Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sunderbans National Park

Go there for: Bengal Tiger, Ridley Sea Turtle
Sunderban National Park at a glance
Welcome to world’s largest delta located in Piyali, West Bengal, formed by the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghana rivers and watered by the mighty Bay of Bengal. The Sunderbans - extending over an area of 1330.10-sq-km - comprises of mangrove or 'sundari' forests, swamps and forest islands all interwoven in a network of small rivers and streams. Well, we aren’t here to promote the geographical uniqueness of this alluvial archipelago of 54 islands. Sunderbans are here for you for its priceless reserve of the world famous Royal Bengal Tiger. A trip to the Sunderbans will not only mean getting to watch the the Royal predators from surprisingly close proximity but also feel the taste of the life in nature's moist wilderness.
Widlife Attractions of Sunderban National Park
The Sunderbans is one of the world's largest wetlands. Every 12 hours, high tide deluges the mangroves. The Bengal tigers have adopted themselves excellently to the aqua and the saline environs of the Sunderbans. At present there are about 200 Bengal Tigers that inhabit the national park. As you explore the jungles, you have chances of spotting a variety of fascinating wildlife like - the Chital Deer, Rhesus Monkey, Wild Pigs, Wild Boars, Chital, Swamp Deer, little porpoise, Indian fox, fishing cat, common grey mongoose, Indian flying fox, pangolin, small Indian civet, Rhinoceroses, Indian python, Monitor lizard. The aqua / amphibian fauna in the park include the famous Ridley Sea Turtle, variety of fishes, red Fiddler Crabs and Hermit Crabs, crocodiles, Gangetic Dolphin, Water monitor, mollusks and crabs. The endangered river Terrapin, Batagur Baska is found on the Mechua Beach, while the Barkind Deer is found only in Holiday Island in Sundarbans.
The swampy marshlands and dense mangrove forests at the Sunderbans offer an ideal habitat for the various bird species. Commonly sighted birds are - varieties of stork, kingfishers, eagles, white ibis, swamp francolin, Asian dowitcher, white-bellied sea eagle, purple heron, egrets, brown fish owl, osprey, peregrine falcon, green-backed heron, Scaly-breasted Munia, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Baya Weaver, House Sparrow, Purple Sunbird, Pale-billed Flowerpecker, Loten's Sunbird, Striated Babbler, Striped Tit-Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Ashy Prinia, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Asian Pied Starling, Blue-throated Flycatcher, Common Woodshrike, Small Minivet, Black-hooded Oriole, Mangrove Whistler, Cinnamon Bittern, Gull-billed Tern, Common Flameback, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Northern Pintail and so on.
During the spring, the flaming red leaves of the Genwa bejewel the swampy islands. The other dominant floral species in the Sundarbans are crab like red flowers of the Kankara and the yellow blooms of Khalsi. As you go deeper into the Sundarbans, you discover large floral population consisting of trees like Genwa, Goran, Dhundal, Passur, Garjan and Kankara.
Safari Adventure
The WBTDC organizes guided tours- mostly of a duration of two or three days, starting and ending at Kolkata. They’re a good way of visiting Sunderbans without some of the adventure which accompanies making your own arrangements. Within Sunderbans, the only way to get around is by boat; you can take a boat ride, along with an official from the Project Tiger office.
What more to look out for in Sunderban
The Sajnakhali Sanctuary : Protected from all sides by netted wires, the complex houses a museum, a watchtower and the Herbivore Acclimatisation Centre. Famous for its rich avian population, it is regarded as a part of the Sunderbans National Park. The most sought after sight is the confluence of seven colourful species consisting of Kingfisher, white bellied Sea Eagle, Plovers, Lap-Wings, Curfews, Whimbrels, Sandpipers and occasional Pelican. Don't miss out the Canopy Walk to its south-west where you can stroll through the mangrove thickets.Netidhopani : At Netidhopani, discover the ruins of a 400 year old temple.
Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project: A few hours drive from Namkhana will bring you to a hatchery of the world's largest estuarine crocodile, flanked by the Saptamukhi River.Bhagabatpur : Bhagabatpur is famous for having a hatchery of the largest estuarine crocodiles in the world.Kanak : Kanak is the nesting place of the Olive Ridley Turtles.Haliday Island : Haliday island is famous as last retrest of Barking Dear in India.Piyali : Piyali is the gatway to Sundarbans, 72-kms from Kolkatta by road. A small river Piyali flows through the green paddy fields and mingles with river Matla. This along with Kaikhali make ideal romantic holiday destination. A beautiful tourist complex with accommodation and recreation facilities is also situated over here.Boat Cruises: The special feature of these boat cruises are the organization of business conferences and seminars on the deck in the morning followed by a palatable Bengali lunch consisting of Bengali delicacies like fish and prawns. You can also enjoy a jam session in the boat relishing the melodious music. The watchtowers at Netidhopan, Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali and Haldi- provide you an excellent view of the wildlife.
How to reach there

Sundarbans are accessible only by riverrine waterways. Motor launch facilitiy are available from Namkhana - Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project- Sagar Island -Jambudwip; from Sajnekhali - Sudhanyakhali-Buridabri- Netidhopan-Holiday Island; from Sonakhali - Gosaba; from Raidighi - Kalas. The nearest airport is Kolkatta (112 km) and nearest railhead is Canning (48 km). From Port Canning, regular buses ply to Sonakhali, Raidighi, Najat and Namkhana. The excellent road network connects Namkhana to Kolkata, Sonakhali (100 km), Raidighi (76 km), Canning (64 km) and Najat (92 km), all lying nearby the Sunderbans.
Ideal time to visit: During the months of September and May. Winter is the ideal season to spot the mighty Royal Bengal tiger sun-bathing on the river banks.
Accommodation options
Within the Sunderbans reserve, the only accommodation available is at Sajnekhali, where there’s a tourist lodge. The lodge stands atop pillars- to keep away hungry tigers- and has rooms as well as dormitories. Outside the park, especially at Piyali and Bakkhali, are tourist lodges and hotels which can be an alternative for anyone looking for a place to stay. Rates vary considerably, depending upon what level of comfort you’re looking for.

Bandhavgarh National Park

Go there for: White Tigers, Leopards, Bears
Bandhavgarh National Park at a glance
If tigers are what you want to feast your senses on this vacation, Bandhavgarh National Park in Umaria District of Madhya Pradesh, with its highest tiger population, can be your ideal destination. The 105.40-sq-km of former hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa set amidst the Vindhyan ranges, Bandhavgarh was declared a National Park in 1968 and today serves as a natural habitat for the world famous White tigers. The terrain is broken, with rocky hill ranges, running roughly east west, interspersed with grassy swamps and forested valleys.
Widlife Attractions of Bandhavgarh National Park
The fine trees of Sal cover half of the Bandhavgarh National Park while the higher hills consist of moist deciduous forests interlaced with bamboo thickets and mixed forests. The wide stretches of bamboo and grasslands cover the entire northern region. Whole of the national park is encompassed by 32 wooded hills and quite a few perennial streams and rivulets that crisscross at different points inside the park and as a result create stunning vistas. Certain areas are marshy and support a wide variety of wildlife.
Nestled in these forests is a whole world of wildlife - 22 mammal species and about 250 bird species. This is the place where famous White Tigers of Rewa were discovered. Other animals that abound the Park are - Nilgai(blue bull), chinkara (Indian gazelle), chausingha (four-horned antelope), wild boar, sambhar (Indian stag), the muntjac (barking deer), herds of chital (spotted deer), Gaur (Indian bison), blackbucks, ratel, porcupine, small Indian civet, palm squirrel, lesser bandicoot rat, the jungle cat, hyena and jackal. The reptile population in the park includes cobras, karaits, vipers, ratsnakes, pythons, lizards and turtles. The two primate species - the rhesus macaque and the Hanuman langur - inhabit the Bandhavgarh Park.
Remember to carry binoculars on your tours for gazing at the birds of Bandhavgarh. It is home to some of the rarest birds. The varieties include -Cuckoos, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Asian Koel, White-rumped Needletail, Sirkeer Malkoha, Green Bee-eater, Rose-ringed Parakeet, White-rumped Spinetail, Collared Scops Owl, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Alexandrine Parakeet, Black-shouldered Kite, Osprey, Little Ring Plover, Black-bellied Tern, Honey Buzzard, Common Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Painted Sandgrouse, Black Coot, Little Stint, River Lapwing, Bronze-winged Jacana, Greater Painted-snipe, Rufous Turtle Dove, Grey Nightjar, Moorhen, House Swift, Ruddy Shelduck, Cotton Pygmy-goose, Red-crested Pochard, Eurasian Wryneck, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, Little Scaly-bellied Green Woodpecker, White-naped Woodpecker and other birds.
Safari Adventure
Options abound from jeep to elephant safaris. And if animals are what you have come for all the way to these jungles, 'Early to bed and early to rise' will have to be your mantra. Jeep safaris at the crack of dawn are recommended. You can also drive your own vehicle into the jungle accompanied by an authorised guide. Elephant safari trips, needless to say, are the best option. Tiger tracking on an elephant can be an spine-tingling experience.
What more to look out for in Bandhavgarh
Kalchuri Archeological Remains: Beside the wildlife, Bandhavgarh is also famous for the archaeological remains of the Kalchuri period that have been found here. Bandhavgarh Fort : The Bandhavgarh Park area is hilly and is dominated by the majestic Bandhavgarh fort, built in 14th century. The fort and the adjacent hills have a large number of caves belonging to the pre-historic period. As per the lores, this fort was built by the same simian architects who constructed the bridhge to Lanka for Lord Shree Ram.
Baghel Museum: Bandhavgarh legends say that white tigers still rule the forest. This museum has the white tiger cub Mohan, captured by a Rajah in 1951, all stuffed and mounted.
How to reach there
The nearest airport is at Khajurao (230-km). The nearest railhead is at Umaria (30-km) on the Katni-Bilaspur section of South-Eastern Railways. Another nearest railhead is at Satna on the Bombay-Howrah main line of the Central Railways. Madhya Pradesh State Transport Bus Services connect the National Park to the cities like Rewa, Satna, Katni and Umaria.
Ideal time to visit: The best season is from Mid-November to June. The park remains closed during the time of monsoon and July to early November. The best time to visit the park is early in the morning or after 4 p.m. It is during this time that the animals are most active and are easily spotted.
Accommodation options
Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge is walking distance from the Park's main gate and is in periphery of the park. It has been developed on the theme of an Indian Village. Tiger Trail Resort, Tiger Den Resort, Royal tiger resort are other suitable lodging places - all placed at walking distance from the Park.

Kaziranga National Park

Go there for: One Horned Rhino, Indian Elephant, Wild Buffalo, Tiger, Swamp Deer

Kaziranga National Park at a glance

Nestled in the foot of the Karbi hills in North Eastern India is the refuge of the world’s largest population of one-horned Rhinos (Rhinoceros Unicornis). Yes, we are talking about the lush green spread of about 430-sq-km on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra river - the Kaziranga National Park. Kaziranga - which in Karbi means 'where the mountain goat has water' - was used as a hunting site by local tribes and hunters until 1905 when the British Government proposed to declare it a reserve forest. Strewn with a huge multitude of wildlife, streams, thickets of grass and cane and flanked all along by tea estates, this UNESCO World Heritage site, is not just a favorite tourist destination, but a naturalists paradise.

Widlife Attractions of Kaziranga National Park

The habitat consists primarily of tall, dense grasslands interspersed with cane thickets, open woodlands, interconnecting streams and numerous lakes or 'beels' making it an ideal refuge for a multitude of wild species, especially the Rhino. Kaziranga is popularly known as the home of the "Big Five" - rhinoceros, the elephant, wild buffalo, tiger and Swamp Deer or Barasingha. Besides these, you can also spot - the Indian Bison, Hog Deer, Sloth Bears, Tigers, Leopard Cats, Jungle Cats, Otters, Hog Badgers, Capped Langurs, Hoolock Gibbons, Wild Boar, Jackal, Wild Buffalo, Pythons, Monitor Lizards and so on.

A lesser known fact about the Kaziranga National Park is that it is a bird watcher’s paradise. With its 450 different species, it is second only to the Corbet National Park in its bird population diversity. The most seen species are - Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black-Shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, Pallas's Fishing Eagle, White Tailed Eagle, Grey-Headed Fishing Eagle, Himalayan Griffon, etc. Huge numbers of migratory birds descend on the parks lakes and marshy areas during winters, including Greyleg Geese, Bar-Headed Geese, Ruddy Shelduck, Gadwall, Falcated Duck, Red-Crested Pochard and Northern Shoveller.

A total of 52 mammalian species has been recorded in the Park itself and include such rarities like Gangetic Dolphin, Chinese Pangolin, Hoolock Gibbon, Hog-Badger and Parti-coloured Flying Squirrel. 39 reptiles make the list and include the endangered Gharial and the rare Assam Roofed Turtle. Both the Reticulated and Rock Pythons are found in the area. Come monsoon and Kaziranga is submerged by the backflow of the Brahmaputra. Where on one side the flood helps rejuvinate the forest, cleanse hyacinths and other debris, swells the waterbodies with fish, while on the other hand it disturbs the wildlife here. Some die and some migrate to the highlands. Kaziranga and its denizens have however learnt to live the floods and it recovers, phoenix-like, every year.

Safari Adventure

The park can be visited on an Elephant back or in a Jeep. The vast open country makes Kaziranga National Park very accessible.Early hours of the dawn is the best time to explore the Park on an elephant-back guided by authorized and trained Mahouts. Raised on such great height, you can safely move about amongst the wild animals totally unhindered by human presence - something you will rarely experience in other National Parks. In just two days you can feast on more animal sightings than any other national park. However, leisurely strolls round the woods is not allowed here.

What more to look out for in Kaziranga

Sightseeing in Kaziranga : Tourists can stroll through the plush coffee and rubber plantations of the nearby Karbi Anglong and the tea gardens of Hathkhuli, Methoni, Difalu, Behora Borchapori. A trip to the nearby Karbi or Mising Villages and aquainting with their way of living in the hills can also be very interesting. The Kakochang waterfalls are about 13 km from Kaziranga.
Kohora: Almost every afternoon, the domestic elephants at Mihimukh Camp, Kohora, are given a bath in the nearby stream. It is not just an enjoyable sight but you can actually get drenched with them and know them closely.
Baghori: Lying on the western end f the Park, Baghori is a guaranteed sightseeing spot. Go to its high watchtower before sunset to view the most enigmatic of nature's spectacles - a sylvan lanscape peppered with the rarest of wild animals, all bathed in the golden rays of the setting sun.
Numaligarh: Not far from the park are the ruins of the ancient Numaligarh. These ruins are of great archaeological importance.
The Panbari Reserve Forest: A few minutes drive from Kohora, is a great place to see some woodland rarities. This 10-sq km long patch is one of Kaziranga's few remaining highland forests not invaded by the tea plantations or the human settlements. Birds like Asian Fairy Bluebird, Pale-capped Pigeon, Pied Falconet, Sultan Tit and Silver-breasted Broadbill are relatively easy to find here. A lone male Hoolock is also a star attraction as are the Capped Langurs.

How to reach there
The nearest airport is situated at Guwahati, which is 217-km away from the park. The other airport is located at Jorhat, 97-km from Kaziranga. The nearest railhead is Furkating, situated 75-km away. And if you are travalling by road, the main gate for Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary, at Kohora on the NH-37, consists of a handful of cafes and a small local market.

Ideal time to visit: From mid-November to early April. The low-lying grasslands of the park get flooded with the waters of Brahmaputra River in the monsoons due to which the animals migrate to nearby areas for shelter.

Accommodation options

Wild Grass Lodge is strongly recommended. They arrange for everything and can provide top class forest guides. Forest Dept. run Tourist Bungalows are also available and should be booked in advance. The Aranya Lodge and Bonani Lodge provide comfortable quarters. No matter where you stay, the call of the wild will be so strongly felt that you will hardly want to spend time indoors.

Kanha National Park

Go there for: Tigers, Swamp Deer or the Barasingha
Kanha National Park at a glance
Welcome to Mowgli’s jungle! British author and Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling in his renowned adventure - 'The Jungle Book', set his tales of the boy brought up by wolves in the jungles of Kanha National Park
The Kanha National Park of Madhya Pradesh - the Tiger state of India - is one of the most famous tiger reserves of the nation. Its horseshoe-shaped valley spread across a 2,000 sq km of lush grasslands, bordered by the Satpura Mountains make Kanha a very interesting topography for geologists and nature lovers alike. A favorite hunting ground for our erstwhile British Masters, Kanha was declared a National Park in 1955 and in 1974 began the Project Tiger. And today Kanha proudly displays her reserve of the ferocious Big Cats to its visitors as often and as regularly as its domestic feline counterpart strolling in the kitchen garden. No wonder, Kanha is considered to be one of the most well-maintained National Parks in Asia.
Wildlife Attractions of Kanha National Park
Needless to mention, Sherkhan, the ferocious tiger and Kipling's villain in 'Jungle Book' is the center of attraction. Spotting wild animals is always a matter of luck but Kanha is so rich in wildlife that the odds are titled in your favor. The reserve includes 175 bird species and about 22 mammals' species. While on a mission to spot the king of the jungle - the tiger, one can easily catch glimpses of Porcupine, Gray Langurs, Mongoose, Hyena, Jungle Cat, Leopard, Chital or Spotted Deer, Chousingha, Nilgai, Gaur or Indian Bison and wild Pig. And don't miss out on the endangered Swamp Deer or Barasingha. It is the only habitat of this otherwise extinct animal and fortunately due to the efforts of the authorities a considerable increase in its population has been recorded.
A trip to the water holes at the Kanha National Park gives you an opportunity to spot lovely water birds. The best way to spot birds at Kanha is by having a little patience and carry a pair of binoculars to the vast meadows and green hills at daybreak. Some of the commonly sighted birds at the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India are peafowl, woodpeckers, yellow wattled lapwing, golden oriole, hornbills, tree pies, Indian roller, pied Malabar horn bill, Indian stone curlew, warblers, rosy pastor, babblers, painted partridge, green pigeon, crested honey buzzard, white backed vultures, falcon, egrets, pied kingfisher, Eurasian vulture, pied crested cuckoo, teals, quails, Red spur fowl, shrikes, lager, pipits, long-billed vulture, green bee-eaters and other birds.
Safari Adventure
How about checking out the most ferocious wildlife safely atop a huge elephant? The tourists can observe the animals from the elephant back which enables them to have a close view of the wildlife in India. Besides jeep safaris and packaged tours are also available. Visitors are, however, advised to reach the gate half an hour in advance to complete the formalities for entry into the park.
What more to look out for in Kanha
The Kanha Museum: It is a store house of the tribal culture and traditions in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Take your time to explore them.
Bamni Dadar: Near Kanha National Park is Bamni Dadar or the sunset point visited by every tourist who comes to the national park.
Nearby Attractions: Nearby excursion points can be Nagpur (260 km), famous for its oranges and places of architectural wonders.
How to reach there
Nagpur at 266-km is the nearest Airport. If you are traveling by the train, Jabalpur at 169-km is the convenient rail head. Kanha is well connected by road with Jabalpur (175-km), Khajuraho (445-km), Nagpur (266-km). The Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC) operates a Jeep Service for visitors to go around in the park.
Ideal time to visit: The visiting season to Kanha National Park is between the months of April to June and November to January. The park is closed from July to Mid-November during the monsoon season.
Accommodation options
Luxury resorts (Royal Tiger Resort, Wild Chalet Resort), medium range hotels (Dyna Resort, Mogli resort), budget hotels (Tourist hostels, Baghira Log huts) - are all available for tourists.

Ranthambore National Park

Go there for: Tigers, Leopards

At a glance
Spread across a staggering 392-sq-kms in the historical city of Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, India is the Ranthambore National Park. It’s abandoned fortress, lakes and above all it's majestic tigers have made it one of the most filmed wildlife reserves in the world. The once the hunting preserve of the Maharajas of Jaipur, the wilds of Ranthambore gained the status of a National Park in 1980. Sandwiched between the Aravali Hill ranges and Vindhyan plateau, the Park is strewn with six main lakes and many perennial streams that add to the ecstasy of the Ranthambore wilds.
Wildlife Attractions of Ranthambore National Park
Apart from the tigers - the prized attraction of the park, other inmates include a rich multitude of flora and fauna. Naturalists have recorded the presence of 300 trees, 50 aquatic plants, 272 birds, 12 reptiles including the Marsh Crocodile & amphibians and 30 mammals. Among the animals, the Antelopes, Nilgai, Sambhar and Chital are easy to spot. The lucky ones might spot the Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Chinkara, Porcupines and Jackals, Leopard, Jungle Cat and Marsh Crocodile. Ranthambore, due to its varied terrain and abundance of water bodies, has an excellent population of birds, resident and migrant. Some of the best locations for bird watchers are Malik Talao, the Ranthambore Fort, Rajbagh Talao, Padam Talao and in the Jhalra area. Its deciduous forests were once a part of the magnificent jungles of Central India.
Safari Adventure
You can venturing into the innermost recesses of the jungle in a jeep or a lorry and accompanied by a know-it-all guide from the Forest Department. The reservation of these can be done at the Project Tiger Office at Sawai Madhopur. Safari Timings however change according to the time of year. The approved vehicles follow a fixed route and they vacate the park by 16:30 P.M. in the evening.
What more to look out for in Ranthambore
Ranthambore Fort: An 1,000-year-old architectural wonder stands tall right in the middle of the Park. The Ranthambore Fort is perhaps the oldest existing fort in Rajasthan and a vital citadel for control of anciant India.
Jogi Mahal: The forest rest house, the lovely Jogi Mahal is located at the foot of the fort and it offers a magnificent view of the Padam Talao, painted white with water lilies.
The Raj Bagh Ruins: The Raj Bagh Ruins between the Raj Bagh Talao and the Padam Talao serve a resting place for the majestic tigers of Ranthambore.
Nearby Attractions: If you have had your fill of Ranthambore National Park and still your hunger for wildlife adventure is not satiated, you can go visit the Sariska National Park (famous for the Royal Bengal Tiger) at the Delhi-Jaipur highway and from there to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary.
Ideal time to visit: A good time to visit is between November and May when the dry deciduous forests makes sightings common.
Accommodation options
The huge influx of tourists are accommodated in heritage hotels, resorts and rest houses built around the Park. The Sawai-Madhopur Lodge of the Taj Group is 20 minute drive from the Park, while the Ranthambore Regency Hotel is a 10 Km drive. The forest rest house, Jogi Mahal inside the park can be an excellent option to stay close to nature.
How to reach there
Fly to Jaipur (the closest airport) and drive to Ranthambore (165 km). Or if you are traveling by train, the nearest railway station is at Sawai madhopur (11 km. From Ranthambore), that lies on the Delhi-Mumbai trunk route. An excellent network of roads connect Sawai madhopur to all major cities of Rajasthan.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Camel Safari

How about a jolly ride on the King of the Deserts? Challenging? But the King in question, here, is minus the kingly tantrums and will happily tour you around on its back. Just that you have to hold on real tightly for dear life as it wobbles along the arid spreads of the Thar, India’s west-end desert in the State of Rajasthan or the undulating ranges of Ladakh. Kudos to this fascinating animal who has befriended such stark terrains.

The humped-back escapade

You might initially feel a bit repulsed by the very look and smell of this giant and not-so-goodlooking animal, but after the ride you are bound to vie for a close-up snap with its otherwise preponderous torso.

Roosted on the camel you can venture into the open plains, sparse grasslands and the saline depressions called chapper or rann in the core area of the desert where you can feast on regular sightings of herds of blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), chinkara (Gazella bennettii), caracal (Felis caracal) and desert fox (Vulpes bengalensis). The deserts house a total of 41 animal and 141 avifauna species. The threatened great Indian bustard (Chirotis nigricaps) is also a natural denizen of this land, including some rare variety of cranes and flamingoes that pass by on their way to the Rann of Kutch.

The carrier of India’s arid hinterland can also give you a wobbly ride in the cold desert lands of Ladakh. July to September are the ideal months for a camel safari into the Valley of Flowers with its mysterious snow leopard and a sylvan cascade of flowers and the Palanmik hot spring famous for its thereupatic qualities. Besides, these Bactrian camels with two humps make the rides more comfortable along the craggy ranges of the area.

Your itinerary planner

In our Rajasthan itinerary, to add that element of antiquity, we arrange musical programmes and campfires for our tourists. Winters are the best seasons. And as you rollick through the rustic streets of on the camel, our giudes add tango to the tour by surprise visits to the nearby temples, palaces, forts and a little chat with the local people with multi-colored dresses and elaborate ornate embellishments. The camel carts, stuffed with food and water, can be a change in case your back starts aching on the toddling beast. The most enticing part is the overnight stay at one of the luxurious oasis camps that we book for you well in advance. The Ladakh camel safari too is frilled with exciting surprizes including a trip to the monastery. Feeling curious? Contact us fast then!
Safari Tips

A sunhat, sun-glasses and a sun-screen lotion with maximum SPF are a must carry. You can also get our representatives arrange for some blankets to layer your leather saddle with - the camel safari might give you a little sore sometimes. But wouldn’t that make an interesting memorabilia of a truly bewitching safari? And how about a glass-full of camel milk at Raika (Rajasthan) to energize you before you get homewards?

Horse safari

“Take most people, they're crazy about cars. I'd rather have a goddam horse” - J D Salinger of Catcher in the Rye stated once. Be they the war horses of our erstwhile Maharajahs, the sprinters of the racing course that men bet their fortunes on, the indigenous beasts of burden scooting on the Indian streets or the one’s that are readied for tourists - all have one element in common - speed! For all those who gets an adrenalin rush at the very mention of SPEED, the horse safari can truly be an unequalled experience.

The bumptious gallop

Your itinerary planner

The Horse safari tours are conducted in Rajasthan, hills of Uttaranchal and South India.
However, the most favored horse safari destination are the jungles at the foothills of Himalayas. The best trained and the handsomest of the beasts bred at Rajasthan await your arrival. Dart through the rugged terrain, plush grasslands along tracks where naturalist writer Jim Corbett’s too must have galloped once. Exploring the tiger reserve on your mare can be extremely pulsating.

If camel rides don’t excite you much, you can opt for a horse safari in the arid lands of Rajasthan. And as you trail through its animated streets veined with ancient architectural ruins and colorfully dressed localites, towards the forested countryside, you can halt at several points to take picture of its varied sightings of men and animals.

In case you feel lost with your romping equid, professional guides can also be arranged to accompany you. We design your tours in a way that you can blend trekking, hiking and jungle camping escapades with your horse safari - some respite for your intestines which might tire with the constant toddle. Our experience with speed- addicts have helped us chart out one of the most exciting horse safari expeditions. Check it out!

Safari Tips
Adventure mongers with a bit of horse-riding experience are better suited for the safari. Else your entire trip will be about holding on for dear life as the animal darts through unabated. And give your equine mate some rest every 5-6 hours. Wear breeches or jeans and Boots and stuff in a first-aid kit in your luggage.

Elephant Safari

Nature enthusiasts whose idea of an ideal vacation is to migrate to one of the wildlife recluses than fly away to the Dubai Shopping Festival - will know best the charm of riding an wild animal in the wilderness. Right from the days of the Maharajahs, domesticated elephant safaris have been the most preferred options for touring India’s stocky forests and rugged terrain - where our vehicles even today don’t dare to venture. And the animals’ slow and steady gait acts as apotheosis for those planning a photography spree.

The imperial ride

The very ride on this huge pachyderm is exciting and add to it the thrill of venturing into the densest nooks of the jungle where the wildest of the wild lark about in their natural habitat totally unaware of your roosted presence. “God, it was a safari of a kind!”, gasped one of our French clients, who wanted us to arrange for a jeep initially. At times we add zest to the tour by decorating the elephants with ceremonial umbrella and bright colored clothes as you foray into the streets cushioned on its back. And how about a shower with India’s largest mammals? Being what they are, only an elaborate bathing ritual at one of the reserve water holes can cool their bodies.

Your itinerary planner

Elephant safaris are a commonplace throughout almost all the reserve forests. South India’s Nagarhole and Periyar National Parks have one of the largest elephant population - both domestic and wild. The domestic carrier will take you to watch the wild ones in their herds. A boating cruise at the Periyar lake also can be a good option to watch the wild elephants rollicking on the banks.

Rhino watching in North-East India’s Kaziranga National Park, tiger tracking in the forests of Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha and Bandhavgarh, Corbett (Uttaranchal), Manas (Assam), Ranthambore (Rajasthan) and so on are all done on elephant backs.

Safari TipsThe domesticated elephants are a friendly lot, so don’t miss getting some cuddlesome snaps with them. Start off at the crack of dawn for the best sightings. Carry plenty of potable water and dab yourself well with suntan lotions.

Jeep Safari

The fastest and the most exciting of adventure safaris are made on wheels. For those with a passion for driving in undulating terrains, jeep safari can be an inexorable escapade. How about a jeep safari in the Indian wilderness infested with wild animals, some that can give you a chase for your life? Sounds hot? Read on....
Trails into the wilderness
Only last year one of our clients came back with his interesting tale of how in the forests of Kaziranga his jeep came to a screeching halt when the rhino appeared on their way from no where. His 7 year old daughter got so frightened that she gave the loudest srceam ever, startling the animal into a mad charge at them and the jeep jolted back to life and sped with the animal trailing behind. Reminds you of the dinosaurs chase scene in The Lost World? So what do you call this - electrifying?
Your itinerary planner
Nature enthusiasts have rugged mountainuous ranges to arid desert plains, cavernous kuccha tracks to dense forests to choose from for their wheeled-exploration. Stuff your bags with the camera, some durable food-items, a little folding tent and hit the road. The Himalayas are an all time favorite with adventure mongers. Besides, almost all of India’s multitude of 441 wildlife sanctuaries and 80 National Parks have jeep safari facilities. We can be your travel guru and can help you plan a classic sweep through the entire length and breadth of the nation at one go. Except for the monsoons, all seasons can be ideal touring time depending on the places on your itinerary. You can spice up your tour further with regular drop-by’s at spots of historical importance, fairs and festivals, antique villages, wildlife reserves and what not. And for where-to-look-out-for-what we are there!

Safari Tips
Avoid wearing stringent perfumes and bright colored clothes while on your wildlife jeep safari. Not that the animals hate fragnances and colors, just that they might be alarmed unnecessirily. And yes, please don’t go for catch-me-if you-can’s if one of the beasts takes on a chasing spree. Let them be!

Lion Safari

Asiatic lions - the insignia of power and chivalry for the Indian fraternity - have long been one of the major tourist attractions worldwide. India’s Gir forests in Gujrat, with its dry scrub land veined with hills, rivers and teak forests, make the only refuge of this majestic animal.

‘Beast’ly encounters
The regal spread of Gir’s 1,412 sq-km reserve can be explored atop an elephant or in a jeep accompanied by an intelligent and friendly forest guide. Your man will not only guide you to the possible hideouts of the Lord of the Jungle but also load you with interesting lion-lores. And if you the air suddenly reverberates with the rancorous calls of the langurs and the peacock, grasp your camera and get it ready. It must be the Beast itself passing your way languidly, totally unhindered by your presence. Our representatives can help you choose the best nearby accomodation for more of such exhilarating trips if one isn’t enough to satiate your appetite.

Your itinerary planner

In your Lion Safari itinerary, recommended inclusions besides the must-visit Gir are the Nehru Zoological Park (Andhra Pradesh), Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala) and Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Maharashtra).

Andhra Pradesh’s Nehru Zoological Park, located at Hyderabad has enticing Big Cat safari packages. As you tour its premises you will for once forget that the lion is not its natural denizen.
Likewise, Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is another tourist hub for Lion safari expeditions. And especially with its Crocodile Rearing Centre, Deer Farm and a Lion Safari Park, the trip promises a lot of eye-toasting.

Planning a Lion Safari this weekend? Contact us to make it an adventure par excellence.

Widlife Photography

Indian wildlife through the lens

Wildlife photography is one of the most challenging domains that requires not just skill-with-the-lenses but patience of epic dimension and unblinking concentration for that ‘perfect moment’.

India’s teeming human community is fast plaguing its hills and dales, true, but fortunately nature, with humanitarian aid, has still been able to guard a whole world of wilderness in its 80 National parks and 441 Wildlife sanctuaries with their treasure of the most exquisite flora and fauna. From the riverine southern territories to the icy peaks of sapphire blue in the Himalayas, the lush montane forests of the Nilgiri Bioshere to the arid deserts of Rajasthan, the moist rain forests of the North-east to the mangrove swamps of the Sunderbans - India lays open before nature enthusiasts a cascade of immaculate beauty, too alive to be stilled in a negative. Its wilderness is a home to a legion of world’s prized (read ‘endangered’) species. To name a few - the one-horned Rhino, Asian white-backed Vulture, Grizzled Giant squirrel, Great Indian Bustard, Salim Ali’s Fruit Bat, Kashmiri Markhor, snow leopard, the Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion, Nilgiri Tahr, Hoolock Gibbon, Swamp Deer or Barasingha, the Siberian crane, Pygmy hog, Sangai Deer - the list is endless. Tailored out of this wilderness and its denizens is the booming tourism industry with well connected transport facilities (air/road/railways), regal resorts and resthouses to suit every budget a stone-throw away from the reserve areas, jeep / elephant safari, trekking, boating cruises, sauntering in groups - accompanied by official forest guides and much more to make it an indelible experience.

Popular Widlife Photography Safaris

Right from one of the Big Cats gorging on its prey and the magnificient herd of elephants that languidly crossed your way, to the enchanting peacock that sat looking skyward - options abound if you have the knack for adventure and the right machine to help you capture those moments forever. Of the 4500 known species of world’s mammalian population, 450 abound the Indian forests. Bandhavgarh, Kaziranga, Kanha, Periyar, Gir, Ranthambore, Bharatpur and Corbett are a few of the reserve areas that come first in the tourist hit-list. Instead of wandering clueless in the wilderness, why don’t you catch hold of our Busy Bee Wildlife counsellor first who will tell you exactly how, where and when to find your hunt. Recommended photoghaphy safaris are....

Bengal Tiger Safari: Tiger photography is perhaps the most popular and adrenalin-rushing photoghaphy escapades. For those with a tiger-fixation the ideal spots are the Tiger reserve terrotories of - Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Sundarbans, Bandipur, Dudhwa, Manas, Pench, Periyar, Ranthambore, Sariska and so on. Both summers and winters can be ideal seasons depending on which destination you have picked.

Asiatic Lion Safari: The Gir Lion Sanctuary (Gujarat) veined with hills, rivers and teak forests and the Nehru Zoological Park (Hyderabad) are enticing destinations to photograph the Lord of the Jungle lazying about or prowling for a prey.

One-horned Rhino Safari: In the reserves of Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Orang National Park and also Dudhwa National Park you can easily spot this grazier amongst the grass thickets and the swamps.

Snow Leopard Safari: The paradisiacal Nanda Devi National Park and the Valley of Flowers boasts of rare sightings of this elusive animal. Hail all your luck as you venture into the highlands - about 5500 mt elevations in the Himalayas - for the most challenging of wildlife photoghaphy.

Elephant safari: Domesticated elephants, known for their loyality to their mahouts, take you into the jungles of the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Karnataka to watch their bretherns in the wild. Your camera would tire clicking herds of them in the forests of Corbett (Uttaranchal), Kaziranga (Assam), Dudhwa (Uttar Pradesh), Nagarhole and Bandipur (Karnataka), Periyar (Kerala) and Manas (Assam).

Nilgiri Tahr Safari: Plan a vacation to the Erivakulam and Periyar National Parks in Kerala, to see the mountain goat graze about in the undulating terrain, totally undisterbed by your presence. The tahrs in Kerala are a friendly lot. You can just walk upto them and get them pose for a snap together.

Avian Photography: The avian denizens encompass a total of 12.5 % of the world’s 1220 species. Your safari tours to the forest reserves of ornithologist favorites Keoladeo (famous for its Siberian Cranes), Ranthambore, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Corbett, Sariska, Salim Ali - all promise the best and closest of photographs.

How about an interesting itinerary that encompasses the best of wildlife safaris? Contact us before you grab your camera.

Bird Watching

The feathered ‘lords of the air’ may not have as phenomenal a fan-following as the beasts that walk the earth, but those with a avian-fixation will know how crazy this sport can get. Sightings are, at times, about seconds - and priceless seconds they are - for your target may hit the air again anytime and be gone forever. Hats off to the ornithologists and the avifauna enthusiasts with their extraordinary patience and an eye for nature’s display of its impeccable color sense.

A ‘quiet’ ariel watch

India’s beeline of bird watching connoisseur from across the world is thronging by the day. A huge populace of widlife photographers too are included in this ambit. The Indian terrains are extremely avian friendly and welcomes a multitude of migratory birds from all over the world. In the Himalayan ranges, an enmesh of trekking expedition with your birding tour can add to the gambol. Down south, a enthralling river cruise through the dales camouflaged with multi-colored avifauna, where the air reverberates with relentless chirpings, can be an out-of-the-world experience. Tape recordings are also made, which, however, are prohibited in the Keoladeo Bird sanctuary. Be patient, be quiet, be attentive - are your bird watching mantras. Good luck!

Pack your bags to

India! 2000 rarest of the rare species and god-knows-how-many bird-watching zones await your arrival!

Wild wild west: Rajasthans’s Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, more popular as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park is one of Inida's pioneer wildlife conservation centers. Its shot to fame is however the Siberian Cranes Cranes that come here every monsoon traveling 6,500 km. A dismal tide, however, is that the year 2002 saw this endangered guests for the very last time in India. So before you go to Bharatpur, hail pagan bird-gods and the Indian ones that you are the one who reports to the world ‘the return of the Cranes’. Crane-talk apart, the sanctuary’s marine vagetation, kadam and babul forests, shallow lakes shelter in them about 300 species of Indian birds. Flocks of cormorants, spoon bills, storks, egrets, herons, pelicans, ebis and grey herons can be sighted all over the park. Phalodi, in Rajasthan, is another spot where the lovely Demoiselle Cranes from Mongolia and Europe, abound.

The Aravalli foothills nestle the Sariska wildlife sanctuary (Rajasthan) with more than 200 species of birds including the Gray Hornbill, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black/Red Headed Bunting, Wryneck Woodpecker Babbler, White Breasted Kingfisher, Little Brown Dove, Small Minivet, Golden Oriole, Great Gray Shrike, Pale Harrier and Tailor Bird.

Himalayas: The Himalayan foothills are, needless to say, rich with avifauna. For a change at Corbett National Park let the tigers be, go there for the birds. Corbett’s 600 species of birds exceeds the total number of bird species found in Europe and is about one fourth of the diversity found in India.

Fly South: The Nilgiris are rich with species like the White-browed wagtail, Rufous treepie, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Black-rumped Flameback, Chestnut-bellied nuthatch, Indian nightjar, Black Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and the Indian cuckoo. The best times for bird watching are between October and April.

The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary (Kerala) on the banks of Vembanad Lake, has resident birds like waterfowls, cuckoo, owl, egret, herons, kingfishers and water ducks. The migratory population include Siberian cranes (no more though), parrots, teals, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, etc. House boats and motor boats offer lake cruises ideal for a quiet bird-watching adventure.

Renowned ornithologists, Salim Ali’s brainchild, the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary Kerala, houses 500 winged species including the Indian Roller, Cukoo, Common Snipe, Crow Pheasant, Jungle Nightjar, Kite, Grey Drongo, Malabar Trogon, Woodpecker, Large Pied Wagtail, Baya Sparrow, Grey Jungle Fowl, Indian Hill Myna, Robin, Jungle Babbler And Darter.

Other birding grounds are Gir National Park (Gujarat), Nandankanan (Orissa), Rajaji National Park (Uttaranchal), Kolleru Bird Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh), Manjira Bird Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh) and Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh). Our Bird watching tours have the best picks - in case you don’t want to miss a thing!

Travel Tips

Binoculars are a must-must-must carry. Team it up with a hi-tech camera. Try pick clothes that have more of green shades - the birds are a shy lot. And some research can go a long way in recognising them instantly. Handbooks on birds like the “A Birdwatcher’s Guide to India” by Krys Kazmierczak & Raj Singh, Salim Ali’s more recent Ali/Ripley series, “The Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent” by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp are recommended. Accommodation options abound.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Conservation stories..

How does it feel to live under the threat of extinction in one’s own home? Well, ask an animal. Man - the supposedly ‘superior’ of all creatures, who is said to have been made in the very image of God - is the strangest compound of extremes. If he wills, he can destroy and it but he who can save. Nature’s non-human inhabitants are the worst sufferers in this war amongst ‘unequals’. And, once again, like impenetrable sentinels men have stood up against the brutes in their race to protect these innocent sufferers.
Yes, this verbal galore was about wildlife conservation. Conservation efforts began early, but it took India decades to get them implemented. Today India has 441 wildlife sanctuaries and 80 National Parks protecting threatened species like the Bengal tiger, one-horned rhino, Asiatic lion, Nilgiri tahr and so on, of which the Indian jungles are the only habitat of a few.
It not just about some animals freezing into pages of books and websites, but conservation is mandatory because the ecological balance of nature, especially that affecting the food chain, has to be maintained. Indian goverment initiatives like the Nature Camps and Jungle Lodges serve the dual purpose of promoting wildlife awareness among the people and encourage eco-tourism.
Conservation Stories
Project Tiger (1974): It began in 1974 by knitting wildlife forests across the nation under the banner of ‘Tiger Reserves’ and within decades the tiger population shot from a mere 1827 in 1972 to 40,000 by the turn of the century. Jim Corbett National Park was the first one to be branded the appellation.
Wildlife Protection Act (1972): This Government of India initiative aims at effectively controlling poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives. This has been amended recently (January, 2003) and punishment and penalty for offences under the Act have been made more stringent.
WWF: Species conservation within WWF-India began in 1997 with the initiation of the Tiger Conservation Programme. Subsequently in June 2000, it diversified into conservation programmes targeted at Asian Elephant and Rhino.
Wildlife Conservation Society-India (1986): Initiated in the Nagarhole by Ullas Karanth, it is one of the major groups working in this area with activities encompassing scientific research, national capacity building, policy interventions, site-based conservation and developing new models of wildlife conservation.
Endangered Species Where are they found
Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris): Kanha National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Corbett National Park, Sundarbans National Park, Bandipur National Park, Dudhwa National Park, Manas National Park, Pench National Park, Periyar National Park, Ranthambore National Park, Sariska National Park
One Horned Rhinoceros(Rhinoceros unicornis): Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Orang National Park, Dudhwa National Park
Black Buck (Antilope cervicapra): Velavadar Black Buck Sanctuary (Gujrat), Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Kanha National Park, Gir National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Ranthambore National Park, Jayamangali / Mydenahalli Blackbuck Reserve
Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica): Gir National Park and Lion Sanctuary
Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus): Corbett National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Dudhwa National Park, Nagarhole and Bandipur National Park, Periyar National Park and Manas National Park.
Barasingha (Cervus duvauceli branderi): Kanha National Park
Siberian Cranes (Grus leucogeranus): Keoladeo National Park
Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius): Erivakulam and Periyar National Parks in Kerala
Snow Leopard (Uncia unica): The Nanda Devi National Park and the Valley of Flowers in the Himalayas, Dachigam National Park (Jammu and Kashmir), sanctuaries in Darjeeling and the Namdapha National Park (Arunachal Pradesh)
Gaur or the Indian Bison (Bos gaurus): Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, B.R.Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Kanha National Park, Kaziranga and Manas National Parks
Sarus Crane (Grus antigone): Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and in sanctuaries in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana
Ganges River Dolphin(Platanista gangetica): Ganga and Brahmaputra river system, Vikramshila Ganges River Dolphin Sanctuary in Bihar
Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens): Darjeeling, West Bengal and Sikkim and Namdapha National Park (Arunachal Pradesh)
Hoolock gibbon (Bunopithecus hoolock): Kaziranga and Manas wildlife sanctuaries and the Borajan reserve forest in Assam and in the Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh

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