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Tiger Trail - March 2020
Post: #1
Have just returned from Tiger Trail tour and almost caught up on my sleep.

This tour does involve a lot of coach travel and a number of early starts, so here's a run down of the tour we did.

9 of us set out from the UK arriving in Delhi on 28 February and met up with our tour manager Kim Clark and 7 other members of the group who were doing the Tiger Trail as a follow on from the Invitation to India tour.  In total there were 16 of us in the group, 8 men and 8 women which meant shorter queues when we stopped for comfort breaks.

Day 1 - given the packed itinerary, Kim made a change so once we'd had a chance to freshen up, we did the trip to the step well and Ghandi's house in teh afternoon before our welcome dinner in teh evening.

Day 2 - we headed to Dholpur, after a lunch stop near Agra fort we visited the fort and then headed to the Taj Mahal, for those who had done the Invitation to India immediately before the Tiger trail this was a chance to revisit the fort and Taj Mahal and explore areas they hadn't had the chance to see on their first visit.  We arrived at the hotel after 7pm and went straight to dinner.  Most of us rooms with their own walled courtyard and private pool, while a couple had presidential suites.

Day 3 - our only chance for a lie in before heading off mid morning for the optional river cruise in search of wildlife.  We had an afternoon at leisure and Kim organised a tour of the palace and a trip to the local market where we got to experience the packed streets and mad traffic as well as meeting the locals.

Day 4 - we set out at 8:00 for Orchha stopping en route to visit Gwalior eventually arriving at our hotel in time for a late lunch.  After checking into our rooms we were out again to visit the palace of Jahangir Mahal, then back to the hotel before walking to the Ram Raja temple.

Day 5 - Another 8:00 departure as we headed to Khajuraho arriving aroung 13:00 for lunch before heading to our nearby hotel.  After a free afternoon we went to the local dance show before heading back for dinner and an early night.

Day 6 - A 5:15 start as we set out for our first game drive at Panna National Park, at that time of morning it was pretty cold and most of the group remembered to wear something warm.  After several hours including a breakfast stop in the park we were rewarded with our first tiger sighting albeit a brief sighting that most of of got to see before heading back to the hotel late morning.  After lunch we headed to the Khajaraho temples to see the erotic carvings, although rain meant none of us were keen to explore further

Day 7 - Another 8:00 start as we drove to Bandhavgarth National Park, this was a long journey along bumpy roads, although the rum and coke provided by Kim and our local guide was gratefully received, eventually arriving at our next hotel mid afternoon, wifi here was only available in the reception and even then it was a bit patchy.  One thing we discoverd early on was no bar! but luckily Kim arranged for the hotel staff to go to the local town to buy supplies to keep us going during out 2 day stay here.

Day 8 - A 5:45 departure for our next game drive, we were spread over 4 jeeps and by the time we stopped for breakfast in the park only one group had been lucky enough to see a tiger, this time she walked across the road right in front of us allowing us time to get a few photos.  We arrived back at the hotel late morning, after lunch we set off for an afternoon game drive, the rain started to pour down but we were reluctant to have the roof covers down as we wouldn't get to see much.  After problems getting into the park because of mistakes on the lists of who was on what jeep (some were in 2 jeeps, one was missed off and one of the group forgot his passport) we eventually got into the park an hour late.  This time all 4 jeeps were together and we got to see a tiger almost straight away spending the next 2 hours watching and trying to predict where they would go so we could continue to follow them.

Day 9 - Another early start, 6:30 departure as we started the long drive to Kanha National Park, once again rum and coke helped us get through the final stages of the journey, arriving mid afternoon with a chance to enjoy a swim or chance to relax before dinner.

Day 10 - A 5:30 departure for our first game drive of the day, this park is bigger than those we had previously visited and once again we were on 4 jeeps all heading off in different directions, but luckily all of the group got to see tigers as well as the other wildlife in the park.  After a late morning return to the lodge for lunch we headed back to the park for 15:00 for our final game drive of the tour; by 17:30 none of us has spotted a tiger and then finally one group got to see the final tiger of the tour wandering past a group of deer who were very wary of the tiger, but she kept on going.

Day 11 - After an early breakfast we left at 6:30 for the long journey to Mumbai, about 8 hours on the coach, helped with a final cup of rum and coke followed by a couple of hours waiting for our flight eventually arriving at the hotel at 19:30 for our farewell dinner.

Day 12 - We were leaving at 9:30, but as it was the Holi festival a couple of us went for a stroll along the beach to experience the festival and arrived back at the hotel with our faces smeared with powder paint, only to be told by the hotel we had to wash it off befor going inside.  13 of us left today, leaving 3 behind, one doing an extra day in Mumbai and 2 going on to Kerela to combine 3 tours into a 28 day experience of India.

All in all I really enjoyed this tour despite all of the early starts and long coach trips, my one regreat is that the tour planners didn't think to make this a festival special and add an extra day so that we could properly experience the Holi festival, so maybe they will take note if this tour is running in later years and coincides with the festival.

We were lucky with just 16 on the group in that the number was not too big to make comfort stops a long drawn our process.  Kim was an excellent tour manager and having done many tours in India was able to sort out any problems that arose.

If you are considering this tour, please bear in mind there are long coach trips on bumpy roads and on many occassions comfort breaks were a stop by a bush or tree at the side of the road or a smelly loo at a petrol station, so if thats not your cup of tea do think carefully before booking.

Tim
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Post: #2
Hi Tim

Great to have met you on our India adventure! I do have a photo of you and Di on the beach Holi style. If you haven’t got a copy then I could email?

Will comment further later on and let you know how my super extra day in Mumbai went - off to the shops now - will miss all those catered meals and breakfast buffets!  Rolleyes

Oh - and change my forum photo to something a bit more Indian!
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Post: #3
Hi Tim

Great review,spot on with everything. many thanks for doing it.

My only other comment would be to have an extra night in Mumbai on all the tours because we didn't get to see Mumbai at all, having arrived at 7pm ish and departing at 9.45 am the following day.

Was disappointed we couldn't stay longer on the beach for Holi.
I have a couple of fairly good photos of you with the locals on the beach and like Diane I would be happy to send them to you via email if you let me have your email address. JY can give you my email address privately if necessary not via this forum.
The two who were travelling on to Kerala did go to Mumbai beach for Holi before their flight. It seems at least the young lady in question had an amazing time. I have seen beautiful photos of her covered in every colour possible, sporting huge smiles and certainly enjoying Holi with the locals.

Enjoy your Uganda tour!

Best wishes
Di
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Post: #4
Thanks Tim for the review. I am very keen to do this tour one day as would love to see a tiger in the wild. Not sure if I fancy a loo by the bush though!

Jaya
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Post: #5
Thanks for an enjoyable read Tim. Sounds like a good time was had.

Not sure about those long drives mind you !

Just ‘gone through the motions’ and paid the Uganda balance ...
Hard for me to see it going ahead in June. I’m expecting lockdown by then given current virus expectations.
Maybe a pleasure deferred though ...

Cheers,
Roger
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Post: #6
(13/03/2020, 06:25 PM)Jaya Wrote: Thanks Tim for the review.  I am very keen to do this tour one day as would love to see a tiger in the wild.  Not sure if I fancy a loo by the bush though!

Jaya

Nice review Tim, Thanks for posting,  glad you all enjoyed and managed to get home, Jaya not keen on a loo in the bushes lol i rest my case ho ho

Regards

Dave
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Post: #7
Hi Dave

I really think that this Tiger Tour is your "cup of tea" as you would say! Lots of wildlife photography opportunities and as you actually like Indian food...

Best wishes
Di
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Post: #8
(16/03/2020, 05:02 PM)RogerT Wrote: Thanks for an enjoyable read Tim. Sounds like a good time was had.

Not sure about those long drives mind you !

Just ‘gone through the motions’ and paid the Uganda balance ...
Hard for me to see it going ahead in June. I’m expecting lockdown by then given current virus expectations.
Maybe a pleasure deferred though ...

Cheers,
Roger

Hi Roger

Just tried to pay my balance, but the message says office is closed so I'll try tomorrow, I've got my yellow fever jab arranged for tomorrow too, but as you say its looking like restrictions may prevent us from going, the FCO was already showing Uganda as requiring us to self isolate for 2 weeks from arrival.

But hopefully we will get to go at some point.

Tim
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Post: #9
Yes Tim, if I were a betting man .... ;-)

Very little chance of tour going ahead. Thanks for the heads up re FCO advice. Hadn’t seen that.
Interestingly I have my yellow fever jab on Friday. Will still get it done (unless Practice cancels it) as I’m looking at a Brazil Amazon/Pantanal trip in October which would likely require it too.
No point booking anything at the moment though as it’s still very early stages.
I’m not even confident about my Australia trip in February. Hopefully, things will have improved considerably by then and also for your Xmas trip down under !

Cheers,
Roger
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Post: #10
Roger

Turned up at boots for my 4pm yellow fever jab only to be told they have suspended them due to Coronavirus.

Luckily I work in Victoria and got an appointment at the local travel centre an hour later, so got my jab and certificate now.

I took the view the jab lasts for life so even if it doesn’t go ahead on the planned date, I’ll be prepared and won’t have to rush to get the jab at a later date.

Tim
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