Archive for the ‘tiger safari’ Category

Natural Habitat Adventures: Tiger-Intensive Expedition

 

BengaltigerTobySinclair22.135548

Bengal Tiger (c) Toby Sinclair

 

I love a good tiger safari. Who doesn’t?

Now, one of the world’s leaders in sustainable nature travel, Natural Habitat Adventures is introducing a  new 7-day tiger-intensive expedition, India Tiger Quest, offering the rare opportunity to see Bengal tigers in their natural habitat along with other remarkable wildlife of India.

Natural Habitat Adventures has been a leader in responsible adventure travel and ecotourism since 1985. From polar bear tours in Churchill to small-group Galapagos cruises, from Alaska grizzly bear adventures to African safaris, their journeys, led by professional naturalist guides, reveal the planet’s most extraordinary nature destinations.

With this tiger safari, you can visit one of India’s premier places to see some of the world’s last remaining wild Bengal tigers: Ranthambore National Park.

After years of plummeting tiger numbers, India charted a 30% rise in its quadrennial tiger census in 2014, compared to 2010. Conservation groups attribute some of that growth to sustainable ecotourism. The economic impact of visitors to India’s tiger reserves benefits the communities in proximity, providing jobs and offering local people an incentive to protect the wildlife with which they share the land. Given that India is home to 70% of the world’s remaining wild tigers, and India is the only country currently seeing a rise in tiger numbers, the presence of wildlife tourism here is integral to that continued conservation success.

Led by India’s top naturalist guides, travel at the optimal time of year for sightings, when temperatures are getting hot but monsoon rains are still weeks away, drawing wildlife into the open to drink at shrinking waterholes. Search for tigers on morning and afternoon drives through the deciduous jungle, keeping a lookout for other jungle wildlife, too: sloth bear, leopard, sambar, chital, palm civet, langur monkeys, pythons and more. With 11 guests total–and just four per safari vehicle–everyone gets a “window” seat in open-sided 4x4s.

The per-person double rates start at $6,795 ($1,275 single supplement). Included are all activities, accommodations, train from Ranthambore to Delhi, airport transfers, most meals, guiding by professional naturalist Expedition Leaders, most gratuities, all permits, taxes and service charges.

Departures are offered throughout 2019 and 2020.

www.nathab.com

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Into Africa… with Kichaka Game Lodge

Kichaka Safari Lodges

They say ‘judge a man by the company he keeps,’ but we also think there should be an expression like, ‘Judge a property by the person at the helm.’

Why do we say that?

Because Kichaka Private Game Lodge’s David Mariba, who has just stepped into the role of Lodge Manager, has stepped into the role with fabulous zeal and something every vacation needs… an ever present smile. In short, we keep hearing that the guests love him. To that end, Chris Renecker, Head Ranger, also comes highly regarded ensuring guests are having phenomenal game experiences and incredible sightings. And then there’s their amazing GM, Keith Craig, who holds the operation together flawlessly. Most Kichaka guests have the pleasure of meeting Keith during their stay and depart truly feeling as though Kichaka has become their second home.

Chris Renecker, Head Ranger (left), Keith Craig, General Manager (middle), David Mariba, Lodge Manager (right)

So here’s a bit about Kichaka:

Set between two streams in a lush bushveld valley, Kichaka Lodge is an exclusive five star lodge located within a Big 5 game reserve, in the malaria free Eastern Cape. This luxury game lodge sleeps 20 people in 10 secluded stone and thatch suites. Each secluded, air-conditioned suite has a viewing deck where guests are treated to spectacular views, its own private plunge pool, a fully-stocked bar fridge and free wireless internet access. Wireless internet, a bar fridge, private plunge, and safari hut. Call me Baroness Karen von Blixen, this babe is ready to get Into Africa.

The Interior of Kichaka

From gourmet dining in private or at one of our outdoor or indoor dining areas… or just relaxing by the pool or on one of the terraces, expect only the very best in service and hospitality from Kichaka Lodge. Experienced rangers also maximize every opportunity to ensure exceptional viewing during your game drives on this established 20,000 acre game reserve in the Eastern Cape. Excellent sightings of lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo, as well as cheetah, hippo, giraffe, hyena, zebra, warthog and numerous species of antelope are enjoyed on game drives across the open plains of the reserve.

Kichaka has also added a new Wellness Suite, which is nearing completion shortly. Set on the outdoor deck overlooking the waterhole, it is an idyllic location for spa treatments with spectacularly panoramic, thrilling views.

Holiday space is still available so be the leader of the pack.

www.kichaka.co.za

An Exotic Escape to Sri Lanka

Dambulla Cave Temple - Sri Lanka

Did you know that this year has officially been declared ‘Visit Sri Lanka Year’ by His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa?

So we thought, what better time to vacation in Sri Lanka than the present? One tour operator we’ve become familiar with throughout the years, Banyan Tours & Travels, is also offering tailor made safe, bespoke itineraries throughout India and Sri Lanka.

Here’s a bit about Sri Lanka. Known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has one of the longest documented histories in the world – over three thousand years. And, as one of the few remaining Buddhist societies in South Asia, Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for gaining an understanding of Buddhism’s way of life. For those interested in studying Buddhism, a visit to KandyTemple of the Tooth Kandy, and Dalada Maligawam are great options. This is where the founder of Buddhism’s relic is located and locals make puja (prayers and offerings) daily. Also known for its natural beauty, Sri Lanka is home to diverse landscapes, from verdant tropical forests to palm-lined beaches, and a stay at Tea Trails presents travel lovers with the chance to tour a tea estate and taste fresh local tea. How cool is that?

Sri Lankan Woman Picking Tea

Sri Lanka is also home to elephants, leopards, monkeys, rare birds, and many other exotic animals, so, for animal lovers looking for an ecotour that will let them get their hands dirty, the Millennium Elephant Foundation allows guests the chance to ride and bathe these gentle giants. Travelers won’t want to miss the Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Galle, or the markets located nearby, where a taste of hoppersdosas, and dodol will surely make Sri Lankan food a new favorite.

Cliff Diving near Galle Fort

Price: A ten-day, nine-night itinerary begins at a very reasonable $2,779/per person basis and includes accommodations, meals as per the program, and ground transportation in Sri Lanka. Add  an optional three-night stay at Tea Trails and scale the formidable Adam’s Peak, a wonderful sunrise excursion. Prices for the stay with the additional night begin at $3,125 per person and include accommodation and meals as per the program.

How to get there: Etihad and Emirates offer flights to Colombo with one stop in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai, from select major cities in North America (Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Toronto).

Consumer Inquiries: 1-866-401-3705

India: Call of the Wild

Call of the Wild

If the thought of a wildlife tour in India evokes images of dense jungles, white tigers, crackling campfires, and nights in tents, you’re not far from the truth. Drawing on every eco-adventurer’s desire to see India like Kipling, Geringer Global Travel has created the ultimate wildlife journey to India: The Call of the Wild India Tour. Accompanied by Susan Geringer, an India travel and tour specialist, and Yatish Bahuguna, a well-known Indian wildlife guide and naturalist, savvy adventure seeking travelers can sightsee in the cities of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, and then explore some of the world’s most famed national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Ranthambhore, Bandhavgarh and Kanha.

On the Game Drive in India

Along this exciting journey, you’ll get acquainted with India’s diverse ecology: plush vegetation with dense forests housing rare medicinal plants and exotic flowers; a prolific bird life with myriad varieties unique to the region; and an abundant wildlife. During the trip, you’ll visit Ranthambore National Park, one of India’s Project Tiger reserves and largest national parks. Conservation programs and successful breeding programs have saved many species from near extinction. Situated in Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore is home to one of the largest banyan trees in India and one of the best places for guests to spot the majestic predators of the jungle.

A little elephant riding in India

The next wildlife adventure will be in Bandhavgarh, where you’ll ride elephants and go on game drives exploring the rocky terrain, boisterous landscape and distinctly rugged ambience of Bandhavgarh National Park. Bandhavgarh National Park, where the famous white tigers of Rewa were discovered, has the highest known tiger population in India. Guests will then head to one of the most well maintained parks in Asia, Kanha National Park. Kanha National Park, a tiger reserve with lush bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines, provided inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel The Jungle Book. In addition to the diverse wildlife and bird population at Kanha Wildlife Sanctuary, the highlight of the park is Bamni Dadar, popularly known as Sunset Point, which offers an awe-inspiring backdrop of the sunset.

This 14-day tour, priced from $3,999 per person (double) is scheduled to depart U.S. on Saturday, March 10, 2012. This tour of India includes: hotel accommodations for 13 overnights with the land arrangements and domestic transportation as per the itinerary in twin sharing rooms; all meals; chauffeured air-conditioned transportation with bottled water; English-speaking guide or naturalist, Yatish Bahuguna, throughout the trip; jeep safaris and elephant rides inside the park; park and monument entrance fees as per itinerary; all current applicable taxes. Single room supplements are also available.

www.geringerglobaltravel.com

Que Rica… Colombia!

El Penol Lake near Medellin - Colombia

Colombia is a destination ready for discovery. From its beautiful landscapes, rich heritage, cosmopolitan cities, and mouthwatering cuisine, Colombia is rumored to be THE next hot destination in Latin America. Listed below are the top reasons to fall in love with the passion of Colombia, and a million reasons for wanting to stay. So what inspires you?

  • Coasts: As a destination where the sand is caressed by two oceans, Colombia’s privileged location allows its visitors to enjoy over 2,900 km of coasts on two oceans and the Caribbean Sea. Talk about the ultimate beach vacation! Long, tranquil beaches between jungles and the sea line most of the Pacific coast, while the Caribbean coast contains wide beach beaches, large resort complexes, and various shops and restaurants. Make sure to experience the country’s diving adventures. Go to the depth of Colombia’s colorful seas. Bordered by both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, there is a world that is designed for the delight of divers under the sea. The famous Seaflower Biopsphere Reserve around the Island of Providencia contains the world’s third largest reef park, and is a global haven for spotting the sea’s shiny starfish, crabs, angelfish, corals, sponges and various other species in strange shapes and vibrant colors.

Colombia Coffee Farmer (c) Neil Palmer - CIAT

  • Coffee: Recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2011, Colombia’s Coffee Triangle is known for producing the world’s best coffee. Let the aroma and the taste of coffee surround you, while getting to know the beauty of the key regions. Keeping in tradition with its diverse culture and landscapes, Colombia pays tributes to its roots by containing food that is a mixture of Indian, Spanish, African and Arabic cuisines. Every region is has its own gastronomy, related to its natural resources. Delight in the ocean’s bountiful harvest in the Caribbean region; Savor the meats, potatoes, beans and corn in the Andean region; Enjoy the Pacific Coast’s abundance of rice, lentils, and rice; and appreciate the veal, manioc and various fishes in the Orinoco River region.

Colombia's Amazon (c) Jill Robinson

  • Nature: In a land where the earth breathes, The Amazon is the traditional destination of scientist and scholars who want to learn to talk with nature. Containing the world’s second longest river the largest tropical jungle on the planet, Colombia’s shares the Amazon Rainforest with Brazil and Peru. Enjoy the fauna and flora of the jungle by zipping between trees, or hiking along the forest various jungle paths. 90 percent of Colombia is Nature, while 10 percent of Colombia’s territory is protected by nature reserves– including 37 national parks, 12 fauna and flora sanctuaries, two natural reserves, and one parkway—11,000,000 hectares that encompass beautiful scenery, a variety of climate and soils, floras and fauna, and 230 civil society natural reserves. Talk about Biodiversity! Colombia contains the world’s largest collection of amphibians, butterflies and flowers. It also holds the title of containing the world’s second highest number of bird species (containing 1,865 bird species). From June to November the country turns into the homes of hundreds of bird, whale, and marine turtle species that visit the Colombian Pacific coast to mate, feed, and take rest on their migratory journey.

Cartagena

  • Vibrant Cities: Colombians are festive by nature, and always seek opportunities to celebrate their cultural heritage. From the colorful Barranquilla Carnival every February and Medellin Flower Fair every August, to the much acclaimed Cali Fair, there is always a reason to celebrate. Colombians take pride in the rich cultural life contained within their cities walls. From cosmopolitan Cartagena, modern Bogota, passionate Cali and progressive Medellin, each one of  Colombia’s cities offers its guests something different and unique. Known for their warm and friendly spirit, the people of Colombia are ready to open their arms to the whole world. Seeking to show the world its true face, Colombia’s passion for developing its global status in the world is the ultimate driving force for their authentic energy and dynamic spirit.

There’s even more to be discovered in person. With a booming tourism sector, Colombia is ready for you.

www.colombia.travel

Discovery and Gap… Adventures?!

Turkey, Istanbul - Blue Mosque

We’ll admit it. We’re a little obsessed with the Discovery Channel. We worked with them back in the day and always had the best things to say. Which is why, when we heard about Discovery Adventures (an adventure tour operator developed – get this – in partnership with Gap Adventures), we thought that sounded like a nice,sexy Safari-meets-sweet style combination.

They’ve also just announced brand spankin new trips to: Japan, Kenya, Greece, Italy, France, Turkey and Indochina for 2011, where they’ll take you to all the cool places you want to see in the world. And here’s the best part, you’ll get the same experiences as to what you’ve seen on Discovery Channel, gaining insider access into local culture around the globe.

On the Mekong River, Vietnam

Bottom line: two new tours for 2011 offer exclusive access only available through Discovery Adventures. On the Classic Japan tour, travelers get a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a Geisha – featuring a personalized tour through the Geisha district by a real Geisha, and an invitation to a traditional Geisha gathering and sake ceremony. On the Kenya Wildlife Safari, travelers get the rare experience to interact up-close with Baraka, a rare Black Rhino.

For more pricing and itineraries,get on it:

www.discoveryadventures.com

India in Luxury: From Mumbai to Jaipur


Oberoi Udaipur, India

This week, Guest Blogger and Jaunt Contributor, Jordan Zucker, takes us to the colorful world of India. An actress and native New Yorker, Zucker is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Mathematics who moved to LA ‘to satisfy her thirst for seaside sunsets and avocados.’ With a hearty appetite for adventure and a good dose of gypsy blood, currently, she can be found on syndicated reruns of [Scrubs] as “Lisa,” the intern.

PS. Jordan loves water chestnuts, but despises cilantro. “I mean, don’t even put us in the same room,” she (half) jokes.

India in Luxury: From Mumbai to Jaipur
By Jordan Zucker

So I went to Northern India for two weeks with the folks and here’s what I gathered for Jaunt. The places we went (in order) were: Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Udaipur, and Mumbai. India is a large country so keep that in mind. We visited the North (Rajasthan) and what would be considered only one state out of 35 states and union territories. States were formed on a linguistic basis and, as Wikipedia notes, “India is home to two major linguistic families: Indo-Aryan (74%) and Dravidian (24%). Other languages spoken come from the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman linguistic families. Hindi, with the largest number of speakers, is the official language. English, which is used extensively in business, has the status of a ‘subsidiary official language. The constitution also recognizes in particular 21 other languages that are either abundantly spoken or have classical status.”

That should give you some idea of the rich -and ancient – cultural influences still present in India today. The country consists of historic trade routes, the Hindu people of the Indus Valley, Aryan-speaking tribal descendants, the tribes of Genghis Kahn, and, of course, a history of British rule. Religions are varied with Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian being the main four, and Jianism and Sikhism also originating from here. As the fastest growing and largest world democracy, with the second largest population in the world, India shares it’s borders with China, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma. It goes without saying that it’s important territory from both a social and political framework. Somewhere between past and present, poverty and promise.

We saw a part of this awesome land on a two-week Sita Tour called ‘India in Luxury.’ Sita Tours offer organized travel for the ‘discerning’ guest. In this case, that meant staying at almost every 5-star Oberoi Hotel & Resort in India. My parents finished off the trip with a jaunt to Goa in the south, so I’ve included some pointers from there, as well.

Here are the pros and cons:

Pros: A great tour guide, fab hotels, and I didn’t get sick from street food. A few notes: you must bring money to use public bathrooms. Delhi isn’t as dirty as I had expected and Mumbai is like the NY of India. It is by far the most cosmopolitan, the most urban, the hippest. Delhi was large in geography but more flat and residential than I would have imagined. Traffic is crazy in Delhi. Apparently, there are multiple pedestrian deaths a day from people being hit by cars while crossing the street. Agra is just a tiny village in comparison, with streetfront box shops just as you’d picture Indian countryside. Also, most of the cities I saw were in Rajasthan. If I had continued to travel to the south – or to the Himalayas- like my folks did, I would have noticed a more drastic difference in culture between the areas, I’m sure. Something I found interesting was that the locals were not opposed to calling the cities by their British rule names (Madras, Calcutta, Bombay). We thought it would offend them but they sometimes prefer the old names.

Delhi, India

When people talk about India, they often reference the poverty, the smells, the grit… Well, I have to say, the country didn’t smell half as bad as I’d anticipated. Yes, it was dirty, but it smelled more of jasmine than feces. There are far cleaner places that smell worse (ie. trash in NJ, BO in Istanbul, the cows at Harris Ranch halfway between LA and SF), but yes, you see TONS of starving people, you see 9 year-olds carrying infants to get pity money for their families, you see all of the poor. It is also common to see people just squatting on the curb and taking a dump. You actually see if fall to the ground like a dog’s would. I recommend carrying around a box of EO lavender hand sanitizers. I get them at Whole Foods.

Cons: Because we traveled in luxury, I felt the experience was a little ‘watered down.’ I felt like a tourist. I like to get a local view and really experience what life is like – authentically – where ever I am. Perhaps it was safer to see the country being shielded slightly from the culture, but if I had my choice…

I also felt that everything was too expensive where we went. Because we could afford to stay in the nicest hotels, the locals on the tour took advantage of that a little too much.


INDIA’S HOTELS

We stayed at the Oberoi’s in each city. As incredible as I find the Oberoi properties, I wouldn’t recommend the Oberoi in the big cities (ie. Delhi and Mumbai). There are better places there. In Mumbai, the place to stay is The Taj Hotel, built by renowned architect W. A. Stevens. The Taj ‘embodies Jamsetji Tata’s vision of a luxurious hotel’ and was the first property with electricity and modern sanitation. It’s an architectural gem with a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea. We’re talking vaulted alabaster ceilings, Indian archways, crystal chandeliers, a stunning art collection and cantilever stairway. You can’t go wrong. It was also counted among the “1,000 places to see before you die” by the New York Times Best Seller and voted in Conde Nast Traveler’s “Best Places to Stay”.

I also heard that The Taj is good in Delhi too, but the Imperial is supposed to be the best. Known as a museum hotel, it’s been a property for artists for over 70 years and displays an impressive collection of the ‘British Art on India.’

http://www.theimperialindia.com

That said, along the countryside, opt for the Oberoi Hotels. They’re fabulous when it comes to design and service. Here are my favs:

1) Oberoi Vanyavilas – Ranthambore – worth the trip just to go here.

And check out the Tiger Safari!

2) Oberoi Amarvilas – Agra – I could see the Taj Mahal from my balcony and had the best India moment out there – all senses on India overload!

3) Oberoi Udaivilas – Udaipur – This property had stunning grounds where you can dine on a patio overlooking the lake.

Special note: The Banyan Tree Spas at all of the Oberois are GORGEOUS!

INDIA’S RESTAURANTS
Again, I felt a little limited in this department as we were always guided to eat at the hotels, but at least I didn’t get sick, right?

1) Bukhara – Delhi – Great Chicken Tikki, Family Naan, etc.

2) Trishna – Mumbai – Best seafood place in the city!!! Favorite of the locals as well!

3) Dome – Mumbai – This is the place to go for an evening cocktail to see the sunset

ACTIVITIES/SHOPPING

1) Mumbai, India – Bombay Electric – Great women’s clothing store

2) Jaipur, India – Elephant Ride. Do NOT take the elephant ride up the fort – the wait in line is hours. Take a jeep up, then get an elephant ride directly from the stable in town – no wait.

3) Delhi, India – Chandni Chowk (market). Pick out your own fabric, make a clothing item.

4) Goa, India – Ingo’s saturday night market is a must to go. Bring cash. Here you’ll get the best buys in everything you can imagine. Favorite shopping spot in Goa: Janota shoes # 64, yellow lane Arpora, Goa.

5) Arpora, Goa – Seasonal store “The Haystack.”
For info call Angela @ 9881773053 or go to http://www.janotagoa.com

GOA HOTELS
My parents stayed at The Taj, but Jaunt editors found these two sites for boutique hotels in Goa.

http://www.directoryofhotels.com/asia/hotels_india_goa.asp

http://www.chiangdao.com/hotels4/asiahotels/indiahotels/goahotels/goahotels.htm

For the upper-crust artsy crowd, Jaunt recommend sites like Tablet Hotels and Design Hotels for finding boutique digs that excel in design and service.

PHRASES TO LEARN

Shukria = thank you

Chalo = go away

Chordo = leave me alone. This is administered with a dismissive flick of the hand (the street vendors are relentless!)

Tuk tuks (mini taxis) = The rate that appears on the meter is the rate code, NOT the fare. You need to ask the driver for the rate card and pay what corresponds to the code! (ie. if the meter reads 350, you do not pay 350 rupees (about $8.50) you look on the card and see what rate 350 costs (probably around 32 rupees which is a little over a dollar)

Always check your bill! They’re notorious for overcharging in hopes that the tourists won’t check. As soon as you point out the ‘error’ they will apologize and remove the excess charges. Don’t take it personally – it’s just their culture.

When asked if I would go back, I’ll say this. There is only one place in the world I have been to that I didn’t like (Morocco) so saying I’d go back to India isn’t a big endorsement. That said, I am also the type of person that wouldn’t go back to a place for the mere reason that I’ve already been and there are far too many new places I need to conquer before I start repeating things.

Do I think it’s worth seeing? Definitely.

The first day we were there we went to a temple in Delhi and there were about 12 school trips there, so it was us and thousands of kids ages 6-14. They ALL wanted to shake our hand and say ‘Hi, how are you!!’ kind of to show off their english speaking skills. They were so excited to see ‘westerners’ and a group of the boys even asked for my autograph (just because I was something new they’d seen, not because of TV)

The people in India were lovely. I felt safer than in Morocco (SKETCHY! I didn’t even trust our tour guide), though they will be overly aggressive if they want you to buy something. Hindu and religion is their highest purpose. They’ll build a 40 year temple in 8 years but will never quite finish fixing the roads – just not as important or worthy a cause for them. There’s something to be said for that.

So I’ll close with my favorite highway sign:

MOTORCYCLES, SCOOTERS, DIPLOMATS, AND CAMELS – PLEASE STAY TO THE LEFT OF THE TOLL PLAZA!

Now Chalo!

14 Day Itinerary
INR 445,000 (US$ 11,125*)

http://www.sitatours.com/Asia/India/india_indiainluxury_14days.html

http://www.oberoihotels.com/specialOffers/india-in-luxury_itineraries1.asp

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