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Grand India Wildlife Adventure
Arrive in New Delhi and transfer to the Taj Mahal Hotel. This afternoon we explore the city on a rickshaw ride that brings alive the many layers of its complex history. We also visit the Jama Masjid and take a stroll through the bylanes of Old Dehli. This evening we enjoy a welcome dinner and introduction to our India tiger safari.
Day 2: Raipur / Kanha Tiger Reserve
Fly to Raipur and drive to Singinawa Jungle Lodge in the heart of the Kanha Tiger Reserve. The park offers India’s best tiger viewing, while the grasslands and deciduous forest also support chital, sambar, common langur, wild boar, Indian bison, sloth bear, Asiatic jackal, wild dog, rhesus monkeys and occasionally leopard. Kanha is also home to the world’s last population of barasingha, an endangered swamp deer with 12-point antlers. Once a hunting ground for imperial rulers and viceroys, Kanha is now one of India’s most important wildlife reserves.
Days 3 - 5: Kanha National Park
Our India tiger safaris over these three days include morning and evening excursions in Jeeps and on elephant back (Elephant rides cannot be guaranteed, as they depend on the successful tracking of tigers by the mahouts). At the close of each day we retire to the superb comforts of our lodge.
Day 6: Raipur / Kolkata
Drive to Raipur this morning and fly to Kolkata (Calcutta), where we settle in at the luxurious Oberoi Grand Hotel. This classic landmark is over 125 years old, exuding Victorian elegance yet offering every conceivable modern amenity.
Day 7: Kolkata
We spend the morning touring Kolkata, the third-largest city in India and the capital under the British Raj from 1772 until 1911. While the city experienced a melding of traditions during the British Empire, it was also the locus for a fierce movement for Indian independence, prompting the Crown to move the capital to Delhi. Kolkata has a strong literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage, and its creative energy is palpable.
Day 8: Jorhat / Kaziranga
This morning we fly from Kolkata to Jorhat, and then drive to Haroocharai Tea Estate. Following lunch on the grounds, we embark on a tea garden tour where we may observe local workers harvesting leaves, as well as learn how raw leaves are processed into a delicious tea. After our visit, we continue by road to Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The park, which borders the sacred Brahmaputra River, was created in 1926 as a refuge for the one-horned rhinoceros. Once hunted nearly to extinction, today this two-ton beast is a conservation success story, rebounding to more than 1,600. We stay at the new Diphlu River Lodge.
Days 9 - 11: Kaziranga National Park
Morning and afternoon Jeep drives reveal the park’s diverse habitat, a mix of elephant grass, thorny rattan cane, tracts of semi-evergreen forest and shallow swamps. The reserve boasts an amazing variety of wildlife, including wild buffalo, hog deer, hoolock gibbons, elephants, pythons and tigers. Waterfowl abound, too: egrets, pond herons, river terns, black-necked storks, fishing eagles and pelicans. In the river one may find otters, gharials and dolphins.
Day 12: Guwahati / Delhi
We drive a half-day to Guwahati to catch our afternoon flight to Delhi, with the rest of the day at leisure.
Day 13: Agra — Taj Mahal / Red Fort
Early this morning we board the Shatabdi Express train for Agra. First we'll visit the legendary Taj Mahal, built in 1631 by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his beloved wife. Perhaps the most elegant building in the world, the Taj Mahal manifests the apex of Mughal art in its exquisite design details and elaborate gardens. Late this afternoon, as the sun sets its stone facade aglow, we tour the magnificent Red Fort, the locus of Mughal power until the imperial capital was moved to Delhi in 1637.
Day 14: Agra / Delhi / Home
We return to the Taj Mahal for a guided tour at dawn, as the sunrise casts a pink glow on the translucent marble. After breakfast we drive back to Delhi, where dayrooms are available for us. This afternoon we transfer to the airport for flights home.