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The marshes, forests and Himalayanfoothills of northern India must surelyrepresent most birdwatchers' dreamholiday destination, combining as they dothe mystic appeal of the east with astunningly varied avifauna. The itinerary forthis exciting tour is acknowledged asproviding the classic Indian birdwatchingtour and by concentrating on three maincentres, allows plenty of time to absorbthe range of different species evident witheach change in elevation. The frustrationsof travel in this vast country are also keptto a minimum. Our tour begins in the capital city, Delhi,but even in the densest urban areas ofIndia, birds are rarely absent and thecircling clouds of Black Kites over the cityare an astonishing sight for Europeaneyes. The outskirts of the city offer anexcellent chance to gain an introduction toIndian birdlife and it is easily possible tosee 80 or more species in SultanpurNational Park, where we spend our firstday.Keoladeo Reserve at Bharatpur in Rajasthanis one of the most outstanding wetlandareas in Asia and we will spend four daysexploring this paradise for birds. Here wewill find jheels crowded with huge numbersof wildfowl and waterbirds, savannahinhabited by dry country birds, and patchesof forest frequented by woodpeckers,barbets, minivets and many other woodlandbirds. Turning our attention skywards we willsee clouds of storks, eagles and vulturessoaring on the thermals over the marshesand during our walks we will frequently meetthese raptors, perching tamely in watersidetrees causing endless identificationheadaches. Every corner of this relativelysmall reserve is full of interest and after wehave savoured the initial spectacle of thegeese, ducks, storks and herons that crowdthe wetlands, we can devote time to lookingfor wintering flycatchers and northern visitorssuch as Olive-backed Pipit, SiberianRubythroat and Dusky Warbler. ElsewhereDusky Horned Owls peer down from bulkystick nests, Painted Snipe bob at the edgesof swampy pools and nightjars perchmotionless in their day-time roosts. Althoughwe may find nearly 200 bird species duringour stay, not all the attractions areornithological and other Bharatpur residentsinclude huge Rock Pythons, Nilgai, SpottedDeer, Sambar, Smooth Otters and even therare Fishing Cat. After pausing for a day to admire theMoghul splendours of the Red Fort and TajMahal at Agra, we travel north toUnchagaon then into the forested hills andwide river valleys of the Corbett NationalPark which was named after the famoushunter-turned-conservationist, Jim Corbett.Indian Elephants, Wild Boar and herds ofdeer browse the vegetation in thissuperbly scenic reserve, the latterproviding prey for a healthy population ofLeopards and Tigers. We will search onelephant back for these elusive predators,although the abundance of ground coverprovides plenty of hiding places toconceal somnolent big cats during thedaylight hours and sightings are always abonus. Easier to find are the rare fish-eating Gharial Crocodiles which occuralong the fast-flowing Corbett rivers,sharing this habitat with Blue Whistling-Thrushes, Plumbeous Redstarts andWhite-capped River Chats. MysteriousIbisbills descend from the highermountains to spend the winter months onsome of these rivers and Wallcreepers areoften to be seen probing for insects in thecrevices of riverside boulders. We divideour time at Corbett betweenaccommodation in the heart of the reserveand a comfortable hotel just outside theboundary, where we are free of theprohibition on walking that applies inside the reserve and can more easily enjoy thesuperlative birdwatching.Our final destination takes us deeper intothe Himalayan foothills to spend fournights at the hill resort of Nainital. Theincrease in elevation to over 2,000 metreswill bring a new selection of birds,including representatives of such typicalHimalayan families as laughing-thrushes,forktails and accentors, plus winteringgems from the north like the Red-flankedBluetails, which can often be found in ourhotel garden. If conditions permit, the icypeaks of the western Himalayanmountains may be observed from a ridgeabove the resort, evidence of our proximityto this most impressive of mountainranges which exert such influence on theavifauna of the region.At the end of our stay in this most idyllicof locations we return to Delhi but, beforereaching the capital, we have one lastnatural history treat as the road crossesover the sacred River Ganges and we maybe rewarded by views of the rare GangeticDolphin in the waters below the bridge. Afine conclusion to a tour which provides astaggering variety of birdwatching andnatural history encounters.Northern India & the Himalayan FoothillsA 17-day classic birdwatching and wildlife holiday visiting Bharatpur and the Himalayan foothills of northern India.Friday 9th November - Sunday 25th November 2012 Cost: £2,795Friday 11th January - Sunday 27th January 2013 Cost: £2,895Friday 8th February - Sunday 24th February 2013 Cost: £2,895Friday 8th November - Sunday 24th November 2013 Cost: £2,895Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationTIBETNEPALPAKISTANNEW DELHINAINITALAGRAUNCHAGAONUTTARPRADESHBHARATPURCORBETT NATIONAL PARK KOLKATABAY OFBENGALINDIARAJASTHANTHE HIMALAYA YAMUNA RIVERRIVER GANGES Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Delhi.Day 2Delhi.Day 3/6Bharatpur.Day 7Agra; drive Unchagaon.Day 8/11Corbett.Day 12/15Nainital.Day 16Delhi.Day 17Fly London.AccommodationA mixture of comfortable hotels andsimple tourist lodges, most withprivate facilities.FoodAll included in the tour cost, exceptfor main meals in Delhi. Allow £30.GradingA/B. Birdwatching walks of moderate length.FocusBirds and mammals.LeaderHarish Sharma, Bunty Mandhayan,Manoj Sharma or Nick Acheson,plus local guides.Single room supplement£595.Web quick search: IND29223Indian SkimmersTaj MahalOriental Darter

224Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryThese days, Tiger tourism in India is bigbusiness, and the numbers ofoverseas tourists visiting such well-known reserves as Bandhavgarh,Ranthambore and Kanha are unavoidablyhigh. This exciting wildlife tour to centralIndia, however, focuses on the lesser-knownnational parks and Project Tiger 'TigerReserves', notably Tadoba-Andhari andSatpura, that as yet attract very fewoverseas tourists. Indeed, you may evenfind yourselves to be the only foreignvisitors! On this tour you will also benefitfrom the ease and convenience of flyingright into the heart of central India's 'Tigercountry', as we use the scheduled serviceof Jet Airways from London to Nagpur, thecapital of Maharashtra, via Mumbai. In sodoing, we not only offer the wildlifeenthusiast the ultimate luxury - a holiday toIndia that largely avoids sprawling cities,huge crowds, long train journeys, domesticflights, etc! - but we also minimisetravelling times and maximise the time wemay spend in these little-known reserves.On our arrival in Nagpur we overnight in thecity before taking a 4-hour drive to Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, situated in theChandrapur District of Maharashtra. Thereserve, spanning over 625 squarekilometres, incorporates both TadobaNational Park (which became Maharashtra'sfirst national park in 1955) and AndhariWildlife Sanctuary, and became one ofIndia's 28 Project Tiger Reserves as recentlyas 1993. Its hills support a dense tropicaldry deciduous forest, largely made up ofTeak and bamboo, carved by the AndhariRiver. As many as 40 Tigers are reputed tosurvive here, plus a great many othermammals such as Leopard, Sloth Bear,Gaur, Wild Dog, Striped Hyena, Jungle Catand Chousingha (the Four-hornedAntelope), not to mention a rich birdlife.Best of all, although the park hosts localday visitors, the numbers of overseastourists are negligible since there is alimited choice of accommodation, ours being a pleasing 12-roomed lodge on the outskirts of the reserve. After three nights in Tadoba, a 6-hour drivebrings us to Pench National Park. Thispreviously little-known reserve was thesetting for the popular BBC TV series 'Tiger- Spy in the Jungle', narrated by Sir DavidAttenborough. Designated as Project Tiger's19th Tiger Reserve in 1992, Pench todayprotects 758 square kilometres of primeTiger habitat in the southern reaches of theSatpura Hills which lie in the Seoni andChhindwara districts, the region whichinspired Rudyard Kipling's 'Jungle Book'.The pools along the seasonal Pench Riverand a large dam provide the primarywatering holes for Tigers and all otherwildlife. Elsewhere the terrain is rugged andthe region's hills are cloaked in bothsouthern moist deciduous forest andextensive dry, deciduous forest, dominatedby Teak. Gaur, Wild Boar and Grey Langursare common here, as are Sambar, Spottedand Barking Deer. With luck we might alsosee Asiatic Jackal, Nilgai and Dhole, oreven a Leopard which are generally seen inthe peripheral areas of the park where theyare able more easily to avoid Tigers. Nextwe travel to Satpura Tiger Reserve, whichwe will not only explore from jeeps, boatand perhaps elephant-back, but also, mostsignificantly, on foot - the walking safaristhat we are able to do in Satpura not beingpossible in most of India's other TigerReserves. Only on foot is it possible toobserve, appreciate, learn about andinterpret the finest details of the jungle andits natural history - the smells, sounds,signs and tracks of so thrilling anenvironment as the home of the Tiger andso many other species, where wildlifeencounters on foot are among the mostmemorable. This is by far the best way toenjoy a wealth of birdlife (perhaps a Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle or Malabar PiedHornbill) and offers a chance of suchsmaller mammals such as Malabar GiantSquirrel, as well as many of the largermammals that we'll have seen in Tadobaand Pench.After spending four memorable nights inSatpura we drive to Bhopal, the capital ofMadhya Pradesh, visiting the 10,000-year-old rock shelters of Bhimbetka en route. Weovernight in Bhopal before our return flight toLondon, via Mumbai. For those wishing toextend their stay in India, or wishing also tovisit one of the mainstream Tiger Reserves,we recommend taking advantage of ouroptional extension to Kanha National Park,perhaps the best place in the world in whichto see a Tiger, plus a wide range of othermammals and birds. Unknown India - Tadoba & SatpuraA 13-day holiday in search of the birds and mammals of central India's lesser-known national parks andTiger Reserves - Tadoba, Pench and Satpura - plus an optional extension to Kanha National Park.Tuesday 20th November - Sunday 2nd December 2012 Cost: £2,895Tuesday 15th January - Sunday 27th January 2013 Cost: £2,895Tuesday 26th March - Sunday 7th April 2013 Cost: £2,895 Tuesday 19th November - Sunday 1st December 2013 Cost: £2,895Kanha extension available on all tours Cost: £795Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2Nagpur.Day 3/5Tadoba National Park.Day 6/7Pench National Park.Day 8/11Satpura National Park.Day 12Bhopal.Day 13Fly London.Kanha extensionDay 12/15Kanha National Park.Day 16Nagpur. Day 17Fly London.AccommodationTourist hotels, Nagpur and Bhopal;comfortable lodges elsewhere. Allrooms have private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. This is a wildlife tour thatincludes walking safaris in the hillyterrain of Satpura.FocusBirds and mammals.LeaderBunty Mandhayan, HimanshuRathore, Harsha Jayaramiah,Chandra Hada or Tika Ram Giri,plus local guides.Single room supplement£450 (extension: £125).Web quick search: IND41TIBETNEPALPAKISTANNEW DELHI KOLKATAINDIAKANHATIGER RESERVE(EXTENSION)NAGPURSATPURATIGER RESERVETADOBATIGER RESERVEPENCHTIGER RESERVEBHOPALMUMBAI(EXTENSION)(EXTENSION)Male BlackbuckIndian Wild DogsMadhai Meadow, Satpura National Park and Tiger Reserve