India Ultimate Feline Discovery Tour Itinerary

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Itinerary  

 

Day 1 - Arrival into Delhi, India

You will land in Delhi and after you have cleared immigration and customs, you will be met outside the arrival hall by our representative who will escort you to our vehicle and assist with transfer and check-in formalities at your hotel.  Once there you can rest after a long day in transit.  If you arrive early enough in the day and feel up to it you can explore ancient Delhi, India’s capital and political hub. Settled seven times over the centuries, this city has grown in a way that reflects its past, while retaining its cosmopolitan flavor.  Delhi is India’s showcase, be it architecture, religion, shopping, culture – everything is available here – waiting to be discovered!

 

Accommodations: Welcome Hotel Dwarka

 

Day 2 – Delhi to Sawai Madhopur

In the morning, you will leave Delhi and be transferred to the railway station to board a train headed to Sawai Madhopur, a town situated along the rolling hills of Vindhyas and Aravali a little over a hundred miles to north-east of Jaipur. It is best known for Ranthambore National Park, a wildlife preserve which lies just outside of town and a place of historical importance.

Ranthambore derives its name from a fort situated within its precincts and is famous for its tiger population.  Upon arrival, we will do a game drive that afternoon to introduce you to the various areas of the park and get you familiar with the wild residents that inhabit the jungle.

 

Accommodations: Taj Sawai Madhopur Lodge

Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Days 3 & 4 – Ranthambore National Park

We will spend these two days going on game drives in the mornings and afternoons looking for tigers and as well as the myriad of other wildlife in the park. Ranthambore has a healthy population of several dozen tigers, so the chances of spotting one are very good.  We will stop and observe any tiger that we find in order to study its activity as well as watch the behavior of other nearby animals in response to the tiger’s presence. 

 

We will also be on the lookout for any other evidence of tigers including tracks, scratch marks and other sign (especially kill sites) while keeping an eye out for the other wildlife which include leopards, sloth bears, hyena, wild board, several species of deer and many other fascinating and endangered animals.  We will also take time to enjoy the sounds of the jungle and learn about bird language, which will tell us what predators are nearby, what their intentions are, and where they are moving on the landscape.

 

Accommodations: Taj Sawai Madhopur Lodge

Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day 5 - Sawai Madhopur to Pushkar

After breakfast you will be driven to Pushkar. a tiny tranquil town on the edge of the desert along the bank of the picturesque Pushkar Lake. This important Hindu pilgrimage has the only temple of Lord Brahma (The Creator in Hindu Mythology) in the world. Pushkar became famous due to its Camel Fair, which is the largest in the world. Cattle traders from all over Rajasthan and neighboring states converge here to buy and sell camels and all kinds of cattle.  In the evening we will visit the Brahma Temple, the only one in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma, the Creator in the Holy Trinity of Hindu Gods. The temple is believed to mark the spot where a lotus thrown by Brahma landed.

 

Accommodations: The Orchard

Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day 6 – Pushkar to Pali

In the morning we will continue our journey by driving to Pali and the nearby Jawai Leopard Camp where we will be spending the next several days.  In the late afternoon we will venture into the camp and to take a look at the interesting terrain with its open plains surrounded by massive craggy granite formations of caves, kopjes and winding sand riverbeds.  We will take an evening safari in order to familiarize ourselves with the landscape and to scan the hills for leopards and observe the huge variety of birds in the area.  We will then stop for tea and coffee while watching village life on one of the rock formations and hope for an amazing sunset!

 

Accommodations:  Jawai Leopard Camp

Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Days 7-9 – Jawai Leopard Camp

Jawai has a thriving population of leopards and one of the highest densities of these big cats in all of India.  As the apex predator in the region, they are less shy than in places with other competing predators like tigers. The chances of seeing them are high and perhaps the highest in all of Rajasthan.  We will be on foot for much of the time led by our expert naturalist guides looking for leopard tracks and other sign including scratches and kill sites. 

 

We will also be following some of the Rabari herdsmen watching their livestock and observing their lifestyle. The vibrant Rabari have shared this landscape with wildlife for centuries and they will guide us across this landscape that is their home, teaching us about the various uses of plants and also helping us identify animal lairs and   Along with our guides they will do their best to make sure you get to observe these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat as well as learn about the preservation work being done on the Leopard Research Project in the region.

 

Jawai is also a birder’s paradise with over 150 different species, and hence we while we are out tracking we will also pay attention to our avian friends and what they are saying.  We will conduct some bird language exercises and learn to differentiate baseline behavior from alarm calls, and in the process begin to understand when leopards and other animals might be on the hunt and where they are moving.    

 

Accommodations:  Jawai Leopard Camp

Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day 10 - Pali to Dasada

Today after breakfast we head out for a full day drive to Dasada, which is adjacent to the Wild Ass Sanctuary.  This land is a fiat, salt-cracked vast barren desert with hissing sand storms.  On first glance, it would appear not capable of supporting significant wildlife, but in reality it is one of the most fascinating wildernesses in the world with the mirage of waters endlessly encompassing the hard scrabble pans.  The sanctuary was established in 1973, encompassing the waste lands of five bordering districts with an area of almost 2,000 square miles. 

 

In an earlier geologic period, the area was a shallow part of the Gulf of Kachchh in the Arabian Sea and was formed through a geologic uplifting process and siltation of the marine estuary. During the Indian monsoon, the flat desert of salty clay and mudflats, averaging 50 feet above sea level, fill with standing waters about 2 feet deep and is interspersed with sandy islets of thorny scrub. This waters dry up by November, leaving a flat surface and providing a super highway for vehicles.

Late in the afternoon, we will do a short drive over a small part of the sanctuary to familiarize you with this vast landscape and its wild inhabitants.

 

Accommodations: Rann Riders Cottages

Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Days 11 & 12 – Wild Ass Sanctuary

In the morning we will venture out to find wild asses roaming across the landscape, which are locally known as 'Ghud Khar' and were once common in the northwestern India, western Pakistan, and southern Iran.  They are now found only in the Rann of Kachchh of Gujarat State. The Wild Ass falls in scientific family Equide, which includes horses, zebras and donkeys.  They are one of the sturdiest animals in the world, withstanding scorching midday temperatures up to 110° F or more in the desert without any shelter and facing long periods of drought.  It has the strength of a horse and can run at speeds of 30 to 40 mi./hr. and weighs about 500 lbs. They move about either singly or in herds of up to 30 animals in search of fodder and sweet water, resting only in hot afternoon hours. And eating scrubby grass and pods of prosopis.

 

Throughout the day we will be on jeep safaris heading into in the Little Rann of Kutch, a term meaning “salt march” in Hindi and now a vast stretch of flat, cracked barren desert.  The rest of the sanctuary comprises a range habitats, so we will travel from saline desert plains, arid grasslands, rocky and thorn scrub to lakes and marshes searching for sightings and sign of the many species of wildlife including wild asses, gazelles, nilgai, black bucks, wild boar, wolves, foxes, jackals, jungle cats and hares.  We will frequently get out of the vehicles, identifying tracks and sign and following trails of whatever we encounter.

 

The vast expansion of barren land is also a heaven for birds, and the unique ecosystem of the sanctuary provides important feeding, breeding and roosting habitats, including one area where 70,000 birds nest in one area spread over only 250 acres! Sizeable flocks of greater and lesser flamingos are present along with pockets of the highly endangered great Indian bustard. Other birds include the Houbara bustard, Francolin partridge, bustard quail, spotted and Indian sand grouse, desert wheatear, steppe eagle, short toed eagle, imperial eagle, laggard falcon, as well as ducks, cranes, pelicans and storks.  We will stop at various points to observe these magnificent birds and study their behavior.

 

On one of the days you will also get to observe how salt is prepared out of saline water.  Salt manufacturers, locally known as 'Agarias,' withstand great difficulties living on the edge of the Rann preparing salt for the entire country, and you will get to see them work their craft.

 

Accommodations:  Rann Riders Cottages

Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day 13 – Dasada to Sasangir

This morning we will get in our vehicles for an all day drive to Sasangir, which is the town next to Gir National Park where we will be spending the next two days.  Upon arrival, you will be free to explore the surroundings and relax in your room in preparation final the final destination of our trip.

 

Accommodations:  Lion Safari Camp

Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Days 14 & 15 – Gir National Park

Early in the morning we will head into the largest compact tract of dry deciduous forest in the country, protected as Gir National Park and Sanctuary, covering an area of over 500 sq miles in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat.  The park has tremendous biodiversity with 606 different plant species, 39 species of mammals, 37 species of reptiles, 300 species of birds, and more than 2,000 species of insects.  A breeding ground for migratory birds, the area within Gir includes a variety of raptors and many other significant species including lesser florican, osprey, Indian pitta, red-headed vulture, and many others. It also supports numerous reptiles, including the Indian python and the Indian star tortoise, and one of the highest populations of Marsh crocodiles in the country.  

 

But Gir is most well known for the Asiatic lion and is the only place in the world, apart from Africa, where the lion can be seen in its natural habitat.  The Gir lion is a majestic animal with a bigger tail tassel, bushier elbow tufts and a smaller mane than its African cousin.  The population has been steadily increasing and currently there are over 500 in the park area, and with individuals dispersing there are plans to reintroduce them into other parks in India.  Other large predators in the park include leopards (one of the densest concentrations in India) and striped hyenas. 

 

Over the course of our two days in the park we will be taking both morning and afternoon game drives to see these animals in their natural habitat and observe them up close, looking for tracks and sign from our vehicles along the way and being on the lookout for any kill sites or hunts in progress.  We will stop to observe the behavior and interaction of lions in various prides, and we will also be listening closely to the birds for any clues of predator movements and what they might be up to.

 

Accommodations:  Lion Safari Camp

Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day 16 – Sasangir to Diu and Departure to Mumbai

In the morning you can enjoy one final safari in Gir, and afterwards you will check out of the hotel and we will drive a couple hours to Diu airport to board our flight destined for Mumbai.  Upon landing in Mumbai, our tour ends and you can transfer to another terminal to catch your international flight(s) home or stay and explore this historic city on your own!

 

Accommodations:  Lion Safari Camp

Meals Included:  Breakfast, Lunch

 

End of Trip

India Ultimate Feline Discovery Tour

Naturalist Ventures

Austin, Texas, USA

info@naturalistventures.com

+1.512.763.0764

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