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Explorer’s India Expedition Living Traditions Diverse Wildlife

Explorer's India Expedition Living Traditions Diverse Wildlife

Taj Mahal

Land-Based Expeditions

 

Explorer’s India

Explorer’s India Expedition Living Traditions Diverse Wildlife.  India’s vibrant kaleidoscope of colors, cultures, wildlife, sights and sounds may at first overwhelm visitors to this vast and exotic country.  Explorer’s India allows you to peel back the layers of crowded cities, opulent temples and riotous jungle, exposing you to India’s extraordinary mix of living traditions and surpassingly diverse wildlife. For more than two decades, IE has offered this robust and multi-faceted program crafted for you to discover and enjoy India’s enchanting cultural highlights and premier national parks. As you explore under the leadership of a private IE Expedition Leader and local guides, hidden delights begin to reveal themselves through India’s inviting combination of tradition and wildlife.

Incredible India Experiences

From watching the sunrise paint the Taj Mahal to sampling savory local cuisine, IE’s Explorer’s India was created to provide extraordinary memories. Whether observing a Bengal tiger or jaunting through Delhi on a rickshaw you are immersed in the colorful elements that form India’s mosaic of life.  Just because this is an expedition doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy world-class accommodations! Fine hotels and lodges are an integral part of IE’s Explorer’s India travel experience. You’ll enjoy nights in a former palace, family-run jungle lodges and other superb properties. Join us on Explorer’s India to discover the most unique mix of exotic culture and iconic nature India has to offer.

Explore from Taj to Tigers

Only IE’s India expedition exposes you to India’s extraordinary mix of living traditions and surpassingly diverse wildlife. Our multifaceted itinerary combines exceptional wildlife viewing in two tiger reserves with a survey of India’s great cities, cultures and monuments. This allows you an in-depth and unparalleled experience on this vast subcontinent.

Optional Pre-Trip Extensions

Mumbai Extension

Mumbai is a fascinating city, a compact mix of the traditional and the modern. A lively and varied place, this waterfront city, also the capital of Maharashtra, boasts a vibrant and cosmopolitan identity. Few cities in the world leave visitors with such vivid impressions, whether it’s the glitz and glamor of ‘Bollywood’, the spectacular array of Victorian buildings of the British Raj, the seaside rendezvous on the Juhu Beach, or the maze of alleyways and lively streets. Take in the city’s most important sites, such as Elephanta Caves, Mahatma Gandhi’s Mani Bhavan, Crawford Market, and even a tour of nearby Bandra to enhance your experience and understanding of multifaceted India.

 

Day 1 & 2

Depart Home City / Mumbai

Depart your home city on independent flights to Mumbai.  Arrive Mumbai where you are met and escorted to your luxurious home for the night, Vivanta by Taj – President, where friendly hotel staff is ready to welcome you. The balance of the day is at leisure to rest, enjoy the hotel and explore from this delightful and very well-located property.

 

Day 3

Mumbai

Enjoy a morning excursion to Elephanta Caves. Deriving its name from a stone elephant discovered by the Portuguese, this beautiful green island is about one hour’s boat ride from Mumbai harbor. Carved during the Golden age of the Guptas, these temples are dedicated to the worship of Shiva. The most outstanding example is Maheshmurthy or Trimurthy, an 18 ft., three headed bust hewn from a single rock representing the three aspects of Shiva; the creator, the preserver and the destroyer. After lunch on the island, return by boat to Mumbai where the afternoon is free for you to explore or relax. (B,L)

 

Day  4

Mumbai / Bandra

Continue to the colorful Crawford Market and to Flora Fountain in the heart of the city before lunch and then the nearby city of Bandra, originally a collection of 24 Villages inhabited by the Kolis. In the 16th and 17th centuries, many of these villages converted to Catholicism, owing to the Portuguese rule. Despite urbanization, Bandra has managed to retain some of its charm from yesteryear. Visit Mount Mary Church, revered and visited by people of many religions. Believed to grant wishes, people visit the church daily to pray and offer wax models that signify materialistic and non-materialistic wants of the devotee. Next is a visit to Castelle de Agauda, an Old Portuguese fort, now in ruins. Hidden in these ruins are stories of the Maratha Valour and the victory of the great Maratha Peshwas over the British and the Portuguese. Waroda Road and Pali Village are where you find old Portuguese style homes, complete with big porches, wooden staircases, and ornate grills. End your day by seeing some of the houses of famous Bollywood celebrities and learning about India’s movie industry.  (B,L)

 

Day 5

Mumbai / Depart

Take a mid-day group flight to your next destination to start your main India adventure. (BL)

Attractions are closed on certain days of the week. If guests are scheduled to visit an attraction on the day it’s closed then the itinerary will be re-arranged prior to arrival to move that visit to when the attraction is scheduled to be open.

Kolkata Extension

To broaden and enhance your experience to this distant land, visit Kolkata (Calcutta), India’s intellectual capital where book markets flourish, idol makers toil and colonial architecture takes you back in time to when this was the capital of the English empire in the East. Established in 1690 as the trading post for the English East India Company by Job Charnock, Kolkata is the present capital of the eastern state of West Bengal and one of the largest cities in India. The city that once served as the showpiece capital of the British power in India is noteworthy for its colonial architecture including the Victoria Memorial. Other important sights include the Indian Museum, and Howrah Bridge; an engineering marvel that links the city and Howrah Station. Gateway to Eastern India and home to prominent intellectuals, the city is fiercely loved by Kolkatans.

 

Day 1 & 2

Depart Home City / Kolkata

Depart your home city on independent flights to Kolkata. You will be met upon arrival and escorted to your luxurious and historic home for two nights; Lalit Great Eastern Hotel, where friendly hotel staff is ready to welcome you.  Restored and renovated over a period of seven years, this 5-star luxury hotel holds the distinction of being the longest continuously operating hotel for 165 years. Built in 1841 as Auckland Hotel, it has been referred to as the “Jewel of the East” and the “Best Hotel East of the Suez”. Over the years the hotel has been the favorite haunt of royalty and celebrities from across the world. The balance of the day is at leisure to rest, enjoy the hotel and explore from this very well located property.

 

Day  3

Kolkata

Early this morning, experience a unique highpoint of visiting Kolkata; a “heritage walk” through White Town (British Calcutta). Your guide will set the stage for a trip back in time as you wander through these historic and significant areas to the time when Calcutta was the capital of the British Empire in India. Among the many architectural marvels are the Treasury Building, St. John’s Church, Kolkata GPO & Postal Museum, the Old Currency Building and the Central Telegraph Office. Return to the hotel for some rest and relaxation. This afternoon partake in an overview of the prominent sites that not only make Kolkata a unique and interesting city but also showcase its deeply rooted cultural traditions as well as its place in modern history.  These include Mother House, the Book Market, the Flower Market, Victoria Memorial, and Kumartuli idol market (if in operation). (B,L)

 

Day 4

Kolkata / Depart

Enjoy time at leisure before transfer to the airport and your flight to begin your main India adventure. (B)

Daily Itinerary

Explorer’s India Itinerary

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    Day  1 & 2

    Depart Home City / Delhi

    Begin your extraordinary journey on independent flights from your home city.  Consider joining one of our many pre-trip optional extensions to enhance your experience and get the most out of your trip by visiting Mumbai, Kolkata, or one of many of India’s other National Parks. Arrive Delhi where you are met and escorted to your luxurious home for two nights, The Taj Palace, where your Expedition Leader and hotel staff are ready to welcome you. The balance of the day is at leisure to rest, enjoy the hotel and explore from this delightful and very well-located property before meeting your travel-mates for dinner.  (Day 2: D)

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    Day 3

    Delhi

    A full day of old and new delights await you in the bustling city of Delhi.  Begin with Old Delhi, founded in 1639 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shahjanhan. Visit Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. Stop to see the memorials at Raj Ghat (King’s Gate) and Shanti Vana (Forest of Peace), where you find the cremation sites of Indian heroes Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Pay a visit to Chandni Chowk, the oldest and busiest market in Old Delhi and the site of Red Fort. Following lunch you’ll visit New Delhi. Also known as “Lutyens’ Delhi” the new section of the city was largely designed by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, considered by many to be the greatest architect in British history. Your afternoon includes Qutub Minar, surrounded by medieval monuments. Built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibek in 1199, Qutub Minar is the world’s tallest brick minaret. Explore Humayun’s Tomb complex and gardens before visiting India Gate (formerly the All India War Memorial). Drive past President’s House, Parliament House, Government Secretariat Buildings and Connaught Place; New Delhi’s main shopping center. This evening you’ll dine in a local home. (B,L,D)

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    Day 4 – 6

    Kanha National Park

    Along with being an Important Tiger Reserve, Kanha is often described as India’s best game sanctuary and a model for wildlife conservation everywhere. The park’s grassy meadows, flat-topped hills, teaming wildlife, numerous crystal clear streams and lush sal forest were Kipling’s stage and inspiration for The Jungle Book. While home to a wide range of all things wild, Kanha is, along with Bandhavgarh, arguably the best habitat for tigers in India. However, the park’s greatest story is perhaps the hard ground swamp deer, or barasingha. This species was near extinction with just about 66 left in 1970. Strict conservation policies and focused initiatives were put in place to rescue them. Today, the park’s over 400 barasingha are the only known surviving population of this species and are considered the “jewel of Kanha”. If a tiger is near you are sure to hear the alarm call of the barasingha. Other species such as honey badger, leopard, dhole, chital, porcupine, sloth bear and the mighty guar are residents of the park we hope to encounter on twice daily 4×4 jeep safaris. Kanha is an ornithologist’s dream with over 300 recorded species, such as the Indian golden oriole, Indian roller, pied myna, and blossom-headed parakeet. Listen to the sounds of the jungle, an experience both exciting and chilling. While relaxing at the lodge, you may hear the alarm calls of deer or an occasional roar of the Bengal tiger. During our three nights at Kanha Jungle Lodge, enjoy stargazing and cooking demonstrations using the lodge’s organically grown produce. (B,L,D Daily)

    We believe the most important aspect of a wildlife experience is the interpretation of nature and its habitant by local experts. To this end, along with the most comfortable experience possible, you’ll stay at Kanha Jungle Lodge, built with minimum interference to the natural environment and managed on eco-friendly principles. Lodge naturalists are experts in narrating and interpreting natural history and all manner of life in the jungle, which they will do on daily jeep safaris in the park. A stay here not only leaves you with a sense of thrill and excitement but also deepens your wisdom about nature and life itself, lasting well beyond your expedition. (B,L,D Daily)

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    Day 7 – 9

    Bandhavgarh National Park

    “Jungle” is the Hindi word for wilderness and Bandhavgarh certainly lives up to that name. Set amongst the Vindhya Hills in Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh consists of a mix of bamboo, grassland and deciduous forest brimming with exotic species such as langur, rhesus macaque, wild pig, gray mongoose, and barking deer.  At least 22 species of mammal, including the elusive and prized Bengal tiger, make their homes in this park.  Perhaps no other animal is so iconic or sought after in the wild as the tiger, a lethal predator, solitary and elusive, a vision of raw beauty and explosive power. One’s heart pounds with adrenaline upon hearing the primal roar of the tiger…a sound both startling yet captivating at once. Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks are arguably the premier spots in all of India to have the opportunity to lay your eyes on this majestic cat which not only draws wildlife enthusiast and nature photographers from all over the world but has been an integral part of local Indian culture and mythology since ancient times. Sambar and spotted deer, the tiger’s main prey species, abound and have developed an “alarm” system to alert the area when a predator is lurking.  Listen for these sounds in the jungle and they will alert you as well.  Over 250 species of birds compliment the many forms of life in the park. Of particular interest is the Indian gray hornbill which begins its nesting season at this time of year. Watch for hollows in tall trees where females use mud pellets to seal themselves in with their eggs, leaving only a small slit through which the male brings her food. More colorful species include little green bee-eater, orange headed ground thrush and white-breasted kingfisher. Sloth bears, while still elusive, have become more frequently seen residents. Your home in Kanha National Park is Kanha Jungle Lodge, sister-lodge to your accommodations in Bandhavgarh, built with and operated under the same sound and quality principles. (B,L,D Daily)

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    Day 10

    Bandhavgarh / Khajuraho

    After breakfast, drive to Khajuraho, passing through the villages and countryside of Madhya Pradesh (Central Province). Tonight dinner is at Hotel Chandela, where you spend the night. (B,L,D)

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    Day 11

    Khajuraho / Varanasi

    Remarkable temples adorned with vivid erotic stone carvings dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma, are the highlights of your exploration of Khajuraho. Built by the Chandela kings between 950 AD and 1050 AD., the most important temples within the complex are Chausath Yogini, dedicated to goddess Kali. Kandariya Mahadev is the largest and perhaps grandest temple of Khajuraho, attributed to King Ganda in the 11th century AD. The octagonal ceiling of the maha-madapa is one of the most remarkable features of Chitragupta (or Bharatji), where you will also find an idol of the god Surya driving a seven-horse chariot and an image of an 11-headed Vishnu. Among the eastern group of temples you will find Parasvanath Temple, Khajuraho’ s only surviving Jain temple. After your exploration and lunch, fly to Varanasi where you’ll check in The Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi before an evening rickshaw ride. Venture to the banks of the Ganges, one of India’s holiest places, to witness the ceremonial Aarti, a Hindu ritual where lighted candles are offered and songs are sung in praise of the deities. (B,L,D)

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    Day 12

    Varanasi

    Historic and mystic Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest living cities, contemporary to the ancient cities of Nineveh and Thebes. For those who want an in-depth look into the fascinating Hindu religion, there is no better place to explore than Varanasi. Take in the banks of the Ganges where we see the devoted taking to the river for ritual bathing and throwing the ashes of their loved ones into the holy water. Survey the city itself, visiting Bharat Mata, Durga Temple and Benares Hindu University, one of the largest residential universities in the world. The sacred Buddhist site of Sarnath, where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, is a holy not to be missed. Wrap up your day with Dhamaekha Stupa, Moolgandha Kuti Vihar and the Sarnath Museum, which houses a rich collection of Indian antiques. (B,L,D)

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    Day 13

    Varanasi / Agra

    Make a morning trip to the Dashaswamedh Ghat, the primary and probably the most impressive ghat in Varanasi, where you board a boat for a sunrise cruise on the Ganges. Watch as thousands of Hindu faithful come to the riverbank to bathe and pray, while in the background, temples and palaces rise in tiers from the water’s edge. Stroll through the cobblestone streets along the riverbank. As the city wakes and shops open the area buzzes with activity. Fly to Agra, and spend the afternoon exploring Agra Fort and the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah. Amber Fort is one of the most impressive examples of Mughal architecture and certainly the most important of the 16th century. Multiple Mughal palaces and mosques are found within the sandstone walls.  Often referred to as “Baby Taj” or “jewel box”, the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah was built between 1622 and 1628 AD.  It is an excellent example of a transition in Mughal architecture from red sandstone and marble to white marble and pietra dura inlay. Spend tonight at the ITC Mughal. (B,L,D)

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    Day 14

    Agra / Jaipur

    This morning you visit magnificent Taj Mahal, a touchstone site that fully lives up to its reputation as one of the most glorious monuments in the world. Built by Moghul Shah Jahan for his beloved wife, the project took 22 years to complete. Its placid pools, flowing fountains, flawless marble and very silhouette have become synonymous with the heart of Indian culture and iconic architecture. Continue to Fatehpur Sikri (Victory City). Once the Mughal capital, this walled city is a blend of Hindu and Islamic styles of architecture. Make your way among the Jama Masjid, Tomb of Salim Chisti, and Panch Mahal while your guide takes you back in time to a place where culture and religion flourished more than 1,000 years ago. End your day in Jaipur, the capital and “royal city” of Rajasthan where you stay at the opulent Jai Mahal Palace. (B,L,D)

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    Day 15

    Jaipur

    Founded in 1727 by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amer, Jaipur is now known as the “Pink City” due to the pink color applied to the old city walls and palace in 1876 as a gesture of welcome to the Prince of Wales, later king Edward VII.  Tradition and modernity exist side-by-side in the labyrinth of fascinating bazaars, opulent palaces and historic sights. Explore the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), built so the women of the royal household could observe street performances while not exposing themselves to the general public.  Maharaja’s City Palace is an iconic palace of Jaipur where priceless works of art are housed in the Mahraja Sawai Man Singh II Museum. The Jaipur royal family still resides in this palace.  Discover 16th century Amber Fort, Rajasthan’s ancient capital.  A blend of Hindu and Rajput styles, the magnificent fort stands watch over Maota Lake.  Continue to Sheesh Mahal or the Hall of Victory, filled with hunting murals and glittering with mirrors. (B,L,D)

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    Day 16

    Jaipur / Samode / Delhi

    Explore the nearby village of Samode, renowned for printed cloth and glass bangles produced by local artisans before continuing to Delhi.  Dayrooms are reserved at Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi where you can catch your breath, clean up and pack for the journey home.  Enjoy one final dinner with your fellow travelers before you are escorted to the Delhi airport for your independent flights home, departing early on day 17. To enhance your experience on this already epic voyage consider one of our many optional post-trip extensions to some of India’s other exciting national parks or perhaps neighboring Bhutan or Nepal. (B,L,D)

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    Day 17

    Depart / Arrive Home City

    Early morning independent flights from Delhi arrive North America on the same day, where you connect to your flights home.

Optional Post-Trip Extensions

Nepal Extension

The tremendous variances in altitude and topography of Nepal foster an incredible diversity of ecosystems: the dizzying heights of Mount Everest, thick tropical jungles teeming with wildlife, thundering rivers, forested hills and frozen valleys. Within this realm, you also find one of the richest cultural landscapes anywhere. Explore this remarkable country, taking in the historic city of Kathmandu, small villages and the superb wildlife of Chitwan National Park.

 

Day 1

Delhi / Kathmandu

Fly today to Kathmandu to begin your Nepal expedition. Upon arrival, transfer to the Hyatt Regency. This afternoon tour Kathmandu City, including Durbar Square, the temple of the Living Goddess, the Royal Palace and Kasthamandap – a monument built from the trunk of a single tree from which the name of the city Kathmandu was derived. Continue to Swayambhunath, the oldest Buddhist Stupa. Here you will have amazing views of the entire Kathmandu Valley. (B,L,D)

 

Day 2

Kathmandu / Bharatpur / Chitwan

Take a short flight to Bharatpur from where you are driven to the banks of the Narayani River (Amaltari Ghat). From here you cross by boat and continue a short distance by road to Temple Tiger Green Jungle Resort, situated in the heart of Chitwan National Park. Late this afternoon, enjoy a wildlife safari in search of the Asian one-horned rhinoceros. Chitwan National Park is known for its tropical creeper-clad forests, great meandering rivers and lush seas of tall elephant grass (18-20 feet high). It is home to the rich and diverse wildlife of Nepal such as sloth bear, wild boar, gaur (bison), four species of deer, two species of monkeys, two species of crocodiles, leopard and the elusive Royal Bengal tiger. There are also over 450 species of birds and various other reptiles. (B,L,D)

 

Day 3

Chitwan National Park

Your Nepal tour includes an early morning safari, penetrating through deep, dense grasslands in search of rhinoceros and other mammals. Return to the lodge for breakfast and enjoy the remainder of the morning at leisure. You may wish to visit the elephant stables, where a senior naturalist will discuss the habits of elephants. This afternoon, take a jeep safari to the Narayani River to embark on a boat excursion in search of gharial, mugger crocodiles, fresh water dolphins, otters and various water birds. Disembark at a different part of the river, where you can choose a jeep safari or guided nature walk back to the lodge. This evening there is a lecture and slide show on the flora and fauna of Chitwan. Overnight at Temple Tiger Green Jungle Resort. (B,L,D)

 

Day 4

Chitwan National Park / Pokhara

Following an early morning wildlife excursion and breakfast, drive via Bharatpur to Pokhara, a small town nestled in a green valley below the towering peaks of the Western Himalayas. The mountains are as few as nineteen miles away, so your view is unimpaired. At dawn, gather in the terraced, lakeside gardens to watch these mighty sculptured forms shimmer in the changing morning light; a breathtaking sight. You have the day to leisurely explore Pokhara, lounge in the garden or gaze at the mountains. Spend two nights at the Fish Tail Lodge. (B,L,D)

 

Day 5

Pokhara

This morning you explore the Pokhara Valley, one of the most picturesque valleys in Nepal. Pokjara lies 125 miles west of Kathmandu, under the shadows of the Annapurna Range. This area is a rare combination of snow-clad mountains, crystal clear lakes, streams and villages inhabited by friendly ethnic tribes. Before returning to the hotel, enjoy a relaxing boat ride on beautiful Phewa Lake. (B,L,D)

 

Day 6

Pokhara / Kathmandu

Late this morning you transfer to the airport for a short flight to Kathmandu, where you enjoy the rest of the day is at leisure to explore on our own. Enjoy a farewell dinner with fellow Nepal expedition travelers at a fine local restaurant, and overnight at Hyatt Regency. (B,L,D)

 

Day 7

Kathmandu: Optional Everest Flight / Delhi

After breakfast, weather permitting, there is an optional Mount Everest flight not included in the price of your Nepal travel package. This spectacular one-hour flight is an ideal opportunity to photograph this resplendent mountain range. Early this afternoon you board your return flight to Delhi. Upon arrival you check in Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi, where dayrooms have been reserved before your evening airport transfer. (B,L)

 

Day 8

Depart / Arrive Home City

Depart Dehli early on your independent flight, arriving North America the same day.  Make your connections to your home city.

Kaziranga National Park Extension

Kaziranga National Park offers a wonderful contrast in habitat and wildlife from that found in other parts of India. Its remoteness means fewer people visit and as such an enhanced experience for those willing to make the trip. With a count of nearly 2,500 rhinos in 2015, Kaziranga National Park has the largest population of one-horned rhinoceros anywhere in the world. In addition, 35 major mammals including wild elephant, tiger, small population of hoolock gibbon, capped langur, bristly hare, hog badger, otter, leopard, wild boar, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer, muntjac, water buffalo and gaur are also found here.  Among the rich birdlife are the rare greater adjutant stork, Bengal florican, black-necked stork, lesser adjutant stork, Pallas’s fish eagle, swamp partridge, grey peacock-pheasant, great pied hornbill, green imperial pigeon, babblers and thousands of migratory birds, seasonally attracted to the various water areas of the park from as far away as Siberia. Pay a visit to Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, where seven species of primate, including the endangered western hoolock gibbon, can be found.

 

Day 1

Delhi / Kaziranga National Park

Fly from Delhi to Jorhat or Guwahati (depending on flight schedules ) in the remote state of Assam, a place known for its wildlife, tea plantations, unique culture and the mighty Brahmaputra River.  Get your first look at rural Assamese life as you drive to Diphlu River Lodge near Kaziranga National Park, your home for three nights. (B,L,D)

 

Day 2 & 3

Kaziranga National Park

Morning and afternoon jeep safaris bring you face-to-face with the wild treasures of Kaziranga, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  With a count of nearly 2,500 rhinos in 2015, Kaziranga National Park has the largest population of one-horned rhinoceros anywhere in the world. While the rhinos are certainly the main attraction they are not the only highlight or wonder to encounter here.  35 species of mammal, including elephant, tiger, western hoolock gibbon, capped langur, bristly hare, hog badger, otter, leopard, wild boar, sambar, swamp deer, hog deer, muntjac, buffalo and gaur all call this park home.  Mammals are notoriously hard to spot on any safari outside of Africa, and Kaziranga is no exception.  Lush vegetation gives ample cover to animals that don’t want to be seen. That said, your visit has been planned to coincide with the driest portion of the year in Kaziranga and, luckily, rhinos tend to be conspicuous and commonly sighted.  Elephants and buffalo are also typically checked off the proverbial list here, as are the multiple species of deer and the ever-animated capped langur.  Sightings depend on the weather and, of course, the animals themselves on that day. Patience is the most important element to a safari in Kaziranga. Keep your binoculars and camera at the ready and your guide will do his or her very best to help you see the most they can.  Among the rich birdlife are the rare greater adjutant stork, Bengal florican, black-necked stork, lesser adjutant stork, Pallas’s fish eagle, swamp partridge, grey peacock-pheasant, great pied hornbill, and green imperial pigeon.  Your local guides and park rangers will be on-hand to help spot, identify and interpret for you the wonders of nature that are Kaziranga.(B,L,D Daily)

 

Day 4

Kaziranga National Park / Delhi

Explore Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, a diamond in the rough that few travelers to India get to visit, or even know about.  This remote sanctuary is home to seven species of primate, including India’s only ape, the endangered western hoolock gibbon, which can be heard and often seen in the early morning hours. Their daunting and riotous calls can be heard for miles around as they announce their presence and assert their dominance over their territory.  Enjoy a ranger-led walk through the reserve to search for the gibbons as well as the park’s six other primate species. While primate spotting cannot be guaranteed the most commonly seen are western hoolock gibbon, northern pig-tailed macaque, capped langur and Rhesus macaque.  Birds are quite abundant in this reserve as well.

Travel to Guwahati for your group flight to Delhi. Dayrooms are reserved at Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi where you can catch your breath, clean up and pack before you are escorted to the Delhi airport for your independent flights home. (B,L)

 

Day 5

Depart / Arrive Home City

Depart Delhi on independent flights. Arrive back in North American on the same day and connect to your flights home.

Jawai Leopard Reserve Extension

Expand your India experience with a visit to Jawai Leopard Reserve, an important area for leopard conservation as well as colorful Rajasthan culture. Leopard is the top carnivore in The Aravalis of southern Rajasthan. The rocky hills around this region provide a perfect hiding place for the elusive hunter. Leopards have lost much of their territory, and are in danger of losing it all, to ever-increasing human pressure. With this in mind, India declared the region a Leopard Conservation Zone. Since then, the leopard population density of the zone has increased to approximately 50 and your chances of sighting one are higher here than in most places in India. Other interesting and important species, such as endemic nilgai (blue bull), chinkara and lots of water birds, reside in the area.

The word Godwad (pronounced as goad – waad) in local language translates to “area in the foothills.” Apart from being rich in biodiversity, it is also one of the most culturally interesting places in all of Rajasthan. Witness a shepherd from the maverick “Raika” community tending his flock of sheep or a farmer busy with his daily business – all of these in the vicinity.

 

Day 1

Delhi / Jawai Leopard Reserve

Take an early morning flight to Udaipur.  From here you transfer by road to Jawai Leopard Reserve and Godward Safari Camp, your home for three nights. (B,L,D)

 

Day 2 & 3

Jawai Leopard Reserve

While at Godwad Safari Camp you can enjoy morning and afternoon wildlife safaris in 4×4 jeeps,  visits to local shepherd villages, cycling safaris, sunset hikes to Mithidi Dam, picnic lunches, trekking, bird watching and wonderful photography throughout.

While leopard is the main species to spot, other important animals to watch for are rhesus macaque, sloth bear, Indian civet cat, Indian porcupine, hyena, wild boar, jackal, hare hanuman langur, nilgai and chinkara. Nilgai (blue bull) is the largest Asian antelope and is endemic to India. Chinkara, also known as Indian gazelle, is native to Iran, Pakistan and India. The Jawai dam is the biggest dam in western Rajasthan and has more than 200 crocodiles as well as large numbers of turtles and aquatic birds.

Over 200 species of migratory and domestic birds can be found here at various times of the year. Birds of interest are adjunct stork, demoiselle crane, spoonbill, bar-headed goose, Siberian crane, spot-billed duck, brahminy kit, Asian brown flycatcher, and stork-billed kingfisher. (B,L,D Daily)

 

Day 4

Jawai Leopard Reserve / Delhi

Drive to Udaipur, from where you fly to Delhi. Dayrooms are reserved at Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi where you can catch your breath, clean up and pack before you are escorted to the Delhi airport for your independent flights home. (B,L)

 

Day 5

Depart / Arrive Home City

Depart Delhi on independent flights.  Arrive North America the same day and connect to flights home.

Udaipur Extension

Udaipur is often called “Venice of the East” or “city of lakes”. The Lake Palace (Jag Niwas) located in Pichola Lake is an architectural and cultural marvel. The grand City Palace on the banks of the lake along with the Monsoon Palace (Sajjan Garh) on the hill above enhances the beauty of this magnificent city. Udaipur is also the center for performing arts, crafts, and its famed miniature paintings.

 

Day 1

Delhi / Udaipur

Fly this morning to Udaipur where your exploration begins at Eklingji & Nagda Temples, among the most famous temples in all of Rajasthan. Your home for two nights is Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace. (B,L)

 

Day 2

Udaipur

Visit City Palace; the largest in Rajasthan. In size and outline the City Palace and its subsidiary palaces bear a resemblance to Windsor castle in England.  Continue to medieval Jagdish Temple with its meticulously detailed carvings and take the blessings of Lord Vishnu (deemed as the preserver of the universe by Hindus). In the evening enjoy a tranquil boat ride in a traditional Shikara along the waters of Lake Pichola. Your expert guide will explain the history of the royal city, also known as “Venice of the East”. The boat will glide past historic sites on the banks of Lake Pichola.(B,L)

 

Day 3

Udaipur / Delhi

A morning at leisure is followed by a group flight to Delhi.  Dayrooms are reserved at Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi where you can catch your breath, clean up and pack before you are escorted to the Delhi airport for your independent flights home. (B,L)

 

Day

4

Depart / Arrive Home City

Depart Delhi on independent flights and arrive North America the same day.  Connect to your homeward flights.

Things to Know

What is included on IE’s India tour?

  • Private city tours and sightseeing
  • Private game drives & nature walks
  • Services of an IE Expedition Leader, local guides, lodge naturalists & park rangers
  • Drinking water & one soft drink or local beer per person at group lunches & dinners
  • Drinking water on all excursions & in rooms daily
  • All entrance fees
  • 46 meals
  • Gratuities to all group service staff with the exception of your IE Expedition Leader
  • Deluxe accommodations including jungle lodges, hotels & former palaces
  • Arrival & departure transfer between the group hotel & international airport

What is the weather like in India?

India has a very wide range of climatic patterns. October to March brings the best weather over much of the country. The coolest months are from November to mid-March while the hottest are from April to July.  During the winter months it can get very cold at night. March and April are typically dry and with less vegetation, offering the best game viewing opportunities. From mid-July to September come the monsoon rains.

What will the food be like and can you handle special dietary requests in India?

With advance notice we can accommodate most dietary requests. Vegetarian food is abundant in India but Kosher and gluten-free diets are not possible to accommodate. The majority of meals on this trip are Indian food, with curry served with every meal, including breakfast. Chicken is the most common protein while rice, beans and potatoes are the most common starches. Indian restaurants and hotels that cater to visitors are used to, and quite good at, preparing non-spicy foods for those who cannot handle the heat.

What are flying and driving times like on this trip to India?

What is the activity level like on this trip to India?

A trip to India requires good health and mobility. While we have time scheduled for rest, your itinerary in India has a moderate pace, involving activities and transportation from place to place to ensure that you have maximized opportunity to interact with the wildlife and local culture. Consult your physician if you are in doubt about your ability to enjoy an adventure in India and please contact our office with any questions.

Excursions are typically early in the morning and late in the afternoon, if not all day.  This is to beat the heat and traffic conditions throughout the country.  Excursions require a good deal of walking and standing, with places to sit in some locations.  Guests will be required to walk up to four hours unassisted over uneven terrain.  You will also need your patience as the major sites tend to be crowded.

Your safaris in the national parks are done by jeep.  You will have to climb in and out and note that park roads are bumpy and rutted.  You will drive at a reasonable pace but it’s still very bumpy.  Safaris tend to last about three hours.

You will be required to remove your shoes and socks before entering temples or other holy places.  It is not normal to permit shoe covers or socks.

India’s best parks do not have airports nearby.  As such, some long drives are necessary to get us from place to place. Roads are typically in good shape but foot and animal traffic are continuous obstacles while driving.  As such, you are not able to drive very fast and will speed up, slow down and swerve to avoid people and animals the entire way. The drive from Jabalpur to Kanha is typically five hours while the drive from Kanha to Bandhavgarh is about four hours.  The drive from Bandhavgarh to Khajuraho is about seven hours, with stops for lunch and WC.  Jaipur is about an eight-hour drive from Agra, with stops for excursions, lunch and WC. Including similar stops from Jaipur to Delhi, the drive is about five hours.

Accommodations

Taj Palace, New Delhi

Taj Palace

Set in the heart of New Delhi on six lush acres of tropical gardens, the Taj Palace features a full spa and fitness center, outdoor pool and 24-hour room service. Taj Palace New Delhi is home to a multi-award-winning fine-dining restaurants specializing in Vietnamese, Continental-European and Indian cuisines. In typical Indian fashion and in step with the hallmark of Taj Hotels, service is superb while ambiance delights, with decor inspired by Mughal architecture infused with state-of-the-art technology. Spacious superior rooms offer hair dryer, free Wi-Fi, LCD TV, tea and coffee maker, mini-bar and electronic safe.

India's family run Kanha Jungle Lodge.

Kanha Jungle Lodge

Kanha Jungle Lodge is just steps from Kanha National Park and is set in the midst of the Sal jungle. It offers 19 spacious rooms, each with attached baths, running hot and cold water, and comfortable furniture. Apart from the usual amenities found at our India travel accommodation such as a restaurant, bar and laundry it also has a library and resident naturalists for your India tiger safari. Kanha Jungle Lodge wasbuilt with great care to disturb the environment as little as possible, and to operate on the most modern of eco-friendly principles.

india accommodations bandhavgarh jungle lodge

Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge

Located near the main gate of the park, Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge has been developed on the theme of a traditional Indian village with mud cottages, thatched roofs and inner courtyards, all done with minimal interference to the natural environment and manage on eco-friendly principles. Lodge naturalists are experts in narrating and interpreting natural history and all manner of life in the jungle, which they will do on daily jeep safaris in the park. A stay here not only leaves you with a sense of thrill and excitement but also deepens your wisdom about nature and life itself, lasting well beyond your expedition. At nightfall, with the tranquility of the forest, one can hear animals such deer and jackals calling, and the occasional roar of a tiger.

Hotel Chandela Khajuraho

Hotel Chandela

The five-star Hotel Chandela is set amid 11 acres of lush gardens near the many temple attractions of Khajuraho. All rooms feature elegant furnishings, wooden flooring, queen sized beds, garden or pool view and 24-hour room service.

The Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi

The Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi

This five-star property occupies 40 acres of lush gardens near the city center of Varanasi, known as The Chowk. The hotel features a pool and spa on site. All rooms feature tea and coffee maker, mini bar, safe, hair dryer and Wi-Fi.

india accommodations itc mughal

ITC Mughal

The lavish ITC Mughal is spread across 35 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens just a short distance from the Taj Mahal. Enjoy 24-hour room service, 24-hour concierge service, a swimming pool and treatments in The Royal Spa. Its beautifully appointed Mughal Rooms offer coffee/ tea maker, safe and cable TV.

Jai Mahal Palace

Jai Mahal Palace

Built in 1745, the Jai Mahal Palace is a stunning piece of Rajasthan’s heritage, a great example of Indo-Saracenic architecture set on acres of landscaped Mughal gardens. Jai Mahal Palace has been the residence of three Prime Ministers of the princely state of Jaipur. Painstakingly restored and recently refurbished, it is now a luxury hotel equipped with all modern-day comforts. Unwind with rejuvenating treatments and therapies at the spa and explore the palace history and its landscaped gardens.

Radisson Blue Plaza Delhi

Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi

Located just minutes from Delhi Airport, the Radisson Blu offers easy access for early flights as well as all the amenities you expect in a luxury hotel, including spa, fitness studio, hydrotherapy lounge and beauty salon.  Our superior rooms feature free Wi-Fi, LCD TV, rain shower, safe and hair dryer.

Hyatt Regency Kathmandu

Hyatt Regency Kathmandu

Hyatt Regency Kathmandu is a 5 star luxury resort set on 37 acres of landscaped grounds, created in the traditional Newari style of Nepalese architecture. Rooms are well-equipped and spacious with private bathroom, walk-in shower, in-room safe and mini bar. Amenities include free Wi-Fi. The hotel’s four restaurants and bars ensure the perfect dining experience with an array of cuisine options while guests can stay fit at the hotel’s Club Oasis, which features a well-equipped fitness center, a health and beauty spa, two outdoor swimming pools (one for adults and one for children) an indoor and outdoor whirlpool, tennis courts and a jogging track.

Temple Tiger Green Jungle Resort

Temple Tiger Green Jungle Resort

For over 25 years Temple Tiger Green Jungle Resort has been at the forefront in providing gold standard services in Chitwan National Park. Located in the Buffer Zone area of Amaltari Ghat, Nawalparasi combines the best of jungle wilderness yet within close proximity to Tharu and Bote villages.  The new resort opened in 2012, as all properties within the park have been closed.  The resort features 25 air-conditioned villas with private balconies, overlooking the Chitwan National Park and the Narayani River, about a 30-minute boat ride from the main park. The rooms have wood floors with throw carpets and have solar heated bathrooms with hot water. The central dining room overlooks a man-made lake.

Fish Tail Lodge

Fish Tail Lodge

Fish Tail Lodge enjoys a unique location situated on a peninsula across Fewa Lake. Shuttle-floats or boats transport you across to the resort. With the lake on one side and a forest hill on the other, the views are spectacular. Cosseted by their staff in this oasis of tranquility, facing one of the most beautiful, breathtaking views in the world, you will understand why the lodge features in the bestselling book “1000 Places to See Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz. The lodge was built in the late 1960’s with unique round cottages that are set amidst a lush garden. Garden Terrace Rooms feature garden, pool and forest views, en suite shower with hot water, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, safe and tea/coffee making facilities. The lodge has a full spa.

Vivanta by Taj - President - Mumbai

Vivanta by Taj – President – Mumbai

The 5-star Vivanta by Taj – President is just over 1 mile from Marine Drive and 2 miles from the Gateway of India, with many restaurants and shops nearby.  The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour in-room dining, business center, 24-hour fitness center, Jiva Spa, Taj Salon, Asian flavors at Thai Pavilion, comfort-food at The Konkan Café, and Italian at Trattoria. Superior rooms offer 32″ LCD TV and home theatre system with Bose surround sound, electronic safe with inbuilt plug point, mini-bar, hair dryer and tea/coffee maker.

Diphlu River Lodge

Diphlu River Lodge

Only the Diphlu River separates Diphlu’s extensive grounds from the National Park itself, and the jungle views are exceptional. The air-conditioned cottages are made of bamboo and thatch, and built on stilts above the ground. All cottages make full use of local materials and artifacts and blend in with the stunning natural surroundings. All are well-appointed and charmingly furnished with individual interiors. Each has a seating area with comfortable cane furniture, a writing desk, mini-bar, safe, small fridge and tea & coffee machine, as well as top-quality beds and mattresses. The very spacious separate cottages have a wide folding glass door opening onto a thatched veranda with cane day bed and inviting chairs, and overlook the Diphlu River and National Park, while at the rear a deck with sun loungers looks across farmland. The grounds of the lodge have been carefully planned to preserve the natural environment. The eco-friendly operation of the resort includes re-cycling grey water for irrigation.

Godwad Safari Camp

Godwad Safari Camp

Godwad Safari Camp is a tented camp located in the Jawai Leopard Conservation Zone, around the Bera area in Rajasthan. The natural rocky hill outcrops here are an ideal hiding place for leopards. Over a three-night stay chances are fair that guests will see a leopard. Birding here is excellent while the conservation zone hosts many other species as well, such as Indian langur and crocodile.  Deluxe tents feature en suite facilities with hot and cold water.

Lalit Great Eastern Hotel

Lalit Great Eastern Hotel

Restored and renovated over a period of seven years, Lalit Great Eastern Hotel has been referred to as the “Jewel of the East” and the “Best Hotel East of the Suez”.  The longest operating hotel in Kolkata (165 years), this 5-star property was built in 1841 as the Auckland Hotel and is an historic landmark, in walking distance of Chowringhee Rd and Park Street. Over the years, the hotel has been the favorite haunt of royalty and celebrities from across the world. Deluxe rooms are 350 sqft and feature free Wi-Fi, mini-bar, safe and tea/coffee maker.

Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace Udaipur

Nestled amidst the Aravalli Hills with captivating view of Fateh Sagar Lake, The 55-room Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace Udaipur showcases the rich history and culture of the vibrant state of Rajasthan. Built by his Highness Maharana Fateh Singh in 1911, this luxury heritage hotel features a majestic architecture and décor that reflect the culture, charm and grandeur of this bygone era.  All rooms are 300 sqft with LCD TV, free Wi-Fi, mini-bar, tea/coffee maker, electronic safe and en suite facilities.

Field Leaders

Explorer's India Guide Pradeep Rana

Pradeep Rana

Expedition Leader

Award-winning guide and naturalist Pradeep has an unmatched passion for all things India…from history to culture to wildlife.  Above all, he understands the need to combine these elements for an in-depth, meaningful experience. Pradeep boasts a range of training as both a naturalist and ranger, as well we more than a decade managing hotels and wildlife lodges. He spent three years educating children about the magnificent snow leopard, and teaching them to connect the science they learn in school with the real challenges involved with protecting the plants and animals in the wild. In the same spirit of education and caring about people he has worked on many projects to involve local communities in and around lodges, including education, health care, hygiene and development of job skills. Many of his projects have been published and his efforts and skills resulted in Taj Hotels awarding him for community service development in 2013. His passions are wildlife, photography and adventure sports.

A Note About Field Staff

This is just a selection of the Expedition Leaders and Naturalists who may lead your ecotour.  A particular departure may be escorted by any one of them.  If you would like to find out which leaders are scheduled to lead each departure, please contact our office.

Wildlife

Asian Elephant

The Asian elephant is smaller than the African variety, with smaller ears and a larger trunk. Like the cow, the elephant is considered sacred in India. One of India’s most beloved gods, Ganesh, is elephant-headed, and elephants are used in religious rituals throughout India. In Jaipur, there is an Elephant Festival held each year on Holi, and in Kerala a spring festival called Thrissur Pooram features an astonishing display of elephants decorated with gold trappings.

Indian Leopards

Another one of the big cats found in India, the leopard roams all over the subcontinent in large numbers. It’s extremely good at adapting to a wide variety of habitats, and is a skillful and stealthy hunter. Though populous, leopards are highly elusive and hard to spot without an experienced guide. Both Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks are great places to see them in the wild. Leopards – especially the mysterious and rarely-seen snow leopards – feature in many local myths and stories.

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Traveled to Japan ~ East and Southeast Asia

We had a fabulous time. The hotels were great as were the tours. We enjoyed the private guides best. Every one of our private guides was fantastic and made sure that we got to do what we (Andy!) wanted to do. Our guide in Arashiyama changed things around so that Andy could go to the Monkey Park, which was not on our original itinerary, but something he decided he wanted to do. She even climbed the mountain with him after settling me in a coffee shop with a cup of coffee!! Summer, our guide in Shanghai, was fantastic, and even helped get us checked in at the airport when we left. The tours themselves were wonderful and we got a good taste of the cities we visited. Both of us are planning on returning to Japan and China again sometime in the future and I will certainly keep you in mind when the time comes. By the way, the tip that we probably appreciated the most was to fly premium economy. I don't know if we would have survived that trip if we hadn't!!

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