Day 1: Delhi, India
Arrive in New Delhi and transfer to the Taj Mahal Hotel. One of the most distinguished addresses in India’s capital, this elegant hotel ensures a comfortable transition to India as you settle in for the next two nights. This evening is at your leisure.
Day 2: Delhi
India’s capital of 16 million people offers a spellbinding introduction to the country—not to mention quite a contrast to the wilderness and wildlife we will soon be encountering. Explore and photograph the city’s layers of history on a half-day guided tour. Our overview includes architectural monuments from centuries past, grand boulevards and crowded lanes, manicured gardens and palatial colonial government buildings. This evening we gather with our Expedition Leader for a welcome dinner and overview of our photo safari ahead.
Day 3: Sawai Madhopur / Ranthambore National Park
Drive to the railway station to board our train to Sawai Madhopur, the "Tiger City" of eastern Rajasthan. Originally called the Frontier Mail, this historic passage is among India’s oldest train routes. On arrival
we transfer to Dev Vilas, where we spend the next four nights. After a quick lunch we head into Ranthambore National Park for an introductory visit. One of India’s largest and most renowned nature reserves, Ranthambore is famed for its population of comparatively approachable tigers, in comparison to other parks. Our explorations take place on early morning and afternoon game drives. In the middle of the day, there’s time to relax at the hotel, enjoy the refreshment of the swimming pool, and visit the Ranthambore Foundation’s School of Art, established in partnership with nearby villages, which supports a women’s craft cooperative.
Days 4-6: Ranthambore National Park
The former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park offers India’s best opportunity to observe and photograph tigers in the wild, at this time of year. Tucked between the rugged Aravalli and Vindhya hills, the reserve is a broad swath of jungle scrub bordered by steep, rocky ridges and highland plateaus dotted with lakes. The dry, deciduous habitat generally makes it easier to spot tigers here than in other locations where the vegetation is more dense and lush.
We head out in our safari trucks early in the morning, usually before dawn. In contrast to African wildlife, the animals in India take work to find. Tigers tend to remain under the cover of trees and bushes, hiding from their prey and finding relief from the heat. Because their striped coat offers superb camouflage, they can be a challenge to locate. We listen for sounds that give us clues to their whereabouts: rustling grasses, deer running away from their presence, birds swirling overhead.
At the same time, we look for myriad other wildlife. In addition to tigers, healthy populations of spotted chital deer, nilgai, jackal, various jungle cats, sambar, chinkara gazelle, wild boar, langur monkeys and rhesus macaques thrive here, as do sloth bear. The park is also home to a sizable number of leopards,
though they are shy and tend to stay in higher, more inaccessible areas. More than 300 bird species inhabit the reserve, ranging from crested serpent eagles to paradise flycatchers, peacocks and painted storks. While our focus may be tigers, we may encounter a multitude of other wildlife photography opportunities.
Day 7: Delhi / Depart
This morning we transfer to the railway station for our return journey to Delhi. Day rooms are available to us in Delhi before we transfer to the airport for flights home.