- Duration 17 days
- Difficulty 2/5
- Group Size 8 minimum
Camels and Tigers 13-29 November, 2018
India – where to start? The most spectacular, diverse, exotic and ‘foreign’ place I know. It is a test of all the senses. The itinerary is based around the spectacular annual Pushkar camel fair where, in the order of 50,000 camels, horses and cattle come to be traded. It is classic India, overwhelming, colorful, chaotic, unfathomable, gorgeous, bizarre and amazing, where everything is a photo and we interact fully with the local people. Not only are we here for the culture but the wildlife too is spectacular. Many people have no idea how diverse and accessible the wildlife really is. We will see many mammal and bird species on our travels through Rajasthan. Tigers, in my opinion, out-cat all other cats, their stare alone seems to slice through you like a laser. The trip is exhilarating, adventurous and charged with anticipation and fun.
USD $8,900 Per person sharing
Single Supplement: USD $2,050
Arrival: Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi (DEL)
Departure: Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi (DEL)
Arrival Time: Afternoon of 13th November, 2018
- Accommodation for 16 nights on a shared room basis.
- All surface transfers.
- Entry fees to parks.
- All activities as per the itinerary.
- All meals from first morning in Delhi to lunch on the final day.
- Tips/gratuities paid to naturalists, drivers.
- Local guide plus one Pete Oxford Expeditions trip leader
- Any expenses of a personal nature such as telephone calls, beverages, liquor and wines.
- International airfare.
- Cost incurred in obtaining visa.
- International departure tax.
ADay 1: November 13th, 2018: Arrive in Delhi
On arrival in Delhi, you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. We overnight at the Hotel Taj Mahal New Delhi. (Rooms available 14:00 onwards). NB: Flights into Delhi usually arrive in the middle of the night.
ADay 2: November 14th, 2018: Delhi
After a lazy breakfast we head out to Old Delhi. Some of the sights we will visit include the Red Fort surrounded by shops, and bazaars (built by the Emperor Shah Jehan – the builder of Taj Mahal), the Jama Mosque with its tapering minarets and wonderful marble domes and the Raj Ghat (cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi.) After lunch at a local restaurant we continue to take in some of the sites of New Delhi such as the Rashtrapati Bhawan (the official residence of the President of India set in 330 acres), India Gate (a majestic 42 meter tall arch, built as a memorial to the Indian soldiers killed in World War I), and Humanyun’s Tomb (built in the 16th century and architecturally the forerunner of the Taj Mahal – Mughal Architecture at its best).
Our personal highlight of the day however is a totally hectic tour, in rickshaw convoy, through the narrow, congested, noisy, vibrant streets of merchants in Chandini Chowk.
Welcome cocktail, dinner and overnight at the Hotel Taj Mahal.
BDay 3: November 15th, 2018: Delhi to Jodhpur
After breakfast we transfer to the airport in time for the flight to Jodhpur. On arrival we will be transferred to the opulent Taj Hari Mahal hotel, which stands in six acres of beautiful gardens.
After lunch at the hotel we depart to Jodhpur for a visit to the labyrinth of narrow streets in the ‘Blue City’ and the formidable Mehrangarh Fort which is still today run by the Maharaja. Jodhpur is the second city of Rajasthan and built up around the impressive fort which was constructed on a high sandstone bluff. There is a lot to do and see in Jodhpur, it is a people-photographers dream.
The city was the center of Marwar, one of Rajasthan’s largest princely states and a fierce rival of the feudal states of Jaipur and Udaipur. The city is dominated by the ancient fortress with crenellated walls that once gave protection during the rounds of battles fought by the warring Rajput states. As we tour Jodhpur on foot we will include a fascinating walk up to the uninhabited Mehrangarh Fort through the narrow, winding streets of Jodhpur’s medieval bazaars. As we walk through the Loha Pole, one of the entrance gates to the fort, we’ll pass by a wall where we can see the handprints of the widows of the Maharaja Man Singh. His wives committed sati, burning themselves alive on their husband’s funeral pyre following his death in 1843, a part of the tradition of the Rajput code of honor. The British outlawed sati but it still occurred throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. We’ll also visit Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Museum, a group of former palaces. One of these palaces, the Moti Mahal (the “pearl palace”), still houses the throne on which all the former rulers were crowned; other palaces contain fascinating artifacts such as a solid silver elephant saddle and ornate cradles built for the infant princes.
Overnight – Taj Hari Mahal hotel.
CDay 4, November 16th, 2018: Jodhpur, drive to Keechan and Bikaner
We leave Jodhpur by road en route to Bikaner with a detour to the small village of Keechan to witness a truly unusual avian spectacle. Every morning and afternoon, thousands of graceful Demoiselle Cranes gather to take the grain put out for them to help them as they overwinter in the area. Keechan is also a good area to see Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse.
We continue our drive to Bikaner with another fascinating stop at the Desknok (Karni Mata) Rat Temple. There is no doubt that it is a tough place for a Westerner to visit but it is pretty amazing.
The temple is famous for the approximately 25,000 black rats that live, and are revered in the temple. These holy rats are called kabbas, and many people travel great distances to pay their respects. The rats are worshipped in the belief that they will reincarnate as Hindu holy men. They teem throughout the temple which draws visitors from across the country for blessings. The building was completed in its current form in the early 20th century. In front of the temple is a beautiful marble facade, which has solid silver doors built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess whose image is enshrined in the inner sanctum.
After communing with the rats we arrive to Bikaner and transfer to the Laxmi Niwas Palace for overnight.
DDay 5, November 17th, 2018: Bikaner to Pushkar
After breakfast, we have a final visit in Bikaner to the Junagarh Fort which was built between1588-1593 A.D. by Raja Rai Singh, a general in the army of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The major feature of the Junagarh fort is the excellent quality of stone carving which is some of the best in the world.
We leave for the five hour, fascinating, journey by road, cross-country to Pushkar where we arrive for our stay of four nights in a deluxe tented camp.
DDays 6 – 9, November 18th – 21st, 2018: Pushkar
The itinerary we have designed is based around the largest camel fair in the world – Pushkar, Rajasthan, a town first established in 1156AD. The camel fair puts us in the heart of Rajasthan, India’s most colorful state on the edge of the Great Thar Desert. As we believe whole-heartedly that it is better not to rush through destinations we have allowed ample time at the camel fair in order to absorb and understand its patterns and therefore maximizing on the incredible photographic opportunities for which Rajasthan is famous. The fair has two components, firstly the animal market, where more than 50,000 camels will be congregated, and elaborately decorated for sale, as well as thousands of cattle and maybe even some elephants. Their semi-nomadic tribal drivers flood into the area from all points of the compass. Merchants too flock to the market selling wares from camel leather whips and shoes to exotic and heavy bangles, glass beads, mirror-studded clothing and printed cloth. Entertainers follow the trail to entertain the swelling numbers and side shows of jugglers, acrobats and magicians are set up all around. Horse and camel races are frequent with heavy betting on the sidelines. The atmosphere is electric. The colors too and the exotic outfits of the Rajasthanis are simply mind-boggling.
The animal fair however peaks a few days before the full moon at which time the pilgrims begin to arrive for the second component which is where holy pilgrims mass to bathe in the sacred Anasagar Lake. According to Hindu legend the lake emerged where a petal fell from the lotus flower that Brahma, Lord of Creation, used to kill a demon. Pushkar is also the site of the only temple in the whole of India dedicated to Lord Brahma.
The overall scene at Pushkar is at first overwhelming, not to mention ever-changing hence we shall stay a full four nights in comfortable tented accommodation close to the center of activity. Overnights in a deluxe tented camp.
EDay 10, November 22nd, 2018: Pushkar to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
After our last breakfast in Pushkar we depart for Ranthambore (approx 6 hrs drive) arrive and check in to the Taj Sawai Madhopur, a heritage hotel, for our stay of three nights.
We will have morning and afternoon game drives into the park, returning to our hotel during down time.
Ranthambore National Park is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of south-eastern Rajasthan, this park protects a rich mosaic of deciduous woodland, bamboo thickets and marshes over an area of 1,300 square kilometres (500 sq miles). Dominated by the 10th century Ranthambore Fort which sits atop a plateau 700ft above the plains, this scenic reserve contains high concentrations of herbivores such as Spotted Deer, Sambar, and Wild Boar, and it is this abundance of prey species that supports one of the healthiest populations of Bengal tigers in the world. Tigers, a cat that, in our opinion, ‘out cats all other cats’ will be our focus however the reserve is host to an incredible array of other visible species of mammals as well as birds.
Afternoon game viewing in a Canter Van.
Overnight – Taj Sawai Madhopur
EDays 11 – 12, November 23rd- 24th, 2018: Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
Two safari game drives per day searching for tigers. Overnights – Taj Sawai Madhopur.
FDay 13, November 25th, 2018: Ranthambore to Bharatpur
After a final game drive for the elusive tiger we leave Ranthambore and drive on another fascinating overland look at daily life in India as we head to Bharatpur. We check in to the Bagh Bharatpur hotel for a two night stay.
FDay 14, November 26th, 2018: Bharatpur – Keoladeo Ghana National Park
We set out early this morning to visit the fabulous Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Known simply as Bharatpur, it was originally a vast wetland (29km sq.) developed for duck shooting. It a gem. We will use bicycle rickshaws with our trusty rickshaw drivers as our guides and spotters. There is a lot of wildlife, both birds and mammals to be seen here and a marvelously relaxing way to do it. Over 150 bird species, ranging from Sarus Crane to Small Minivets, Ruddy-breasted Crake to White-tailed Eagle. Among the numbers of water birds, Black-necked and Painted Storks, Intermediate Egret, Cotton Pygmy-goose and Darter will vie for our attention as we search for rarer species such as Ferruginous and Red-crested Pochards and Greater Painted-snipe. Mammals include Chital deer, nilgai, macaques and wild boar. We intend to revisit the park in the afternoon. We return to the hotel for lunch followed by a cooking demonstration!
Overnight – The Bagh Bharatpur
GDay 15, November 27th, 2018: Bharatpur to Agra
There is another chance for an early visit to Bharatpur, for those who wish, followed by breakfast. We then drive the relatively short distance to Agra. We will stop along the way at interesting things we may see. Once at Agra we will most likely take tuk-tuks to a vantage where we can photograph the famous Taj Mahal from across the Yamuna River. We check in to our hotel at some point where we will stay for one night. Overnight Hotel Trident.
ADay 16: November 28th, 2018: Taj Mahal to New Delhi
We will be up early for a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal.
One of the Wonders of the World, built by Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved consort Mumtaz Mahal, this beautiful mausoleum is pure white marble and an architectural marvel. Construction of the Taj begun in 1631 and was not completed until 1653. A total of 20,000 people worked on the building. The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish, Indian and Islamic architectural styles.
We return to our hotel for a late breakfast after which we depart by road for Delhi.
Arrive to Delhi and transfer to our hotel. Overnight Radisson Blu Plaza New Delhi.
ADay 17: November 29th, 2018: New Delhi – Departure
Departure transfer to the International airport in time for the flight home, which should be booked for no earlier than late evening on the 29th November, 2018.
Discover the world with experienced travelers
Photographer | Owner | Trip Leader
Pete Oxford is a professional conservation photographer specializing in wildlife and indigenous cultures. Pete and Reneé have lead more than 30 trips to India. In fact it is probably their favorite country on Earth. Pushkar for Pete is where he has many of his strongest portraits of Indian people. Pete is especially good at interacting with local people and his friendly demeanor towards them will give the group great access past their natural shyness. We will come away from India overwhelmed by what we have seen – we always do.
Logistics | Owner | Trip Leader
India is my favorite country. There is simply so much to appreciate and enjoy. The bustling traffic steering nonchalantly past sleeping cows in the road, the vibrant colors, shopping for spices in the local markets (and then attending a local cooking school to better use them at home), the architecture, the friendly people – the wildlife! Everywhere you look there is something of interest: brightly clad women, with elegant poise, fetching water from a well, or a tree laden with fruit bats in the middle of town. In a country where people are mostly vegetarian and show inordinate reverence for animals, there is wildlife everywhere, coexisting happily with people.