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Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking Information241In his famous 'Jungle Book' RudyardKipling acknowledged the undisputedstatus of the mighty Bengal Tiger byintroducing Shere Khan as the king of thebeasts. Although the cat family includesmany impressive and attractive animals,there is an aura of power and majesty about the Tiger which makes it an automatic choice for this title and toobserve a male Tiger patrolling his territory in an Indian reserve is to watch an unchallenged ruler strolling through his domain. Unfortunately for the Tiger, being toppredator was no protection against theactivities of man, and a combination ofhabitat destruction and hunting pressuresreduced the Indian population from anestimated 40,000 to less than 2,000 beforethe conservation initiative known as'Project Tiger' sought to halt this rapiddecline by the establishment of numerousTiger Reserves. It is in reserves such asKanha and Ranthambore that, over theyears, many hundreds of Naturetrek clientshave savoured the ultimate wildlifeexperience of watching Tigers in theirnatural environment. However, in recenttimes, another lesser-known reserve,Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh, hasacquired a rapidly growing reputation asone of the very best locations forconsistent Tiger sightings.Set amid the Vindhya Hills, Bandhavgarhwas first established in 1968 butsubstantially increased in size 20 yearslater by the incorporation of severaladjacent tracts of Sal forest. This is aregion steeped in history and, in the heartof the reserve, towering 800 metres abovethe forest, stands the ruin of a magnificenthilltop fort which bears testament to thesuccession of dynasties which over theages ruled this area. A former capital ofthe Baghel kings, Bandhavgarh Fort waseventually abandoned early in the 17thcentury and quickly reclaimed by thejungle around it, although it remained aroyal hunting reserve for another 300years, thus ensuring the protection of theforest. Today, careful management hasensured that the park is a haven forTigers, and it also provides a remarkablypicturesque and tranquil setting for thatunforgettable encounter with the mostmagnificent of all big cats. SeveralNaturetrek groups have already discovered the delights of Bandhavgarh,but it is in acknowledgement of the park'sabundant photographic qualities that weare pleased to now offer this exciting 12-day tour which affords a wealth ofsubjects, both natural and man-made, for photographers to capture. Our holiday begins in the capital city ofDelhi, but we pause only briefly beforecatching an overnight sleeper train to Katni,the railhead close to Bandhavgarh. Fromhere we drive to comfortableaccommodation just outside the reservewhere we stay for seven nights. During thefollowing days we will board jeeps formorning and afternoon excursions into thenational park, each visit charged with thatunique tingle of anticipation generated bybeing in Tiger territory. Even here,appearances by Tigers can never bepredicted or guaranteed and sometimesonly a giant footprint in the dust, or adistant roar, betrays the presence of ourquarry. However, perseverance has itsrewards and that magical moment whenthe lord of the forest finally emerges intoview will never be forgotten. Depending onthe situation it is often possible toapproach Tigers closely by jeep and muchfilm is sure to be expended during suchencounters. Even without the Tigers, thereis much to see in Bandhavgarh. Herds ofSpotted Deer roam the reserve andconstitute one of the main prey items forthe Tigers, although the utterly endearinglittle fawns look far too appealing todeserve such a fate. Other herbivorousresidents are less conspicuous but includeSambar, Chousingha, Chinkara, Nilgai andMuntjac. Several hundred species of birdshave been recorded in the reserve and it isoften the excited behaviour of the birdlifethat first announces the presence of aprowling Tiger, although the anxious chatterof Grey Langur Monkeys and barking alarmcalls of Spotted Deer quickly relay thewarning to all the creatures in the vicinity!The wildlife at Bandhavgarh will be mostlyviewed from jeeps, but 'riding elephants'are also employed on occasions totraverse some of the areas impassable tovehicles and travelling on one of thesehuge animals as it plods with surefootsteps through fast-flowing streams orpicks its way along a rocky trail, is athrilling adventure, spiced with the constantpossibility of coming upon a Tiger at rest. With so much wildlife to photograph,participants will need to take plenty of filmand memory cards, and as a diversionfrom the wildlife, may also wish to visit thescenic Bamera Dam at nearby PanpathaSanctuary or Majhauli Dam, a good placefor birdwatching. Bandhavgarh Fort alsocontains rock carvings and photogenicdeserted temples dating back to the 10thcentury and beyond. This wonderfulnational park richly deserves its reputationas one of the top Tiger Reserves in thesubcontinent and we are confident thatphotographers will be delighted by therange of subjects during this speciallydesigned tour. India's Wildlife - A Photography TourA 12-day wildlife photography holiday to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Wednesday 31st October - Sunday 11th November 2012 Cost: £2,495Wednesday 3rd April - Sunday 14th April 2013 Cost: £2,495Wednesday 30th October - Sunday 10th November 2013 Cost: £2,495Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2Delhi; overnight train toKatni.Day 3/9Bandhavgarh TigerReserve.Day 10Final day inBandhavgarh; overnighttrain to Agra.Day 11Full day's sightseeing inAgra; evening train toDelhi.Day 12Fly London.AccommodationA simple but comfortable forestlodge at Bandhavgarh, with privatefacilities. FoodAll included in the price, except formeals in Delhi. Allow £20.Grading A. This is a straightforward wildlifetour with no strenuous walking.Focus Wildlife photography.LeaderTalat Khalid, Chandra Hada, HarshaJayaramiah, Himanshu Rathore orIndrajit Latey, plus local guide.Single room supplement£395.ExtensionsAvailable to all areas of the Indiansubcontinent, and Dubai.Web quick search: IND03Common Langur, Bandhavgarh Tiger ReserveTIBET NEPAL PAKISTAN NEW DELHI AGRA KOLKATABAY OF BENGAL INDIA BANDHAVGARH UMARIA KATNITiger

On this holiday we focus on a verybeautiful mountain region at thewestern end of the Great Himalaya.Ladakh must simply be the most starklyspectacular mountain region on earth.Situated in the rain shadow beyond theHimalayan barrier, right on the edge of theTibetan Plateau, it is a dry and aridmountain kingdom, dominated by themagnificent gorges, cliffs, plateaux andrugged peaks of the Zanskar, Ladakh andKarakoram ranges. The lush green barleyfields, and willow and poplar groves of thewell irrigated valleys offer great contrast tothis wild scenery. So too do the colourfulBuddhist Ladakhis in their maroon robesand peculiar eared hats. Here we will findbirds, plants and mammals that are typicalof Tibet and central Asia. Our holiday begins, after a day'ssightseeing or birdwatching in Delhi, with aspectacular flight over the Himalaya to Leh.Situated at 3,505 metres in the Indus Valley,this tiny but ancient capital of Ladakh,dominated by the crumbling old royalpalace that towers from an outcrop justabove the town, and filled with friendlytraders, is the hub of Ladakhi life. We willspend three days in Leh, which will give ustime to acclimatise to the altitude, and toenjoy the cultural and ornithologicalhighlights of the Indus Valley. Along theriver, beneath the majestic Tikse Monastery,we will look for Ibisbills, Citrine Wagtailsand Mountain Chiffchaffs. In the rocky hillsand valleys close by, we will look forWallcreepers, Red-fronted Serins, andSulphur-bellied Warblers. We will have timealso to visit some of the other importantmonasteries, all of them of interest to thenaturalist since the Buddhist monks'aversion to killing has made each a havenfor wildlife.We next embark on the major journey of theholiday, a 9-day trek into the beautifulMarkha Valley, in the Hemis National Park.Spanning 4,100 square kilometres, this highand spectacular region forms one of thelargest protected areas in the entireHimalaya. Snow Leopard find refuge here(though our search for them is not likely toreveal more than scats and footprints), as doWolves, Lynx and Dholes (the Indian wilddog). The mammals that we will more likelysee include wild sheep and goats-Shapu, Tibetan Argali, and Bharal (BlueSheep)-Himalayan Marmot, Woolly Hare,Mouse-hare and Fox. Highlights amongst aninteresting birdlife will be HimalayanSnowcock, Lammergeier, Himalayan GriffonVulture, Golden Eagle, Common and EasternGreat Rosefinches, Shorelark, DesertWheatear, Hodgson's and Brandt's MountainFinches, and Tibetan Snowfinch. A surprisingdisplay of colourful and interesting plantsmay also be found, from beautiful roses inthe valleys to the gentians, edelweiss andlouseworts of the damp meadows.The Markha Valley itself is one of the mostbeautiful in Ladakh. Surprisingly wellwooded, we will often be walking throughorchards of apricot, apple and walnut trees,and thick riverside willow, poplar andtamarisk groves. To enter and leave thevalley, we must cross high passes at over4,880 metres, but the rest of the walkingwill be more straightforward. At the head of the Markha Valley we willspend two days exploring the NimalingPlains, and the tributary valleys to the footof the glaciers that tumble from the6,400-metre peak of Kang Yizay, thehighest in Markha. Here, we should find an excellent selection of Ladakh'shigh-altitude birds, mammals and plants,before we cross the Gongmoro La pass to reach Hemis Monastery and the IndusValley again.We must now reluctantly leave thespectacular mountain environment of Leh,flying back to London via Delhi. However,for those keen to sample more of thisunique mountain kingdom, a 4-dayextension to the Nubra Valley may bearranged. Situated on the Tibetan border,this high and remote region is home tosuch specialities as Wild Ass, Wild Yak andBlack-necked Crane. Alternatively, for theculturally minded, an extension to Agra andthe Taj Mahal may be preferred.Ladakh's Markha ValleyA 17-day holiday, including a 9-day trek in Ladakh's beautiful Markha Valley in search of the mammals,birds, plants and cultural aspects of Buddhist Ladakh, plus wildlife walks in the Indus Valley.Friday 19th July - Sunday 4th August Cost: £2,695Nubra Valley extension: to Thursday 8th August Cost: £595Agra extension: to Monday 5th August Cost: £295Outline itinerary Day 1Depart London.Day 2Delhi. Day 3/5Leh. Day 6/14Markha Valley Trek. Day 15 Leh. Day 16Fly Delhi. Day 17Fly London.Nubra Valley extensionDay 16/18Nubra Valley.Day 19Leh.Day 20Fly Delhi.Day 21Fly London.Agra extensionDay 16Fly Delhi; transfer toAgra.Day 17Full day's sightseeing inAgra; evening train toDelhi.Day 18Fly London.AccommodationComfortable tourist hotel in Delhi, asimple but comfortable hotel inLeh, both with private facilities; fullyserviced camping elsewhere.FoodIncluded in the price, except for mainmeals in Delhi. Allow £20.TrekkingGrade B/C. Moderate. Between3,350 and 5,180 metres.FocusMammals, birds, flowers and theculture of Ladakh.LeaderKaran Modi, Indrajit Latey or ManojSharma.Single room supplement£650 (Nubra extension: £125; Agra extension: £50). Web quick search: IND28242Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryTIBET NEPAL PAKISTAN NEW DELHI LEHHEMIS THE GREAT HIMALAYA AGRA(EXTENSION)INDIA NUBRA VALLEY(EXTENSION)River Indus, LadakhHemis Monastery