She emerged from the bush like a spectre, walked with the authority of a colonel and sat like a Tagore poem in earthly form. Before this you hadn’t seen anything remotely as big that was also throbbing with aesthetic perfection and charm. Something inside you has been lit. Your life has just changed and you know you’ll never be the same again. For you’ve just enjoyed the singular sight of a tiger in the wild.
- A five-night/six-day students-special Tour with five safaris and a nature walk to the land of eternal tiger-dreams
- Possible sightings of some of the most popular tigers among several other mammals and birds
- Immense natural history learning from the Tour Skipper
- Valuable insight into wildlife behaviour
At the heart of Wild India, Bandhavgarh has come to be not merely one of the best havens of the national animal, but a very byword for it. It is the tiger capital of the world. And equal to the allure of the celebrated tiger is the splendour of the forest itself.
In the winter, sublime misty dawns clear the fog off your mind and the nip in the air warms you up to the tingling anticipation of what lies ahead. As the first sunrays filter through the canopy and the curtain of mist raises, the Eden is unveiled in all its grandeur. The grasses of the emancipating meadows are showered in the dewdrops, while the sheltering woods throb with the promise of many a wonder that they keep in their mystical folds.
An intoxicating mix of history and natural history sings a soulful tune here. Set around a haunting 2000-year-old fort believed to have been gifted by lord Ram to his brother Lakshman (leading to the name Bandhavgarh, meaning ‘brother’s fort’), the 437km2 park is as much an archaeological goldmine as an ecological gem.
Halfway up the eponymous fort, an astounding monolithic sculpture of a reclining lord Vishnu oversees the wild affairs. An undercurrent of magic envelopes as you snake your way through the hallowed alleys of the tourism zone, where the great tigers Charger, Sita and B2 once reigned supreme. Presently you will be smitten by their able descendants, who grace this mythical landscape like beautiful relics left behind by a fantastical kingdom.
Although the iconic tiger is very much the main course in Bandhavgarh, the side dishes are aplenty. Jackals and jungle cats cross paths with pleasing regularity. The now rarefied species of vultures, including the red-headed, long-billed, white-rumped and Egyptian variety, thrive here. A rich variety of other avian life gladdens the keen birder, of which lesser adjutant stork, Malabar pied hornbill, blue-bearded bee-eater and white-rumped shama are notable, and Asian paradise flycatcher and stork-billed kingfisher yield particular delight, while white-eyed buzzard and honey buzzard are surprisingly common along with the nearly ubiquitous changeable hawk-eagle and crested serpent eagle. Indeed Bandhavgarh is a smorgasbord of the choicest riches.
But the park’s biggest draw is the unparalleled opportunity it offers to observe tiger behaviour for sustained periods of time. Tracking the known individuals by territory and movement, the extraordinarily skilled guides and drivers yield intimate, unique sighting opportunities into the private world of the enigmatic big cat, when, adorned by resplendent winter coats, they look their stunning best.
18 May 2019, Saturday
We meet in Pune and leave for Mumbai by 12126 Pragati Express (2S) at 07:50 a.m. We reach Mumbai (CST) by 11:20 a.m. and board the 12188 Jabalpur Garib Rath Express (3 AC) at 01:30 p.m. to reach Jabalpur. On this overnight train journey, we are lulled to sleep by our dreams of seeing the Bandhavgarh tigers and other wildlife.
19 May, Sunday
We arrive in Jabalpur by 06:00 a.m. and have our breakfast there. We proceed to Bandhavgarh by AC vehicles and reach our destination by noon. We check in and finish our lunch and rest, and go on an evening nature-walk. Overnight in Bandhavgarh.
20 and 21 May, Monday and Tuesday
On our morning and evening safaris, we explore the tiger-life and other rich wildlife in the beautiful wilderness of Bandhavgarh that is soaking in delight. Since our morning safari is long, we’ll carry packed breakfast. Lunch and dinner will be arranged for at our lodge. Overnight in Bandhavgarh.
22 May, Wednesday
We leave for the National Park for our last morning safari. Once we return, we have our breakfast and get ready for checkout after lunch. We travel to Jabalpur by AC vehicles to catch our train to Mumbai – the 12187 Garib Rath Express (3 AC) at 07:30 p.m. Overnight train travel.
23 May, Thursday
We arrive in Mumbai (CST) by 12:15 p.m. and begin our journey to Pune by 11009 Sinhagad Express (2S) at 02:30 p.m. We reach Pune by 06:40 p.m. and leave for our hometowns from there, with a lot of memories from Bandhavgarh to cherish for a long, long time.
- Per Person on Quadruple Share Accommodation
- Per Person on Quadruple Share Accommodation
- Services of a Toehold Skipper for a great wildlife experience
- Pune – Mumbai – Pune train travel (2S)
- Mumbai – Jabalpur – Mumbai train travel (3 AC)
- Jabalpur – Bandhavgarh – Jabalpur travel by AC vehicles
- Stay in Bandhavgarh for three nights on full-board basis
- Six jeep safaris
- Entry and guide fees
- Travel insurance for every participant
- Food during train travel
What’s Not Included?
- GST (5%)
- Any airfare
- Meals during train travel, telephone calls, laundry, room service, tips, porter service etc
- Additional mineral/bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, personal expenses of any kind
- Tips to drivers and lodge staff
- Additional charges incurred due to a change in the schedule, due to reasons beyond the control of the organisers
- Medical expenses, if incurred
- Any other charges/costs not mentioned in the ‘Inclusions’ list
- At least INR 15,000 booking amount
- Remainder to be paid 45 or more days before the departure date
All figures per person.
- 20% of the Tour fee 45 or more days before the Tour
- 40% of the Tour fee between 44 and 31 days before the Tour
- 80% of the Tour fee between 30 and 16 days before the Tour
- 100% of the Tour fee within 15 days before the Tour
Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.
You should go on a Group Tour if:
- You want natural-history-centric guided travel itineraries
- You want to travel with a Skipper with vast field experience
- Experiential travel is your top priority and not photography
You should go on a Photo Tour if:
- You want photography-centric guided travel itineraries
- You want to preserve your travel experiences as photographs
- You want expert assistance, subject-knowledge transfer on field
You should go on a Vacation if:
- You want itineraries tailored exactly to your needs
- You want us to plan and flawlessly execute your holiday
- You want to draw from our immense firsthand field experience
Who should participate in this Tour?
Anybody with an interest in wildlife is welcome to participate.
How different are your Group Tours from ordinary tours?
Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven’t experienced themselves, our Group Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of an experienced naturalist. The common ingredients in all our Group Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are nature lovers, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.
How sure are you about sighting wildlife on this Tour?
Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours and the local expertise we leverage, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings were unsatisfactory. However, since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, we do not claim that sightings are guaranteed.
What equipment do you suggest on this Tour if I want to make photographs?
For tigers and other mammals, a telephoto zoom lens in the range of 100 to 400mm works very well. Sometimes, when tigers and other wildlife are far, and for birds, a longer lens can come in more than handy. If opting for a fixed (‘prime’) lens, the 300mm focal length on a cropped sensor body with a 1.4x extender (‘teleconverter’) is the best compromise, although lenses of longer focal length can be used to good effect as well, especially on ‘full-frame’ bodies. A wide-angle or normal zoom to capture landscapes or creative perspectives of wildlife is recommended. And since we may do some nocturnal photography, an image-stabilized lens and a camera body that performs well at high sensitivities are boons.
What do I do if I do not have the requisite equipment?
If you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need. Click here to see what we offer. What’s better, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Toehold Outdoors Group Tours!