India Jungles and Jewels Adventure

About the Experience

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment you fell in love with India. Was it the giddy euphoric experience of bathing with elephants in the Banjar river? Was it that misty morning you watched a wild tiger moving through the meadow? Or was it sitting by the campfire surrounded by ancient Banyan trees that enveloped you like a dreamy fairytale from the pages of The Jungle Book, feeling as if you were floating in a sea of winking stars?

Or maybe there was no one moment…Maybe it was all of the moments wound together: learning to make Masala Chai from scratch, your fingers fragrant and coloured with spice. Seeing a sloth bear creeping through the bamboo… Strolling in the Satpura Tiger Reserve on foot, the birdsong in your ears like the soundtrack to a lost paradise, and you wind all of these experiences around you, tighter and tighter, in the same fashion that you wound yourself in the dazzling crimson cloth of your Sari.

Each evening you sit in the deep harmony of the jungle under the stars and feel part of it all, vibrating with the wonder of everything you have witnessed that day. You hold up your hennaed hands, the beautiful swirls of design almost magical in the moonlight. And you wrap your arms around yourself, trying to contain the wild beauty of this adventure. Mowgli has nothing on you.

Click here to see the full itinerary!
India Jungles and Jewels Adventure

About the Experience

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment you fell in love with India. Was it the giddy euphoric experience of bathing with elephants in the Banjar river? Was it that misty morning you watched a wild tiger moving through the meadow? Or was it sitting by the campfire surrounded by ancient Banyan trees that enveloped you like a dreamy fairytale from the pages of The Jungle Book, feeling as if you were floating in a sea of winking stars?

Or maybe there was no one moment…Maybe it was all of the moments wound together: learning to make Masala Chai from scratch, your fingers fragrant and coloured with spice. Seeing a sloth bear creeping through the bamboo… Strolling in the Satpura Tiger Reserve on foot, the birdsong in your ears like the soundtrack to a lost paradise, and you wind all of these experiences around you, tighter and tighter, in the same fashion that you wound yourself in the dazzling crimson cloth of your Sari.

Each evening you sit in the deep harmony of the jungle under the stars and feel part of it all, vibrating with the wonder of everything you have witnessed that day. You hold up your hennaed hands, the beautiful swirls of design almost magical in the moonlight. And you wrap your arms around yourself, trying to contain the wild beauty of this adventure. Mowgli has nothing on you.

Arrival Day:

If you arrive early in Delhi or Mumbai, you have the option of a booking our group hotel and pick up package and we will book one night of your pre tour accommodation at a four star hotel and transfer you to airport the next morning to fly on to Raipur, where our tour starts.

Day 01 

Our tour officially begins with a pick up from Raipur airport at 2:30pm and we’ll drive 5 hours to our jungle home in the legendary Kanha National Park.

One of the largest and most scenic National Parks in India, Kanha is an ideal habitat for both tigers and their prey. The lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha shelter a significant population of rare species such as tiger, leopard and sloth bear. Kanha’s mixed forests are interspersed with vast meadows known as maidens, where perennial streams provide a source of water for the wildlife even in the hot summers.

Kanha meadow, with its hundreds of chital grazing on a carpet of green grass against the backdrop of the majestic Sal forest, is well known for its endangered swamp deer, or hard ground barasingha, which populate the large open tracks of grass amidst the forests of teak and bamboo. Brought back from the brink of extinction, these handsome animals are a remarkable conservation success story for Kanha.

We will stay for 4 nights at the historic Kanha Jungle Lodge, one of the original lodges in this area, built by the founder of Project Tiger, one of the earliest tiger conservation initiatives in India.

Kanha Jungle Lodge is spread over approximately 10.6 acres  with 18 spacious rooms which are made up of local available materials. The rooms have big windows/doors of glass to welcome lots of natural light and air to come in, thus reducing the burden on artificial lightening. The lodge is actively working for training of local guides, forest guards community awareness programs on environmental issues, medical camps for villagers around various national parks etc.  There is also a medicinal garden in the lodge where different varieties of medicinal plants are grown along with brief descriptions of their medicinal uses and parts used. We’ll enjoy nature walks along the river to explore the native plants and enjoy the vibrant bird life around the lodge.

DAY 02-04: KANHA NATIONAL PARK    

You will wake up to misty mornings and sounds of birds calling, which will make an exciting start to your day. As soon as dawn breaks, leave for your Jungle Safari, accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest park guides in 4x 4 Jeeps. We’ll be treated to panoramic views of the landscape made famous by “The Jungle Book”, and open vehicles give us space to listen to the sounds of the jungle, tracking tigers through the sound of mating calls, alarm calls, distress calls or just a casual roar.

We’ll tour the park, keeping our eyes wide open for wild animal sightings, and enjoy a picnic breakfast in the middle of the Jungle.

We’ll return to our lodge later each morning to leisure or go for a guided nature walk and have lunch.

In the afternoon we’ll continue with our safari adventure and later return to our lodge for a gourmet buffet dinner and star gazing around the campfire.

Additional program activities at Kanha include:

Cooking classes – we’ll learn how to make masala chai and some simple snacks like pakora or crispy okra, Indian breads and curry. We’ll learn about indian spices how they can be used and their secret medicinal uses.

Sari draping – We’ll learn the art of the traditional Indian sari style dress and have a fun evening learning traditional dance moves! Both turban winding and donning a sari are intricate processes, each requiring deft handling of four meters or 13 feet of fabric. Learn the intricacies of draping a sari and dress up like a local lady, under the watchful eye and guidance of a ‘sari-draping’ expert.

Henna Tattoo (Mehandi) Demonstration– Mehndi is a ceremonial art form which originated in the ancient Indian subcontinent. It is typically applied during weddings – for brides. Traditional Hindu or Sikh weddings in India can often be long, ritualistic, and elaborate affairs with many pre-wedding, wedding and post wedding ceremonies. Different countries and regions of a country celebrate the ceremonies in different ways according to their own marriage customs, rituals, and culture. While it is popularly known as decorative material & in this process we provide local artist to decorate your hands by applying Henna tattoo on your hands.

Nature walks: Take in the sounds, sights and smells of the jungle. Our nature walks are designed in a way to encourage you to use all your senses, to be present in the moment, to learn to identify birds from their calls and plants from their leaves. Let our natural guides regale you with tales from the bush, let them teach you about the forest and how all its inhabitants contribute to our survival.

Elephant Bathing: We’ll also have the special opportunity one afternoon to participate in elephant bathing in the Banjar River. After the elephants are used by the park conservation staff in the morning for other forest activities like tracking tigers and patrolling against poachers, they are brought down to the Banjar river in the afternoon, where you can see them splashing in mud and bathing in the river, brushed down by their Mahouts. We’ll get to help give them a good bath and splash around with them in the wild!

DAY 05: KANHA – PENCH NATIONAL PARK 

After your leisurely breakfast we’ll drive 4 hours on to Pench National Park.

Pench National Park has been one of the best-kept secrets among wildlife enthusiasts who have long been acquainted with and bedazzled by its immensely varied flora and fauna. Dominated by fairly open canopy of mixed forest, predominantly teak, with open grassy patches, the park boasts the highest density of herbivores in any Indian park. It has a large diversity of wildlife, including Leopard, Tiger, Jungle Cat, Dhole (Wild Dog), Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Mongoose, Gaur and the highest density of Herbivores including Cheetal (Spotted Deer) and Sambar.

We’ll arrive to our next jungle home, in the village of Jamtara, near Pench National Park. Jamtara Wilderness Lodge is a luxury tented property in the heart of rural Pench.

Surrounded by tall Arjuna Trees and an ancient Banyan rooted on a dry riverbed, each tented room overlooks the forest which set the perfect background to this jungle experience, each luxury tent is designed to feel light and open, allowing guests the optimum view of nature.  With the option of rolling up the front panels of the tent, you can bring the outside in but still being in the privacy of your own room.  Although, these are tented rooms and the bathroom has been made into a permanent structure for the comfort of the guests. “Glamping” at its finest! While many may sleep inside the tent, some may feel a little more connected with nature and have the option of sleeping outside on their patio.  Mosquito netting will keep the bugs away, quilts and hot water bottles will keep you cozy at night.

Since we also believe in supporting the community of our lodge, a “Machaan” night can be booked, to enjoy sleeping under the stars, just like the villagers. These Machaans are built on the land of the  farmers and an amount of the night’s rate will be paid to the farmer.  Sleeping up high on stilts will allow you to watch the sky and everything below…

DAY 06-07: PENCH NATIONAL PARK            

Each day will feature morning & afternoon Jungle Safaris, accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest Park guide in 4x 4 Jeeps. Meals will be at the camp.

We’ll also enjoy daily nature walks led by our naturalist guide. Located at the edge of the wildlife rich buffer zone forests at the northern end of Pench Tiger Reserve and separated from the core area by a narrow tongue of seasonal crop land, Jamtara Wilderness is perfectly placed to explore the jungle on foot – the only way to truly appreciate and experience the wilderness in its adrenaline-tingling, fascinating entirety.

Separated from the jungle by a dry nallah that is the nighttime corridor for much wildlife including leopard, this prime location allows you the fantastic opportunity to head out into the jungle at first light searching for tracks of big cats including the tigers that frequent these forests and the evidence of their potential prey. As with all of Pench the Jamtara forests too are dense with a rich variety of figs whose prolific fruiting acts like an ecological force multiplier attracting frugivorous mammals and a multitude of birds both fruit eating and those hawking for the insects that cluster around the figs.

But it is not just the richness of wildlife that makes a walk in the Jamtara forests so special; it is the isolation – no other lodges or camps, no great congregations of villages – allowing you the incredible privilege of waiting undisturbed in a forest clearing watching and photographing all the many little things that make a jungle come alive or waiting for a leopard to move from its kill or even quietly following the pack of wild dogs that live here as they trot half-seen through the trees. This is indeed a unique offering at Jamtara.

DAY 08: PENCH – SATPURA             

After breakfast we’ll drive 5 hours to Satpur National Park, where we will be based at the luxurious Reni Pani Jungle Lodge.

Reni Pani Jungle Lodge is an exquisitely designed conservation and wildlife focused lodge located close to the Satpura National park and Tiger Reserve. It features 12 luxury cottages encompassing 3 distinct structural designs, a cosy central meeting place called the Gol Ghar & a jungle pool located along its seasonal nullah. It’s spread over 30 acres of striking forest cover typical of Satpura. The camp-site features exactly what a nature lover would want, magnificent trees, a sprawling meadow, a seasonal nullah, uneven yet beautiful topography & water holes that attract several species of birds & animals.

The Satpura Tiger Reserve is an amalgamation of the Satpura National Park, the Bori Wild Life Sanctuary & the Pachmarhi Sanctuary. This prime wildlife habitat is relatively unknown & is rightly believed to be one of India’s best kept secrets. Here, we can explore true wilderness without the crowds. The park offers a diverse & unique range of activities. Apart from Jeep, Elephant & Boat Safaris, Satpura is the only park of its kind in Central India that offers Walking Safaris, giving enthusiasts a ‘one of a kind’ opportunity to explore tiger country on foot.

You are likely to sight Leopards, Sloth Bear, Indian Wild Dogs, hordes of Indian Gaur, Sambhar plus other herbivores found in Central India. Satpura is also the Northern most range of the Malabar Giant Squirrel. The sheer diversity of animals, the presence of several bird species, numerous species of endemic butterflies & the luxury of exploring this 1,500 square km expanse of classic Central Indian wildlife habitat in so many different ways make Satpura a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise.

DAY 09: SATPURA – UNDER CANVAS 

After morning safari, we’ll depart from Reni Pani Jungle Lodge to our exclusive campsite set up in the forest. After settling in we will be escorted by expert naturalist for an evening walking safari in the core area of the Satpura National Park. Although the walk will focus on the smaller aspects of the forest like tracks and signs, flora, butterflies, wild flowers and insects, we can also expect to see a wide array of Central Indian birds including Black Naped Orioles, Malabar Pied Hornbills, Crested  Hawk Eagles, Grey Headed Fish Eagles and many more. You will also get a chance to see common mammals like the Sambar Deer, Nilgai, Gaur, Four-horned Antelope, Indian Giant Squirrel and if lucky even the Sloth Bear, Leopard and Wild Dog. We will spend the night at the campsite.

DAY 10: UNDER CANVAS – SATPURA            

This day after an early breakfast, we will set out on a morning walking safari.

In the afternoon, we’ll enjoy a final game drive in the park. Apart from tigers this expanse of dry deciduous forest and is home to a number of species of animals, leopards, Wild Dogs, Sloth Bear, Indian Gaur, Sambhar, Wild Boar, Cheetal, Nilgai, Barking Deer, Black Buck and langoor are amongst the widely viewed animals here. The forest’s true wilderness and limited exposure to human pressure have enabled it to host some rare Indian fauna including the Hyena, the Flying Squirrel and the porcupine. Satpura Tiger Reserve is also a birdwatcher’s paradise.

We’ll return to overnight at Reni Pani Jungle Lodge.

DAY 11: SATPURA – BHOPAL       

In the early morning we’ll head back into the park for a morning of canoeing on Satpura River. Each canoe will include a local guide to show you the sweetest wildlife watching spots along the river and estuary. The calmness of water may be interrupted occasionally by the honking of Bar Headed Geese or the deafening screeches of a Black Ibis while we drift in narrow creaks observing hordes of grazing herbivores on the shores and possibly sighting an alligator basking in the sun.

After a hearty breakfast at the lodge, we will say our farewells and transfer on to Bhopal airport to connect with your international flight to Delhi or next destination.

 


EXTEND YOUR STAY IN INDIA!

If you would like to extend your journey with us in India, we offer a unique 3 night program to tour the wonders of Agra and Varanasi. The extension tour is an additional $1295USD. Click here to see full details. 

DAY 11: BHOPAL – AGRA

From Bhopal, transfer to the railway station to board the 6 hour train ride to Agra.

Dinner and Accommodation will be at the ITC Mughal hotel.

DAY 12: AGRA – VARANASI     

At sunrise we’ll visit the world famous, architectural wonder, the Taj Mahal. Built by Shah Jahan, the Taj is a white marble memorial to his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. This monument took 22 years to be completed and was designed, and planned by Persian architect Ustad Isa. Apart from its stunning design balance and perfect symmetry, the Taj is also noted particularly for its elegant domes, intricately carved screens and some of the best inlay work ever seen.

After the Taj we’ll head for breakfast to Sheroes cafe, run by survivors of acid-attacks, to celebrate  and be inspired by  the courageous Indian women who are rebuilding their lives and livelihoods in the wake of extreme violence.

Followed by visit marble and embroidery shops to learn about the traditional artistry of India and perhaps find a  unique  treasure to bring home with us!

Later transfer to Agra airport to take a 2 hour flight on to Varanasi.

Varanasi, known to the devout as Kashi, is said to have been founded by Shiva, Lord of the Universe. One of the oldest living cities in the world, as also one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India, Varanasi is a major tourist attraction. Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges, the city has been a center of learning and civilization for over 2000 years.

We’ll spend 2 nights at an enchanting garden lodge, the Panchkote Raj Ganges. Located on the banks of the Ganges, it is a living testimony to the great values and extraordinary hospitality of the bygone era. Varanasi may have changed over the years but the atmosphere of tranquility and serenity still remains inside the Panchkote Raj House. Immerse yourself into an environment of blissful silence accompanied by nearby melodies of chants that emerge from the temple nearby.

DAY 13: VARANASI

This will be a magical day of adventure in one of the great spiritual centres of civilization.

We’ll set out on a sunrise boat ride on River Ganges to see people praying and bathing and to witness burning ghat.

Later we’ll walk through the mystical landscape of poets, sacred temples, holy ponds near Assighat, the southernmost embankment of the holy Ganga river, in the footsteps of 16th century Banaras poet and mystic Pandit Goswami Tulsidas,  translator of the sacred Ramanyana text.

We’ll take a walking tour of the city alongside the Ganges, to visit the Goddess temples and learn about Devis and the worship of the feminine Shakti in India, from ancient times to present day.

In the evening, we are back to the Ganges for glittering evening Aarti (prayer) ceremony and a sunset cruise on the Ganges. Here you will witness striking religious rituals being performed—a truly unique experience.

DAY 14: VARANASI DEPARTURE

After breakfast and a sunrise yoga session on the banks of the Ganga, we’ll offer a transfer to Varanasi airport to catch your flight for onward destination, or you can stay on in Varanasi to explore more at your leisure!

Click here to see full details of this extension. 

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!