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Beyond the rich tapestries of colour,noise and confusion thatcharacterise the cities andcountryside of the Gangetic plain lies adesolate wilderness of breathtakingbeauty. Scattered amongst the TharDesert's 700,000 square kilometres are avariety of habitats that form a laststronghold for some of India's mostthreatened wildlife. Among the shiftingdunes are rocky outcrops, scrub forestsand, in places, some of the savannahgrasslands that provide the vestige of avanished landscape. Quiet and peaceful,but always colourful, this desert holdsmany surprises. Resplendent Rajputpeoples in their gaudy turbans andscarves; desert citadels, eerie forts andMaharajahs' retreats provide the backdropto our tour.We begin in New Delhi, and enjoy thebirdlife and sights of the city beforetravelling by overnight train to Bikaner,situated on the edge of the Thar Desert.Here we have time to explore this old royalcity before proceeding to Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary, where we will stay in the oldpalace of the Maharajah of Bikaner. Thislittle-known, private reserve is the formerhunting ground of the Maharajahs, thequiet seclusion of its lake and acaciawoodlands today offering us finebirdwatching opportunities. In particular,we may hope to observe largecongregations of sandgrouse as theycome to drink at the lake each morningand evening.Our exploration of the Thar, or GreatIndian, Desert now begins in earnest as wetravel next to the magnificent citadel ofJaisalmer. With its intricate stonework,minarets, palaces and proud and colourfulpeople, Jaisalmer is a reminder of theRajput past of the Thar. It is from here thatwe embark on our camel cart safari,travelling between three and four hourseach day, either in a camel cart, or on foot.In all probability, you will enjoy both formsof transport, and our camels will enable usto travel far into the desert to observe itswildlife. Outstanding amongst the birds wewill search for are the Great Indian Bustardand the Houbara Bustard, the latter awinter visitor to the Thar. Sadly, bothspecies are now very rare due to habitatloss and hunting, but we will be unlucky tomiss the former species. Other desertbirdlife we may encounter includesChestnut-bellied and Spotted Sandgrouse,Cream-coloured Courser and theenigmatic Stoliczka's Bushchat. Amongstthe desert mammals we may see are theelegant and shy Chinkara (or IndianGazelle) and Indian Fox, and perhaps eventhe increasingly uncommon Blackbuck,Wolf or Striped Hyena. On completion of our camel cart safari, wewill enjoy the spectacle of the thousands ofDemoiselle Cranes attracted to the villageof Khichan through generations of feedingby the locals, then spend two nights in thebeautiful village of Rohetgarh. Nearby livethe Bishnoi, a unique tribe of practisingnaturalists . and the world's firstenvironmentalists. Continuing on toJodhpur, we visit the Mehrangarh Fort, oneof the largest forts in India, and JaswantThada, a 19th century royal cenotaph built in white marble, before taking the train to Ranthambore. RanthamboreTiger Reserve offers a magnificent settingin which to search for Tigers and otherwildlife. Set in the Aravali Hills, the drydeciduous jungles of the reserve aredominated by the impressive ruins of amassive 11th century fortress, and byMoghul monuments that nestle discreetlyon the shores of small lakes. Until recently,this famous Tiger Reserve held up to 40Tigers. Today, poaching has considerablyreduced this number, but we still have agood chance of encountering thismagnificent animal, plus such othercreatures as Marsh Mugger Crocodile,Spotted and Sambar Deer, Nilgai, Chinkara,Common Langur and perhaps even a SlothBear or Leopard. From Ranthambore we return to Delhi bytrain to complete our tour of the magicaland exotic state of Rajasthan. However, forthose of you wishing to extend your stay,our extension to Agra (to see the Taj Mahaland other fabulous Moghul monuments)and the famous Bharatpur Bird Sanctuaryis thoroughly recommended.RajasthanA 15-day wildlife holiday to Rajasthan's Great Thar Desert, the Rajput cities of Jaisalmerand Jodhpur, and Ranthambore Tiger Reserve; plus an optional extension to Bharatpur, Agra and the Taj Mahal.Sunday 4th November - Sunday 18th November 2012 Cost: £2,850Sunday 3rd February - Sunday 17th February 2013 Cost: £2,950Sunday 3rd November - Sunday 17th November 2013 Cost: £2,950Bharatpur and Agra extension available on all tours Cost: £795Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London. Day 2Delhi; overnight train toBikaner.Day 3/4Gajner Wildlife Reserve.Day 5Jaisalmer.Day 6/7Camel safari throughThar Desert.Day 8/9Rohetgarh (andKhichan). Day 10Jodhpur.Day 11/13Ranthambore TigerReserve. Day 14Delhi.Day 15Fly London.Agra/BharatpurextensionDay 14/17Bharatpur BirdSanctuary.Day 18Agra and Taj Mahal.Day 19Delhi.Day 20Fly London.AccommodationA combination of formerMaharajahs' palaces and forestlodges, all with private facilities,plus two nights of fully servicedcamping in the Thar Desert.FoodAll included in the price, except formain meals in Delhi. Allow £30.Grading During the camel cart safari, thosewho prefer to walk may do so.Otherwise no serious walking!Grade A/B.Focus Birds and mammals.LeaderDilip Saini, Manoj Kulshreshtha orHimanshu Rathore, plus localguides.Single room supplement£495 (extension: £175).Web quick search: IND31230Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryTIBETPAKISTANNEW DELHIAGRABHARATPUR BIRDSANCTUARY(EXTENSION)INDIARANTHAMBORETIGER RESERVEJODHPURROHETGARHJAISALMERBIKANERGAJNERWILDLIFERESERVETHARDESERTGreat Indian BustardBlackbuckDemoiselle Cranes

This Naturetrek holiday specificallyfocuses, in equal measure, on bothwildlife and India's fabulous historical,cultural and architectural heritage. Aboveall, and unusually for India, our itineraryachieves a maximum of variety with aminimum of exhausting travel. A briefdomestic flight, two short and comfortabletrain journeys, and just a few hours ofdriving on the peaceful roads of rural Indiaare all that are required to complete thisfascinating and colourful circuit. We will visitsuch fabulous sights as the Taj Mahal, AgraFort, Fatehpur Sikri and the temples ofKhajuraho, all of which so magnificentlyencapsulate the lavish history of northernIndia over the past millennium. We will alsovisit Panna National Park and Tiger Reserve- one of India's most scenic sanctuariesand currently a favourite amongst wildlifeconnoisseurs on account of the sheerabundance and variety of both its mammalsand birds - and conclude our tour in theworld's most famous bird reserve .Bharatpur. We begin in India's capital, New Delhi.Here, we will drive to our comfortable hotel.Later, after a rest and a light lunch, anoptional afternoon tour of Old Delhi mightinclude such magnificent Moghulmonuments as the Jama Masjid mosqueand the Red Fort, though the keenbirdwatchers in our party may chooseinstead to visit the Sultanpur National Parkand Bird Sanctuary.In 1839 a British army engineer stumbledupon a complex of the most remarkableHindu temples. Lost for centuries in remotejungle, these magnificent examples of Indo-Aryan architecture had escaped thedestruction that Moghul rule inflicted onvirtually all other Hindu monuments innorthern India at the time. Today,Khajuraho's temples, so skillfullyconstructed between 950 and 1050 ADunder the later kings of the Chandeladynasty and boasting exquisite (and manyerotic) carvings, are listed as a WorldHeritage Site. Now beautifully restored, theyare set within delightful gardens favouredby abundant birdlife and marauding Rhesusand Common Langur Monkeys. A night inKhajuraho will give us ample time to explorethe temple complexes before we make theshort drive to Panna Tiger Reserve.Panna, a stunning national park of 543square kilometres, has remained largelyunknown and ignored by tourism, mainlybecause its few Tigers remain wary andelusive. Though consisting largely of drydeciduous forest, it boasts great scenicbeauty through its combination of rollinghills and plateaux, grassy meadows, gorgesand waterfalls. The broad waters of theRiver Ken pass through the park and allowus to enjoy wildlife-viewing, abundantwaterbirds and many large Marsh Muggercrocodiles on boat excursions. Primarilythough, we will explore this extensive parkon lengthy jeep tours, and sometimes onelephant back, encountering abundantSpotted Deer, Sambar, Nilgai, Wild Boarand troupes of Common Langurs, the moreelusive Chinkara and Chousingha antelopesand, with luck, a Tiger, Dhole (Wild Dog) oreven a Leopard! With such a variety ofhabitats, Panna also provides a most variedbirdlife, with Painted Sandgrouse, and awide variety of owls and nightjars likely tobe amongst the highlights.We next drive to Orchha, once the capital ofthe Bandela dynasty, and today a mostpicturesque and peaceful village that sitsamongst a proliferation of temples, royalchhattris(tombs) and a striking 16th centuryfort-palace on an island in the Betwa River.There is much to enjoy for a day here,before we take the train from Jhansi toAgra, passing the imposing Gwalior Fort. Astay in Agra will allow us to soak in thesplendour of the Taj Mahal and its environs. and to visit the magnificent Agra Fort.We will then drive on, stopping en route toexplore the fascinating abandoned Moghulcity of Fatehpur Sikri, to Bharatpur, the mostfamous bird reserve of them all, where afeast of birds and other wildlife awaits us.So, is there a down side to our managingdirector's favourite Indian odyssey? Yes,just one! Your chance of a Tiger sighting onthis tour is a fairly slim one. For this reason,we offer you the chance to extend yourholiday with a visit to Ranthambore, one ofIndia's most spectacular and best knownTiger Reserves, or any other of thecountry's fine national parks.Temples & Tigers - The Best of Northern IndiaA 13-day holiday combining the best of India's wildlife and culture, with visits to Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Khajuraho, Panna Tiger Reserve and Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, plus an optional 5-day extension to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.Wednesday 7th November - Monday 19th November 2012 Cost: £2,595Wednesday 6th February - Monday 18th February 2013 Cost: £2,695Wednesday 6th November - Monday 18th November 2013 Cost: £2,695Ranthambore extension available on all tours Cost: £795Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationTIBET NEPAL PAKISTAN NEW DELHI AGRA BHARATPUR KOLKATABAY OF BENGAL INDIA KHAJURAHO ORCHHA JHANSI PANNA RANTHAMBORE TIGER RESERVE (EXTENSION) Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2Delhi.Day 3Temples of Khajuraho.Day 4/6Panna Tiger Reserve.Day 7Orchha.Day 8Agra and Taj Mahal.Day 9Fatehpur Sikri; overnightBharatpur.Day 10/11Bharatpur BirdSanctuary.Day 12Evening train to Delhi.Day 13Fly London.Ranthambore extensionDay 12/15Ranthambore TigerReserve.Day 16Evening train to Delhi.Day 17Fly London.AccommodationComfortable tourist hotels in Delhi,Khajuraho and Agra; simple butcomfortable lodges elsewhere. Allrooms have private facilities.FoodAll included in the price, except formeals required in Delhi. Allow £30.Grading A. A wildlife and sightseeing tourthat includes no strenuous walking.Focus India's cultural heritage, mammalsand birds.LeaderNick Acheson, Bunty Mandhayan,Chandra Hada, Ashlesh Sharma orDilip Saini, plus local guides.Single room supplement£395 (extension: £145).Web quick search: IND32231TigerKhajurahoIndian Roller