The Perfect Indian Itinerary…?
As this time of Corona is preventing most of us from traveling abroad (and postponed a trip that I was personally very much looking forward to), I’m starting to think about my near-future travel plans for The Time After Corona.
One of my next 5 destinations must be India. And being unfamiliar yet with all the different tiger and rhino reserves, I was wondering what people think. Apart from the Himalayas (snow leopard and his acquaintances) I haven’t been to India. So if I have 2-3 weeks, what would people recommend?
My main priorities would be Tiger and Indian Rhino, followed by sloth bear, dhole, blackbuck, Ganges River Dolphin and most of the typical special Indian mammals. Of course Pangolin would always be high on the wish list, but unless there is a good place to see it, I wouldn’t necessarily put in extra effort to see it.
One thing I would consider, is adding Pakke and Eaglesnest for the chances of golden cat, sun bear, chinese pangolin, main land clouded leopard..?
What would people recommend?
From the person who hasn’t been on a safari to lowland India and is fantasizing about it..
Thanks in advance!
Agree re Kaziranga – by far the best park for rhino.
We have seen tigers in Corbett, Bhandargarh, Ranthambore – 2-3 weeks you’d be unlucky to miss them in any of these. However, our best viewing was last Jan/Feb in Pench (staying at Tree Lodge) and Satpura ( staying at Denwa Backwater Escape) – both of these are off the tourist beaten track (though they’re accessible from Nagpur/Bhopal) and there are so few visitors you’ll have quality tiger viewings, not scores of jeeps revving up and jockeying for position. Sloth Bear and Dhole are also there, though we didn’t see Dhole.
For the dolphin Chambal, just S of Taj Mahal, is good – the river is unpolluted as it flows N from the Deccan plateau before joining the Ganges.
It is not clear when are you considering this – that would help – but the following places are suggested –
Kaziranga and the surrounding area for Rhino, Gangetic Dolphin (from what you have mentioned) and Elephant and Buffalo as well apart from the Smooth-coated Otters and few other species.
You can also choose Manas instead of Kaziranga where the same species would be sighted but the nos would be less (so would the be the crowd). You can add to your list the Golden Langur if you go to Manas.
If you want to go to Pakke – be very clear that night safaris are not possible at present. Eaglesnest – yes night activities are possible – March would be a good time.
I would suggest Kanha for tigers – as that will allow for Wild Dog and Sloth Bear and Blackbuck too (in February/March),
So my suggestion would be – Kaziranga/Manas then to Eaglesnest then return to Guwahati and fly to Raipur via Kolkata – head to Kanha. In case you have some time in hand – you can fly to Ahmedabad and then head to Velavadar sanctuary where you will see Asiatic Wolf, tons of Blackbuck, good chance for Hyena and the Jungle Cat. Or you can add Singalila for the Red Panda too – there are better and more reasonable places (with better guides) for the Red Pandas. It is not in Sikkim but in Bengal – if you wish to go there you need to have a multiple entry VISA for Nepal (which is very easy to get under normal conditions).
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I was wondering if you’ve ever visited Dampa Tiger Reserve? Besides the high density of Indochinese Clouded Leopard, it has a really nice list of other mammals: Greater Hog Badger, Binturong, Small-toothed Palm and Large Indian Civets, Marbled Cat, Sun Bear, Stump-tailed Macaque, Phayre’s Langur, etc. I’d love to know if anyone has ever looked for mammals there.
India is at the top of my list of mammal destinations, particularly the Western Ghats, Northeast, and Himalayan region. Unfortunately it’s hard for me to get time off at the right season for a visit. Following this discussion…
Definitively Assam then! Personally we loved Manas National Park. Beautiful, very little tourism, chances for clouded leopard and melanstic leopard (the first wildcat we spotted). We also saw several rhinos there but of course there are much more in Kaziranga (that’s were we spotted a dolphin and first tiger as well) . There was a possibility to camp inside the park (Manas) at the border to Bhutan at the time. We would have been officially able do night walks this way and apparently chances were good for Marbled Cat and that’s also a very good spot for Golden Langurs in the morning.
Tomer, have you also thought about Tadoba – I haven’t been but there are some great reports from there? Assam and somewhere for Tigers aside, then Eaglesnest looks does look like a lot of fun. I also enjoyed Gujurat a lot – though perhaps not a priority for your species wishlist and of course the Western Ghats is a whole other trip. Oh and you can see Fishing Cats with a night or two in Calcutta – you could tack that on to an Assam trip.
I was in India Feb. 14th through March 3rd. I was supposed to go to the community-supported fishing cat project near Kolkata, if that is what you are referring to in your above comment, but it has been shut down due to some sort of dispute between people who run it. I haven’t heard if and when it will reopen.
I would definitely consider Tadoba, currently one of the best places in India to see tigers and you should see dhole and sloth bear fairly easily. Svasara Lodge is very close to one of the main gates, comfortable, well run and has good guides. The Sri Lanka-based Bird and Wildlife Team runs trips to southern India and can organise night drives – also worth consideration.
I’ve been to Dampa but sighting mammals inside the Reserve is challenging – also logistically it is a difficult area with political disturbances and ethnic issues but it is a great forest and we saw Small toothed Palm Civet, Spectacled Langur, Large Indian Civet and Leopard Cat. We were aware of the presence of the other cats but carrying a camera bag and other things up the steep forested slopes in a tropical forest with no pathways will need a team which we did not have.
But I do intend to go back sometime in the future there.
Also you cannot do night activities in Manas – you can stay out longer but not be out in the night – even if you stay inside the park.
Would definitely recommend the Endangered Mammals tour that we offer at Asian Adventures. This tour covers a variety of habitats (and so a variety of animals). In terms of species, this tour would cover Indian Wild Ass, Blackbuck, Asiatic Lion, Tiger, Hard-ground Barasingha, Sloth Bear, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Elephant, Wild Water Buffalo, and many more.
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I can recommend Sri Lanka for fishing cat, you should not have too much trouble seeing them. Rusty-spotted cat have proved elusive in my experience but, again, Sri Lanka is a good place to look. Sri Lanka is also good for sloth bear, e.g. at Wilpattu, and they are considered to be a separate sub-species. Again, for Sri Lanka I would highly recommend Bird and Wildlife Team and I know that many forum members will agree. Our guide was Dulan Ranga Vidanapathirana and was excellent.
I have had very good luck at Tadoba for Tiger. When I asked my guide at Ranthambhor where the best place for tigers was in India, he said hands-down Tadoba, and his recommendation paid off (2 day trip, three tigers)
Sri Lanka is great. On a weekend trip, I got fishing cat, rusty spotted cat, jungle cat and leopard in Wilpattu. I’d highly recommend it.
Both of these (Tadoba in India, Wilpattu in Sri Lanka) are less popular parks/locations too, so that’s a bonus.
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I would definitely recommend Assam at least heading to kaziranga for the rhinos and whilst nearby visiting brahmaputra for a look at the river dolphin. It was a bit of a language barrier organising the boat, but I believe I still have the contact details of the guys we used which I can pass on if your interested. Assam was just an amazing place to visit and we had a guide named Vicky who seemed to be pretty popular in the area and he knew where to look. We missed out on Tigers but had a few close calls. We also ventured up to Hoolongapar gibbon sanctuary for the hoolocks and some macaque species. I also paired my trip with flying to the state of sikkim and looking for red pandas at Habre’s nest.
Hope this helps 🙂