Explore the heart of central India and its wonderful wildlife reserves and national parks as we seek magnificent tigers in action, as well as other mammals, both big and small, and many incredible birds. Begin with the amazing cervids, pythons, and waterbirds of Keoladeo Ghana National Park at Bharatpur, including many migrant birds from the north, then be captivated by the cultural marvels of the Taj Mahal, Orchha, and Khajuraho. Spend a glorious week in two famous tiger reserves, Bandhargarh and Kanha national parks, the latter being where Kipling wrote The Jungle Book. Become immersed in the quest for tiger while also enjoying other fantastic wildlife. Soak up the wonderful knowledge and hospitality of India's people while staying in lovely accommodations. By the end of the safari, we will have traveled by bus, four-wheel drive, boat, train, plane, and best of all by elephant!
Optional Extension: Extend your stay in India! Continue on to Kaziranga and Nameri National Parks in Assam for eight days, November 30 to December 7, 2012, immediately following this tour.
Cost: $5,047 per person, double occupancy, not including airfare. Review cost details.
Leaders: Three great naturalists: Rajveer Singh, Harish Sharma and Sunil Gaur.
Group Size: 9 participants plus leaders
Number of Days: 17 including travel time
Conditions: A non-smoking safari for people who are very interested in all wildlife and spending the maximum time in the field.
Update: July 2012.
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November 15 - 17, Thursday - Saturday: Flights and overnight in Delhi
November 18 - 20, Sunday - Tuesday: Sultanpur Sanctuary and Bharatpur (Keoladeo Ghana)
Continue after lunch for another 185 kilometers through this very interesting countryside to check in at the beautiful Hotel Bagh in Bharatpur. Bharatpur is home to our three guides. Before becoming a national park Maharajas created and protected the marshlands here since the late 19th century. Most of India's wildlife reserves were once hunting for sport reserves and Bharatpur was the best one for duck hunting until it became a national park with no hunting allowed. The royal family of Bharatpur originally created the area now named Keoladeo Ghana National Park. They diverted water from irrigation canals by building dams and bunds (embankments) around depressions that collected rainwater. The remainder of the park is deciduous forest and grasslands. "Keolade" is the ancient Hindu temple in the center of the park and "Ghana" refers to the dense forest of former times. Sambar, Nilgai, Chital (Spotted Deer), and Blackbuck are present in woodland and grassland and in the shallow waters of the wetlands. Smooth Otters are sometimes active on the lakes. If the weather is right, large Rock Pythons come out of their underground hiding places to sun themselves, appropriately at Python Point beyond the Keoladeo Temple. Golden Jackals call at night and Striped Hyenas, Bengal Foxes, Palm Civets, and Indian Crested Porcupine are also active at night in the sanctuary. Three species of small, shy felids, Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat (Felis bengalensis), and Fishing Cat, are also present, but very difficult to see.
The Bagh is a lovely hotel set in a 200-year-old heritage garden on twelve acres, owned by our outfitters, Exotic Journeys. The birding right on the grounds is wonderful. We'll also have memorable experiences with morning and afternoon game viewing and birding inside the national park, which is twelve kilometers from our hotel. We'll enjoy opportunities to meet park rangers and local conservationist and talk with professionals from every area we visit throughout the trip. At Bharatpur, there are wide trails for walking around the bunds. Darters, cormorants, ducks, geese, egrets, eagles, jacanas, and dozens of other birds are there. Migrants have arrived, including cranes. We hope to take an enchanting boat trip shortly after dawn one morning around one of the lakes, depending on the water levels. If the water levels are too low for a boat trip, instead of having lunch at The Bagh the last day, we'll take a picnic lunch to drive 45 kilometers to Bund Baretha to bird along the lake there and in the vegetation between the lake and the old palace that overlooks it.
November 21, Wednesday: Fatehpur-Sikri and the Taj Mahal
November 22, Thursday: Train to Jhansi, then to Orchha on the Betwa River
November 23, Friday: Beautiful temples at Khajuraho and on to Bandhavgarh National Park
November 24 - 25, Saturday - Sunday: Search for tiger and birds in Bandhavgarh National Park
The temples in the park include 10th century rock carvings of the incarnations of Vishnu. Blue Rock Thrushes, Crag Martins, and other birds reside among the temple rocks. In this dry deciduous habitat, the nighttime temperatures from November through mid-February can reach down to almost freezing and up to about 70˚F during the day, so bring warm clothes for evening. We'll have three nights total at the wonderful lodge, Hotel Tiger Trail on the edge of the park.
November 26, Monday: To Kanha National Park for great Tiger viewing!
November 27 - 29, Tuesday - Thursday: Search for tigers and other wildlife at Kanha
The dominant tree in Kanha is Sal, which is an important hardwood in southern Asia. Bamboo thickets, "Dadar" (grassy plateau), and lightly wooded meadows with many rivers and streams support abundant wildlife. We hope to spot the endangered Hard-ground Barasingha (a subspecies of Swamp Deer), Barking Deer, Spotted Deer (Chital), Gaur, which is the largest bovine, the very shy Chowsingha (Four-horned Antelope), Golden Jackal, Jungle Cat, Common Langur, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, and the Dhole (Asian Wild Dog). Some of the birds we hope to encounter are Red-naped Ibis, Jungle Owlet, Blue-bearded and Little Green bee-eaters, Crested Bunting, Red Junglefowl, Indian Peafowl, Oriental Darter, Indian Pond Heron, Woolly-necked Stork, Bronze-winged Jacana, Indian Grey Hornbill, Brown-throated Barbet, Lesser Flameback, White-eyed Buzzard, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Pied Harrier, Red-headed Vulture, Alexandrine and Plum-headed parakeets, Yellow-legged Green Pigeon, Sirkeer Malkoha, Greater Coucal, Collared Scops-Owl, Grey, Indian and Savannah nightjars, Crested Treeswift, Indian Scimitar-Babbler, Tawny-bellied and Yellow-eyed babblers, Tickell's, Blue and Verditer flycatchers, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, Olive Tree Pipit, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Rufous Treepie, Scarlet Minivet, White-rumped Shama, and Red Avadavat.
November 30, Friday: Fly to Delhi for flights homeward or fly to Kolkata for the Assam Extension
For those not continuing on our optional extension to Assam, in Nagpur board an evening flight to Delhi (we will book this flight for you and add the cost to your final payment). On arrival in Delhi, transfer to the Radisson Airport Hotel for dinner and dayrooms before your flights homeward. Review flight information.
For those continuing on our extension in Assam, board the evening flight to Kolkata (we will book this flight for you and add the cost to your final payment) with our three guides (see separate itinerary for complete details).
Another choice is to stay longer in Delhi. We are happy to assist you with your arrangements. Delhi, the capital of India, has a fascinating history and nonstop action at most every street corner, whether it is snake charmer or dancing bear! The old city, built by Shah Jehan in the 17th century, is basically Indo-Islamic architecture, whereas New Delhi is a mixture of east and west. Attractions include the Jamma Mosque Red Fort, Raj Ghat, Gandhi Memorial Museum, Hamayun's Tomb, Birla Temple, Jantar Mantar, Delhi Zoo, and Connaught Place, New Delhi's main shopping center. We have been to the Gandhi Memorial Museum and Hamayun's Tomb and enjoyed the birds on the grounds as well. Throughout the city Black Kites, excellent garbage collectors, are usually seen overhead. Birds are protected and come to feed on the temple grounds, especially Rose-ringed Parakeets, even White-breasted Kingfisher and several species of passerines. Oriental Turtle-Dove, Common Myna, Yellow-billed Babbler, Dusky Crag-Martin and both Large-billed and House crows are some of the common species in the city. The Tomb of Humayan provides good bird habitat in charming gardens that are said to have inspired Shah Jehan to build the Taj Mahal.
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Payments and Cancellations: All reservations require a deposit due at the time of making the reservation. Upon receiving your deposit and reservation form, we will send trip materials with additional information to help you prepare for your safari. Until the final payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person. This fee may go toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip's departure date. There are no refunds given after the final payment due date. If you are a single traveler and desire so, we will find a roommate for you, if we cannot find a roommate we may have to charge you the single supplement fee. We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between now and the date of travel, including changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation.
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To Make a Reservation: Please contact us (there are many methods of contacting us) to assure space availability and to let us answer your questions. Then, print our reservation form, fill out one form per person, and post it to us in the mail with your deposit. Or fill out our handy online information request and we will send you more information.
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Our Leaders: Rajveer Singh grew-up at Bharatpur near Keoladeo National Park. His family members are descendents of Maharajas and have a reverence for wildlife that fostered his very early comprehensive interest in birds and mammals. He graduated from the University of Rajasthan, has studied nature and wildlife extensively, and has led many wildlife and birding groups throughout India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Rajveer is an excellent guide and an expert on mammals and birds of India with a lot of passion for sharing his love of India's natural and cultural history.
Sunil Gaur has eleven years of experience as a naturalist, three of them as resident naturalist at Kanha Jungle Lodge. He has guided in many other national parks, including Bharatpur (where he has lived since 1996), Bandavgarh, Corbett, Ranthambhore and many others. He completed his master's degree and is a member of Life Line for Nature-India, the Bombay Natural History Society, WWF for Nature India and the Guide Association of Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur. At Bharatpur he is also involved in mammal censusing, non-native plant eradication efforts, such as the removal of water hyacinth, and in vulture surveys in Rajasthan.
Harish Sharma has twelve years of experience as a naturalist leading wildlife tours in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, and throughout Northeast and Central India. His degree in English literature, political science and economics gave him a good life foundation and now he focuses his career on zoology and guiding tours. He resides at Bharatpur where he has studied the nesting behavior of several species of birds, including Sarus Cranes, Paradise Flycatcher, woodpeckers and others. He has also worked on the breeding behavior of Golden Jackals and Striped Hyena that both reside in Keoladeo. He combines his research and guiding with gusto and greatly enjoys traveling and meeting people from all over the world who come to tour the national parks of India with him. He also enjoys wildlife photography and helps you find the best photo opportunities to enhance your experience.
Flights: Please let us know if you would like help arranging your international flights and we will put you in contact with our excellent ticketing agent. You should arrange a round-trip flight between your home and Delhi (DEL).
Arrival: Arrive in Delhi (DEL) by the evening of November 17 at the latest. For most, this will mean departing on November 15 or the morning of November 16. From the East Coast, you should fly via Europe to Delhi. There is a choice from the West Coast, with some flights traveling west over the Pacific, crossing the International Dateline.
Departure: For those not continuing on our optional extension to Assam, on November 30 in Nagpur board IndiGo's evening flight to Delhi (we will book this flight for you and add the cost to your final payment). On arrival in Delhi, transfer to the Radisson Airport Hotel for dinner and dayrooms (included in cost). Arrange your departure for home from Delhi (DEL) on a late night flight after 10 pm (most flights leave after midnight) on November 30 or very early morning on December 1 (requiring an extra hotel night).
For those continuing on the optional extension to Assam, on November 30 in Nagpur board a flight to Kolkata (we will book this flight for you and add the cost to your final payment). Arrange your departure for home from Delhi (DEL) on a late night flight after 10 pm (most flights leave after midnight) on December 6 or very early in the morning on December 7 (requiring an extra hotel night).
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Transportation and Lodging: We stay in excellent lodges throughout India. We use many forms of comfortable transportation: air-conditioned coaster bus, Shatabdi Express train from Agra to Jhansi, three air-conditioned 4WD Toyota Innovas (three participants per vehicle, plus naturalist and driver), open jeep and on elephant back in parks, and airplane from Nagpur to Delhi.
Climate: Temperatures vary at this season from very cool or cold to very comfortable, depending on the time of day. It will be very cool in the early morning and in the evening. It will be the "dry" season, but rain will likely be encountered, as climates are unpredictable these days. Bring a warm jacket that is rain and wind resistant. Insects are not normally a problem, but we recommend that you bring insect repellant if you are sensitive to insect bites elsewhere. The extension in Assam will be warmer weather than the part in central India.
Travel Insurance: Emergency Medical Insurance is optional, but encouraged, for this tour. Read about travel insurance and our recommendations and requirements.
Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris is registered as California Seller of Travel #2063050-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California. Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris is a participant in the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation (TCRC). In event of a client canceling where a refund is applicable in accordance with the schedule above, or in the event that CES needs to cancel the trip, all payments for transportation or travel service not provided to the client shall be promptly refunded, unless the client instructs us otherwise in writing. All client payments are deposited into a trust account in accordance with California law. If for any reason a valid refund is not forthcoming, the client may request reimbursement from the TCRC within six months of the scheduled end of the tour. Please feel free to ask us for more information.
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