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Posted (edited)

Dear Safaritalk Members,


Like many of you who read and participate in this forum, we have traveled far and wide and have experienced many beautiful spots on Mother Earth.  There was one big blank spot we had yet to visit: Incredible India, as the marketing slogan goes.







After falling in love with the African big cats, I really wanted to see Bengal Tigers in the wild as well as Indian Elephants.




After reading some trip reports and blogs of possible Indian itineraries, I got in touch with CB Singh, owner of Comfort Bird Tours and together over the span of a few months, we started hammering out the following itinerary. CB Singh came recommended from two members in this forum and there were others who were satisfied with his services and guiding. 
I liked the idea that we would have only one guide during the whole trip and not many different guides as some of the other agencies offered. 
I also liked the idea of combining nature and culture into a well-rounded first India trip. 



I decided not to write a day-by-day narrative, but rather focus on the four National Parks and its inhabitants with a glance here and there as to what we saw in-between safaris, with some highlights and lowlights tossed in. 




Here is the itinerary we put together. 


Part 1

Arrival Delhi Feb. 24, 2024 
Feb 25, 26: Delhi sightseeing 
Hotel Eros


Feb 27, 28: Road Transfer to Jaipur and Jairpur sights
Hotel Nirvana Palace 


Feb. 29-March 2: Road transfer to Ranthambore NP and 5 game drives
Hotel Mount Valley


March 3: Road transfer to Agra and Agra sights, 
Hotel Crystal Samovar


March 4: Red Fort Agra, road transfer to Delhi
Hotel Radisson Blu, Greater Noida


Part 2


March 5: Visit Lodi Gardens, Fly Delhi to Khajuraho, Jain temple visit, Cultural dance program
Hotel Ramada


March 6: Temple visit, after lunch road transfer to Banhavgarh NP

Hotel Tiger's Den

March 7- 8: 4 game drives in Bandhavgarh NP
Hotel Tiger’s Den


March 9-11: road transfer to Kanha NP and 5 game drives
Hotel Kanha Jungle Resort


March 12: road transfer to Jabalpur, fly back to Delhi
Hotel Radisson Blu


Part 3


March 13: road transfer to Haridwar and visit Arti Puri religious ceremony on the Ganges river 
Hotel Renest


March 14: road transfer to Ramnagar, PM game drive Corbett NP in Dhela zone
Hotel Tiger Camp


March 15: AM game drive Bijrani Zone
After breakfast: transfer by safari Jeep to Dhikala Forest Camp
PM Game drives Dhikala Zone, Corbett NP
Overnight: Dhikala Forest Camp (government owned)


March 16: AM and PM game drive Dhikala Zone
Overnight: Dhikala Forest Camp


March 17 noon: AM game drive 
Transfer Dhikala Forest to Delhi, 
Enjoy Hotel Radisson Blu for 5 hours before flight. 
transfer to airport, fly to Florida, USA. 






I hope some of you will join me for the ride...


All the best! Katrin




Edited by KaliCA
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Tom Kellie

~ @KaliCA:


Thank you for the summary and images above.


Your itinerary is exciting, full of promise of wondrous sightings.


I'm delighted that you're sharing this here.


         Tom K.

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Me too. Thanks for the invitation. The itinerary looks good.

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Thank you for sharing this. The itinerary looks exciting, and you have given us some great photos to tempt us @KaliCA

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@Tom Kellie@Galana@TonyQ

Thank you all for your comments and joining my report. The photography is not as great as some of the pictures that get posted here, but they make for nice memories and I like the stories that go with them. 
Tony, we may have seen the same cubs in Corbett. It will be a while until I get to this Park, and then you can compare. They were the cubs of the Parwali female on Sambar road. 

All the best! Katrin 


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On 5/5/2024 at 10:36 AM, KaliCA said:

I hope some of you will join me for the ride...

Am looking forward to joining this ride @KaliCA

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Posted (edited)

Our biggest challenge was the Indian food and we knew that before the trip and let CB Singh know of our problem in that we would need special consideration at each restaurant. Since Phil is having a few health issues and among others can’t tolerate cream, milk, or spicy food, the best choice for us was having food prepared the Indian-Chinese way. Upon arriving at a new accommodation, the three of us would inform the chef or manager of our restrictions, and then CB allowed us to order from the a la carte menu which always had Chinese food as a choice, rather than choose Indian fare from the buffet. Most places aimed to please and did their best to cook good Chinese food for us. I especially liked the Garlic Naan Bread... which didn't really fit with Chinese...


DELHI - Two days sightseeing

Here a few impressions from Delhi. We are surprised how many green spaces and how few high rises there are and so the city has almost a rural vibe... except for the horrendous and chaotic traffic. It takes a long time to get around to places, but life along the streets is interesting to observe. I'm happy to notice that poverty and begging are not as pervasive as I thought. The country has come a long way... 


Baha'i Lotus Temple




Sometimes you just have to do the hokey thing. Rickshah ride through Old Delhi





Volunteers forming bread balls


We are very impressed with the Sikh Temple and how they feed thousands a day



A statue in a Hindu Temple



Qtub Tower



Rose-Ringed Parakeet?



Gandhi Memorial, a serene place





Houman's Tomb


For the two days of sightseeing in Delhi, CB Singh hired a city guide to show us around. CB is an expert birder, but he says he doesn't know much about monuments. We asked the guide to show us the Synagogue and he did. There are ten Jewish families left in Delhi.


Judah Hyam Synagogue



Jana Majjid Mosque. We have to get used to the massive amounts of people everywhere


Edited by KaliCA
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@KaliCAI like your itinerary and have gained some ideas for Delhi sightseeing already. Looking forward to more when you have time.

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Posted (edited)

That will be an interesting trip report, looking forward to gain a deeper knowledge about the locations on your itinerary.


P.S.: not a self-driving trip?!

Edited by xelas
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Looking forward to this as well! India is on my list for after I retire, and I am hoping to go in 2026--sounds a long way off!

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Posted (edited)

@TreepolWelcome and thank you for reading along! Are you planning on visiting India?


@xelasWelcome to you, too! We didn't want to risk our lives and sanity driving ourselves around India!:D Plus, no self-driving allowed in the parks we visited. We surely missed it, though.  

@mtanenbaumI remember you came very close two years back? but isn't it great to have a goal and start planning to get there? 2026 is just around the corner and the time will go by fast, especially when you start planning your trip. Welcome and thanks!

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Posted (edited)

Jaipur, a highlight

We are chauffeured around by very competent drivers in a nice Toyota SUV and our favorite driver was Raj. On paper, 4-6 hours transfers look pretty good, but in person, it was a little taxing, even though we would have a tea and bathroom break along the way. On the other hand, we got to see rural India and the busy life along the road.




We visit the Monkey Temples located in a gorge with cows and monkeys roaming around and getting fed.













Visiting the bazaar at dusk is very colorful and exotic and makes for nice pictures of local life.








Jaipur is called “the Pink City” for a reason







The Wind Tempel is built in a very unique style and was actually a palace of old and seat of the maharajah. 






We visit the Observatory but are a little overwhelmed with information on how it works. Anyway, the ancient sundial shows the exact time as our Apple iPhone!






Amber Fort is a must-visit destination, and we see it lit up at night



and roam around the inside areas in the morning trying to imagine the opulent life of the maharajah and his court.














Edited by KaliCA
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Your photos create a great atmosphere and give a real feeling of being there!

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@TonyQThanks for your kind words! I'm reliving the trip this way, too.

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Posted (edited)

Ranthambore National Park: A Highlight 

A few impressions from our transfer to Ranthambore NP.


The Water Palace outside Jaipur









In Ranthambore, we experience for the first time in person what it means to go on safari in India. CB booked the exclusive use of a Jeep, since I didn’t want to share with people we don’t know. As is, space is limited in the Gypsy, as the Jeeps are called. There is the driver, organized by the hotel and a compulsory forest guide organized at check-in by the Ranger Station. The second bench is occupied by Phil and me, while the last bench is occupied by CB Singh who was more of a true forest guide than the compulsory ones. 

A word about the assigned forest guides: A lowlight
Sadly, they assign forest guides on a rotating basis, so some of them are not motivated and some only speak limited English. Most of them would check their phones during drives rather than scan the forest for sightings. I would say, “Oh look, Bee-eaters.” And they would repeat: “Yes, Bee-eaters.” It was comical at times. They never found any tigers, leopards, or bears for us. This was so disappointing as I was under the impression that forest guides would know the territory of certain animals and being able to find some. 
One even lied to us about getting a text (not allowed!) that a tiger is about to show up. When I ask CB to see if there is a text, there was none, all fake news. you can imagine that I was not amused. Many of them would make up stories and conjecture where and when the tiger would come out and what the tiger is doing now in the forest!
They also did not reprimand drivers for behaving badly at sightings. 
So, other than maybe two men who were engaged and trying hard, all other forest guides were totally worthless on our safaris and all they did was taking up space and hoping for a tip at the end of the tour. 
Ok, this sounds a little harsh, but such was our experience. 


Obviously, since this is our first ever Indian National Park, we experience many firsts in Ranthambore NP. We love the scenery with dense jungle, open areas around lakes, narrow valleys with streams. A fortress on a flat mountain, and other old buildings all add to the exotic feeling. 


The fortress






This is our favorite spot in Ranthambore

Our very first safari, February 29, a leap day, proved to be our lucky day. 
On Road 2, our forest guide (one of the good ones) hears alarm calls, and we head towards the sound via a side road. Other vehicles are already parked on the side of the road and their guests are looking into a dry riverbed. 
A few minutes later, our first ever Indian tiger in the wild is walking down the slope. It is a cub!


Our guide says it’s one of three. The cub moves lower and cowers behind a hairy rock. Wait, that’s not a rock, but the hairy rump of a kill. CB says it’s a Sambar Deer, a favorite food of tigers. 




Edited by KaliCA
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Posted (edited)

At one point the cub is walking away from the kill.




So lucky that it is curious and looks back.


Then we hear more alarm calls by Sambar Deer and the Tiger Mama comes into view and makes her way to the kill.







Wow! What a beautiful animal! That face!!! Those amber tiger eyes!!!

I’m instantly in love with tigers as much as I love lions and leopards. 


This is a piece of wood but she is not chewing on it. The kill is in front of her. 
So many obstructions in form of trees, leaves, grass…

Edited by KaliCA
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sorry to hear about your disappointments with the guides in Ranthambhore. This is why it's really important to have a tour operator who can hand-select the guides and drivers. (It is not quite true that this isn't possible--you just need the right connections. :) Wild World India reserved their favored guides on both of our trips to Ranthambhore and we had top guides and drivers both times.


Very glad you found some tigers nonetheless!

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@janzin you are right that it could be possible to select the driver and forest guide but it isn't only connection from the tour operator it is also about money you are willing to pay for your safari. The forest guide on the rotation system gets payed too from you. As I remember you had mostly the very expensive full day safaris in Ranthambhore. In Khana for example we had a selected driver and naturalist from WWI and both were more or less a catastrophe.  

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Shame about the Forest guide problem. It is verging on corruption so no surprise to me.

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It's true that we had the full-day safaris on prior trips but I specifically asked WWI if they would be able to select the guide and driver even for regular safari drives and was told yes (this was just this past year when we were deciding whether to return to Ranthambhore or do Central India; we decided against Ranthambhore because they no longer offer full days, and some other reasons but was assured we'd get the desired guides/drivers even with the new rules.)  Similarly in Corbett, WWI arranged our guide in advance and he was fantastic. I've actually always had excellent guides and drivers in India parks, except for one this last trip who seemed to be a trainee.

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@KaliCAexciting to see your first Tigers , and well done with your photos. You show really well how beautiful they are.

I also enjoyed your photos on the way to the park. Looking forward to the rest!

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Posted (edited)

Mama and cubs in Ranthambore continued...



The cubs join their mother at the Sambar kill.












Lest he'd miss out, the cub that is lying above the kill decides to join his mother.


She bares her teeth in displeasure




But then she yields, and he is accepted to feed

Edited by KaliCA
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Posted (edited)

Really amazing how they blend in.

Please enjoy a flood of cub pictures...DSC_1624.jpg.6e9e0add3b16c0b43192dcc01cf840c3.jpg









They are running and play-fighting, but it happened behind trees and bushes.



That look! That face!


The cub found a place to drink in the not so dry riverbed.



All three cubs in one frame, if only...


When the Mama is relocating, we get a last glimpse of her and then she fades away as does the golden evening light.


The cubs are coming and going to and from the kill and manage to tear off the head.













WOW! What a long and amazing first tiger sighting. Even our forest guide is taking pictures! 

We spent two and a half hours with this family and the time flew by very quickly. But it's now time to return to the entrance. We are thrilled and will forever remember that February 29, 2024 was indeed a very lucky day in our family's safari history.



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@KaliCAwhat a fabulous feast of tiger cubs. Yes, I'm heading back next year and like you I've chosen a mix of culture and safari. Here is what I posted in another thread -


A month in India in Feb-March with 5 friends booked with Abhishek from Wild World India. The itinerary is a mix of culture and wildlife featuring the usual suspects Delhi, Agra, Jaipur as the others are all first time visitors. New wildlife locations are Bharatpur, Tal Chhapar grasslands, Khichan, Tadoba and Pench NPs.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for your kind words!

Your itinerary sounds great! I don't know any of the wildlife parks, so you must know some of the "old" ones? I also had a quote from Abhishek, but was scared to go with many different guides for a first time.

Edited by KaliCA
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