Friday, 15 April 2016

Adventures in India

Spot a real-life Shere Khan and Bagheera in their natural habitats for an unforgettable experience

Written by Wendy Gomersall
If you love animals, there are few more exciting experiences than looking for tigers in the national parks and reserves of exotic India. This amazing destination will be thrown into the spotlight again with the official visit to the country by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and also because of the release of the new live-action version of Disney’s The Jungle Book.

The film stars Neel Sethi as the orphan boy Mowgli and some famous voices as the animals who both befriend and threaten: Bill Murray as the goofy sloth bear Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera the black panther and Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the python. Idris Elba is Shere Khan, the manhating tiger.

travel-590-2Baghvan lodge, Pench National Park

Seeing one of these magnificent big cats in the wild is an experience to remember. I recall quite clearly the first time I saw a tiger. As these graceful animals have a strong, orange colour with vivid black stripes, I was expecting to spot one really easily, prowling silently through the undergrowth. Of course, our guide knew where he was but no amount of pointing helped me to see him – it was like he was invisible. Finally he turned his head in the direction of a screeching bird, and his fearful symmetry shimmered into focus – breathtaking!

Sadly, there are no guarantees whatever kind of wildlife you’re searching for, but I had a number of sightings on my trips – including one beautiful young tigress who stepped out of the jungle right in front of us, in the spot where we had been patiently waiting for 15 minutes or so after our guide had heard the warning calls of monkeys. It was magic.

Specialist holiday company Cox & Kings offers a new luxury tour, The Jungle Book: Wildlife Of India, if tiger-spotting is on your wishlist of adventures. The 13-day, 11-night private holiday, from £3,745 per person, highlights all the wildlife of Madhya Pradesh, the area that inspired Rudyard Kipling to write his famous story.

travel-590-3Left: The Taj Mahal. Right: Baghvan lodge, Pench National Park

The price includes international flights, internal flights, private airport transfers, expert-led game drives, most meals and accommodation – either four star or five star – in Taj properties. In addition, the tour ends in mesmerising Mumbai, the birthplace of Rudyard Kipling, and where he spent the first five years of his life.

The trip starts in Delhi, and includes a visit to the unmissable Taj Mahal in Agra and three national parks (Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench) all famous for their Bengal tigers and other exotic wildlife, such as sloth bears, wild dogs, monkeys, snakes and incredibly colourful birds of all shapes and sizes.

Travellers stay in luxurious Taj lodges with wildlife safaris included, and excursions are accompanied by experts who can help you spot the animals. Good luck!

020-7873 5000, www.coxandkings.co.uk
Contact Wendy at wendy.gomersall@lady.co.uk
Prices are correct at time of going to press.



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