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Travel deep into the central heartland of India in search of the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger. Explore five different national parks over the course of two weeks and search for wildlife by boat and on private 4WD jeeps.
Explore Tour Leader
3 nights comfortable hotel
2 nights premium hotel
8 nights comfortable lodge
1 nights simple overnight train
Trip maximum 16 Explore average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in New Delhi, the capital of India and the colourful, bustling centre of the nation. The city has been at the heart of numerous empires and dynasties over time from the Mughals to the British Raj, with each one having left its own unique mark on the city, resulting in the rich patchwork that is modern day Delhi.
For those arriving on time today our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 5.00pm for the welcome meeting and trip briefing. We will then make our way out into the city on foot, arriving at Hanuman's Temple in time to witness the evening prayer rituals. We will then explore the bustling hub of Connaught Place - a colonial-era circus of shops, bars, restaurants and street vendors.
If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (airport code DEL), which is 12km, around 45 minutes from our hotel.
Please note that if you wish to join the city tour today, you must arrive at the hotel by 4.00pm. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself at least one hour after landing to clear the airport. The drive from the airport to the hotel is around 45 minutes, so therefore the latest your flight can arrive is 2.00pm. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
Bloom Boutique (or similar)
We explore the city some more this morning, acclimatising ourselves to the calmer area of New Delhi, and driving along the wide avenues to take in the major sights that begin to tell the story of India's rich history. We visit India Gate, the impressive column of Qutab Minar and the UNESCO-listed Mughal site of Humayun's Tomb, a pre-curser to the great Taj Mahal.
After lunch, we leave Delhi and drive to Sariska National Park, a drive of approximately three and a half hours. There will be some free time in the late afternoon to enjoy our lodge's facilities before dinner.
Sariska Safari Lodge (or similar)
Sariska National Park has been a real success story of conservation. Back in the early 2000's it was thought that due to poaching and habitat degradation the reserve had no tigers left within its boundaries. A huge conservation effort was mounted and fast-forwarding to today there are now thought to be a population of around 30 tigers including a litter of healthy cubs.
Straddling Rajasthan's Aravalli Hills, Sariska is characterised by dry deciduous forests, grasslands and rocky landscapes. The park is generally considered to be a far quieter park than its very popular neighbour, Ranthambore.
As the sun rises and the dawn breaks, we head out early to catch our first glimpse of India's incredible wildlife. As well as tiger, the park is also home to the elusive leopard, jungle cat, jackals, a variety of deer a huge number of langurs.
After lunch we take a second game drive as we continue to search for wildlife. The group will be split into a number of open-topped, private jeeps, with each jeep having an accompanying naturalist.
This morning we will leave Rajasthan behind and cross into India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. Such is the population of UP, that if it were a country in its own right, it would be the fifth most populous country in the world. The state is a major industrial and commercial centre and, being on the main Indo-Gangetic plain, it benefits from rich soil for excellent agriculture. We make the five hour drive across fertile landscapes to the city of Dholpur, sitting beside the Chambal River.
The Chambal is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in northern India, and is known for its rich biodiversity and relatively untouched natural surroundings. After lunch we will take a private boat out onto the river where we hope to spot some of the rich variety of wildlife found here. This river is one of the last remaining habitats for the critically endangered Gharial, a species of long-snouted crocodile which are often found on the banks of the river, basking in the afternoon sun. As well as crocodile, we may spot the playful Gangetic River Dolphin, smooth coated otters or the Indian softshell turtle. The river is also a haven for birdlife where we hope to be lucky enough to spot Indian Skimmers, Sarus Cranes and Kingfishers.
Raj Niwas Palace (or similar)
We head deeper into central India today, making the short drive to the train station this morning where we catch the two hour train ride to Jhansi. Travelling by train is a wonderful way to experience India, from the bustling railway platforms to the chai wallahs that ply their trade through the carriages, offering hot tea and snacks along the journey. India has one of the largest rail networks in the world, and it serves as a vital lifeline for many Indians - connecting many small towns, villages and rural areas with larger commercial centres. As the train rattles along the tracks and the rural scenery rolls past our window, we are likely to get the chance to chat with some of the locals in our carriage who are often interested to see tourists travelling by train.
After disembarking in Jhansi we will continue by bus, crossing into the central state of Madhya Pradesh to Khajuraho, a journey of around three hours. The rest of the afternoon has been left free to relax or to explore this ancient town.
Ramada by Wyndham Gurgaon Central (or similar)
We set off early this morning for our private 4WD game drive through the varied landscapes of Panna National Park. The park's topography provides some truly stunning scenery and makes it quite different from our experience in Sariska. The park is made up of thick teak forests separated by wide plateaus and gorges. The lazy Ken River flows through the park and acts as its main water source, and in parts cascades down stacked rocks forming impressive waterfalls. Known less for tigers (although sightings still can be made) the park is renowned for its birdlife with over 200 recorded species found here. Vultures and eagles are not uncommon sightings, as well the colourful Asian Paradise Flycatcher; the state bird of Madhya Pradesh. Migratory birds are also prevalent in the winter months.
Later this afternoon, we explore the UNESCO World Heritage Temples of Khajuraho. Intricately hand-carved, the erotic sculptures which adorn the Hindu and Jain temples here are full of symbolism and depict various of aspects of life at the time, during the 9th to 12th century. We spend the afternoon exploring the main temples including the magnificent Kandariya Mahadev and Vishwanath temples.
Our journey continues today, as we drive further into the heart of India to Bandhavgarh - arguably the most famous tiger reserve in the world. The drive will take approximately five hours with breaks, and will give us a real taste of rural India as we pass by patchworks of farmlands and pockets of small villages. It's a common scene in rural India to see children playing in the water from the hand-pumped wells, and cows and other livestock roaming freely through the villages and across the roads.
Upon arrival in Bandhavgarh, the rest of the afternoon has been left free to relax.
Bandhav Vilas (or similar)
The former hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Rewa, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is today world-renowned for reputedly having the highest population density of tigers in any park on earth. The majestic Royal Bengal is at home here amongst the ideal habitat of high grasslands interspersed with forests of sal and bamboo, while rivers and streams criss-cross their way through the park.
The trees and high grasslands provide ample food for the park's large deer population, and in turn provides plenty of cover for the tigers to hunt their prey. The various water sources are an ideal location for tigers to rest and a great place to spot the big cats lazing around on hotter days.
Whilst tigers are the focus here, the park is also home to wild dogs, hyenas, spotted deer (chital), bison and many more species. We spend the day taking two safaris through the park, one in the early morning and one in the late afternoon. Safaris will be in private 4WD vehicles with a maximum of four to a jeep and with an accompanying naturalist.
We spend another day in Bandhavgarh, with two further morning and afternoon game drives in our private 4WD vehicles. Game drives are usually taken in the early morning, between the hours of 06.00 and 11.00 and afternoon game drives are between 14.30 and 17.30. The time inbetween can be spent at leisure, using the facilities of the lodge and enjoying an extended lunch break.
We leave Bandhavgarh National Park this morning and drive to Kanha, a journey of approximately six hours, with plenty of time for refreshment stops. We'll enjoy a late lunch on arrival at our jungle lodge, and the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.
Chitvan Jungle Lodge (or similar)
Kanha's huge expanses of grassy meadows and thick deciduous forests are said to have served as inspiration to Rudyard Kipling for The Jungle Book. It's easy to see why with the sheer variety on offer at Kanha, both for flora and fauna. The park is home to a significant population of tigers, as well as leopards, sloth bear, Bengal fox, bison and the rare Indian antelope (blackbuck), as well as over 300 species of bird.
The park is expansive, covering an area of 940 square kilometres and we plan to explore the park on five private game drives over the following three days. Today we enjoy two game drives, one in the early morning and one in the late afternoon as we look to spot the park's abundant wildlife and take in Kanha's beautiful vistas.
We have another day in Kanha National Park, with morning and afternoon game drives in our private 4WD jeeps alongside a naturalist. Morning game drives can be especially beautiful as we are out in the park just as the sun rises. But during the winter months these drives can be especially cold, so be sure to prepare with extra layers.
We enjoy one final game drive in Kanha National Park this morning, before we leave the boundaries of the park and drive to Jabalpur, a journey of approximately four to five hours including stops. From Jabalpur we board our overnight train which will take us back to Delhi.
Indian sleeper trains are a fantastic experience and a great way to meet people as we travel. We make our bookings in second class air-conditioned sleepers, which have four beds in each compartment and all bedding provided. Whilst we try to ensure the group is all together, due to overwhelming demand and the system for booking train tickets in India, it may not always be possible to have everyone in the same carriage and some reservations may be in third class air-conditioned. In such cases our Tour Leaders will help everyone to find their seats and ensure you get the most out of your journey. For overnight trains, each berth is separated by curtains and has 4/6 bunk beds. Bedding (sheet, blanket and pillow) is provided but you may wish to bring your own sleeping bag liner for added comfort.
Overnight Train from Jabalpur to Delhi
Simple Overnight Train
This morning has been left free to rest and to freshen up before we go out and explore the temples and bazaars of Old Delhi.
This afternoon we walk around the narrow, packed lanes of this fascinating part of the city, culminating with a jamboree of sounds at Chandni Chowk Bazaar. A short cycle rickshaw ride then takes us to the Jama Masjid mosque, a sublime example of Mughal architecture built by emperor Shah Jahan and a bit of an oasis in the midst of the city. Whilst in Old Delhi we will get to try some of the capital's street food treats straight from the stall sellers including aloo chaat (fried potato and spice mix) or paneer tikka (cottage cheese marinated in spices) along with freshly cooked breads such as parathas and rotis.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Delhi.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Delhi at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (airport code DEL), which is around 45 minutes from the hotel.
There is considerable variation between the different regions of India but, in general, the climate is tropical. Summer temperatures on the plains are very hot, but cooled by the South-West Monsoon, which lasts from June- September. During these months it can be very wet and therefore very humid. At altitude, temperatures can become quite cool at night even in the summer and may drop below freezing between December and February so warm clothing is necessary. In the winter, northern and mid India can be very cool, with cold evenings, so warm clothing, including plenty of layers, are essential. The south of India remains warm and sunny during the winter months.
3 Pin Round
Catholicism, Hindu, Islam and Sikhism
Hindi and English.
In general only lightweight clothing is needed during the day, but bring a warm jumper for early morning game drives and during winter evenings from November to mid March, especially in December and January when a windproof jacket, several warm layers, gloves and hat are also recommended. Hotel heating arrangements are not on a par with temperate countries and from December to February thermals are also recommended. Natural coloured clothing is required for the game drives, avoid wearing bright colours. Local people may be offended by western styles of dress. Brief shorts, tight fitting and revealing clothing etc, should be avoided by both men and women.
Comfortable shoes and sandals.
One main piece of baggage and a daysack.
A torch, water bottle, good quality sunglasses, insect repellent and high factor sunscreen are all essential. A high-magnification set of binoculars is highly recommended for the game viewing, and ear plugs and an eye mask may come in useful for the overnight train.
Bus, 4WD, Boat, Train
Accommodation in India is as varied as the country itself. On this trip we stay in a mixture of hand-picked hotels and lodges and one night aboard an overnight train. Standards do not equate to standards in your home country and it's best to approach each type of accommodation with an open mind. Service can be slow in places, especially when travelling with a group. For the most part hotels do not have heating, so in the winter months it can be chilly and if you feel the cold you may wish to ask for extra blankets. Hot water is not always available 24 hours a day in some of the smaller properties, and with a group staying you might find if you are showering last you may miss out on the hottest water. In the National Parks we have a selected a number of charming lodges complete with swimming pools and tasty dining options. Rooms are all en-suite and air-conditioned and the lodges often reflect the natural environment they sit within, both through their decor and their gardens and public areas. In Delhi we stay at a small, locally-run hotel, picked for its excellent location in the central Connaught Place area; waking distance from local markets and restaurants and within easy reach of Old and New Delhi. Rooms are all en-suite with air-conditioning, and there is a rooftop restaurant for breakfasts. For information about the accommodation aboard the train, please refer to the transport section of the trip notes. With India's ever-growing middle-class, domestic travel within India is booming and as such securing accommodation is becoming increasingly challenging. Whilst we will always try to stay at the accommodations we list, there may be occasions where accommodation is changed, sometimes at late notice.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
\red5\green99\blue193;\red177\green45\blue26; India: Holders of passports endorsed British citizen, as well as Australian, New Zealand and US passport holders may be eligible for the e-Tourist Visa to enter India. Unfortunately the Indian government are not currently granting visas for anybody travelling with a Canadian passport. The visa can be applied for through the official Indian government visa website only - \ul \ulnone . Please check all eligibility criteria that can be found on the website but important points are listed below - You must be arriving into one of 29 selected entry points which can be found via the official Indian Government website link above. However, you can exit from any of the authorised immigration check posts in India. Passports must have at least 6 months validity from the date of arrival in India and at least two blank pages for stamping. Visa applications will take approximately 4 days to process. There are different validity visas and the costs are as follows: 30-day validity (travelling between April and June) - $10 30-day validity (travelling between July and March) - $25 1-year validity - $40 5-year validity- $80 Those applying for a 30 day electronic visa can only apply within 30 days of arrival for your visa to be valid. Furthermore double entry is permitted and you can only obtain two 30-day visas in a calendar year. Please note these costs are subject to frequent change so you should check on the official Indian government visa website mentioned above. Biometric data will be collected on arrival in India. If you are not eligible for the e-Tourist Visa, please refer to VFS Global to apply for your Indian visa - \ul \ulnone Whilst the online form offers a relatively quick way to apply for a visa, some applicants have reported difficulty in completing the form. If you do require assistance, then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. They can complete the online visa on your behalf for a service fee + the visa cost. See \ul www.travcour.com \ulnone If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846 . It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.20
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against Tetanus, Infectious Hepatitis, Typhoid and Polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.