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2013 Tirger Safari - Booked!

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Apr 14th, 2012, 09:37 AM
  #1
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2013 Tirger Safari - Booked!

At the end of March 2013, I will be on the way to India for a tiger safari! I looked at about three different companies to assist me with the arrangements for the trip and ended up booking with Wild World India. Thanks to Lynn and others from this board who have traveled with them and posted excellent reviews, I feel that I will be in very good hands! Also, since I'm focusing mainly on wildlife, I wanted to choose a company that was wildlife-centric. I will be going solo since none of my friends is interested in spending 3 weeks in the tiger parks in India (I guess I can't blame them - but I can't imagine NOT maximizing my time trying to see tigers!).

Itinerary:
29 Mar, 13/ Fri: Arrive Delhi
30 Mar, 13/ Sat: Delhi city tour
31 Mar, 13/ Sun: Delhi - Agra by road
01 April, 13/ Mon: Same day Dholpur excursion from Agra, later depart Agra to
Delhi by road
02 April 13/ Tue: Depart Delhi by flight to Jabalpur, Arrive Jabalpur and transfer to
Bandhavgarh National Park
03 to 05 April, 13/ (Wed to Fri): Bandhavgarh National Park
06 April, 13 (Sat): Bandhavgarh - Kanha National Park by road
07 to 10 April, 13 (Sun to Wed): Kanha National Park (Kanha Kisli range)
11& 12 April, 13 (Thu & Fri): Kanha National Park (Kanha Mukki range)
13 April, 13 (Sat): Kanha to Raipur by road, Raipur- Delhi by flight
14 April, 13 (Sun): Delhi – Corbett by road
15 April, 13 (Mon): Corbett (Bijrani zone)
16 to 18 April, 13 (Tue to Thu): Corbett (Dhikala zone)
19 April, 13 (Fri): Corbett to Delhi by road and depart for onward destination

This will be my first trip to India so advice or tips wold be very welcome. I did some research and it does seem like my hotel in Delhi is a little out of the way but if any of you know of good places to eat or things to see in that general area, I'd love to hear about them.

11 months away but I know it will be here before I know it!! I can't wait!

CJ
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Apr 14th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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I also meant to include the hotels:

• Delhi: Amarya Villa
• Agra: Radisson Agra
• Bandhavgarh: Nature Heritage Resort
• Kanha (Kisli range): Tuli Tiger Resort
• Kanha (Mukki range): Royal Tiger Resort
• Corbett: Tiger Camp, Forest Rest House (Dhikala zone)
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Apr 14th, 2012, 06:02 PM
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Hi CarrieT, all I can say is I am so envious! Tigers would have to be by favourite big cat and apart from seeing them in a zoo I doubt I will have an opportunity in the near future.
On reading about your previous trips you have certainly covered some territory and your pics are marvellous. I had my first safari to Kenya back in 2007 and have yearned to return ever since (sigh!) but keep heading in the wrong direction!
May you have many tiger sightings and a wonderful trip. Looking forward to seeing your photos.
JW (fellow OZ)
p.s. there are some of my cheetah pics on Safaritalk in a Tribute to Honey - Masai Mara.
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Apr 14th, 2012, 09:48 PM
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Hi There.
Was in Badhavgarh and Kanha in Jan. 3 days in each and loved it. (Also 1 drive in Ranthambore).
Saw 4 tigers, plus much other game, very picturesque.
Safari experience in India is not up to standards of better lodges of Africa but they do not have tigers !
Parks can be crowded with too many jeeps converging on tiger sightings, drivers can get aggressive, kind of like all driving in India. Kanha is a bit more civilized. Guides are assigned by Park, you will likely have a different one each drive. Hope you really like safaring, you have many days !

Stayed at Nature Heritage and was disappointed, would not return or recommend. It is not terrible though, room was very basic,not well maintained, we had to "manage" them - you know complain, demand for anything.
Stayed at Chitvan Lodge in Kanha and it was far superior, much better managed, more like African lodges.

You will enjoy, Bon Voyage.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 08:53 AM
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Joode - thanks! I hope you get to see tigers some day (heck, I hope I get to see the tigers! My worst fear is going all that way and not getting to see even one...). And I certainly understand your desire to go back to Africa. I actually had Africa planned first and then switched it out for India after reading an article about tigers and what is happening with them. And I went over to look at your photos on Safaritalk - they are great! Love the stretching and yawning photos!

Christo, glad you got to see tigers on your trip - I hear that there are so many who don't get to see them. I am a little worried about Nature Heritage, but I picked it because of location and cost...hopefully it won't be too bad. And your experience on the game drives seem to be typical...I'm mentally preparing myself for the difference between Africa and India in this respect. I did book a private jeep - mainly because I want room to take photos but hopefully it will also help me feel less crowded. Thanks for the insights!
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Apr 15th, 2012, 11:54 PM
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You have received some good advice so far. Here are my thoughts:

1. Your itin raises some questions in my mind

Itinerary:
29 Mar, 13/ Fri: Arrive Delhi
- I assume this is a late evening arrival and you won’t be at your hotel until midnight or later. Bear this in mind for jet lag on your first day.

30 Mar, 13/ Sat: Delhi city tour – it’s hard to see and appreciate Delhi in one day. You may also have some jet lag issues which may have you wishing to head back to your hotel at 4 pm or so. If cities do not interest you, consider skipping this and adding it to Agra, esp as you have a long day there, see more below. If this is an organized bus tour, by ALL means skip it. I f you want to “see” Delhi, hire your own car and driver, go to the Red Fort, walk around Chandi Chawk, go to have a late lunch at the Imperial hotel. Go to Ghandi’s memorial in the afternoon. Your hotel is not too far from the Haus Khaus area which has a lot of restaurants and boutiques. You might want to wander around that area for dinner.

31 Mar, 13/ Sun: Delhi - Agra by road. This is a 4 hour drive. You should, IMO, try to arrive in time to see sunset at the Taj.

01 April, 13/ Mon: Same day Dholpur excursion from Agra, later depart Agra to
Delhi by road
I don’t understand the Dholpur excursion, unless you are going to the wildlife refuge, but bear in mind that you do not, IMO, want to be on the Agra-Delhi road at night. Dholpur is about 2 hours south of Agra. After seeing Dholpur you then have 6 hours or so on the road to get to Delhi. I think that this is a long day which will mean that you will be driving on that road at night. I travel in India frequently and there are only a few things I considered unsafe, and one of them is driving most any Indian highway at night. Too many people, camels, cows and errant lorry-drivers to make this a safe experience. I would say to skip Delhi in favor of 2 days in Agra.

Dholpur is also on the road to Jabalpur, which is much further south, so heading back up north to Delhi is something I don’t understand. I would try to get a train from near to Dolphur. For example, there is a train from Gwalior, about 2 hours south of Dohplur (and quite an interesting place in itself), which departs at 7 pm and arrives into Jabalpur at 7 am the next day. This seems far easier than dirivng 6 hours north to Delhi to stay in a hotel overnight and then get on a 2-hour flight the next day. (Not the mention having to arrive early for check-in, security, etc at Delhi airport.) The train is the Jabalpur Superexpress, Train 12191 if you want to ask your travel agent about this.

2. I very much agree with the above statement from christo about the difference between Indian and Africa safaris. You have already been to Africa, so IMO you have to adjust your expectations a bit for India. I can’t stress enough that while they can certainly be interesting, game drives in India are nothing like those in Africa. First off, you cannot expect to see the number and type of wildlife you see in Africa. In addition, there are no night drives, you return from the afternoon drive at about sunset and so will not see the animals hunting at night. (I can see that this may change over the years if private concession arrangements are set up as they are in Africa, but currently night drives are not allowed in the national parks, as is the case in Africa where these only occur on the private concessions). There is lots of birdlife and there are a good number of other wildlife as well. The wildlife is a bit less unusual, let us say, then the giraffes, zebra and rhinoceros. You also don’t see big herds of animals like you would in Africa. As long as you have the proper expectations, I think you would enjoy an Indian safari.
3. Your comment that ”My worst fear is going all that way and not getting to see even one [tiger]” is very concerning to me. If this was a serious statement, can you may need to work more on adjusting your thinking. Can you reversing your thoughts a bit, and focus on thoughts like: “I am going to a fascinating, rich and ancient culture, and on top of that I might get to see a tiger!” If you have no interest in Asia generally or in Indian culture, history, food, religion, etc specfically, then I am not sure it is worth the time and money you are investing in a trip like this. India is one of my favourite places, and is a fantastic country with an enormous range of geography, climate, religion and culture. As an added benefit, you can go to wildlife parks. If you are lucky, you will see tiger. If not, you will have a great trip and will see and experience a very different place. But I think you have to have the right set of expectations or you will return with nothing but disappointment, IMO. I have seen this happen to people visiting game parks in India, and they end up blaming India, or the parks, or the lodge management; as if they should, on cue, produce tigers. Which sort of missies the point to me which is that outside the gates of the park there are, almost on cue, fascinating things going on in the streets of India at virtually every turn.

Christo’s trip seemed to be a good mix of cultural sights in north and south, with some game parks added for fun.
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Apr 16th, 2012, 07:10 AM
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Absolutely, Cicerone! This itinerary seems to be all about wildlife and nothing about the country. That might make sense for Africa, but is exactly backwards for India. And always take the train in reference to night driving.
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Apr 16th, 2012, 08:23 AM
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Cicerone, thank you so much for your thoughtful insights on my itinerary. Given that the entire goal of this trip is to view and photograph tigers and other wildlife, I would be untruthful if I said I would not be extremely disappointed if I did not see one tiger. However, I understand that they are not zoo animals, so if worst case scenario happens, then I guess it's just a good excuse to go back, right?!

I would say that I am interested in the cultural aspects of all the countries I visit, but I do not always lean toward the cultural side of things in every trip given my side job as a wannabe wildlife photographer. If I were to do a cultural trip of India, that would be another trip for me (or if I could get 5 or 6 weeks off from my real job, I could do it all at once of course).

For the Taj, I'm planning a tour at sunset and also a morning sunrise tour so I should be covered there. Yes, I'm doing the wildlife sanctuary and a cruise on the river in Dholpur to try and spot the gharials.

Thank you for your advice on the train vs. going back up to Delhi for the flight. I will check into that for sure because, as you say, that really doesn't make much sense. Although, the only reason I wouldn't do that is because I know I wouldn't get a wink of sleep (for several reasons...not the least of which being the train accident I was in when I was little).

Thanks again - I really do appreciate your advice on the trip.
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May 3rd, 2012, 07:51 PM
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I have been to both Kanha and Bandhavgarh, on two different trips. Kanha was fantastic -- very beautiful park with a lot of interesting wildlife. We stayed at Tuli and liked it a lot. In fact, our favorite person we met on that entire trip was our naturalist, but I don't think he is still working there. We did see tigers, several times, with our best sighting from an "elephant show." If you don't know about this, post back and I'll explain it in detail.

Bandhavgarh was terribly disappointing. We were there in February of 2010, so things may have changed. At that time the roads in the park were awful. I felt like my teeth were going to be jolted out of my head. But the worst aspect was a new system that strictly governed where the jeeps went on each safari. Upon entering the park, your jeep was given a route (A, B, C, or D), the choice being supposedly random. You HAD to drive that route, and no other, and you had to complete that route. This meant that if tigers were spotted on route B, but you were driving route A, it was just tough luck. A couple of the routes were known to only rarely have wildlife, according to our naturalist, so if you got that route, you were condemned to driving around in the 6am freezing cold in an open jeep on a really crappy, rutted dirt road, with zero to none chance of seeing tigers. If we had known this system was in place, we would have gone back to Kanha instead. Also, not so many tigers.

We did stay at a lovely lodge there -- King's Lodge. I would highly recommend it if you can switch.

Be sure you have some warm clothing for the morning safaris. It is really cold in the jeeps before the sun warms things up. They give you blankets, but I would stick a stocking cap and some fingerless gloves in my suitcase. You won't be sorry.

Let me know if I can be of any further help.
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May 4th, 2012, 10:50 PM
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Carrie, nice to see you are on track for a great trip. I got back several weeks ago from Trip #2 with Wild World India.

I understand your tiger comment. You can never order up anything in nature, certainly not tigers, but the # of days you have in parks with tigers increases your odds greatly. Don't worry. It's very similar to how I structured my first (and supposedly only) trip to India to provide my best shot at a tiger sighting.

Since you have tracks to stay on in Bandhavgarh, it's is nice you'll have the freedom to go where you want in Kanha and Corbett. The tracks and the rules did not discourage me from visiting Bandhavgarh a second time and I enjoyed each visit.

It's not everyone's cup of tea, but you'll have a wonderful time on your "all about wildlife" trip. Thank goodness we don't all want to head into the national parks or the price would skyrocket and thank goodness we don't all want to see temples and markets or they'd be overrun. I especially appreciate the people who just stay home.

I think Nature Heritage recently changed hands. I ended up at Tiger Lagoon, a switch from Nature Heritage.
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May 5th, 2012, 12:22 AM
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"I especially appreciate the people who just stay home."
Love that!
Carrie, I will be interested to hear about your experience at Bandhavgarh. The other people who were at Kings Lodge when we were there felt much the same as we did. I would love to hear that things improved, or that we just had bad luck.
atravelynn, did you also visit Kanha? Did you see any tigers in Bandhavgarh? When were you there and did they still have the mandatory routes?
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May 13th, 2012, 07:01 PM
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Kanha in 2010--magical place I thought.

Still mandatory routes in Bandhavagarh and still no Wed afternoon drives. Had 15 tiger sightings of 9 cats in Bandhavgarh in 7 drives. Very exciting. Those cats are waiting for you, Carrie.
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May 13th, 2012, 07:35 PM
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Sounds like a great itinerary to me. For our family, EVERY trip we take is about the wildlife with the culture and history, while still very important and appreciated, being what we fit in between the wildlife hotspots. So I completely understand where you are coming from with respect to seeing your first wild tiger. You have a good shot at it however with Kanha and Bandavgar being on your itinerary. But do temper the expectations a bit as with all wildlife, there are always days where you get skunked! I would respectfully disagree however with one of the statements I read above regarding the diversity of wildlife you would expect to see in India, compared to Africa. We were there last year for about three weeks and we nailed 53 mammals and well over 200 bird species! You can do it too if you are observant and of course lucky. WE do AFrica often too and this number of species would be equally impressive there as well. You should take a look at our blog below and see what you are in for in India!

http://cokesmithphototravel.com/Expe..._to_India.html

Cheers and best wishes!

Coke
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May 13th, 2012, 07:36 PM
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Oh yes - if you are in the correct spot with the correct guide, you may be able to arrange night activities - as you can see in our blog we had some amazing night safaris and nailed loads of nocturnal species too!

http://cokesmithphototravel.com/Expe..._to_India.html
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May 13th, 2012, 10:36 PM
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Advise (to anyone) lowering expectations for sunrise and sunset at Taj Mahal. Maybe foggy, hazy, dusty, grey, blah . If it is better and clearer and more stunning than that, you are in luck!! That said, I love Agra, the TM and the fort.
Also, in your overland travels between parks, you will see the country's people (vs just "all about wildlife") You can't avoid it. Life is out on the roadside. Nothing is hidden.
Have GREAT trip!!!
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May 14th, 2012, 10:33 AM
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atravelynn, you were so lucky at Bandhavgarh, or maybe we were just very unlucky. In 6 or 7 drives, we saw only one tiger on two occasions. I hope Carrie has your luck, not mine! Kanha remains one of the loveliest places I've ever been.
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May 14th, 2012, 03:16 PM
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33% success is actually very good Marilyn! Many people have far less luck. Also - Carrie - try to get booked for Tala Zone in Bandhavgar. It generally sees more tiger sightings.
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May 14th, 2012, 09:31 PM
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Tiger luck can also depend on the time of year you travel. Last year I went 5 drives with no tiger. In mid-April that was uncommon. All you need is one, though, Marilyn!

As CaliNurse mentions, fog can obscure Taj views so it is a good idea you will be there all day, Carrie. I talked with a couple who visited the Taj Mahal (not sure how long) and they never even saw it.

I think India, being a single country, does have a lot of diversity when compared to any single country in Africa, vs. the whole continent. Maybe not sheer numbers of species as much as the wide range of familiar species from rhinos to bears to crocs to peacocks to river dolphins to several species of big cats to eles to a variety of antelope to wild boars to canines ranging from foxes to wolves to hyenas to jackals. All in a single country. That's just the animals. The cultures and people run the gamut as well.


I believe Carrie is in Tala for the drives--good point.
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May 15th, 2012, 07:35 AM
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And how can I forget the different monkeys and even an Equidae, the wild ass.

Cokesmith, I would respectfully state that it was a photo of your wild ass that got the ball rolling for me on Gujarat.
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May 15th, 2012, 03:16 PM
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Hi atravelynn, was it the "jogging ass"? ;-)
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