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Spending seven nights at the unspoilt national park of Nagarhole, we focus our attention on a unique and beautiful big cat, a melanistic leopard (also known as a black panther).

The stunning melanistic leopard was made famous through the fictional character of Bagheera in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Although there is no guarantee of sighting this one individual, it has been seen relatively frequently in Nagarhole National Park in recent years. Nagarhole also offers the opportunity to view many more of India’s iconic wildlife and we hope to see tiger, dhole (Asian wild dog), leopard, sloth bear, Asian elephant, and a variety of spectacular birdlife.

Our seven nights in Nagarhole National Park are based at Kabini River Lodge, rated one of the ‘Top Five Wildlife Resorts in the World’ by Tatler Travel Guide. Along with this special accommodation and our focus on a specific individual representing a huge but hopefully rewarding challenge, this small group tour represents a true once in a lifetime opportunity.

Typical Itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

    We depart the UK on an overnight flight to Bengaluru (formerly know as Bangalore), arriving early the next morning.

  2. Day 2: Arrive Bengaluru & transfer to Nagarhole National Park

    On arrival at Bengaluru International Airport, we drive southwest to Nagarhole National Park via Mysuru (formerly known as Mysore). We should arrive in time for a late lunch and in the afternoon enjoy our first safari in the national park, returning after sunset.

    Accommodation: Kabini River Lodge, 7-nights

  3. Days 3-8 : Nagarhole National Park

    We have six full days to explore Nagarhole National Park, our days typically following a programme of morning and afternoon jeep safaris, with the principal aim of trying to see the black leopard that resides here. Our drives usually last around three to four hours, allowing time in the middle of the day to relax and unwind in the lodge grounds.Whilst we aim to have two drives a day, due to park management rules, on occasions it may be necessary to take a boat safari rather than a jeep safari, but we will try to limit these as much as possible.

    During our quest to see ‘the’ cat we are likely to encounter a fabulous array of other species including chital (spotted deer), sambar deer, grey langurs, chousingha (four-horned antelope), guar (Indian bison), dhole (Indian wild dog), sloth beer, Indian elephant, leopard, and the majestic tiger. There are also over 200 bird species that have been recorded in the park and Nagarhole is particularly noted for its large number of osprey.

  4. Day 9: Transfer to Bengaluru

    This morning we enjoy one final drive in Nagarhole before returning by road to Bengaluru where we overnight.

    Accommodation: Goldfinch Retreat, 1-night

  5. Day 10: Fly back to the UK

    Depart Bengaluru for our return flight to the UK, arriving later the same day.

You should note: The principal focus of this small group tour is to try and see the melanistic leopard that currently resides in Nagarhole National Park. However, it is feasible that we may be unsuccessful in our quest or, if we do see the cat, it may only be a fleeting glimpse. It is important to travel with this mind-set and enjoy everything the park has to offer, including its wonderful array of other Indian wildlife and variety of birdlife.

Key info

  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 10 days from £2,995 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 9 days from £2,170 pp
  • Single supplement: From £585
  • Group size: 6
  • Departures:
    1. , Limited spaces
    2. , Fully booked, Led by Bret Charman
  • Included in the price/package:
    • 1 night hotel in Bengaluru
    • 7 nights lodge in Nagarhole National Park
    • Most meals (breakfast only in Bengaluru, full board in Nagarhole)
    • Transfers
    • Park fees
    • Services of a leader
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip

Expert leader

Bret Charman

Photo of Bret Charman

Bret is an award-winning wildlife photographer with a background in the wildlife travel and safari industry.

After spending a year in Australia to pursue wildlife photography, he was rewarded with success at the prestigious Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition, as well as making the shortlist in Bird Photographer of the Year and Outdoor Photographer of the Year. Bret has experience leading groups in Europe, the Americas and in Africa – and has a real passion for African wildlife in particular.

Featured location:

Nagarhole National Park

Nagarhole is a mixture of forests and rolling hills, criss-crossed by streams, waterfalls and swamps. Formerly a Maharaja’s hunting reserve, it is now dedicated to saving wildlife, and is considered one of the best places in India to see elephant. In the summer months they congregate in large herds along the river.

  • Where: Karnataka State
  • Ideal for viewing: Asian elephant, striped hyena, Indian pangolin, brown mongoose, mouse deer
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris
Featured accommodation:

Kabini River Lodge

This is a typical Indian safari lodge, formerly the hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Mysore. It accommodates up to 50 guests in spacious rooms or cottages, and a wealth of wildlife can be found in nearby Nagarhole National Park, such as elephant, sambar, gaur and even sloth bear.