Central and Western India holiday, rural life

Price
£2500To£3500 excluding flights
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Duration
14 Days
Type
Tailor made
Reviews
More info
This includes full board at Shergarh; bed and breakfast elsewhere.
it includes all guiding and park drives in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
It includes all transport within India.
Make enquiry

Description of Central and Western India holiday, rural life

Price information

£2500To£3500 excluding flights
Convert currency:
This includes full board at Shergarh; bed and breakfast elsewhere.
it includes all guiding and park drives in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
It includes all transport within India.
Make enquiry

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

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Reviews

2 Reviews of Central and Western India holiday, rural life

5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 14 Nov 2023 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


My holiday took me quite literally off the beaten track (on an e-bike and on foot) where I was able to meet wonderful people, learn about their lives, see stunning wildlife, and get a unique and authentic sense of this part of rural India.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Sophie offers outstanding service, has an amazing knowledge and network and will really support you, so be daring and try things you might not normally try, for example, taking an overnight train instead of flying.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


My holiday benefited local people at every location, especially women. This included the extremely helpful female taxi driver in Mumbai, and all of the amazing staff at Sherghar tented camp and all of our other accommodation around Kanha. Most people seemed to visit Kandahar just to go on Tiger Safaris, but my holiday included visiting local communities and NGOs in addition to seeing the wildlife. During my two weeks stay I visited local womenís social enterprise Pashoo Pakshee for a wonderful workshop, and local NGO Earth Focus to learn about the balance between farming and conservation through education. Sophie encouraged me to take the train instead of an internal flight. I cycled miles around the tiger reserve on an E bike, instead of sitting in a car, and I saw so much more as a
result (notable moments were being invited to attend a wedding when we stopped at the side of a road with the bikes, eating delicious snacks from village restaurants along the route, talking to people manufacturing bricks out of sand, and buying scarves in an extremely rural local market). At every opportunity, we tried to reduce our impact, be sensitive to the local environment, and support conservation. We even visited the local tree nursery set up to improve the lives of local tribal communities, and visited water conservation projects.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was superb. This was a very special and memorable holiday. I felt extremely lucky to have had such a wonderful experience. Sophie's well organised, thoughtful and sensitive approach gave me access way beyond the normal tourist experience. The bike tour was challenging and completely exhilarating but there was a lot of pampering included on the holiday as well. And I havenít even mentioned the tigers Ö I had the most spectacular sighting of a mother and cub, which lasted over 20 minutes and we were the only jeep in sight - thanks to the expertise of our guide. I met lovely people who were on the same trip, and I felt
really welcomed by everyone. So all in all I thoroughly recommend it!

Reviewed on 18 Jan 2020 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Early morning safaris at Kanha reserve (I saw several tigers and cubs and a mesmerising variety of birds, mammals, butterflies), and a fascinating guided
nature walk through the forest to the tiger's den, while staying at the delightful Shergarh tented camp; a boat safari in the Sunderbans - crocodiles, storks,
deer, monitor lizards, wild pigs, birds galore etc etc; a long walk with Sunny through the local villages around his beautiful Bhoramdeo Jungle Retreat,
likewise walks and bike rides with various members of his amazing local team; sitting round their campfire on Christmas Eve; trips to markets; drinking chai
just about everywhere, the noise of cowbells and monkey calls at night, meeting the local people, messing about with the gangs of children who seem to
appear out of nowhere...

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


This was tailor made and wonderful and so my main tip would be to talk to Sophie, who runs the travel company in India. She is a rich source of local knowledge
and, as I discovered, absolutely everyone knows her and values her good opinion; she's very popular and so you are very well looked after, under her mantel.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, at all stages local people were either running the show or integral. All the guides were local and various city walks etc were run by charities, which put
the money back into the community. It definitely supported conservation. Tourists are necessary. On the other hand, it involved a lot of travel, flights, cars etc..

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A remarkable three weeks and a beautiful mix of safari, villages, a couple of nights in Mumbai and, under my own steam, Kolkata. I loved this trip and am
already dreaming of a return.

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.

Planet

PLANET

CARBON REDUCTION

The biggest effort we make for carbon reduction is to encourage our guests to slow down! Two destinations during a two week holiday rather than three or four not only makes for a much nicer, much more immersive holiday but cuts car travel and possible internal flights.

We encourage guests to take at least one overnight train journey in place of an internal flight. This is 'rewarded' with a £20 donation to Frank Water Charity, made on their behalf by the company.

Our main accommodation provider on this trip fuels hot water using 'Gujarati Boilers' that are fuelled with wood scraps grown on the premises.

All staff are local and thus arrive on foot or by bicycle.

Walking and cycling forms the absolute heart of our trips. There is rarely a day in which these don't form some part of the day's activities.

While the majority of guests visiting Kanha stay 3-4 nights and do 5 or more jeep safaris during their stay, we encourage longer stays (a week or more) and fewer safaris (three in a week).

All guests are given notes before arrival, all first time guests are given a steel water bottle (bought from Frank Water thus also supporting their work), asked to minimise (and if possible remove entirely) any single use plastic from their packing.

On our cycle trips we carry two large (15 l) water carriers which we re-fill with filtered water so guests can replenish their camel-baks and water carriers. I personally supervise all shopping for daily picnic food and travel with cotton bags and steel tins so I can buy fruit and nuts and snacks loose.

I advise guests to take direct international flights where possible (take off and landing being a big fuel use).

Vegetarian and vegan food is available everywhere. Indeed vegetarian food is the norm.

All food is locally sourced.

All cosmetics (soaps shampoo etc) are made my a small women run organisation (Earthy Sapo) using locally sourced, organic ingredients, in recycled paper and card wrappers.


Environment and Wildlife

Our professional accommodation providers at Kanha have turned a plot of land that previously was environmentally damaging eucalyptus, into a well wooded haven for bird and insect life. The camp owners at Kanha have gradually felled the eucalypt, using it to build the shells for their tented accommodation and all their furniture (it is a marvellous mosquito repellent) whilst continually replanting mixed forest as they go. The accommodations provide alternative drinking water to the ubiquitous plastic bottles that now litter India (quite apart from the disposal of plastic bottles, it takes four litres of water to produce a single litre of drinking water).

We operate with small group sizes which not only maximises interaction within the group, guides and local community but also minimises the impact on environment.
We work with Frank Water a UK water charity (reg. 1121273) that works with NGO partners across India to improve access to safe water and sanitation. In our area, Kabirdham, FRANK works with Samerth, a local NGO, to provide safe clean water to an area that has suffered much due to climate change. We lead a bi-annual Cycle or Safe Water that visits Franks projects in Chhattisgarh: the 2022 ride raised £32,000 for Frank. And we arrange visits to Frank's projects throughout our season.

We believe wildlife tourism can be an important conservation tool if used responsibly. Travel to national parks and wildlife areas brings positive economic benefits as entrance fees contribute to the maintenance and conservation of local flora and animal species, while visitors benefit from the educational aspects of the area and take away with them an increased awareness of the need and place for conservation. Equally important tourism helps the local communities living around these reserves by providing jobs and helping them realise the importance of the forest.

People

We believe there are two fundamental factors in creating a successful and socially beneficial holiday: slow travel and placing value on local knowledge. All our guides on treks in the hills are local herdsmen (yadavs) or farmers; they not only know the best routes and the food and medicinal uses of every plant and tree, but also whether it is worth a diversion to see a leopard footprint, to bypass a village where private ceremony is taking place or drop in on one where a baby welcoming party will enjoy the presence of some extra guests. It enables real relationships to be established between guests and host nationals.

We engage with local NGOs which not only helps us to tread sensitively and with awareness but means we can use tourist income to support local projects.

We ensure that there are multiple languages speakers on all our tours to avoid cultural faux pas and to enrich the exchanges between everyone. Our guides ensures that same villages are not visited by foreigners more than once in any month and that all supplies are brought along so no strain is put on the local resources. We encourage guests to bring small but useful presents; jumpers or shawls for children (central Indian winter nights can be bitterly cold) and fresh fruit and vegetable for longer stays (50% of Indian people do not even eat one fully balanced meal a day).
We operate with small group sizes which not only maximises interaction within the group and guides and local community but also minimises the impact on environmen

All our accommodation providers employ the vast majority of their staff from local villages and encourage the learning of English, interaction with guests and opportunities for promotion. The also support the education of the children of their staff and their health needs.

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