the wishes of the Mughal ‘Shahenshah’ (emperor).

Situated on the banks of river Jamuna the Agra Fort is an awesome reminder of the glory of Mughal dynasty. Emperor Akbar began construction of the massive fort in 1565, and additions were made to the complex until the time of his grandson, Shahjahan. There are many interesting buildings within the impregnable walls, which stretch for 2½km, circumscribed by a moat over 10 metres wide.
Breakfast and overnight in hotel.

Day 13: Agra to Jaipur
After breakfast drive through Rajasthani villages; the Journey brings us first to the deserted sand stone building of Fatehpur Sikri and the Sufi shrine of Salim Chishti. Late afternoon arrival in Jaipur: built in 1727, Jaipur was the dream of the brilliant ruler Jai Singh. It has retained its reputation as one of the foremost cities in India planned and executed in a manner that draws accolades from modern town planners. Jaipur is known as the pink city, because many buildings are still washed pink, the traditional colour of welcome, which was originally introduced to honour the visit of the Prince Albert in 1856. Evening free; overnight in hotel.

Day 14: Jaipur
This morning we drive to nearby Amber, ascending the steep road to the 16th century hilltop fortress on elephant back to see the Palace and its richly decorated apartments. This fort-palace of Amber, former capital of the Rajputs, was begun by Raja Man Singh and used by the Rajputs as their stronghold until Sawai Jai Singh II moved to the newly created Jaipur. You will visit the palace and its many intricate chambers and hallways, which has breathtaking views of the Jal Mahal (Water palace) below. In the afternoon we visit City Palace, still occupied by Jai Singh’s descendants, is a superb fusion of Rajput and Mughal architecture. A city within a city, it includes the Govind Deo Temple, the Jantar Mantar (the astronomical observatory) and the Maharaja’s museum with his personal collection of weaponry, miniature paintings, royal attire and jewellery. On the periphery of the Palace stands the Hawa Mahal, the Palace of Winds, an elaborate pink sandstone façade behind which the ladies of the court used to watch the daily goings-on in the street below. Breakfast & Overnight in Hotel.

Day 15: Jaipur – Mumbai (fly)
After breakfast transfer to the airport for flight to Mumbai. Arrive Mumbai and stay at airport hotel. Late night transfer to the airport for return journey home.

Day 16: Flight home
Early morning fly back to your home country.