We have been running tiger focussed trips to India for many years now, but during our time in the country have also explored other regions of this vast and absorbing country which offers so much more than just this iconic cat and this trip looks to share the secrets that it has to offer. Our travels will take us to 3 distinctly different corners of the country from the western state of Gujarat, home of the only asiatic lion population remaining, the north-eastern corner of Assam, home to the impressive one-horned rhino and genuinely wild indian elephant and the rugged and impressive Satpura National Park in the central state of Madhya Pradesh which is probably the best place for leopard and sloth bears the country has to offer. If these equally iconic asian mammals aren’t enough throw in an array of birdlife almost everywhere, herbivores as diverse as sambar deer and chousingha antelope, and ever-engaging primates from the ubiquitous macaques to the rarer hillock gibbon and it’s clear that there are indeed many secrets of the subcontinent as far as wildlife is concerned and this trip will be looking to discover many of them.
Itinerary Open +Close -
Day 1: Leave UK on an overnight flight to Mumbai.
Day 2: We are due to arrive in Mumbai via our connecting flights on the morning. We will be met at the airport and be transferred to our nearby airport hotel for an afternoon/evening’s rest as well as a chance to adjust our body clocks as we will have an early flight onwards the next day.
Day 3: In the early morning we will connect with our internal flight to Rajkot. From the airport there it is then a 3.5 hour drive to our base in the Gir National Forest and we should arrive in time for lunch and also to allow our first game drive in the forest itself that afternoon. The Gir National Forest is the home to the only remaining population of asiatic lion and they number approximately 500 or so in number: in essence this is the only place in the world to see them and they will be our main focus for our time here in the Gujarat region. After this first taster we will return to our hotel base for dinner.
Day 4: It is an early morning start for our next encounter with the lions and we need to be at the park entrance for sunrise. We will be running the entire trip on the basis of two people per jeep so we will have lots of space: Mark and our local guide will accompany the drivers in the front seats and rotate vehicles throughout as well to ensure you get maximum guidance throughout. Along with our focus on lions there will be plenty of opportunities to photograph lots of different wildlife species here with sambar deer and the four-horned antelope (or chousingha as it is known locally) as well. On all full days at a particular location we will make morning and afternoon game drives, with time at the accommodation for a late breakfast/early lunch and a rest as well as time to download our images from the morning session. We rest during the middle part of the day as it is too hot then and the light is too harsh for photography. We will then be back out in the afternoon for our afternoon game drive which will be through until dusk.
Day 5: Dependant on the final flight schedule we will have at the very least a final extended morning drive in Gir before returning to Rajkot and the short flight back to Mumbai for a brief overnight stop once again at an nearby hotel.
Day 6: An ear;y start once again will see us on another short flight to Bhopal from where we will transfer to our hotel base at the Satpura National Park where we will be based for the next four nights. After lunch we will head out for our first drive of many here. Situated in the central highlands of India, Satpura’s impressiveness is driven in part by the striking terrain of the place – rugged mountains, water-filled ravines, mixed forests and the shore line of lake Tewa which borders the park all provide a wildlife-rich environment. Our main targets here will be leopard and sloth bear although tiger, wild dogs and the parks healthy indian giant squirrel population will all be distinct possibilities as well: it’s one of those places where every drive can offer something totally different.
Days 7 – 9: We have three full days to really make the most of what Satpura has to offer and will undertake our regular pattern of early morning and afternoon through to dusk drives broken by a break in the middle of the day, to ensure we make the most of it photographically.
Day 10: A final full morning drive before heading, after lunch back to Bhopal for our flight up to Delhi where we will overnight at an airport hotel.
Day 11: An early morning flight takes us from Delhi up to the north-eatern state of assam and it’s regional capital Guwahati. from there it is a 4 – 5 hour car journey to the internationally famous Kaziranga National Park. With luck we should get a short afternoon game drive in here before heading to our hotel and base for the next four nights.
Days 12 – 14: We have a further 3 full days to explore Kaziranga National Park, and this is very necessary as it is spread across a huge area with a number of different access gates and areas to drive in. The park runs alongside the massive Brahmaputra river and is regularly flooded during the monsoon season – the result is a combination of verdant forests, rich grasslands (more dense forest-like in their height and nature too) and open wetland lakes. It is home to the greatest concentration of one-horned rhino to be found in Asia and these along with a healthy wild indian elephant population will be our main targets here. Early morning outings are often also rewarded with families of Hillock Gibbon or Golden Langur in the trees too so they will be on our agenda along with an early morning elephant-back safari which gives the opportunity for some really close-up encounters with the rhinos in soft early morning light.
Day 15: After breakfast we will begin the return trip to Delhi, driving to Guwahati through the morning and flying back there in the afternoon. We will have the opportunity for a final dinner and an overnight stop at the hotel.
Day 16: Assuming you have chosen to stay overnight (there is a very late night flight option you could consider back to the UK as well as the more normal day-time based schedule) we will leave Delhi for our return flights, which will arrive back later the same day.