India - Big Cats and Small Kingdoms - Rajasthan and Gujarat


India - Big Cats and Small Kingdoms - Rajasthan and Gujarat

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 15 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Itinerary

Optional Pre tour – Extra nights and sightseeing can be provided in Delhi on request

Day 1 – Arrive Delhi
Arrive in Delhi, the capital of India, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Florence Inn Hotel / Taj Princess or similar.

Day 2 – Delhi – Ranthambore
Take the afternoon Janshatabdi Express train to Sawai Madhopur, the base for visiting stunning Ranthambore National Park. The landscape is much more open than in many other parks, making tiger sightings more frequent, though of course still a matter of chance. On arrival at Sawai Madhopur railway station you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at The Ranthambore Bagh / Om Rudrapriya  or similar. (B)

Day 3 – Ranthambore
Today take a morning and afternoon game drive and try to spot tigers and other wild animals. The varied landscapes within the park are attractive and the wildlife safari by purpose built safari vehicles is an enjoyable experience even if wildlife proves elusive. Morning safaris usually start at around 06:00, and afternoon safaris at around 14:00, and usually last for 3 to 4 hours, though timings vary according to the season. Overnight at The Ranthambore Bagh / Om Rudrapriya  or similar. (B)

Day 4 – Jodhpur
In the early morning, you will visit the magnificent old Ranthambore Fort, now populated only by monkeys. There are fabulous views over the National Park, and this is also a great place for bird watching. In the afternoon you transfer to Sawai Madhopur railway station to board the train to Jodhpur. On arrival at Jodhpur railway station you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Pal Haveli / Ratan Villas or similar. (B)

Day 5 – Bhenswara (approx. driving time 2.5 hours)
In the morning you visit the impressive Meherangarh Fort. After lunch, your journey takes you to the picturesque Aravalli hills of south west Rajasthan, bordering the great Thar desert. The terrain here is a unique mixture of hills, sand dunes and picturesque ravines. The area is relatively untouched by tourism and offers a good insight into a traditional way of life. You stay in a Rajput country estate whose 'castle' has been converted into an attractive heritage hotel. Overnight at Ravla Bhenswara or similar. (B)

Day 6 – Bhenswara
The region around Bhenswara is interesting as it is home to some of the more pastoral tribes of India. You will take a jeep safari to these villages to experience the lifestyle of the tribal people that live in complete harmony with nature. The rock-strewn region of Bhenswara is also the natural habitat for the elusive leopard and your host at Bhenswara is a keen tracker. You will enjoy a thrilling, eerie evening safari to try and get a glimpse of this largely nocturnal animal. Overnight at Ravla Bhenswara or similar. (B)

Day 7 – Mount Abu (approx. driving time 3-4 hours)
Drive from Bhenswara to Mount Abu. At 1,200 metres, Mount Abu is the only hill station in Rajasthan and its wooded surroundings provide a great contrast to the desert which dominates much of the rest of the state. Many of the Maharajas had summer houses built here. As with most hill stations, Mount Abu surrounds a lovely lake. And just outside the town are the magnificent Dilwara temples, one of the finest examples of Jain architecture in India. Overnight at the Palace Hotel or similar (B)

Day 8- Little Rann of Kutch (approx. driving time 4-5 hours)
Over the border into Gujarat lies the Little Rann of Kutch, a vast expanse of flat, barren land. You stay in a rustic camp in Dasada, on the edge of these salty plains. Dasada is a small village occupied mainly by farmers, nomadic cattle herders and artisans. Dasada is the perfect base from which to explore the Rann of Kutch, the last refuge in India of the Asiatic Wild Ass, an elegant member of the horse family. In winter it is also home to migratory birds such as flamingoes, MacQueen's Bustard etc. Overnight at Rann Riders or similar. (BLD)

Day 9 – Little Rann of Kutch
Today take a morning jeep ride in search for the indigenous Indian Wild Ass. The plains also provide a haven for the endangered Indian wolf, desert cats, striped hyenas and birds of prey. This afternoon you visit nearby villages, inhabited by a number of interesting communities. The women here are experts in embroidery using herringbone stitches interspersed with small mirrors, and occasional chain stitches for peacocks and other motifs. Overnight at Rann Riders or similar.  (BLD)

Day 10 – Gondal (approx. driving time 5-6 hours)
Drive to Gondal, a former princely state which was known for its progressive rulers. In the late 19th century, Gondal did away with the women's purdah or veil, abolished land taxes and insisted on compulsory education for girls. Gondal is a picturesque town with plenty of gracious architecture, wide tree-lined roads and European lampposts. Here you can enjoy a taste of the royal lifestyle in the Maharaja’s palace, now a heritage hotel. Overnight at Orchard Palace or similar. (B)

Day 11 – Sasangir – Asiatic Lions (approx. driving time 2.5 hours) 
You continue to Sasangir, the only habitat of the lion left outside Africa. And with the lion population a few hundred strong, your chances of spotting one are very good. Game viewing is done by jeep and is the best in late afternoon. Other wildlife includes panthers, hyenas, foxes, wild boar, sambhar, chital, and nilgai. There is also rich bird life including the rare paradise fly-catcher. Just outside the sanctuary entrance is the crocodile hatchery. Overnight at Gir Birding Lodge or similar. (BLD)

Day 12 – Palitana (approx. driving time 4.5 hours)
Today you drive to Palitana, an important place of worship in Jainism, a belief system that revolves around non-violence toward all living things - people, animals, even insects. A huge number of 863 magnificent marble Jain temples are built on the slopes of the nearby Shatrunjaya Hill with steps stretching 591m high. The 4-km ascent via the 3950 steps takes about two hours, an effort which we will save for the next morning. Overnight at Vijay Vilas Palace or similar. (B)

Day 13 – Palitana
In the early morning you are free to walk up the steps to the top of the hill to see the temples and enjoy the view. Along the way are 863 magnificent marble Jain temples, comprising the holiest place on earth for Jainism. They were built at different times but most belong to the 16th century and bear many common architectural features. From the top of the hill, a breathtaking panoramic view of the Gulf of Cambay and the countryside makes an unforgettable picture for any traveller. Overnight at Vijay Vilas Palace or similar. (B)

Day 14 – Velavadar - Ahmedabad (approx. driving time 4-5 hours)
Drive to Velavadar National Park, where you take a game drive by jeep. Velavadar National Park is a grassland tract rich in wildlife including India's largest herds of blackbuck (a beautiful Indian antelope), the endangered Indian wolf and striped hyena, and smaller mammals like jackal, jungle cat, Indian fox and hare. From there, you then continue your journey and end the day in Ahmedabad. Overnight at Hotel Krios or similar. (B)

Day 15 – Departure
Drive to Ahmedabad airport where you can connect with your onward travel connections. End of services. (B)

For those that wish extra nights can be booked in Ahmedabad on request.


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