Visit the World’s Best Place to View Tigers at the Best Time of Year to See Them
Day 1: New Delhi, India
Arrive in New Delhi and transfer to the Taj Mahal Hotel. One of the most distinguished addresses in the city, this landmark luxury hotel provides a comfortable respite as you rest up from your travels. The evening is at leisure with dinner on your own—try one of the hotel's many fine restaurants, or inquire with the concierge for nearby suggestions.
Day 2: Discovering Delhi Old & New
India’s thriving capital offers a captivating introduction to the country and its cultures, in vivid counterpoint to the wild places and jungle animals that lie ahead. There are two distinct sections of the city, ancient Old Delhi, and New Delhi, founded in 1911 by the British at the height of their empire. A half-day tour, timed to avoid the heat of midday, explores centuries of Delhi's complex, multi-layered history. A rickshaw ride provides a fitting overview, while a guided walk through the narrow lanes of Old Delhi reveals architectural treasures like Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque and the magnum opus of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Completed in 1656 with labor by more than 5,000 workers, the grand edifice features alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble, with a vast inner courtyard that can hold 25,000 people. This evening we join our Expedition Leader for a welcome dinner and orientation to all the adventures that await.
Day 3: Jaipur / Ranthambore National Park
Transfer to the Delhi airport this morning for our short flight to Jaipur, Rajasthan’s fabled "Pink City" of sandstone. From Jaipur, we travel by road to Ranthambore National Park and our ecolodge, where we spend the next four nights. In comfortable air-conditioned accommodations, we have excellent proximity to the park, as well as a respite from the middday
heat. Our lodge is also renowned for its excellent vegetarian cuisine, produce for which is grown in the organic garden on site.
The former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, today Ranthambore National Park is one of India's top conservation success stories. With tiger numbers on the rise, it offers India’s best opportunity to observe them in the wild, especially at this dry time of year when vegetation is sparse and tigers more readily visible. The park sits between the rugged Aravalli and Vindhya hills, a broad swath of jungle scrub bordered by steep, rocky ridges and highland plateaus dotted with lakes. More than 300 different plant species grow here, though the environs are largely
dry deciduous forest—and that means it's easier to spot tigers and other wildlife, in contrast to places where the understory is lusher.
This afternoon, we make our first foray into the park. Covering 150 square miles, Ranthambore is one of India’s largest nature reserves, and certainly among its most famous, given its reputation for excellent tiger viewing prospects. While tigers are always elusive, the odds of seeing them are high in Ranthambore, especially at the time of year we visit.
Days 4–6: On Safari in Ranthambore
Our daily safari drives take place early in the morning and late afternoon,
when temperatures are relatively cooler and wildlife more active. We head out in 4x4 vehicles before sunrise each morning, eager for the day's discoveries. In contrast to an African safari where wildlife is often on display before us, India's animals take more effort to find. Tigers typically take shelter under the cover of trees and bushes, hiding from their prey and seeking relief from the heat. Because their black and orange stripes provide excellent camouflage, we have to work hard to locate them. But our Expedition Leaders are seasoned pros at this, and we follow their lead, listening for sounds and watching for signs that may reveal a tiger's location: rustling grass, deer racing away from its presence, birds circling overhead.
While tigers are our main focus, we also look for other wildlife that is plentiful in the park. Sightings may include spotted deer, nilgai, jackal, jungle cat, sloth bear, sambar, chinkara gazelle, wild boar, langur monkeys and rhesus macaques. Ranthambore is also home to a notable leopard population, though they tend to stay in higher, more inaccessible areas and are not frequently seen. Birds flourish here, too, with more than 300 species in the reserve. Keep an eye out for crested serpent eagles, paradise flycatchers, painted storks, peacocks and many more.
In the middle of the day, return to the comfort of our lodge to relax or cool off in the swimming pool, or visit the Ranthambore School of Art and Dastkar Ranthambore, a women’s handicraft cooperative.
Day 7: Sawai Madhopur / Delhi / Depart
Our tiger safari comes to a close today as we transfer to the railway station at Sawai Madhopur for our return to Delhi by train. Day rooms in Delhi are provided before transferring to the airport for homeward flights.