Big Cats, culture & colors of India

India is a country overflowing with stunning landscapes, wildlife, color and architecture, a place so astounding that it has to be experienced to understand. With an explosion of new sights, sounds and smells around every corner, it’s truly a feast for the senses.

Gray Malin

This trip is created to awaken all of them, visit bustling market stalls overflowing with vibrant, fresh vegetables and saris glistening like jewels, meet people who live in rural communities, seeing philanthropic projects in action first-hand and be part of a centuries-old celebration, the unforgettable Holi Festival. This intimate and personalized once-in-a-lifetime journey has been carefully designed for a small group to get the most out of this dazzling destination.

A huge focus of this trip is the heritage of the famous Project Tiger conservation campaign of the 1970s to protect these big cats. You’ll meet the man whose grandfather was instrumental in forming the campaign, while staying in his camp. This trip will take you to two contrasting parks in the center of India, handpicked for their exclusivity, for private game drives in search of the array of wildlife that call them home including Indian wild dog, tiger, leopard, guar (huge Indian bison), peacock and monkey.

It’s pretty easy to book everything online these days, but this itinerary is completely unique and has been carefully designed by Scott Dunn in conjunction with one of India’s leading conservationists. Come and see India through the eyes of the experts.

At a Glance

Call us on 020 3993 8476 to start planning your holiday

Meet Your Hosts

John Spence - President, Scott Dunn USA
John Spence - President, Scott Dunn USA

Having run a successful safari company for nearly 20 years, John Spence is an expert at designing one-of-a-kind trips for guests all over the world. Now as President of Scott Dunn USA, he oversees a growing team of experts, sharing knowledge and passion for travel at every opportunity. He’s lived and worked in Africa and explored the continent on various madcap adventures. John's looking to expand his horizons beyond Africa, after recent inspiring trips to Greece, Peru, Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal, Indonesia and Iceland. A true safari junkie, John is constantly on the lookout for every opportunity to have a new wildlife encounter. Spotting tigers in India has always been on his bucket list and he can't wait to experience it with all of you.

Indrajit
Indrajit

A true expert on all things flora, fauna and India, Indrajit has worked in the field of adventure sports and wildlife for the past 19 years. His passion for wildlife & nature was ignited in his childhood years, where he spent most of his summers in the Melghat Tiger Reserve in Northern Maharashtra. His intense passion for photography, ornithology, mammals and natural history inspired him to become an expert guide. He’s since visited 80 national parks within India, led a group of professional photographers to see wildlife in Africa, worked as a naturalist for WWF Pune and has expertly hosted countless group trips throughout India.

The Itinerary

Day 1 - March 9th
Day 1 - March 9th

Welcome to Delhi, the storied capital of India. On your arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport, your host will greet you and you’ll be transferred to the beautiful Imperial Hotel. Today is a chance to get settled into this intoxicating country before diving into the excitement of the coming days. Delhi is a sprawling metropolis with a fascinating blend of past and present. There’s plenty to see and do in this bustling city from exploring historical monuments and meandering through enchanting bazaars to embarking on street food tours that are as culturally enriching as they are delicious. This day is a perfect introduction to India.

Day 2 - March 10th
Day 2 - March 10th

Your trip will kick off today with celebrating colorful festivities. Experience the millennia old joyful reverie of the world-renowned Holi festival, a celebration of life, love, forgiveness, and spring. You won’t have to go far to get in on the action, because you’ll celebrate on the grounds of your gorgeous hotel. There will be music, food, drinks and so, so much color. After cleaning up from your vibrant morning, this afternoon you’ll head out to check out some of what has made this city a global destination for centuries. Explore Delhi’s markets, stopping to savor the fragrances of the boisterous spice stalls and be dazzled by the glitter of India’s largest jewelry market. Tonight, you’ll get to know all of your fellow travelers better as you dine in The Imperial’s breathtaking and award-wining Spice Route restaurant, which features dishes inspired by Indian, Thai and Malaysian cuisine.

Day 3 - March 11th
Day 3 - March 11th

Today you’ll head from the city to the forest in Kanha National Park. This 366 sq mile preserve was originally set up in 1955 to save tigers and Barasingha deer. The park is home to a wide array of species including leopard, cheetal, gaur and deer. In the afternoon you’ll embark on an exclusive nature walk followed by a private starlit screening of the Tigerland documentary set in the dense jungle. You’ll also get to meet one of the families who star in it! The Sankhala family will lead a fascinating lecture about their experience, followed by an extra special dinner. Dimple, the matriarch of the Sankhala family, will teach you how to savor the flavors of Indian cooking with an interactive demonstration that will include crispy pakora, pillowy chapati, sweet jalebi and much, much more. This day is truly a feast for the senses.

Day 4-5 - March 12th & 13th
Day 4-5 - March 12th & 13th

During these two days you’ll be getting into the heart of your adventure - private guided tiger safaris! As soon as dawn breaks you’ll head out with a naturalist and expert guides into the misty morning on game drives in search of big cats. After a picturesque breakfast picnic in the forest, you’ll make your way back to camp for some leisure time. Take a dip in the refreshing pool, unwind with a pampering spa treatment or meander around the lodge’s Museum of Life and Art. After your lunchbreak, you’ll head back out for afternoon safaris, hitting different routes each time in hopes of more sightings. Then it’s back to camp for dinner, drinks, and swapping stories around the crackling campfire.

Day 6 - March 14th
Day 6 - March 14th

After a final morning jungle safari in Kanha, you’ll drive to Jamtara Wilderness Camp located in Pench National Park. This area is incredibly rich in wildlife. There is a high population of Chital and Sambar, and due to this, Pench Tiger Reserve has the single highest density of herbivores in India. It also has a staggeringly large diversity of wildlife overall, including leopard, tiger, jungle cat, dhole (Wild Dog), sloth bear, wild boar, mongoose and gaur. While here, you’ll learn about the importance of the Kanha-Pench corridor from the owner of Jamtara, Mr. Amit Sankhala, whose grandfather was one of the first major proponents of tiger conservation and is a focal point of Tigerland.

Day 7-8 - March 15th & 16th
Day 7-8 - March 15th & 16th

Once dawn breaks you’ll embark on even more thrilling jungle safaris with expert resident naturalists and forest park guides in 4x4 Jeeps. You’ll have the chance to further explore various environments in search of the park’s many exciting animal residents. After breaking in the woods for breakfasts made up of organic produce grown in the camp’s garden and freshly baked breads, you’ll head back to refuel at the camp with some midday relaxation. We recommend cozying up with a book in the camp’s intimate library or sitting by the wonderful pool. In the late afternoon you’ll set off into the jungle once again to watch the forest species’ changing of the guard as dusk begins to fall.

Day 9 - March 17th
Day 9 - March 17th

Today, after a morning at leisure, you’ll check out from the lodge and drive to board your flight to Hyderabad. Upon arrival at Hyderabad Airport you’ll be transferred to your hotel, the magnificent Taj Falaknuma Palace. Hyderabad remains one of central India’s most underrated destinations, known as the City of Pearls. It’s a city steeped in history and buzzing with trade. Exploring the lanes of the Old City, with its jewelery shops, vegetable markets and spice merchants, you’ll encounter an urban explosion of color and commerce.

Day 10- March 18th
Day 10- March 18th

Hyderabad is a city known for its pearls, lac bangles and custom-made oil-based fragrances or “ittars”. Another highlight that you’ll be introduced to here is the famed Hyderabadi Biryani, a rice dish punctuated by fragrant spices, succulent meats and bright citrus flavors. After a sumptuous high tea in your palatial palace, you’ll head out to explore the Old City area of Charminar which features bustling bazaars and Golconda Fort. It’s a treat to walk through and shop in the markets, you’ll peruse Laad Bazaar, known for its local jewelry, especially exquisite bangles, and head to Pather Gatti for the famous Deccan pearls. Sure to be an unforgettable moment of the trip, we'll arrange for an exclusive visit to a local sari shop. You'll have the entire place to yourself as you choose from silks in every color of the rainbow and have custom outfits draped especially for you. This evening you’ll return to the Palace for a final group dinner together.

Day 11 - March 19th
Day 11 - March 19th

After breakfast and some relaxing leisure time at your hotel, you’ll be transferred to Hyderabad Airport to board your flight to Delhi. Upon arrival at the Delhi Airport, you’ll head to the Aerocity hotel for an overnight stay. This slick destination district is India’s hippest new hub, if time allows, head into the city to see the major highlights such as Mughal Old Delhi and colonial New Delhi. Back at the hotel, there’s an outdoor pool, the Quan spa with a wealth of treatments and a gym for those wanting to keep active. It’s also conveniently located a stone’s throw from the airport, making it easy to catch flights to anywhere in the world.

Day 12 - March 20th
Day 12 - March 20th

Sadly, this is the last day of your trip. We’ll help get you to your outbound flight, be it home or onto your next adventure in India.

The Accommodation

The Imperial - Delhi
The Imperial - Delhi

The Imperial is a beautiful hotel with an old colonial and Art Deco feel, set right in the heart of New Delhi. The 235 restored rooms and suites feature king size beds with buttery linens and beautiful marble baths. The hotel’s phenomenal Spice Room is one of the top ten restaurants in the world and the Indian, Thai and Malaysian inspired food won’t disappoint. While dining here you’ll feel like you’re stepping into an art piece with its incredible murals and jaw-dropping temple-like décor (which took nine years to complete). The Imperial is also perfectly situated for sightseeing and shopping, and is a great fit for those who appreciate history and a charming, formal atmosphere.

Singinawa Jungle Lodge - Kanha National Park
Singinawa Jungle Lodge - Kanha National Park

This is the perfect place for wildlife lovers. Kanha has proven itself to be one of India's premiere tiger spots and guests staying at Singinawa have a good chance to see this majestic feline in its natural habitat; a mesmerizing experience like no other. The lodge offers 18 rustic yet comfortable rooms and cottages with local artwork, AC and modern bathrooms all encircled by native forest. The Meadow Spa and expansive outdoor pool provide the ideal spot for some downtime to unwind and take in your surroundings after your daily game drives.

Jamtara Wilderness Camp - Pench National Park
Jamtara Wilderness Camp - Pench National Park

Jamtara’s ten luxury tents are a lovely base for your tiger safaris. The tents are, very similar in style to their African counterparts in terms of comfort and exclusivity. You can expect them to have a light, airy feel with hardwood flooring and wooden furniture, often in a traditional colonial style. Each tent has its own large, modern bathroom with a welcoming shower. If you walk outside, you will find a wonderful private deck overlooking the riverbed that attracts a wide variety of wildlife - perfect for that evening drink after a game drive. Dining here is sociable affair; enjoy sitting around the large dining table in the main building, trading stories of the day's sightings in the park.

Taj Falaknuma Palace - Hyderabad
Taj Falaknuma Palace - Hyderabad

You’ll feel like royalty during your stay at the Taj Falaknuma Palace. This property just screams opulence and regal splendor. The Taj Falaknuma Palace offers rooms that combine the old-world style with modern sophistication and comfort. Rooms are adorned with colonial furniture, oak wood floors, hand painted walls and Italian marble bathrooms. While here, we highly recommend a guided tour by the palace’s resident historian. You can explore the Dubar Hall where the royal Nizams met their subjects and the 101 Dining Hall containing the world’s largest dining table.

JW Marriot Aerocity Delhi - Delhi
JW Marriot Aerocity Delhi - Delhi

This hotel is perfectly located to access Gandhi International Airport, but it’s so much more than just an airport hotel. The property features a lovely outdoor pool, pampering spa and fabulous dining options. In the comfortable rooms you’ll feel like your sleeping on a cloud and wake-up rested, refreshed and ready for your flight.

Call us on 020 3993 8476 to start planning your holiday

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