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.
Day1: Depart UK
We depart the UK on an overnight flight to Bengaluru (formerly know as Bangalore), arriving early the next morning.
Day2: 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.
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.
Day9: 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
Day10: 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.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 10 daysfrom £2,995 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 9 daysfrom £2,170 pp
Single supplement: From £585
Group size: 6
, Limited spaces, Led by Nick Acheson
, Fully booked
, Limited spaces, 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)
Nick Acheson lives where he grew up, in North Norfolk. He spent ten years in South America, travelled for three years in Asia and has worked with wildlife on every continent.
A conservationist by passion and commitment, since his return to the UK he has worked for Norfolk Wildlife Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and the Hawk and Owl Trust, and now lectures in ecology and conservation at Easton College. Having crossed the globe in search of wildlife, he is equally at home spotlighting in a Bornean rainforest, watching cheetahs in sub-Saharan Africa and snug in the Norfolk cottage he shares with his rescued bantam Beulah.
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.
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
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.