In this vast and varied country, where travel by any means is at best time-consuming, it is all too easy to spend too little time in one place. This holiday is designed specifically to allow ample time for the appreciation of the outstanding wildlife of Kanha, one of India’s finest and most remote Tiger Reserves. We have chosen to travel mostly in March and April because, whilst it will be hotter than the winter, the reduced water holes, shorter grass, and fallen leaves resulting from the dry Indian winter, provide the very best Tiger and mammal-watching conditions. Departures at other times of the year offer cooler weather though sometimes fewer Tigers.
Kanha lies in Madhya Pradesh, in the very centre of India. Here, in the days of the British Raj, endless hill forests, broken only by golden grasslands and well watered valleys, teemed with the subcontinent’s largest concentrations of game. Today, sadly, they have all but disappeared, except within Kanha’s 1,945 square kilometres, where the abundance of wild animals is as close a match to the spectacles of the east African plains as India can provide.
This beautiful reserve is situated on a plateau in the Maikal Range, and incorporates a crescent of hills, rising to 915 metres, that embraces broad, undulating grasslands speckled with clumps of bamboo and Sal. Mixed deciduous forest cloaks the hills and borders the meadows. Small pools, and a perennial lake, provide drinking holes for the animals year-round. The reserve is famous for its Swamp Deer— the only population of the hard-ground race in existence—for whose protection Kanha National Park was first established in 1955.
Once, these deer roamed central India in herds of many thousands. Today there are only 300 left, though this represents a good recovery since 1970 when just 70 individuals remained. However, since the launch of the initially successful Project Tiger in the early ’70s, Kanha has been one of the Project’s key Tiger Reserves and, because its wide meadows are so suited to successful Tiger-viewing, it has become one of the best places in the world in which to search for this king of beasts. In fact, continued poaching has made this elusive mammal harder than ever to see. However, it is the consolation of excellent all-round mammal-viewing that makes this tour so worthwhile.
If the Tigers prove difficult to see, you can be assured of a host of other mammals that should include plenty of Sambar, Spotted and Swamp Deer and Common Langurs. We should also see Gaur (the huge Asiatic bison), Wild Boar, Asiatic Jackal, and with luck, Leopard and Dhole (the Indian wild dog). Sloth Bear and two of India’s lowland antelopes — Chousingha and the beautiful Blackbuck — also occur and may be seen with patience and good fortune. Birds, too, will be amongst the attractions of this tour. We should see a good selection of birds of prey, including vultures, Black-shouldered Kite, Crested Serpent Eagle and White-eyed Buzzard. Open country birds, such as Painted Francolin, Indian Roller, Yellow- and Red-wattled Lapwings, and a variety of larks are common, whilst, in the forests, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Black-headed Oriole, and a selection of flycatchers, babblers and drongos may be found.
We begin this holiday with an overnight flight to Delhi, and will have a full day and night at leisure in the capital, prior to the long overland journey to Kanha, which is one of the country’s most remote reserves, being situated in the very heart of rural India, a long way from any of the great cities. First we will travel by air-conditioned sleeper on the overnight ‘express’s train to Jabalpur; from there we will drive by minibus to our comfortable forest lodge, situated on the edge of the reserve.
During our week at Kanha, we will explore the reserve fully by means of early morning, and evening, jeep drives and elephant rides. By being in the reserve at the beginning and end of each day, when both mammals and birds are most active, we will maximise our chances of exciting sightings! Our birdwatching walks must take place outside the reserve, as walking is not permitted inside India’s Tiger Reserves, but should nonetheless be most rewarding.
On our return from Kanha to Delhi, we will break the journey for a full day in Agra; an opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort before our return to London. We also offer a 4-day extension to the Chambal River (for Ganges River Dolphins) and Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, one of the finest birding spots in the world, for those of you who cannot resist the opportunity! Alternatively, you might choose to visit the beautiful Ranthambore Tiger Reserve instead.
Both local tour guides were excellent and made the holiday what it was. The travel arrangements couldn't have been smoother and we were very well looked after the whole time. The food at Kanha was superb. The ambience at the Tuli Lodge was also excellent. We saw Tigers although some more than others, but there goes your luck! The other birds and mammals were a bonus.
We thoroughly enjoyed the trip - it surpassed our expectations and offered us not only great Tiger sightings but a wonderful experience of Indian wildlife and birds. Would not hesitate to recommend Naturetrek to others. The opportunities to experience the diversity of wildlife, particularly at Kanha and Bharatpur, which was greatly enhanced by the knowledge and experience of the tour leaders. The accommodation at Tuli Tiger Resort and the Birders Inn - both attractive in their settings, clean and comfortable. The staff at Tuli in particular were all delightful and seemed to take a great pride in their work and thoroughly enjoy their employment. A group of 10 seemed ideal and we enjoyed our shared wildlife interests. The holiday was very well organised and all the expectations raised by your promotion material were more than lived up to in our experience of the trip. The information was also comprehensive, accurate and helpfully covered everything we needed to know.
Both leaders were good but Kaustubh Mulay was the best leader I think I have ever travelled with. Both guides were professional, knowledgeable and keen to share their knowledge with all the tour members and very caring and concerned that everyone on the trip got the most out of the holiday. But what made them exceptional was that Yousef and Kaustubh were caring, concerned where necessary, approachable and inclusive, without dominating the group and with a good sense of humour they made the trip wonderful.
Pradeep and Rachit Singh were excellent. They could not have been better. They were knowledgable, informative, fun to be with, helpful, attentive to our needs and interests, and very kind. They took away any worries so that we were able to relax and just enjoy the whole experience.
To see tigers on our first three game drives was a great start to the holiday. Then to see a leopard draped over a branch posing for us, what more could you want. Chambal Safari Lodge, had a lovely relaxed atmosphere and faultless service. The trip on the river was great, plenty of wildlife, believe we were lucky to see the skimmers, and good sightings of gharials, a first for me. Bharatpur - amazing sight of trees full of painted stork and young, ibis and spoobills. Good views of two sarus cranes and close up of a python. The extension was excellent and one which I enjoyed very much. Pradeep and Rachit - great at spotting wildlife, well organised with a good sense of fun and always aware of everyones well being. Another great holiday.
Pradeep made the trip extra special. He is an excellent guide and a wonderful host. His knowledge of the flora and fauna at Kanha is second-to-none and his observational skills legendary. He stopped the jeep a number of times having caught a glimpse of a bird high up in the canopy. His organisational skills are also really good, negotiating with fellow travellers to get all the group together on the overnight train journeys and advising on the intricacies of tipping.
I had a wonderful holiday - one which will stay in my memory forever. It was fantastic to see the tigers and other animals in the wild where they should be.
I had a truly remarkable experience which, for me, beat the Great Barrier Reef hands down! It was not only the sightings of tigers, but the anticipation. It was the thrill of the chase through stunningly beautiful scenery. An experience of a lifetime!
Nick (Acheson) was not only a first class naturalist, his love and passion for India and its wildlife was inspiring and humbling in equal measure. He is also, really importantly, a really nice guy! Though we would have had a great holiday, Nick was no doubt the difference between great and amazing!
I would like to make a special comment in regards to our leader; Nick. He made the trip something special with his warm and enthusiastic nature, his seamless ability to give his time to make all the links work perfectly, and his pure love of people and animals was inspiring. Thanks to all the people at the office, and specially Rajan for his patience and help, and also all the people behind the scenes in India that made it so special. Best trip by far.
Mr & Mrs E.
We felt that this was an incredible holiday. The wildlife seen was beyond our expectations, we had tiger sightings virtually every trip! We would also like to comment that our leader Nick (Acheson) was exceptional. His knowledge of all wildlife seen was amazing, plus his knowledge of Indian life and culture added to the holiday.
Mr & Mrs W.
The wildlife content was excellent: good tiger sightings - 6 days out of 7; good leopard sightings and excellent birds, all expertly interpreted by the tour leaders. The train journeys were fun and added to the overall experience. The limited time for sightseeing was made up for by an excellent private extension you arranged for us at a modest cost.
The tour leader, Harsha, was a very personable and knowledgeable leader, not only about the birds and mammals we saw, but about the Indian subcontinent in general. We were able to discuss tribes, customs, food, spices, cooking and religion. We had some good fun as well as the serious business of tiger spotting.
Thanks for a wonderful holiday, I am still walking on air.
Everything from the pre-departure information to the tour itself was perfect. I had heard great things about Naturetrek from other travellers prior to booking and you certainly lived up to my high expectations. The tiger safari with Naturetrek offered me the most rewarding wildlife encounters I have ever had. To sum it up - I'm very happy with my Just Tigers! trip with Naturetrek!
Overall, I had the holiday of a lifetime! The knowledge and enthusiasm of the leaders was outstanding - I have learnt so much about nature, birds and mammals. As for tiger sightings at close range - it was a dream come true! I wil be reliving the thrills and excitment in my mind forever! The whole experience was amazing - thank you for making it possible for me!
The content of the holiday, the itinerary and the wildlife experienced were excellent and the service we received was also exceptional.
The holiday was absolutely wonderful - the leaders so helpful and knowledgeable, the hotels excellent, the organisation faultless. Actually, I shouldn’t describe it as a holiday, it was an adventure and everyone should have one!
I was amazed and delighted that the tour was going ahead with such a small group. It was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on and Nick an outstanding leader and guide, the best I’ve ever had.
Firstly, I must say the holiday was wonderful. Having visited India eight times in the past, the country never ceases to amaze me with its exciting way of life. From beautiful colourful saris to very interesting railway journeys, seeing it all from the train window as you pass by. The Indian people are very friendly and delightful. Our leaders, Narendra Sharma and Saravana Kumar, were excellent - kind, considerate and fun; also knowledgeable on birds, butterflies, fauna and wildlife. They worked well together as a team, then later Narendra on his own with our extension part of the holiday in Chambal and Bharatpur. They both made it a memorable holiday for my friend and me. The tigers that we saw in Kanha were magnificent cats, with coats like velvet; I felt I wanted to hug them. Even though I had seen tigers before in India, it is still a magical and spiritual moment to see one. We saw so many lovely birds and animals in the parks, but the Tiger is the king. Our hotel in Delhi, The Trident Hilton Gurgaon, was superb, almost as good as The Imperial Hotel in New Delhi but in a different way. In The Royal Tiger Resort, Kanha the accommodation was good, the staff polite, attentive, helpful and very kind. Chambal Safari Lodge was lovely. The boat trip on the Chambal River was very enjoyable - quiet, simple but beautiful place. The accommodation and food were very good; the staff were attentive and helpful. The gardens have lots of birds but not enough time to enjoy it all. Overall, we both had a marvellous time. Hope to go back to India with Naturetrek again.
We have no real suggestions for improving this trip as we were extremely happy with everything. Our guides were excellent and worked well together. Thanks for truly a trip of a lifetime.
Rajan was brilliant. The itinerary couldn’t have been better organised, the trip leader was better than excellent and the local agents were very kind and polite. What an amazing holiday! The two guides, Narendra and Saravana, were organised and efficient. They could not have been more kind and attentive. They were very knowledgeable about birds and mammals, but also of flora and fauna. The accommodation was excellent, with friendly staff, especially at the Royal Tiger Jungle Lodge in Kanha. By staying in Kanha for 7 nights it meant we could relax and actually experience/ absorb our magical surroundings. And, of course, seeing my first tiger in the wild was fantastic. The local guide had just said the forest was quiet and we were to return the lodge, when there he was, coming out of the trees. I was so excited that all my photos were out of focus because my hands were shaking! It didn’t matter one bit – I had achieved a childhood ambition. I would recommend the Just Tigers! holiday to everyone and I am now looking through the Naturetrek brochure to plan my next adventure!
Raghu was super - very keen and knowledgeable on all animals, plants and butterflies. He answered all my questions and looked after me very well. His sense of humour was great and we had many laughs and happy times with Raghu – he’s the tops! For Harry, we were his first party and I thought he coped extremely well and his knowledge, again, was excellent. He is a very charming person and should do very well at the guide job. Both guides had extreme patience and a good sense of humour. They looked after me 100%. I shall be recommending Naturetrek wherever possible. Thank you at the office for your help and guidance.
Our holiday was made by the commitment and enthusiasm of our tour leader, Karan Modi. His expertise and general love for his country and its wildlife was an inspiration. I am now looking forward to my trip to Borneo at the end of the year and hope that it is as good.
The whole trip from beginning to end was very well organised and it was a pure pleasure to be in India. As for our tour leader, Karan Modi, he made our trip!! His patience, expertise and organisational skills were unbelievable. He certainly went the extra mile to make our visit exceptional. Well done to everyone!
Bunty Mandhayan – a fantastic leader, his knowledge of the animals, birds and area was matched equally by his organisational skills, his care and concern for everyone and his friendly, engaging personality. An absolute gem!
The most memorable part was seeing a tiger in the wild for the first time - a beautiful tigress sitting upon a rock. Her eyes and mine locked ... absolutely electrifying. I couldn't help weeping with joy.