The Big 5 of India
20 nights, 21 days
Want to see it all? With no compromises whatsoever? We hear you loud and clear, and this is the trip for you! No itinerary is pitch perfect, but this one is as close as it gets to it! Tigers, leopards, rhinos, elephants, Indian bisons, hard-ground swamp deer, Asian water buffalos, all the flagship offerings of the Indian wildlife brought to you (or rather, you brought to them!) in this epic Indian wildlife expedition spanning over thousands of kilometres. We start off from the national capital of Delhi, where we spend the first couple of days exploring the rich heritage and culture of the beautiful and huge city. Thereafter, we head on to Agra, the city of Taj. Taj Mahal needs no introduction, and Is often said to be the most beautiful heritage monument of the world. After a bit of exploring the magnificent Taj and the city of Agra, we will kick off the wild journey, starting from Ranthambore, the Land of Tigers. The most famous tiger reserve of the nation, and of global fame, Ranthambore is the playground of some the the most legendary tigers of the world. After our share of safaris, we will get on with the journey to Kanha Tiger Reserve, through an overnight train journey. Kanha is one of the premier parks of India, and the face of the hard-ground swamp deer conservation. Having received the title of the best managed parks in the country for many years, this park boasts an immensely rich diversity, and has done a near-impossible feat of bringing back the barasinghas from the jaws of extinction in the 1970s. From Kanha, we will move south to a nearby park, Nagzira. Nagzira is a new and upcoming park, and sees lesser number of tourists compared to the other big names, so the vegetation and wildlife is as pristine as ever here. Famous for a healthy population of dhole, or Indian wild dog, Nagzira is one of the best place to see and observe this secretive animal. Our final stop for the trip would be Kaziranga, the home of great Indian one-horned rhinos! This park houses over 75% of the great Indian one-horned rhinos of the world, and has an absolutely beautiful landscape. Also home to an impressive number of Asian elephants and Asian wild water buffaloes, this park is one of the most diverse parks of India. An apt ending to this great adventure. Post-Kaziranga, we will fly back to Delhi, where this epic excursion comes to an end!
This is how your trip will go about
Arrival in Delhi
Upon your arrival in Delhi airport/ railway station, you will be met by one of our IWS tour guides. He will take you to your hotel, and en route, he will explain to you in detail the plan. He will stay with you for the entire duration of the trip and he’ll make sure you have a hassle-free and smooth experience! The rest of the day will be at leisure, and you can recover from your journey and prepare for the travels ahead!
Your IWS Guide will meet up with you early in the morning and you’ll kick off your adventure now. Delhi has 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some amazing monuments and places of historic and religious significance. You’ll be taken around by your IWS Guide and you will be trying to cover all you can. You’ll eat some of the best food in this part of the world, and you’ll sense flavours we guarantee you would never have imagined existed. After a soul-filling day exploring the city, you’ll return to your hotel room by evening, when you can relax and unwind.
Transfer to Agra
You’ll be met by your IWS Guide in the morning again, and after a half day of exploration of the city and having your lunch, you will move on to your next destination, the city of Taj, Agra, which is a 5 hour drive away. You will reach there by evening and the rest of the day will be at leisure.
Explore the city of Taj
Today you’ll get up extra early before the rest of the city and head out to the Taj Mahal, and try and catch the first morning light hitting this stunning piece of architecture. This makes for some of the most beautiful photos you’ll capture during the trip. After exploring the Taj for a few hours, get back to the hotel, freshen up, get some food in our system, and head over to the other offerings of the city. Rest of the day will be spend sightseeing in the city. After a full day of exploring Agra, you’ll get back to your rooms by evening, and you’ll have the rest of the evening at leisure.
Transfer to Ranthambore
Similar to Delhi, you will be spending half of the day exploring Agra further, and post lunch, you’ll drive down to Ranthambore. It’s a long 8 hour drive, and you’ll make it there post nightfall, where your IWS Guide would give you a brief session about the park and what all to expect.
Morning and evening safaris into the park
Day 6, 7
Over the next few days, you’ll be going for back-to-back morning and evening safaris into the various zones of the national park. The timing for the safari changes as per the season, and you’ll be instructed regarding the same the day before by your IWS Guide. During the safari, you will see some of the finest diversity and wildlife this part of the world has to offer.
Morning safari and overnight train journey to Jabalpur
Today, you’ll morning safari will be the last one at Ranthambore, and in the evening, you will be boarding an overnight train to Jabalpur, the closest railhead to Bandhavgarh, where you will be picked up by taxis which will accompany you for the rest of the road trip. Your IWS Guide will be with you 24x7 to coordinate everything and you need not worry about the logistics. Just sit back and enjoy the Indian rail experience!
Jabalpur to Kanha
You’ll reach Jabalpur today at around 8 in the morning. Jabalpur is a bustling city, one of the biggest of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Your IWS Guide will coordinate everything and you need not worry about anything. You’ll have breakfast in one of the oldest and most legendary coffee houses of India. Thereafter, you will head out on a 5 hour long drive to Kanha Tiger Reserve. Reaching Kanha by lunch time, you’ll check in to your resort, have lunch, and relax for the rest of the day. You can walk around the property with your IWS Guide and you can spot some beautiful birdlife of Kanha in the nearby waterbodies, or visit the tribal villages and have a chat with the locals. From the next day, you will be having your safaris into the park.
Morning and evening safaris into the park
Day 10, 11, 12
You will be having morning and evening safaris into the park area, into different zone each time. Your IWS Guide will be deciding the zones depending upon the best chances of sightings of the striped big cat. The timing and duration of the safaris vary depending upon the season and the time of sunrise and sunset, and your IWS Guide will communicate the same to you prior to your safaris. Your day would typically start from early morning safari, breakfast inside the park, get out before noon, freshen-up and relax in the day time, have lunch, head out to the evening safari, return back from safari post-sunset, then have the evening at leisure. Dinner will be served at around 08.30 PM. Kanha also has an astroport, where you can enjoy some beautiful stargazing and astronomy lessons by expert astronomers using some very powerful telescopes.
Transfer to Nagzira
After a relaxed morning, you will have breakfast and head out to Nagzira, a four hour drive from Kanha. You will reach Nagzira by lunch time, you’ll check in to your resort, have lunch, and relax for the rest of the day. You can walk around the property with your IWS Guide and you can spot some beautiful birdlife. From the next day, you will be having your safaris into the park.
Morning and evening safaris into the park
Similar to the previous parks, you will go for morning and evening safaris into the park, and try to spot and photograph the elusive Indian wild dog, along with leopards and tigers. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served at the resort.
Day 14, 15
Flight to Guwahati via Delh
This morning after breakfast you will make your way to Nagpur airport and board our flight to Guwahati via Delhi. Guwahati is one of the biggest cities of northeast India, and is just a pitstop for the night, before heading to Kaziranga.
Guwahati to Kaziranga and first evening safari
Today morning, you will start early for a 6 hour journey to Kaziranga, and reach there by noon. You will have time to settle in, relax and unwind. Post lunch, you will have your first safari into the magical Kaziranga Tiger Reserve, and your first encounter with the Asian elephants and Indian one-horned rhinoceros! You will get back to your resort post-sunset, and have the rest of the evening at leisure.
Morning and evening safaris into the park
Day 18, 19, 20
You will have your back to back safaris for the next 6 days into different zones of the park, having different specialities and offerings. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served to you at the resort itself. In the evening, you can enjoy the beautiful night sky of the park, or the stunning birdlife of the region.
Transfer to Guwahati and fly back to Delhi
After a laid back morning in Kaziranga, you will board your taxis and drive back to Guwahati, from where you will catch the flight back to Delhi. On reaching the capital after 20 days of extreme wilderness adventures and in the company of the some of the most gorgeous animals and birds of this part of the world, you will be dropped off at your place of preference in Delhi by your IWS Guide, and he will bid you adieu after completing an epic jungle excursion you will remember for the rest of your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Doubts? Continue reading! We have answered few of the common questions in the minds of travellers. If this doesn't answer it, feel free to get in touch any time through mail or call!
What kind of a traveller does this expedition cater to?
We have designed this trip keeping in minds the needs of every kind of travel enthusiast. You need not be a hardcore wildlife buff or a super-dedicated wildlife photographer to enjoy this trip. Like all the other IWS itineraries, this one aims to get you close to the wilder and unexplored side of India, and you would enjoy it irrespective of the category of traveller you fall into!
Will be have someone who will accompany us during the trip?
Yes! We will a lot you one of our IWS Guides who will travel with you and coordinate everything during your travels, from taxis, to hotel rooms, from safari timings and zones, to interaction with the locals. He/she will have it all laid out properly for you so that you don't have to get into the hassle of logistics and enjoy your travels to the most!
What camera equipment is optimal for photography during this trip?
For the camera body, any D-SLR would be great. Ideally, something with a high burst rates of around 6fps and above (for those high speed action shots) and decent ISO performance (since we will be getting the best shots at either dawn or dusk) would be better. For bigger mammals, a lens with a reach of 400mm would be ideal. For smaller mammals and birds, 600mm would be just perfect. If you wish to exploit the stunning nightsky for some astrophotography, don't forget that fast wide-angle lens! And oh! Don't for get extra memory cards and hard drives for dumping the thousands of amazing shots you will be capturing!
I am not an expert wildlife photographer. Would I still be able to enjoy this trip?
Most certainly! The cameras we have today are smart enough to get you some great shots even in Auto mode. However if you do wish to learn about the finer nuances of the art of photography, do let us know beforehand. We have a special IWS Guide who is an expert photographer and has taken several photography workshops. He will certainly help you to kick your photography skills up a notch!
How will we be travelling between the stops?
The mode of travel between locations would depend upon the distance and the quality of roads or trains available. For road transfers, you will be taken around in AC MPVs. For rail transfers, we would prefer berths in 2nd Class (two-tier) AC express trains. Choice of airlines for even further away destinations would depend solely upon your timing and convenience.
What kind of vehicle will be taking us into the park during the safaris, and is it safe?
The safari vehicle is a standard open top 4x4 gypsy modified to suit the different type to terrains of Indian forests. Because of being open from all four sides, the gypsy does give a feeling of being exposed to the wilderness, but it is absolutely safe, and there has been no cases where the animals has tried to attack a vehicle unless it is provoked or harassed.