1 independent reviews for India tiger safaris

Reviews for India tiger safaris

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review 23 Feb 2018

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

The game drives are clearly the highlight. Don't expect to see huge herds of wildlife roaming open savannah like you do in Africa. Much of the terrain is hilly and heavily forested (particularly at Bandhavgarh) so sightings can be difficult and infrequent. However be patient, there is plenty of wildlife to see and the sightings you do get will generally be up close. You also get a lot of time in the parks, 6:30 to ~11.00 (with a pick nick breakfast) and 15:00 to ~18:30. All but two of my fifteen drives were private. You pick up a different Indian Forestry Service Guide each time you enter the park. Some speak English, most don't, but they are all incredibly skilled at spotting wildlife. For six drives my driver was also a naturalist. For another seven there was a separate naturalist who joined us. Either way all the naturalists have good. English and can translate what the guide is saying if necessary. The lodges at Bandhavgarh and Pench are small, relaxed, cosy and welcoming. They blend tastefully into the forest. The managers speak good English and are constantly on hand should you need anything. At Kanha the hotel has impressive public areas and extensive gardens including a lake, but it is a hotel, not a jungle lodge and personally I found it a bit big, impersonal and cold, It was also the only place where communication proved difficult, although they always drag someone out of the office to deal with you eventually. All the lodges have a pool. All the rooms have shower, en-suite, mains electricity and tea making facilities. At Bandhavgarh and Pench you also get a private terrace and it was pleasant to sit out and watch the many butterflies and birds. Food in the lodges is mostly local Madhya Pradesh cuisine. You get a Dahl, Paneer, a couple of vegetable dishes, one non vegetarian choice (usually chicken or fish) plus rice, poppadoms, and freshly made nan or chapatis, with desert to follow. Sometimes there's a western dish, often pasta. The chocolate cake at Pench is wonderful. (But then everything about Pench is wonderful). The transfer drives take several hours but I found them delightful. The cars were comfortable and air conditioned, the drivers polite and friendly. The roads are good, the scenary is pretty and constantly changing and there's always lots going on to look at. I went for the wildlife, not to see Dehli, but actually I was amazed by the place. Lots of traffic true, but also huge green open spaces and magnificent buildings. My driver was fantastic.

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

It's difficult to change money in Madhya Pradesh and credit cards aren't widely accepted, so do carry plenty of rupees. There's a good Thomas Cook desk at Dehli baggage reclaim. Budget ~20,000 INR in tips for guides, drivers and naturalists if your game drives are private. Buy a prepaid local sim card (~900 INR for 350 mins, available 24/7 from the Airtel desk outside Dehli Arrivals). The Dehli team are highly professional and are very keen to be of service, so its a good idea to be able to contact them easily. Bring lots of warm clothes. It's 30C by mid morning but it's properly cold pre-dawn in an open jeep. Start in sweater, hoodie, fleece, ski jacket, wooly hat, scarf, gloves, blanket (yes all of that, I'm not joking) then peel off layers as it warms up. Power sockets in Madhya Pradesh take BS 546 round 3 pin plugs so bring an adapter.

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

The holiday provides employment for many local people and their families. Entry into the National Parks is tightly controlled and animal welfare appears to be the priority. The lodge at Pench is very environmentally focused. The food is locally produced where possible, some of it on site. They also have their own 50 acre eco park and offer guided walks. The manager is a naturalist with 30 years experience. The holiday is provided by a small family run company formed by British wildlife conservationists.

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

It was a wonderful trip, constantly exceeding my expectations, and I enjoyed every minute. I will remember my tiger and leopard sightings for the rest of my life.

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