Tiger conservation safari: India
9 days for £3,995 10 April 2022
Visit the reserves of Pench and Tadoba in search of the Bengal tiger, staying in award-winning lodges and immersing yourself in jungle life. Learn how to identify tracks, set camera traps and understand the tiger’s habitat and prey species. Explore the parks by jeep, bike and on foot accompanied throughout the tour by experienced naturalist and conservationist Kartikeya Singh.
Encounter India’s varied wildlife and hear from guest lecturers regarding conservation issues, the challenges they face in modern India and using tourism as a force for good. Rich with flora and fauna in landscapes with unique beauty, this tour discovers wilderness at its best.
The Indian tiger census results were published in July 2019 and, as anticipated, tiger numbers have increased by 33%, from 2,226 to 2,967 since 2014. The history of the tiger in India is a complicated one. But this recent growth in the population does not just offer some hope for the big cats in the area, but also endangered animals right across the planet. Find out how India, a country that is almost bursting at the seams with its human population, has managed to find a way to accommodate and protect tigers.
This tour has been designed with built-in rest periods and various options, allowing you to set the pace and depth of your tiger experience.
DAY 1: ARRIVE DELHI
You will be met on arrival and transferred to the 5-star Roseate Hotel. You can spend the day at leisure in its rooftop pool overlooking Delhi Aerocity or explore the city.
Delhi may be one of the world’s largest metropolises, but architectural wonders – new and old – fill the city, hidden beneath Delhi’s urban sprawl. Mughal treasures, including the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, are complemented by more recent additions to Delhi’s architectural heritage, such as the stunning Lotus and Akshardham Temples.
DAY 2: JOURNEY TO TADOBA
Take the early morning flight to Nagpur, a short 1 hour 40 minutes south of Delhi.
On arrival into Nagpur, you will be met by our local representative, who will transfer you to Tadoba National Park. For the next 4 nights you will be staying at Bamboo Forest Safari Lodge in one twin Lake Facing Villa on a full board basis.
Arrive in time for a leisurely lunch and some down time. Being mindful you may be tired there are some optional activities planned this afternoon.
– An accompanied nature walk in and around the buffer zone with great bird spotting opportunities. – Set camera traps in the designated areas.
If you feel that you would be able to hit the ground running and would like to go on a jeep safari in the park this afternoon, please let us know and we will pre-book your safari (For a small additional cost).
Later this evening there will be a hosted talk on Tadoba Park followed by a welcome dinner.
Part of the park contains Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, one of India’s most exciting and best-protected tiger reserves. Dominated by teak forest and bamboo, it’s a rugged landscape comprising cliffs, caves, marshes, perennial lakes and boulder-strewn streambeds that cater to a host of biodiversity, not least the tigers, which number from 75 to 100 by the last count.
Tadoba management is proactive in offering new experiences for visitors and now includes walking trails in the buffer area and kayaking on the Irai Lake beside the Park boundaries. Furthermore, machans and hideouts are at some waterholes.
DAYS 3-5: SAFARI DRIVES
The next three days will follow a similar pattern, as you head into Tadoba National Park searching for India’s elusive tiger as well as the park’s many other wildlife species and birdlife.
Before you are up and dressed the mahouts will already have been in the jungle with their elephants listening for sounds of deer and monkey alarm calls so they have a good idea where the tiger might be heading.
The day starts early, usually before sunrise, as this is when the wildlife is at its most active. Mornings begin with tea in bed, usually, before 6 am and park entry times vary depending on summer or winter season, but the gates normally open at 6 am – closing again between 9.30 am/10.30 am. You will then jump in your private jeep and drive to the park gate, taking around 30 minutes in duration. Breakfast will normally be taken in the park, heading back to the lodge around mid-morning for lunch. Make sure you wrap up warm as it can be quite cold first thing in the morning.
With both a driver and naturalist leading the drives, there is an excellent chance of memorable animal encounters. We are using small, private, open jeeps for this trip which are suitable for accessing all areas of the park. By limiting the number of people in each jeep you can be sure of having plenty of space for taking photographs.
The afternoon is free to make use of the facilities available at your lodge, take time over a leisurely lunch, have an afternoon sleep, or a walk in the grounds.
The second game drive in the afternoon starts at around 3pm when the park opens. You will return to the lodge in time for a pre-dinner sundowner.
Meals are served back at the lodge – often al fresco around a fire pit, with classic cooking methods.
DAY 6: JOURNEY TO PENCH
Before departing for Pench there is time for a final morning game drive. An early lunch will be served before moving on to Pench National Park. This drive is approximately five hours. All national parks are closed on Wednesday afternoons, so this is a good use of your time. On arrival, time may be spent at leisure. Later this evening there will be a presentation on the tigers of Pench.
Pench, on the border of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, has been known through the ages for its rich flora and fauna. Named after the river that flows nearby, Pench was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1983, though it had been declared a notified area in 1972. In 1992, Pench was included under the umbrella of Project Tiger as the 19th Project Tiger Reserve.
Pench is home to the Asiatic leopard and is still one of the best places in India to spot this creature. The dam in the park is a favourite spot for bird watching. Other wildlife spotted here are chinkara, wild dog, sloth bear and jackal. Visitors also now have the option to visit the Maharashtra side of the Pench Reserve, which is often less crowded and is growing in its reputation for sightings of a host of animals and bird species.
You will be staying at Pench Tree Lodge in one twin Tree House on a full board basis
After breakfast, you will be transferred by vehicle to the Rukhad Park gate, where you will collect your bikes and cycle to Sakata Forest Rest House, a 1904 colonial bungalow, in time for lunch. This will be a steady paced cycle of around 30 kilometres. A support vehicle will travel behind the last cyclist keeping a safe distance and will be carrying filtered water, soft drinks and fresh fruit. An accompanying vehicle is available to pick up cyclists if there is a problem, or if you just wish to take some rest. The terrain is largely flat, but with a number of undulating forest sections, forest roads and over riverbeds. You may also be riding through and between villages using simple village roads that are largely used by bicycles, motorbikes or bullock carts, occasionally on a single-track tar road. After lunch, return to the lodge. For those not wanting to take part in the cycling excursion, there will be a morning jungle excursion in a 4X4 vehicle.
In the afternoon you may either:
– Take a nature walk in the buffer zone of the park with a naturalist.
– Visit a local village to experience rural community life.
– Take an afternoon jeep safari.
– Visit the local farm and pick your own seasonal vegetables from the organic garden at the lodge and learn to prepare them. A traditional Indian curry dish will be explained and created, all in a hands-on experience.
In the evening, there will be a presentation on how camera trapping techniques have developed throughout the Indian reserves and how camera traps are used to monitor wildlife. The camera trap has revolutionised wildlife research and conservation in India.
After dinner, take a night walk from the lodge with a focus on searching for small nocturnal animals, such as jungle cat, palm civet and other nocturnal wildlife.
DAY 8: GAME DRIVES ROUND PENCH
Wake early this morning and meet the group for a cup of tea and a biscuit before joining your jeep for the morning safari. Enter the park for the morning and explore this incredibly diverse landscape. Tune your ear to the calls of the jungle and get involved tracking the elusive tiger. Return to the lodge at approximately 10am for a full breakfast. The rest of the morning may be spent walking in the buffer zone around the camp, spending time with the local naturalists and speaking with your tour expert about the serious issues surrounding tiger conservation.
After a leisurely lunch, prepare for the afternoon game drive. Accompanied by your local guide, explore the park until sunset. On return to the lodge, freshen up and meet with the group for a final presentation and farewell dinner around the campfire.
DAY 9: DEPART PENCH
Transfer to Nagpur airport for your flight back to Delhi and your journey home.
We can arrange extra days sightseeing with a private guide covering the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Including the Amber Fort and The Taj Mahal. Please ask for more details.