VISIT KANHA, PANNA, BANDHAVGARH AND PENCH. THE SAFARI TOUR NO TIGER LOVER SHOULD MISS
A representative of our company will welcome you on arrival, holding up a sign with your name. You will receive all the necessary documentation for the trip, and be assisted with your hotel check-in. If you have not visited these two historic cities before, you may choose to spend an extra day visiting some of their many interesting tourist attractions. Information about what to do and see can be found on our blogs in New Delhi and Mumbai.
We take an early morning flight to the city of Nagpur, and then a relaxing two-hour drive to the park. The journey is a splendid introduction to your wildlife vacation; watch out for black drongos, little swifts and green bee-eaters, shrikes, babblers, mynas, and many more bird species. You will most probably also see your first mammals, bold, cheeky rhesus macaques, along the roadsides.
Pench became world-famous after Discovery and BBC screened programs highlighting its tiger success story. In 1992 this reserve became number 19 on Project Tiger’s list of tiger reserves. It is located on the southern Satpura Hill slopes, in the districts of Chhindwara and Seoni, and was the inspiration for ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling. Spreading over an area of 293 sq. miles,758 sq. km, it derives its name from the meandering Pench River, flowing south, dividing the park into an eastern and a western area. When the river dries up, animals and birds revert to the remaining pools for water. The river is used to generate hydroelectricity, and the dam on the parks’ southern border is a huge attraction for aquatic birds, and animals like golden jackals, and blue bulls or nilgai. Small hills, and both moist and dry deciduous forests of mainly teak, make up the terrain. About 39 species of mammals can be found here, including wild boar, gaur, sambar, barking and spotted deer, and langurs. If we keep our eyes peeled while driving through the buffer zone of the park, we may be lucky enough to spot an Indian wild dog or dhole, leopard, and a sloth bear or two. They prefer this area since here they find it easier to avoid falling prey to tigers.
After lunch in the resort restaurant, proceed on your first jungle safari in the Pench Tiger Reserve.
Interesting Information: Kerala Periyar and Pench Sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh are considered the top tiger reserves in India, as established during the 2019 evaluation and census of the country’s fifty tiger reserves. Pench obtained this status because of its seasonal biodiversity programs. It employs tactical patrol units and flying squads for security, holds regular discussions with the local communities, and uses funds wisely for conservation programs.
After an early snack of coffee or tea, and biscuits, we start on our first game drive, and who knows, with beginner’s luck we might just encounter our first Bengal tiger. At around mid-morning, we return to the lodge for a well-deserved brunch, followed by a short siesta. At 3 p.m. we set out again for another 3 hours of exciting animal and bird sighting.
Early morning calls for another safari through Pench, before we take to the road and drive across the beautiful Vindhya Hills to Kanha National Park. Although our main objective is to see the evasive tiger, and this park is a prime place for observing them, it can never be guaranteed. We time our visits carefully to achieve success, but if this favorite feline alludes us, there are more than enough other interesting animals to watch, study, and photograph. During your three-day stay, you will see around 120 different bird species, a wonderful climax of any nature tour. Birds of prey like black-shouldered kites, white-eyed buzzards, crested serpent eagles, as well as various vultures are on the viewing menu. Also commonly seen are painted francolin, woodpeckers, shikras, larks, pipits, Indian rollers, and other open-country species. Driving through the forests, be on the lookout for flycatchers, warbles, babblers, and black-headed orioles. A nice bonus will be if we manage to spot a rare Malabar pied hornbill or green munia.
Patience and persistence may award us with sights of some blackbuck with their beautiful horns, or the smaller four-horned chousingha, both lowland deer.
We will do two game drives daily, one in the morning and another during the late afternoon, but of course, you are always free to stay at our lodge, enjoying your own company, and the sounds of nature. Just remember, the more time you spend in the wild, the more likely you are to spot a tiger.
The plan is to leave the lodge at 5.45 a.m., drive through the reserve, following our expert’s knowledge and nose for sniffing out wildlife, stop for our takeaway breakfast in a designated spot, and then continue our safari. The reserve is closed between midday and 4 p.m., so we return for lunch and a siesta to void the midday heat. A short walk in the vicinity to watch more birds is another option to fill your leisure time. Our next expedition concludes at around 6.30 p.m. just as the sun sets over the park. (During Nov 1 to 15 the park opens an hour earlier for the afternoon safaris; we will then return to the lodge at 6.30 p.m.)
Kanha has a well-planned museum inside its boundaries, which we will visit sometime during our stay. A fascinating and illuminating exhibition on the ecosystems of the park, including details on its flora and fauna, takes up the main part of the museum. Trekking inside the Tiger Reserve is strictly forbidden, as you might imagine, but outside its borders, we will leave the vehicles behind to explore the local birdlife on a walking tour.
We bid farewell to Kanha with the last game drive starting at the crack of dawn and then take to the road in the afternoon. We are headed for Bandhavgarh, where we will spend the next three nights. Our accommodation, a quick 10-minutes away from the main gate, is something special; it has been designed as a typical Indian village and you will have your own private cottage and facilities. A large dining area serves delicious Continental and Indian cuisine, both vegetarian and meaty. If your culinary needs lie elsewhere, you can always make a special request. Inside the premises of the resort are various nature trails weaving through the trees, as well as opportunities for bird watching.
For the next two days, we follow a similar routine of going on safaris twice a day to discover the park’s wildlife treasures. The topography varies from open meadows with bamboo and grassland, and steep ridges, to mixed forests on the hill slopes. Its core area consists of hills with the ghost-like remains of an ancient fort, abandoned centuries ago guarding the park against a plateau. At 2,65-25 ft.,800 m it is quite an achievement to find your way up through some dense vegetation, but there are wonderful rewards awaiting you. Not only are the views absolutely stunning, but it is also the ideal place to photograph birds in flight. There is much to explore amongst the ruins, like old rock carvings, statues, and 1st-century man-made caves with inscriptions on the walls.
Notwithstanding the aridness of the region, the park has enough water sources in the form of streams and pools to attract all kinds of wildlife. Our explorations will take us along jeep tracks crisscrossing the park and into the forests, with our main objective to spot and photograph tigers. Twice a day we will set out with a period for relaxing back at the lodge in between, avoiding the heat of the day.
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve has the highest density of tigers in the country, estimated at around 8 tigers per 1.8 sq. miles,4.7 sq. km., so our chances of encountering one are good. They might be the leading actors in this nature movie, but there are many other talented extras to observe. Plum-headed parakeets, grey-headed fishing eagles, Malabar pied horns, Asian paradise flycatchers, and the greater racket-tailed drongo are some of the 250 different species of birds found in this region. This is a real paradise for ornithologists and those with a special interest in birds; we recommend you use the breaks between safaris to explore the birdlife in the vicinity of our resort.
Another reason why tigers, as well as the elusive leopard, flourish in this reserve is the abundance of prey. A special favorite on their menu is the beautiful chital, or spotted deer, and with a population of several thousand, no self-respecting tiger should go hungry. Many more mammals abound, including Indian gazelle or chinkara, wild boar, chousingha, a four-horned antelope, sambar, nilgai or blue bull, and muntjac or barking deer. Unfortunately, of the herds of gaur or Asian bison that once roamed the park, none has been observed in recent years, but a reintroduction program is underway. Occasionally a pack of hunting dhole can be found. Wild animals are exactly that; their habitat is in the wild, so catching sight of them is never guaranteed, especially those that prefer the darkness of night, or are especially reclusive. However, each safari trip you undertake increases the chances of encountering more of these slippery characters like sloth bears, jackals, Indian foxes, wolves, honey badgers, striped hyenas, Indian pangolins, and jungle cats. The sounds of wild boar rooting for food can often be heard if one proceeds with care and in silence. Watching a group of rhesus monkeys or lively little palm squirrels cavorting is pure joy, while the chances of seeing common langurs high up in the trees are good. From their vantage points, they act as sentinels and bark warnings to the rest of the troupe if a predatory tiger approaches.
Bandhavgarh is a haven for thousands of birds and wild animals, and during our stay, we will enjoy countless awesome encounters, photo opportunities, and hopefully a meeting with the jewel in its crown, the Royal Bengal tiger.
We enjoy our last morning safari in Bandhavgarh and then hit the road for a 6-hour drive to our next destination, Panna, where we will spend the next two nights in Ken River Lodge Panna. Located on the banks of River Ken, it offers great opportunities to study the local community of birdlife. The accommodation is comfortable, and the staff super friendly. So, start up a conversation and tap into their first-hand knowledge of the local customs and culture.
We continue our trusted routine of two game drives daily to see what the park has in store for us. We break for breakfast at a designated spot inside the reserve and return to the lodge for lunch around midday. In 2007 the park received the Award of Excellence for best-maintained reserve in the country, and have been living up to expectations ever since. In 2012 it was found that almost the entire tiger population has disappeared due to poaching, but a vigorous reintroduction program was launched with great results. This is prime tiger land, with gorges, plateaus, and dry deciduous forests. We leave the lodge at sunrise each morning and with the help of our guide, try to see how many mammals we can spot. The park has a wide range of wild animals like nilgai, leopard, Indian gazelle or chinkara, chital or spotted deer, chousinga, the small four-horned antelope, rusty-spotted cat, sambar, and porcupines. There is a large population of gharials, fish-eating crocodiles, and muggers or broad-snouted marsh crocodiles in and around the Ken River.
Apart from our usual two game drives, we will also try to do a boat trip on the river during the morning hours. The small boats sit low down in the water, creating the illusion of merging with the river. From this wonderful viewpoint, we will study birds who come to drink and look out for crocodiles.
The reserve covers an area of 210 sq. miles,543 sq. km, with the Ken River flowing through it to merge with River Yamuna, one of the sacred Ganges’ tributaries. The park area once served as hunting grounds for the family Panna and is renowned for its diamond mines. The number of different habitats like forests, grasslands, plateaus, and the Ken Valley, makes for a heterogeneous landscape with a large diversity of wildlife.
More than 200 bird species have been recorded in this nature reserve, so we are sure to see at least half of them. This is the hunting ground for many carnivorous birds like vultures, the black-shouldered kite, white-eyed buzzard, shikra, and the crested serpent eagle. Others like black-headed oriole, Malabar pied hornbills, flycatchers, warbles, and babblers roam the forest. Bird enthusiasts will surely find themselves in the clouds.
With a last glimpse at the beautiful surroundings of our lodge, we say goodbye and drive the short distance to Khajuraho, about 30 minutes away, to visit the popular temple complex. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments consists of ancient Hindu and Jain temples dating back to the tenth century, and is a huge tourist attraction, mainly due to the magnificent, intricately carved statues, a small number with erotic themes. Of the 85 original temples, 22 withstood the ravages of time, and these display the high standard of early art in India. The temples give a good idea of life in ancient times and will mesmerize even the most hardened nature enthusiast.
In the late afternoon, we board the plane for our return to Delhi. Our hotel is situated not far from the airport and has a pool, health center, and spa where you can relax and pamper yourself for the rest of the day.
You will be transported to the airport in the morning for your flight home.
You have the option to spend one more night in the capital to enjoy a full-day tour. Delhi is a metropolis of blaring horns, lively streets, and a treasure trove of historic monuments, too many to count. Ancient architectural masterpieces, including the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, the Jama Masjid, and many Mughal monuments rub shoulders with more recent classics, like the wonderful Lotus Temple and Akshardham Temples.
Delhi is a vibrant mix of old and new, the ancient and the contemporary. Globalization resulted in an amiable mix of western lifestyles and the traditional. Connaught Place, the financial hub, and the many elegant brand name stores attest to the fact.
You will take to the streets of Old Delhi in a traditional rickshaw to view some of the wonderful ancient buildings, bazaars, and temples, and later continue your tour in New Delhi. During the time of the British Raj, Sir Edwin Lutyens was responsible for the design and construction of numerous buildings with the aim to turn Delhi into the imperial capital. This goal was reached, and today New Delhi is a pleasing mixture of wide boulevards, formal parks, the impressive buildings of Parliament, massive India Gate, and the official presidential residence, Rashtrapati Bhawan.
We take the train to Sawai Madhopur and continue by road to the park, where we will stay for the next three nights. Our accommodation consists of comfortable jungle lodge cottages with private facilities for each room, sitting amongst acres of land. An added bonus is the sparkling swimming pool where we can cool off during our leisure time. The grounds attract many birds, so we can look forward to many pleasant hours spent watching these little creatures.
Spend another night in the capital to discover the delights of this great historical city. We also offer tours to Agra, as well as visits to the world-famous Taj Mahal, the monument to love and the Red Fort.
Many consider this India’s most splendid reserve. The terrain consists of lakes, dry deciduous forests, and grassy meadows surrounded by hills. Ancient temples and forts inside the park add to its allure, creating the perfect ambiance for enjoying the beauty of nature and its wild animals.
After early morning tea or coffee and biscuits, we leave for our first game drive at 7:30 a.m. An early start is necessary to avoid too much traffic at the entrance. We return to our lodge at 10:00 a.m. and set out again as soon as the gates open, either at 2:30 p.m. from November 1 to January 31, or an hour later, according to the season. The afternoon safari ends at dusk, at either 5:30 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. Just be aware that times may vary. Having enjoyed lunch, you can either relax or go on one of the bird-watching walks in the lodge area.
Machli also called the Queen Mother of Tigers, now deceased, played a pivotal role in the regeneration of the tiger population in the park twenty years ago. Her appearance in documentaries and TV shows put the park on the map, but that is by far not the only reason for its popularity. Your chances of spotting a Royal Bengal tiger are good, we have never failed in this regard, but an abundance of mammal, reptile, and bird species will make every game drive a trip filled with wonderful discoveries. Look out for spotted and sambal deer often seen with just their heads sticking out above the lake’s surface to feed. Barking deer are more elusive, but we will surely encounter nilgai. Spotting sloth bears is something special, while large numbers of mugger crocodiles, as well as monitor lizards, frequent the lake shores. Around the lakes, we will also see flocks of cotton pygmy geese, pheasant-tailed, and Bronze-winged jacanas. Soaring the skies above the grasslands and perching in the trees are black-rumped flame back, a kind of woodpecker, painted spurfowl, bright Tickell’s blue flycatchers, endemic grounded Rufous-tailed lark, jungle bush quail, stork-billed kingfishers, and colorful small minivet. If you love the wise owl, your luck is in, for here you can spot five different species, including the dusky eagle-owl, collared scops owl, and the bulky brown fish owl. Expert guides will accompany us on each safari, using their wide knowledge to help us find more slippery customers.
A last early morning drive through the park marks the end of our visit, and we take the train back to Delhi. The hotel is in close vicinity to the airport and has a swimming pool, health center, and spa where we can relax and reminisce about our unforgettable wildlife vacation.
You will be transported to the airport in time for your return flight home.
OPTIONAL: TOUR DELHI, OR AGRA AND THE TAJ MAHAL
Spend another night in the capital to discover the delights of this great historical city. We also offer tours to Agra, as well as visits to the world-famous Taj Mahal, the monument to love.
Maybe you feel like exploring a different milieu with attractions of another kind after your twelve days in nature. We are here to make sure that your visit to India answers to all your expectations, and would gladly arrange an extension to suit your personal needs and objectives. Some existing tour offers include the following: Golden Triangle Tour, Golden Triangle with Goa Beach vacation, Golden Triangle with Varanasi (Ganges), South India Cultural Tour.
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Keywords: Tour India’s Top Tiger Reserves
New Delhi ➜ Indore ➜ Dhar ➜ Mandu ➜ Omkareshwar ➜ Maheshwara ➜ Ujjain ➜ Bhopal ➜ Sanchi and Udaygiri ➜ Bhimbetka Caves and Bhojpur ➜ Jabalpur ➜ Bandhavgarh Tiger National Park ➜ Khajuraho ➜ Orchha ➜ Jhansi ➜ Datia ➜ Sonagiri ➜ Gwalior ➜ Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary ➜ New Delhi + Optional tour of Taj Mahal
Chennai (Madras) ➜ Kanchipuram ➜ Mahapalipuram (Mamallapuram) ➜ Pondicherry ➜ Darasuram & Gangaikondacholpuram ➜ Tanjore ➜ Trichy ➜ Chettinad ➜ Madurai ➜ Rameswaram ➜ Kanyakumari ➜ Kovalam ➜ Alleppey (Houseboat Tour) ➜ Kumarakom ➜ Periyar Tiger Reserve ➜ Munnar (Tea Plantations) ➜ Cochin (Kochi) ➜ Ooty ➜ Kabini and Nagarhole NationalpPark or Bandipur National Park ➜ Mysore (Srirangapatnam & Somnathpur) ➜ Hassan (Belur und Halebidu) ➜ Hampi ➜ Aihole & Pattadakal ➜ Badami ➜ Goa ➜ Chennai / Mumbai
New Delhi ➜ Sawai Madhopur ➜ Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve ➜ Gwalior ➜ Khajuraho ➜ Bandhavgarh National Park ➜ Kanha National Park ➜ Pench Tiger Reserve ➜ Tadoba National Park ➜ Mumbai
Madikeri (Coorg) ➜ Nishani Motte Trek ➜ Namdroling Monastery ➜ Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary ➜ Nagarhole National Park ➜ Ooty ➜ Pollachi ➜ Anamalai Tiger Reserve or Parambikulam Tiger Reserve ➜ Munnar ➜ Eravikulam National Park Madurai ➜ Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (Thoovanam Waterfalls) ➜ Madurai (Meenakshi Temple) ➜ Chennai
Old and New Delhi ➜ Jaipur ➜ Ranthambhore National Park ➜ Keoladeo Ghana National Park ➜ Agra ➜ Khajuraho ➜ Orchha ➜ Bandhavgarh National Park ➜ Kanha Tiger Reserve ➜ Jabalpur ➜ New Delhi