Day 1 – Arrive Delhi
Arrive in Delhi, the capital of India, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Florence Inn Hotel, New Delhi, or similar.
Day 2 – Orchha
Travel by express train to Jhansi. On arrival in Jhansi you will be met and transferred by a short, but picturesque 18km road route to Orchha, a tiny, but richly historic village in the north of Madhya Pradesh, one-time bastion of the Bundela dynasty.
Day 3 – Orchha
Today you start with a guided morning tour of Orchha. The huge monuments which once formed the capital of the Bundela kings now surround and dwarf, the small rural village of Orchha. The largest of these is the Palace complex, where the separate Raj Mahal and Jehangir Mahal boast a unique combination of Hindu & Muslim architecture, painted decorations, and tile work. You will also see the fantastic Chaturbhuj temple and the enormous cenotaphs by the river. In the afternoon, you are free to further explore the village on your own.
Day 4 – Khajuraho
Drive from Orchha to Khajuraho, renowned for its temples which represent the finest art and architecture of medieval India. Every inch of the outside – and much of the inside – of these temples is covered by superb stone carvings in delicate, sable-coloured sandstone. The sculptures are sublime and sensuous at the same time, from the famous erotic art to the beautifully carved boar statue. You will have the chance to visit the Khajuraho temples on a guided afternoon tour.
Day 5 – Bandhavgarh
Drive the fascinating road from Khajuraho to Bandhavgarh National Park (5h), crossing undulating, beautiful tree-clad scenery and skirting much of the preserved Madhya Pradesh landscape en route. Bandhavparh is one of the best places in India to spot a tiger and also home to a wide range of other game such as nilgai, jungle cat, wild boar, hyenas. It also boasts a plethora of birdlife which abounds throughout. This compact park with a core area of 105 sq km has the distinction of being the place in which the first white (albino) tiger was found.
Day 6 – Bandhavgarh
Morning and afternoon jeep safaris in Bandhavgarh National Park are escorted by a specialized naturalist for extensive wildlife viewing. Your day begins just before dawn with a wake-up call along with an invigorating cup of tea/coffee at the designated time. An open jeep awaits you to take you closer to the nature and, hopefully, to see the majestic tigers. Some neatly packed fruits are provided along with a bottle of mineral water for your jungle safari.
Day 7- Kanha
You drive from Bandhavgarh to Kanha National Park. This is the original Kipling country, of which he wrote so vividly in his ‘Jungle Books’. A similar abundance of wildlife species exists today in Kanha National Park, which is one of the largest sanctuaries in India covering an area of over 2,000 sq km. With its extensive grasslands and sal and bamboo forests, Kanha is often compared to Ngorongoro park in Tanzania. Ravines and hills make for eye-catching features, and undoubtedly Kanha's beauty is thrilling. The park is the only habitat of the rare hard-ground Barasingha deer (Cervus Duvaceli Branderi). It is also home to 21 other species of large mammals including a high density of tigers and an impressive bird list.
Day 8 - Kanha
Today you will join a morning and afternoon open jeep safari in the various zones of Kanha National Park. Each excursion takes approximately three hours. The zone is allotted during the online gate entry booking. The preferred zone is subject to availability. Apart from tigers, you can hope to see leopards, Indian bison, sambhar, blackbuck, wild dogs and birds galore. Days in Kanha start early, with one game drive at dawn, watching the sun streak through the foggy forest and listening to the forest come alive. After lunch, you will experience another game drive in the hotter afternoon, prime time for animals to go looking for a drink of water.
Day 9 – Bhoramdeo
Drive from Kanha to Bhoramdeo, an isolated village in north-western Chhattisgarh. The Maikal Hills that surround the village are home to many species of central India's spectacular wildlife as well as to the indigenous Baigas and Gonds, whose tolas (villages) dot the countryside. Immediately demanding closer inspection at Bhoramdeo is the idiosyncratic and striking 11th-century temple complex, a miniature local Khajuraho of similar antiquity but rather more exclusive; only 5 minutes’ stroll from your accommodation, it has an evening puja that you are free to attend and experience the enthusiastic burst of bells, smells and fireworks. You stay for three nights in a peaceful, simple but very well-run rural retreat. Your stay will be at extremely comfortable farmhouse-style accommodation, set in idyllic gardens, with a backdrop of local wildlife and rural landscapes, with food prepared in Chhattisgarhi village style.
Day 10 – Bhoramdeo
In the company of your local guide you will visit the villages around Bhoramdeo. You have the chance to spend an afternoon at a pottery village (trying your hand at the wheel or paddling the clay with your bare feet), a bamboo-craft centre, cow herders' villages and Agaria (blacksmith) villages. There are also many colourful weekly haats (tribal markets); with one falling locally on almost every day of the week, you will have the chance to visit at least one.
Day 11 – Bhoramdeo
Today it is possible to take a short trek into the forested hills to explore the local wildlife. The hills around Bhoramdeo are also home to a profusion of forest belt birds, from parrots to red-wattled lapwings. Wildlife species that have been seen in the area include the wolf, nilgai, dhole, hyena, leopard, porcupine, jungle cat - and even tigers, although you will be deemed extremely fortunate to catch a rare glimpse here. Short, local cycle rides, arranged by the retreat, are also a good way to explore, and the area is safe, quiet and friendly, perfect for solo pottering around.
Day 12 – Bhoramdeo – Raipur – Delhi
A three-hour drive takes you to Raipur airport, where you can board a flight back to Delhi.
Day 13 – Depart
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight (B)
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