Ideal for families, this two-week itinerary takes in the best jungle locations – the national parks of Kanha, Pench and Satpura – with a variety of activities suitable for children and adults alike, to enjoy India’s rich wildlife to the full.
Searching for tigers by jeep in lush Kanha is exhilarating enough, but it’s also where you meet Tara, a 60-year-old elephant, and take her to bathe - something which children will delight in. Next on this itinerary is Satpura, where you can look for sloth bear, endemic giant Malabar squirrel and rich birdlife, and enjoy its diverse fauna away from the crowds, with the flexibility to go at your own pace. If lucky, you may even see your first leopard on a night drive. And because no trip to India would be complete without it, you end in Agra to witness the most extraordinary testament to love: the Taj Mahal.
Day1: Depart UK
Day2: Arrive Delhi
On arrival in Delhi you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax.
Accommodation: Delhi, 1-night hotel
Day3: Fly to Jabalpur & drive to Kanha; jeep safari in Kanha National Park
Early in the morning transfer back to the airport and fly to Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh state, then continue to your lodge in Kanha National Park (approximately three to four hours' drive). After lunch venture out by jeep into the picturesque forest of sal and banyan trees, whose lush vegetation harbours a great variety of wildlife. Here you might see your first tiger, or at least hear the alarm calls of langur monkeys disturbed by its approach, and spot some fantastic birdlife. On returning to the lodge in the late afternoon, there’s time to relax before dinner with the lovely team of British volunteers.
Day4: Explore Kanha National Park & bathe with Tara the elephant
Return to Kanha’s core zone this morning for a jungle adventure, taking a different route for hopefully even more wildlife encounters. After lunch back at the lodge, meet Tara the elephant and take her for a short walk down to the river, whose natural pools of crystalline water are perfect for a refreshing bathe. If feeling adventurous, you can even join her in the water – she’s extremely gentle and just loves bath-time! You have tea and biscuits down by the river and watch Tara having a pedicure before heading back to the lodge.
Day5: Transfer to Kanha’s Muki zone; nature walk & jeep safari
Following a late breakfast, drive to the Mukhi side of the park and check into your accommodation there. There should be ample time to go on a leisurely nature walk around the property with your guide, accompanied by the children of your hosts, an Anglo-Indian couple, who will happily introduce your kids to all sorts of lizards, insects and creepy-crawlies.
After lunch take another private jeep safari – this time in the Mukhi Zone, which offers an entirely different experience – and see some different animals and scenery. In the camp, you can enjoy the experience of staying in your very own large African-style safari tent close to the waterhole, and marvel at the sounds of the jungle by night.
Day6: Jeep safari in Mukhi or Kisli zone & canoeing at camp
Early this morning you head out on a jeep safari for a final opportunity to see Kanha’s most charismatic wildlife. After lunch there’s a chance to visit the local village and its market, explore the surroundings by bicycle, or join activities at the camp such as canoeing on the lagoon. Effectively a small natural reserve, the lagoon hosts an array of birdlife, which includes kingfishers, cormorants and egrets.
Day7: Drive to Pench & afternoon jeep safari
This morning transfer to Pench National Park (a drive of around four hours). After a relaxing lunch (and possibly a refreshing dip in the pool), take an afternoon jeep safari in Pench’s core zone, entering via Turia Gate.
Pench is another good place to try and see tigers, plus other carnivores such as jackals and wild dogs, and their prey, which consists largely of white-spotted deer, sambar and nilgai. Although it lies not far from Kanha, Pench’s scenery is very different, and the typical habitat of teak forest with large open areas making the park’s wildlife considerably easier to see.
Days9-11: Explore Satpura National Park by jeep, on foot & by boat
You will have a full three days to explore Satpura National Park, which isn’t at all crowded and is very family-friendly. This is the only national park in India that can be explored by foot or by boat, which ensures there are a variety of activities to make the most of your wildlife experience. Each day of your stay is built around two included activities, such as a morning or afternoon jeep safari, nature walk, canoe safari on the Satpura River, an exciting night drive or a boat safari.
Satpura has a high density of sloth bears, so the chances of seeing one on your jeep safari are high. The park also has a large population of leopards – you might come across one on a night drive, if your're lucky, along with flying foxes, fruit bats, jungle cat and other nocturnal creatures. During the day, there’s a vast array of birdlife to be seen, and also the endemic giant Malabar squirrel, sambar and white-spotted deer, plus langur monkeys.
At the lodge you can relax by the pool, or in your private cottage surrounded by nature and birdlife.
Day12: Drive to Bophal & train to Agra
After a relaxing start and a late breakfast, drive to Bophal and board a train to Agra, travelling in comfortable air-conditioned executive class. You will have an ample packed lunch, but will also be served a variety of cooked food in your coach. Travelling by train in India is still something of an adventure – you can sit back and enjoy the scenery, but it’s well worth taking a walk through the carriages to see a cross-section of Indian life. On reaching Agra in the evening, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Accommodation: Hotel in Agra, 2-nights
Day13: Visit Taj Mahal & Agra Fort
Today you will visit two of India’s foremost cultural sites: the magnificent white marble mausoleum of the Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site in its own right. Dating from the grand period of the Mughal Empire, it was the royal residence in the 16th and 17th centuries. Visit its many chambers and step back in history to imagine how life would have been for the royal family in those far-off times.
There is an option to take a guided tour with a tuk-tuk ride through Agra’s colourful food markets, followed by a cookery class in an impressive colonial-style building that operates as a home-stay. This will give you a deeper insight into everyday life in India and an opportunity to learn something of its renowned cuisine. After the class, you can either do a colonial walk in the city or a Mughal heritage walk, followed by a sunset visit to the Taj Mahal, when it is cooler and considerably less crowded.
Day14: Drive to Delhi; free afternoon
This morning drive back to Delhi to overnight in the centre of the city. The afternoon is deliberately let free, but there is an opportunity to join an optional city tour, explore the city’s handicraft markets, or simply relax by the pool.
Accommodation: Hotel in Delhi, 1-night
Day15: Fly back to the UK
You should note: This suggested itinerary is tailor-made and can be easily adjusted to fit in with half term holidays.
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 15 daysfrom £3,695 pp: Child: £2,095
Duration and price excluding international flights: 14 daysfrom £2,995 pp: Child: £1,545
Single supplement: From £1,095
When to go: Oct-Apr
Kanha National Park offers some of India’s finest tiger viewing. The setting for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book', the undulating grassland and deciduous forest also supports a further 22 species of mammal and its waterholes create tranquil spots for bird watching in the surrounding jungle.
Where: Madhya Pradesh State
Ideal for viewing: Asiatic jackal, barasingha, Indian gazelle, nilgai, tiger
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Vehicle safaris, Tiger safaris
Pench National Park is renowned for the richness of its flora and fauna. Nestling in the Satpura Hills, it takes its name from the nearby river, which winds through the park. Its most famous residents are tigers, but is also home to large herds of Indian bison and four endangered species of vulture.
Where: Madhya Pradesh
Ideal for viewing: chital, nilgai, sambar, tiger, gaur
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Vehicle safaris, Tiger safaris
Satpura National Park is one of India’s most intriguing wildlife destinations. Walking safaris are possible here and hides have been built in its meadows, forested plateaux and mountains, which are shared by a number of mammal species, including sloth bear, leopard and bison (gaur).
Where: Madhya Pradesh State
Ideal for viewing: sloth bear, wild dog, nilgai, sambar, leopard
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Vehicle safaris, Bear watching
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
for further recommendations.
Established by a family of conservationists in 1982, Kipling Camp is one of India’s oldest wildlife camps, a truly magical environment from which to explore neighbouring Kanha National Park and its wildlife-rich waterholes. An ideal base for families, the camp is home to Tara, the world’s most famous Asian elephant.
Reni Pani Jungle Lodge is an exquisitely designed conservation and wildlife focused lodge located close to Satpura National Park. Set in 15 hectares of striking forest, it offers 12 luxury cottages, a jungle pool located along the seasonal stream, and waterholes that attract several species of birds and animals.
Nestling on the edge of Kanha National Park, this camp is an oasis of tranquility with six spacious canvas tents set in young woodland. Overlooking a pool fed by two natural springs, you can expect to see a variety of birdlife, including kingfishers, cormorants and hundreds of egrets.
Tiger Corridor is a luxurious camp set in lush green forest, on the buffer zone of Pench National Park. Accommodation consists of 15 sumptuous cottages and eight well equipped air conditioned safari tents, all with en suite facilities, offering a real camping experience without compromising on comforts.