Essence of India

14 days

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What lies at the core of India – when it is stripped down to its very basic elements? Rich culture based on a profound history, and pride in both the cosmopolitan and remote landscapes within its borders. You delve into the very heart of the country with time in the energetic cities of Mumbai and Delhi combined with immersive expeditions into the country’s last remaining wild places. You might just feel like Indiana Jones uncovering temples and architectural wonders at every turn.

Highlights

  • Track Asiatic Lions and Bengal tigers in their tropical habitat
  • Dine in the bush by lanterns and bonfire
  • Wilderness ‘sleep-out’ under the stars
  • Explore Delhi by rickshaw and Sasan by bicycle
  • Discover wildlife havens with your naturalist guides
  • Expand your culinary skills during a cooking class in Delhi
Essence Of India03

Itinerary

DAY 1

Arrive Mumbai – Indian Food Tour

Mumbai has a history of incredible transformation, and is known as India’s mother city. After clearing customs, you’ll be transferred to the Oberoi Mumbai, perched on the coast overlooking the sea. Flights usually arrive late in the afternoon. Freshen-up then embark on a culinary walking tour with your guide to explore India with your taste buds, through local dishes and sweets. Enjoy a restful evening back at your hotel.

DAY 2

Mumbai – Elephanta Caves and Mumbai City Tour

Today, accompanied by your guide, dig deeper into the everyday life where ancient and modern history thrive together. Begin with a ferry trip across the sea to the nearby island of Elephanta, where an 8th century temple is carved from solid rock. This shrine is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers insight into the world of gods and goddesses who still dominate Indian culture today. Spend the remainder of the day investigating more of Mumbai’s treasures, including a visit to the bustling Dhobi Ghat, where dhobis (public launderers) wash thousands of pieces of laundry daily, rarely losing an item! Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.

DAY 3

Pench National Park – Scenic drive and Afternoon at Leisure

Enjoy a delicious breakfast, fly to Nagpur, and take a scenic drive to the expansive Pench National Park, famed for tigers and as the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s most famous work, The Jungle Book. You’ll spend three nights at Jamtara, a unique wilderness lodge with tented suites nestled in the jungle. Take a dip in the pool, stroll around the grounds or visit the local village with your guide before
experiencing dinner under the stars.

DAY 4

Pench National Park – Safari Game Drives with Tiger Tracking

As the sun streams through the dense vegetation, wildlife stirs and you are there to witness a new day of survival. Seek out the animals that captivated Rudyard Kipling in the 19th century—the Indian wolf, the Sloth bear, and the famous Bengal tiger. A multitude of mammals, reptiles, birds and plants inhabit the grasslands and rainforests. After a brief break for lunch back at your lodge and a restful afternoon, return to the park for another immersion into this diverse landscape. In the evening, the heavens unfold above as you dine on an exquisite meal.

DAY 5

Pench National Park –Tiger Tracking and a Sleepout Under The Stars

Today you will uncover the secrets of tracking wild tigers led by your expert naturalist guide. On morning and afternoon game drives you will learn how to spot the small and big signs that a tiger or other wildlife have recently passed. Follow their trails and hopefully experience the wonders of this vast park. Tonight, sleep beneath the stars on a secluded raised platform in the wilderness and allow the sounds of the night to lull you into a peaceful slumber.

DAY 6

Nagpur – Wildlife viewing drive and Scenic Road Transfer

Savor one last sunrise game drive in the wild reaches of Pench National Park. A delicious, leisurely lunch awaits back at the lodge. Transfer by road to Nagpur and spend the remainder of your day at leisure at Le Meridien. Relax by the pool, workout in the gym, or enjoy a massage at the spa in preparation for a morning flight tomorrow to your next safari destination.

DAY 7

Sasan Gir National Park – Flights to Diu and Game Viewing Experience

This morning you’ll fly to Mumbai and onward to Diu, where your driver will transfer you to Sasan National Park, a truly unique playground for wildlife. The extraordinary experience here is to find the Asiatic Lion in its last refuge. The next three nights will be spent at the Woods at Sasan, a boutique eco-luxury lodge at the edge of the forest and plentiful mango orchards. From a spectacular vantage point, watch the sun descend over the horizon and forest. Enjoy an evening at leisure complete with a sumptuous dinner and stunning star-filled sky.

DAY 8

Sasan National Park –Lion Tracking and Village Visit

An early start increases your chances of getting on the trail of the Asiatic lion with your expert tracking guide. Of course, you may also glimpse wild cats, langur, antelope, hyena and various bird species among the savannas. Return to your lodge for a hearty meal, followed by a tour of the local village where you can interact with the Maldharis – a pastoral tribe, and the Siddhis – a community with African origin. This afternoon, journey into the savanna again on a second game drive in search of lions.

DAY 9

Sasan National Park – Wildlife Trails and Cycling

This morning, binoculars in hand, enjoy another game drive as the sun breaks over this gorgeous landscape, following wildlife trails. After lunch at the lodge, hop on a bicycle with your guide to wander the grounds around the Woods at Sasan, leisurely exploring the mango orchard, quiet village lanes, and the banks of the Hiran River. One last game drive this afternoon will finish off another adventurous day.

DAY 10

Velavadar Blackbuck National Park – Scenic drive and Wildlife Explorations

Spend your last morning safari with the lions savoring every moment. Return to the lodge for a quiet breakfast, then take a scenic drive to the Velavadar Blackbuck National Park. The park is a sanctuary for this elegant Indian antelope, among other wildlife. Spend two nights at the Blackbuck Lodge, where colonial charm is fused with your safari experience. Cottages feature a deck looking over the bush, granite floors and vintage stone walls. Tonight, you are treated to a dinner in the bush; a truly romantic experience lit by lanterns and a bonfire with an open barbeque under the stars.

DAY 11

Velavadar Blackbuck National Park – Game Drives and Dinner Beneath The Stars

Your professional guide is on hand to help you spy wildlife and migratory bird species flying from Central Asia, Siberia and Europe. In both the morning and afternoon, investigate the far corners of this park which houses hyena, flamingo, stork, crane, raptor, eagle and an abundance of flora. Spend one last dinner under a blanket of stars, reflecting on the incredible wildlife opportunities witnessed on your India journey.

DAY 12

Delhi – Flight to Delhi – Evening at Rest

Relish a leisurely breakfast and relaxing morning. After lunch, transfer to the airport for your flight to Delhi, where you’ll spend the evening at the Imperial Hotel, an oasis of calm and understated luxury in one of the world’s busiest cities.

DAY 13

Delhi – Culinary Experience and Historical Tour by Rickshaw

Savor your morning coffee, then meet your guide for a morning of culinary discovery. Stroll the bustling local fruit and vegetable markets to purchase ingredients which you will use in your cooking class. Learn about each spice and try your hand at preparing regional dishes. Sample your efforts over lunch, before an immersive afternoon of history, culture, and religion. Experience Old Delhi by rickshaw and marvel at how your driver safely navigates the insanity of traffic through sinuos streets and a throng of people. Then be awestruck by the incredible sights, sounds, and historic monuments peppered around the city. Delhi is a pleasant assault on your senses with an energy unrivaled around the world. Settle into your hotel for the evening for a well-earned rest.

DAY 14

Departure Day

Today you’ll transfer to the airport for your international flight home. An appreciation for all the distinctive moments of your journey will be etched in your memory, heart, and soul.