If you are like me, whenever you thought of taking a safari, the African continent was always the first area that came to mind. India, however offers equally exciting opportunities to view wildlife, iconic monuments, bustling cities and tasty culinary delights.
India, whose name comes from the Indus River, one of India’s longest rivers, travelling a total of 3,180 km (1,980 mi) before emptying into the Arabian Sea, is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and a country of striking contrasts.
Your journey will begin in north eastern India and will include 5 national parks, the Taj Mahl and the cities of Mumbai and Delhi.
National Parks – Have your camera ready!
Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses and is home to elephants, water buffalo and swamp deer.
Gibbon National Park and the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary is home to India’s only gibbons, the Western hoolock gibbon a primate that is native to the area. The wet evergreen forest which receives 249 cm (98 in) of rainfall on average per year creates the ideal habitat for these apes and India’s only nocturnal primate, the Bengal slow loris.
In Gir National Park, we stay in luxury tents at the Lion Safari Camp. This park is home to the Asiatic lion which was once found across northern Africa, south west Asia and northern Greece. Gir lions are protected and live in close proximity to humans but are rarely aggressive or attack people. Seven major perennial rivers in the Gir area also provide a habitat for Indian leopards, hyenas, jackals, the Indian mongoose and an abundance of native birds.
Pench National Park derives its name from the Pench River that flows from north to south dividing the park in half. The river is well known for river rafting while the park itself is best known for its Bengal tigers. Spotting a tiger is a frequent occurrence, so you will want to keep your camera close. The park is also home to the world’s only four-horned antelope. Did you know that the park it the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudyard_Kipling
From the quiet life of the national parks, we move to the west coast and vibrant city of Mumbai. This is India’s largest city and has a population of 20 million. Mumbai, previously known as Bombay was built on seven islands, but 400 years of land reclamation now links the original islands. A tour of Mumbai includes the Gateway of India, the Crawford Market and the Prince of Wales Museum.
Delhi and New Dehli, sounds confusing, but it is actually very simple. Delhi is the official capital of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and has a population of about 11 million. New Delhi is an area within Delhi which serves as the capital of India. We will tour both and enjoy lunch in a family home.
The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most famous buildings that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Built by Shah Jahan for his favourite wife as witness to their eternal love, is breath taking. The craftsmanship is detailed, delicate, colourful and beautiful.
This tour is highly suitable for those who enjoy nature, adventure and cultural experiences. The India Safari is rated “activity level 3”, which is the highest level of difficulty assigned to a tour. Please read the tour itinerary and waiver form carefully. It is also a Tour 25 tour which means the tour will be limited to 25 people, so book early.
Written by: Joan Niemeier
Photo Credit: Varun Narain Mathur