Endangered Mammals of India - West, Central and North East (18 Days; # 670)
India is the only country in the world that can claim both Lion and Tiger among its native fauna. While many tours take you to see tigers, this wildlife tour of Gujarat, central India and North East India is unique in its focus on Asiatic Lions in the Gir Forest & Tigers in Tadoba and Pench. The beautiful Blackbuck in the Velavadar Reserve and endangered Asiatic Wild Ass at Dasada Sanctuary Rhino in Kaziranga are the other three main highlights of this trip.
We’ll arrive in Delhi. This trip starts as we fly from Delhi to Ahmedabad and drive from the airport directly to Velavadar with the drive made as comfortable as possible by a well-trained driver. You can spend the day photographing in the surrounding countryside. Those interested in combining culture with natural history can visit the magnificent Jain temple complex atop Shatrunjaya Hill. As with all touristy areas, you will find a few souvenir shops selling exquisite handicrafts too.
On the safari at Velavadar along with graceful Blackbucks, you may be lucky to spot a Wolf or Hyena though they are rarely seen in the daylight. Jackal, Jungle Cat and White-Naped Hare are more easily seen and Indian Fox are usually spotted on the periphery.
From here, we’ll travel to Gir National Park. At Gir, we stay at Gir Birding Lodge, a quaint lodge set amongst a mango orchard. With individual cottages sharing its boundary with the Gir National Park, you can enjoy the calls of the wild all through the night as you look forward to the safari next morning. Be prepared to be greeted with different species of birds right outside your door in the morning as you sit out in the veranda enjoying your cup of tea.
The next two days are spent with morning and afternoon drives in the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. The Asiatic Lions are usually inactive during the heat of the day, but if we are lucky, we can hope to see them out hunting their prey during our visit. With a rugged terrain of low hills and tracts of deciduous forest interspersed with areas of grassland, the national park supports a great diversity of mammals like Chital or Spotted Deer, Sambhar, Blue Bull Antelope, Chinkara Gazelle, Chousingha (the world’s only four-horned antelope), Wild Boar etc. With such an abundance of prey, Gir also has a thriving Leopard population and Striped Hyenas who try to scavenge any leftovers from the lion’s meals. A number of attractive birds can usually be seen on the trail too.
For those more culturally inclined, a local village visit or a visit to a house of a tribal family to get a glimpse of rural tribal life can also be arranged. Right with buffaloes tied outside their modest homes, small living areas with joint families staying together, seeing how they live can be quite a wonderful experience. For the more adventurous, we can even suggest a place to try out fresh homemade traditional cuisine at a lovely roadside dhabha (simple eatery) run by Maldhari tribal women.
From Gir, we’ll travel to Little Rann of Kutch. Reach Dasada fresh enough to take the evening safari in the bleak salt marshy areas of Little Rann of Kutch. Though a bleak landscape, it is rich in biodiversity and is an ecologically important area for wildlife and many local and migratory water birds.
Dasada is a desert wildlife sanctuary, known for the last abode of the Asiatic wild ass in the Indian peninsula. During the exciting safari, you must watch out for other endangered wildlife like the Wolf, Indian and Desert Fox, Indian Gazelle, McQueen’s Bustard, etc. which can be spotted there too. Another treat in store is the sunset at Bajana Lake, where Flamingos, Pelicans, Demoiselle and Common Cranes, and other water birds gather in numbers beyond comprehension. The sight of these birds in the sunset light will be an unforgettable memory for sure.
Back from the thrilling safari, you will enjoy your meal and overnight stay at Rann Riders or Royal Desert Safari Camp. We have specially chosen these imaginatively designed safari resorts with structures built from local materials to resemble a local village featuring long wicker beds, work table, dressing area and a tiled bath with hot-and-cold water. This will surely give you a feel of traditional Indian hospitality and comfort.
From Dasada, we’ll travel to Ahmedabad airport for your onward journey to Nagpur via Mumbai. We’ll reach Nagpur in the late afternoon and will travel Pench National Park where we’ll spend 03 nights.
The Bengal tiger is the main cat species of the park present in good numbers but since last one year due to 6 new born cubs their sightings have increased and being sighted almost everyday. As per latest Tiger Census, there are about 40 tigers in the park, 39 species of mammals, 13 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians. Commonly seen wildlife is chital, sambar, nilgai, wild pig, and jackal. Also Indian leopard, sloth bear, wild dog, porcupine, monkey, jungle cat, fox, striped hyena, gaur, four-horned antelope and barking deer live in the park.
The park is rich in bird life too. According to an estimate of the wildlife authorities, the park harbours more than 210 species including several migratory ones. Some of them are peafowl, junglefowl, crow pheasant, crimson-breasted barbet, red-vented bulbul, racket-tailed drongo, Indian roller, magpie robin, lesser whistling teal, pintail, shoveller, egret and herons, minivet, oriole, wagtail, munia, myna, waterfowl and blue kingfisher.
From Pench, we’ll travel to Tadoba National Park.
One of the finest tiger habitats Taboba is home to many other mammals, reptiles and insects. The complex web of life is interlinked inseparable with the floral elements. Bison, wolf, hyena, jackal, wild dogs and fox are secondary carnivores. Among the Central Indian deer species one can see the sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, chinkara, Nilgai and the four horned deer. Common elements are the wild boar, langur monkeys, rhesus macaque and the peacock. Spotted deer are also found in wild abundance and constitute the prey base of the tertiary and secondary consumers. Other charismatic animals are the leopard, rusty spotted cat, jungle, cat, leopard cat and the sloth bear.
From Tadoba, will drive to Nagpur to connect flight to Guwahati via Kolkata (where we’ll spend a night in transit hotel as there is no direct flight available for this sector).
After reaching Guwahati, we’ll drive to Kaziranga National Park where we’ll spend 03 nights.
Kaziranga in the language of the Karbi tribe means ‘where the mountain goat drinks water. It used to be an inaccessible swampy land covered with tall elephant grass and bheels (water bodies). Declared a national park, it is now spread over 480 sq. km with the great Brahmaputra River as it northern boundary and the Karbi Hills fringing the southern. Kaziranga National Park is famous for its 1,000-strong population of Indian One-horned Rhinoceros, wild Water Buffalo and wild Elephants. It also supports localized and endangered grassland species such as Swamp Partridge, Bengal Florican, Greater Adjutant Stork, Pallas’s and Grey-headed Fishing Eagle and Spot-billed Pelican.
Kaziranga is divided into three ranges. The popular central range is the best to spot Rhinos, Water Buffaloes and Elephants playing in the water. The eastern range offers some of the most exciting and varied wildlife watching. It is in this less-visited region of the park that we have the best chance of spotting the elusive Tiger or Sun Bear. Turtles and Otters are frequently seen on the river here. At Sohola bheel we should be able to see Greater Adjutant Stork, Pallas’s and Grey-headed Fishing Eagle and a great variety of waterfowl.
After exciting wildlife viewing and nature watch in the park during the day, in the evenings we will try our best to arrange an enjoyable presentation of a traditional tribal or most popular Bihu folk dance. Sitting for dinner by the log fire under the bamboo grove, it will almost seem magical.
We will also take you to an Assamese tribal village visit for a glimpse into their unique culture. You will get a firsthand experience of their popular specialized occupation-silk worm rearing.
Leaving behind the magic of Kaziranga, we fly you to Delhi where we’ll spend last night of the tour before taking flight back to home.