Upon arrival at Delhi's international airport, you will be met by a representative and driven to your nearby boutique hotel for the night.
Welcome to India
Lodging: Shanti Home Hotel (or similar)
Day 2 Delhi/Chambal
Early this morning after breakfast, you will be driven to Agra for a privately-guided tour of the Taj Mahal, followed by additional sightseeing (about two hours total time). Afterward, you will be driven to the safari lodge in Chambal for check-in followed by a wildlife sightseeing boat ride on the pristine Chambal River (about half an hour from the lodge). Total driving time today is about six hours.
Very early in the morning, drive to Agra to arrive in time for a privately guided tour of the Taj Mahal by sunrise. After the tour, return to your hotel for breakfast and then in a while you will leave Agra and be driven to Bharatpur (1 hour 30 minutes) with a few birding stops at the roadside water bodies. On arrival you will check in at the Laxmi Villas. Time permitting, this afternoon - birding in the neaby areas surrounding the Bharatpur Sanctuary or inside the bird sanctuary.
Spend time in the park in search of tigers and other wildlife
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Lodging: Laxmivilas Palace Hotel (or similar)
Day 4 Bharatpur
Early this morning you will be driven to the sanctuary and on reaching you will be birding inside the sanctuary on foot and by rickshaw. Packed breakfast will be delivered to you inside the sanctuary (at a small restaurant) and then resume birding till late afternoon. Post birding you will be driven back to the lodge.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Lodging: Laxmivilas Palace Hotel
Day 5 Bharatpur/Ranthambhore
Leave after breakfast for the the approximate 6 to 7 hour drive to Ranthambore National Park. On arrival, you will be met by a representative and driven to the lodge, where you'll check in and then go out on an afternoon wildlife safari in open top mini trucks. With a bit of luck, you'll see Bengal tigers on this, your first day in the wild. While here, you'll be based at a very comfortable boutique hotel (three nights), especially geared to the needs of serious wildlife and nature enthusiasts, near the park.
Meals: Breakfast,Lunch, Dinner Lodging: The Khemvillas or similar
Day 6-7 Ranthambhore National Park
Spend two full days in search of wildlife on twice-daily safari trips in the park. Nestled in the rugged and hilly landscape of the Aravali hills in northwestern India, Ranthambhore National Park is possibly the best-known tiger destination in the world. Ranthambhore was once the private hunting grounds of the Jaipur and Karauli royal families during the 19th century. Over a long period from the 1950s to 1970s, more and more of the forest in the area was designated as wildlife grounds or sanctuary, eventually growing to become the spectacular wildlife reserve and, in 1980, national park you see today. It is home to an astounding diversity of life, including over 40 species of mammals, 320 species of birds, over 35 species of reptiles, and over 300 species of plants. Besides tigers, wild cats found in Ranthambhore include Leopard, Caracal, Jungle cat, Rusty Spotted cat, Fishing cat, and Leopard cat. The ungulates include Sambhar, Spotted deer (Chital), Blue bull (Nilgai), Chinkara (Indian gazelle), and wild boar. Other mammals you may see in Ranthambhore are the Sloth bear, Indian fox, Jackal, Indian wild dogs (Dhole), Small Indian civet, Palm civet, Common Indian and Ruddy mongoose, and Striped hyena. Each day, you'll go on morning and afternoon open top minivan safaris to explore the park. (Note: The park admits a maximum of 14 jeeps and 20 trucks daily, so we will reserve space as soon as we get passport details from all participants. If we are unable to book space, we will travel instead to a nearby sanctuary where there are leopards, Striped hyena, Asiatic jackals, Jungle cats, and rich birdlife.)
Travel in open-top jeeps and get close to wildlife
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Lodging: The Khemvillas (or similar)
Day 8 Ranthambhore/Jaipur
After breakfast and a morning game drive, you will be driven to Jaipur (about 3.5 hours on good roads) where you'll check in at your lovely boutique hotel (adjacent to Punjab National Park) on arrival and spend the afternoon at leisure. Founded in 1728 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, Jaipur offers a labyrinth of fascinating bazaars, opulent palaces, and rich sightseeing. The focal point of the city is the Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds, a five-story baroque-like structure built to enable the veiled ladies of the harem to observe the street scenes below while remaining unseen themselves. The City Palace, a wonderful combination of Mughal and Rajput architecture, is now partly a museum housing miniature paintings, manuscripts, Mughal carpets, musical instruments, royal costumes, and weapons, giving invaluable insight into Jaipur's royal past. Some of the instruments at the astronomical observatory are still used today for weather forecasting.
Arrive in fascinating Jaipur (photo by Shashvat Sinha)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Lodging: Dera Mandawa (or similar)
Day 9 Jaipur/Jodhpur & Sar
After breakfast, you will be driven to Jodhpur (approx. 6 hours). On arrival, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and after that enjoy a tour of the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. Later you will be driven to your rustic and rural campsite a short distance from the town of Jodhpur.
Explore Amber Fort, including Baradhari Pavilion (photo by Vssun)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Lodging: Overnight camp in the dunes
Day 10 Camping at Sar, Rajasthan
Spend a day in a remote village in the middle of nowhere with a few ungulates and some rustic villagers for company. The Sar village is located a short distance from Jodhpur and you will be driven around in 4x4 open jeeps to see this wonderful area. The villages that you see live pretty much the same way as they have lived since a few centuries back. Animals that you might see include the Asiatic Blackbuck, Indian Gazelle and Bluebull. You may also see a few raptors like the Tawny Eagle and the Steppe Eagle & the Desert Gerd, a mouse that has two short front legs and live in holes that they dig well below the ground level. There are a few Desert fox and you might be lucky enough to see one if you move early in the morning.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Lodging: Camping
Day 11 Sar/Siana
Drive to Siana (about five hours away) following an early breakfast, where you'll check in at your hotel on arrival. Siana is a tiny, beautiful village hamlet in the Aravalli hills. Later in the afternoon, join your host, Pradeep, and his crew for an evening wildlife safari in search of mammals such as Desert cat, Jungle cat, Asiatic leopard, Striped hyena, Asiatic jackal, and Indian fox. Birds you might see include Desert Wheatear, Isabeline Wheatear, Bushchats. Common Stonechat, Indian Rock Eagle Owl, Lagger Falcon, and more. Return to your cottage, lovely collection of around a dozen small cottages, your base for the next two nights.
Head out on game drives in search of mammals and bird life
For early risers, there will be a birding walk in the wild areas near your lodge. You will also visit a village home to learn more about inhabitants and their lifestyle and to try a cup of camel's milk tea and local bread, both homemade. Later visit another village and then drive back to the lodge for lunch. In the late afternoon to early evening, head out on another safari in search of wildlife, then back to your lodge for the night.
You'll see bird life and various other creatures during your stay
Depart after breakfast for a 5 hour drive to Udaipur. driven to Devra, a boutique inn/private home stay property on a hillside with views of Udaipur's City Palace in the distance. After getting settled, head out on a guided tour of the City Palace and Fort. Udaipur is the historic capital of the former kingdom of Mewar. The city is dominated by the City Palace overlooking the Lake Pichola, with the colorful bazaars of the old city stretching behind the palace. Known for its Rajput-era palaces, the City Palace of Udaipur is a fascinating combination of Rajput military architecture and Mughal style decorative techniques featuring a rich collection of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms, and hanging gardens. Udaipur is also home to some of the most beautiful lakes in the state, most notably the Lake Palace, once a royal summer retreat, built on an island on Lake Pichola. The walled city is also home to the 18th century Bagore ki Haveli, now a museum, surrounded by the narrow lanes and colorful chaos of this walled city, sitting in clear constrast to the serene beauty of the nearby countryside. Later, take a boat ride on the Lake Pichola to see the Jag Niwas island temple, then head to your hotel, your base for the next two nights at this relaxing property.
After an early breakfast you will be driven to the Kumbalgarh Forst (2 hour drive). After reaching this huge fortress that is located close to the Kumbalgarh Sanctuary, enjoy a privately guided tour of the fort. If you wish, instead of seeing the fort an adventurous drive to the sanctuary can also be done. The main attractions in the sanctuary is a sizable population of a few species of birds including the endangered and rare Green Munia and the White Neaped tit. After the tour, you will be driven back to Udaipur and on arrival enjoy the evening at leisure.
Experience huge flocks of Demoiselle cranes (photo by M. Field)
Any touring of Udaipur that we were not able to complete in the earlier two days will be finished up today. After the tour, you will be driven to the airport for your short mid-afternoon flight to Delhi. On arrival at Delhi, you will either connect to your flight home or, depending on the time of your scheduled international departure, you might want a few hours in a day-use room at a nearby transit hotel (at additional cost; please inquire).
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Tident Gurgaon or similar
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