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For Asia enthusiasts the north-eastern hillstates of India have always held a veryspecial attraction. Adjoining the westernreaches of that spur of Malayan rainforestwhich extends right up into Burma, the hills ofArunachal Pradesh support a unique blend ofHimalayan, Sino-Tibetan and Indo-Burmesespecies. Rivers from these hills feed themighty Brahmaputra, and the swampygrasslands through which they meander inthe state of Assam harbour the laststrongholds in India of One-hornedRhinoceros, Water Buffalo, Greater AdjutantStork and Spot-billed Pelican. For so longWestern naturalists could only imagine thewildlife riches of this region through thewritings of early explorers or the enthusiasticaccounts of Indian friends. However, nolonger. The opening of Assam, and finally in1996 of Arunachal Pradesh, means that wetoo may now make the pilgrimage to two ofIndia's most exciting national parks:Namdapha and Kaziranga.By focusing on these two parks we can offer a tour to suit all interests. Birdwatcherswill have plenty of time to find Namdapha'smany specialities and to enjoy the wealth ofwetland and grassland birds at Kaziranga.Mammal enthusiasts may choose in-depthobservation of Kaziranga's big game andNamdapha's primates. Photographers will welcome the slow pace and abundant wildlife in unspoilt naturallandscapes, a combination which alsomakes this an ideal tour for first-timers to the Indian subcontinent.This is a pioneering tour in the sense that weare travelling to remote areas with a limitedtourist infrastructure. The roads are poorlymaintained, hotels and rest-houses arebasic, and tour buses and jeeps rather old.On the plus side, walking, which is strictlyrestricted in most Indian Tiger Reserves, isencouraged in Namdapha and permitted inparts of Kaziranga. This means that we cantruly immerse ourselves in the exceptionalwildlife-viewing opportunities on offer duringthis tour! Our holiday begins in Kolkata from where wefly to Dibrugarh, one of the oldest towns inthe state of Assam. The following day we willtravel to Namdapha National Park inArunachal Pradesh. Covering 1,985 squarekilometres and ranging in altitude from 200to 4,500 metres above sea level, Namdaphahas a great variety of forest habitats and isthe only reserve to provide sanctuary to all ofAsia's four great cats: Tiger, Leopard,Clouded Leopard and Snow Leopard. We will base ourselves at Camp Namdapha,situated in the most picturesque of settingson the confluence of the Deban and Noa-Dihing Rivers. The compound andsurrounding forest are excellent forwoodpeckers, thrushes, robins, andlaughing-thrushes and Hoolock Gibbons singfrom the hillside. During our stay we willexplore the park's varied network of trails.One highlight will be our walk up to MotiJheel where there is an unusual area ofswamp forest with - clouds permitting -stunning views across to the snow-cladmountains of the Great Himalaya. Botanistsamongst the party will be in their elementhere, and indeed throughout the holiday forNamdapha harbours an estimated 3,000vascular plant species with many endemicsand curiosities.Another highlight will be the gentle 1-daytrek, following a trail that passes throughpristine lowland rainforest to the beautifulforest campsite of Hornbill, where we willstay for three nights. If the sun is out thismust rate among the best birding walks inAsia. We will encounter mixed flockscontaining barwings, parrotbills, scimitar-babblers, sibias and Sultan Tits; we will seegroups of Long-tailed Broadbills, flocks ofWreathed and Rufous-necked Hornbills, andpeacock-pheasants . all adding up to anunforgettable birding experience! The walkalso provides an excellent opportunity toobserve Hoolock Gibbons, Capped Langursand the metre-long Malayan Giant Squirrels.Namdapha is notable too for birds of preyand river birds, in particular the ease of finding such specialities as White-tailed SeaEagle, Wallace's Hawk-eagle, Pied Falconet,Ibisbill and Blyth's Kingfisher.Our next destination is Dibru SaikhowaWildlife Sanctuary, where we will stay for anight to enjoy the special birdlife in this littleknown, but rewarding reserve. A drive fromDibru Saikhowa will bring us to the southernedge of Kaziranga, where we stay for amagical three nights at the comfortable, andevocatively named Wild Grass Lodge,undertaking daily excursions into the nationalpark.The park consists of a 430 square kilometretract of low-lying grassland sprinkled withshallow lakes and woodlands; day-timetemperatures are hot, our lodgecomparatively luxurious, and excursions areby jeep and elephant. Kaziranga is famousfor its 1,000-strong population of Indian One-horned Rhinoceros and wild Water Buffalo,but the reserve rivals Bharatpur for wetlandbirds and supports localised andendangered grassland species such asSwamp Partridge and Bengal Florican.Kaziranga is divided into three ranges, eachwith its own character and highlights. Thepopular central range supports higherdensities of rhino, elephant and WaterBuffalo, but it is the eastern range whichoffers some of the most exciting and variedwildlife-watching in Kaziranga. At Soholabheel we should see Greater Adjutant Stork,Pallas' and Grey-headed Fishing Eagle and agreat variety of waterfowl. Otters arefrequently seen on a nearby river, and thewoodlands harbour woodpeckers, FairyBluebirds, flocks of Spot-winged Stares,warblers and much more. It is in this less-visited region of the park that we have thebest chance of perhaps starting our trip on ahigh note with views of Tiger or Sun Bear. At the end of this fascinating visit we return to Kolkata for an onward connectionto London.Arunachal Pradesh & AssamA pioneering 16-day bird and mammal-watching expedition into the little-known rainforestsand mountains of the remotest Indian state, plus a visit to Assam's best wildlife reserve.Sunday 20th January - Monday 4th February Cost: £3,295Sunderbans extension: to Friday 8th February Cost: £695Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2Kolkata.Day 3Dibrugarh.Day 4/9Namdapha NationalPark.Day 10Dibru Saikhowa WildlifeSanctuary.Day 11/13Kaziranga National Park.Day 14Kolkata.Day 15Depart Kolkata.Day 16Arrive London.Sunderbans extensionDay 15Kolkata; transfer toSunderbans NationalPark. Day 16/18Sunderbans NationalPark. Day 19Kolkata. Day 20Fly London. AccommodationBasic lodge (or tents) at DibruSaikhowa and Namdapha; simplebut comfortable tourist lodge atDibrugarh and Kaziranga. Mostaccommodation with privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price, except formeals required in transit at Kolkataor Dibrugarh. Allow £40.GradingA/B. Mostly gentle birdwatchingwalks but a couple of longer walksincluded.FocusBirds and mammals, plus elementsof the area's culture. LeaderManoj Sharma or Sujan Chatterjee,plus local guides.Single room supplement£625 (not available in NamdaphaNational Park and Dibru Saikhowa);extension: £275.Web quick search: IND01226Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryBURMATIBETSIKKIMNAMDAPHANATIONAL PARKBANGLADESHKOLKATASUNDERBANSNATIONAL PARK(EXTENSION)MEGHALAYABHUTANGUWAHATIMIZORAMMANIPURASSAMDIBRUGARHJORHATDIBRU SAIKHOWA WILDLIFE SANCTUARYNAGALANDKAZIRANGANATIONALPARKARUN ACHALPRADESHKaziranga National ParkGreater Adjutant StorkWild Water Buffalo

The mighty Bengal Tiger is withoutdoubt one of the most stunninglyhandsome and awe-inspiringcreatures on Earth. Whether achieved froma vehicle, or elephant-back, a glimpse ofthis most powerful of all the great cats isan unforgettable highlight of any naturalhistory visit to India. Just to set off insearch of a Tiger is guaranteed to sendadrenalin coursing through the veins;whilst every movement in the undergrowthraises the expectation of a suddenappearance by that so-familiar stripedbody, footprints in the dust or the warningcries of deer serving only to heighten thealmost unbearable sense of excitement.Over the past 20 years Naturetrek hasenabled many hundreds of our clients toachieve their dream of seeing a Tiger andthis outstanding new tour is perhaps ourmost comprehensive Tiger-watchingholiday so far, embracing the four IndianTiger Reserves that currently provide themost consistent record of Tiger sightingsin the subcontinent. The holiday isdesigned to maximise the chances ofTiger observation by spending ample timein each of these reserves where, even ifthe Tigers prove elusive, you can beassured of a host of other mammalsincluding Grey Langur, Sambar and bothSpotted and Swamp Deer. We should alsosee Gaur (the huge Asiatic bison), WildBoar, Asiatic Jackal and, with luck,Leopard or Dhole (the Indian Wild Dog).Although the focus will be very much onthe mammals, the birdlife is prolific andeven non-birdwatchers cannot fail to beimpressed by the variety of form andcolour displayed by the avifauna.We begin our tour with an afternoon arrivalinto Nagpur airport after a comfortableflight via Mumbai on one of the world'sbest international airlines. From here wedrive straight to Pench National Park, ajourney of less than two hours. Thispreviously little-known reserve was thesetting for the popular BBC TV series'Tiger - Spy in the Jungle' whichportrayed the life of a resident family ofTigers and, almost overnight, transformedthe profile of Pench. Designated as Project Tiger's 19th Tiger Reserve in 1992, Pench today protects 758 squarekilometres of prime Tiger habitat in thesouthern reaches of the Satpura Hills,which lie in the region which inspiredRudyard Kipling's 'Jungle Book'. Wespend two nights here and can savour the reality of the television images!Next we will take a scenic drive into theheart of rural Madhya Pradesh and spendthree nights in Kanha National Park. Kanhaencompasses 1,945 square kilometresand is one of the largest reserves in India.It occupies a beautiful location on aplateau in the Maikal range of hills, andcomprises a crescent of forested hillssurrounding broad undulating grasslandsdotted with clumps of bamboo and Salforest. Small pools and a perennial lakeprovide essential drinking holes for theanimals. Here, as elsewhere, we willundertake morning and afternoon gamedrives in search of Tigers and otherwildlife.Another long drive, through farmland and the Vindhyan Hills, brings us toBandhavgarh National Park. This park, likeKanha, has acquired a reputation as oneof the very best for consistent Tigersightings. It lies in a region steeped inhistory and, in the heart of the reserve,atop an 800-metre plateau, stands the ruin of the magnificent hilltop fort whichbears testament to the succession ofdynasties which once ruled this area.Regular game drives in the park should bring us yet more encounters with the main objective of our tour.Finally we drive to Panna National Park, astunning reserve that protects over 543square kilometres of rolling hills andplateaux, grassy meadows, gorges andwaterfalls. The broad waters of the RiverKen pass through the park and a boat triphere provides superb wildlife-viewing withabundant waterbirds and many largeMarsh Mugger Crocodiles. Tigers havesuffered badly from poaching here, but wehave a slim chance of an encounter in thisbeautiful park.We will fly back to Delhi from the famouscity of Khajuraho, and thence to London.However, for the aficionado, we offer anopportunity to extend your holiday with a visit to Ranthambore, one of India's most spectacular and best-known Tiger Reserves.India - Tiger MarathonAn exciting tour taking you straight into the heart of Tiger country on a 13-day safari that combinesPench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Panna National Parks, four of India's finest Tiger Reserves, plus an optional extension to Ranthambore National Park.Thursday 1st November - Tuesday 13th November 2012 Cost: £2,895Thursday 24th January - Tuesday 5th February 2013 Cost: £2,895Thursday 28th March - Tuesday 9th April 2013 Cost: £2,895Thursday 31st October - Tuesday 12th November 2013 Cost: £2,895Ranthambore extension available on all tours Cost: £750Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationTIBET NEPAL PAKISTAN NEW DELHIKHAJURAHOPANNA TIGER RESERVE AGRAKOLKATABAY OF BENGAL INDIAKANHA TIGER RESERVE NAGPURMUMBAIPENCHTIGER RESERVERANTHAMBORE TIGER RESERVE (EXTENSION) BANDHAVGARHTIGER RESERVE Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2Arrive Nagpur; transferPench National Park.Day 3Pench National Park.Day 4/6Kanha National Park.Day 7/9Bandhavgarh NationalPark.Day 10/11Panna National Park.Day 12Transfer Khajuraho; flyDelhi.Day 13Fly London.Ranthambore extensionDay 13Train to Ranthambore.Day 14/15Ranthambore TigerReserve.Day 16Train to Delhi.Day 17Fly London.AccommodationComfortable tourist hotel in Delhi;comfortable forest lodgeselsewhere. All rooms have privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price.Grading A. This is a wildlife safari, with littlewalking.Focus Tigers, other mammals and birds.LeaderHimanshu Rathore, Harish Sharma,Bunty Mandhayan or Indrajit Latey,plus local guides.Single room supplement£395 (extension: £195).Web quick search: IND21227Bandhavgarh National ParkTiger