Taj Mahal, India (Dreamstime)
List Words : Amy Horsfield | 28 April

8 Indian trips of a lifetime

Experience India's vibrant culture and rub shoulders with wildlife on these 8 incredible trips

1. Experience the best of South India

On Peregrine's 15-day Essence of South India tour you'll travel along India's golden coastline, visit The National Gandhi Museum, track elephants at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, and chug through the Kerala Backwaters. Stop over in atmospheric Kochi to explore antique shops and spice bazaars, take a ferry around the islands, and marvel at the iconic Chinese fishing nets.

Sunset over chinese fishing nets in Kochi (Dreamstime)
Sunset over chinese fishing nets in Kochi (Dreamstime)

You'll discover diverse culture, brush up on your history and rub shoulders with wildlife on this classic South Indian tour that takes you from Chennai to Kovalam Beach.

2. Have wild encounters in Central India

Central India is bustling with wildlife from leopards to sloth bears, hyena, gaur and tigers. On Chinkara Journeys Central Indian Wildlife tour you will take you to some of India's best, and quietest, tiger reserves.

Cave paintings at Bhimbetka (Dreamstime)
Cave paintings at Bhimbetka (Dreamstime)

Track them on foot in Satpura National Park, see 30,000 year-old cave paintings in Bhimbetka and a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site rarely visited by tourists.

Luxurious rainforest lodges will be your home throughout this 11-day tour so you will always be close to the action.

3. Soak up the best of South Indian culture

Wendy Wu's Kerala and the Southern Highlights tour shows you South India in all its splendour leaving no stone unturned.

Beginning in Chennai, you will explore the bustling city and relax on Marina Beach, the second longest in the world. Your journey continues by car, train and boat as you travel the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, drive through the rolling hills of the Western Ghats to Munnar and cruise through the Keralan Backwaters.

Tea plantation valley in Western Ghats (Dreamstime)
Tea plantation valley in Western Ghats (Dreamstime)

Your trip also includes a visit to the Srinivas Silk House, the 12th Century temples of Belur and Halebid and the breathtaking Maharaja’s Palace in Mysore.

4. Get close to India's wild cats

Team up with wildlife photographer Nick Garbutt on Wildlife Worldwide's India's Wild Cats tour. This is a rare opportunity to see India's most fascinating animals and gain some valuable photography skills along the way.

Wild tiger (Dreamstime)
Wild tiger (Dreamstime)

The Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve has built a good reputation as a reliable tiger-spotting and photography location and attracts few tourists leaving you free to observe the animals in peace. You'll even get the chance to travel by 4x4. 

But tigers aren't the only wild cats on the agenda. You'll camp out at Jawai Hills in Rajasthan that is home to 50 leopards, the densest population in India, so you are almost guaranteed a close encounter with these famously secretive animals.

5.  Take your family on a trek across India

There can be no better introduction colourful and vibrant India than this 13-day Family Indian Discovery through the North and South regions.

Kathakali show in Kerala (Dreamstime)
Kathakali show in Kerala (Dreamstime)

Take your children to see the world-renowned Kathakali show, a dazzling Indian dance-drama, and even try your hand at face painting to rival the performers elaborate style. Visit the astronomical Jantar Mantar Observatory, built in the 18th century by the Rajput ruler Maharaja Jai Singh, explore Kerala's backwaters on a houseboat and stay with a local family in the 'Vanilla County' plantation in the Western Ghats. 

6. Treat yourself on this luxurious tiger safari

Get up-close to tigers at four of India's greatest tiger reserves on Wildlife Worldwide's Tigers in Luxury tour.

You will visit the rejuvenated Panna, that is rebuilding its tiger population after being devastated by poachers and Bandhavgarh, that boasts the highest population of breeding leopards. Also in the list is the emerging Kanha National Park, whose wildlife could have been lifted from The Jungle Book, and avoid the crowds in Pench.

Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh (Dreamstime)
Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh (Dreamstime)

Your accommodation includes a traditional stone cottage, a glamorous tented camp and even an elegant tree-house where you can listen to the wildlife. And when you're not out encountering India's many animals on a driven safari or on-foot trek, you can indulge in a little me-time at the spa, pool or have a snooze in the tranquil countryside.

7.  Learn from the experts on a wildlife tour in Ranthambhore

If you are looking for a truly authentic Indian safari, look no further than Wildlife Trails India wildlife tour.

This 7-day trip gets you to the heart of the action whilst private tours takes you away from the chaos of this immensely popular National Park. 

Ranthambhore National Park (Dreamstime)
Ranthambhore National Park (Dreamstime)

The beauty and diversity of Ranthambhore has made it one of the most popular wildlife parks in India but that's where your guides come in, escorting you through the crowds.

Your week's itinerary includes private excursions to seek blackbuck antelope, riverside birding, local villages and of course jeep safaris with expert leaders.

8. Explore a quieter side of South India

Audley's South India's temples and backwaters 13-day tour is designed to give you a taste of what this beautiful area has to offer.

Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram, India (Dreamstime)
Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram, India (Dreamstime)

Your journey takes you on a sunset tour of the Shore Temple, a magnificent example of Pallava architecture that overlooks the Bay of Bengal. Stay in a 19th century merchant home in a remote village and soak up some French culture on a guided tour of Pondicherry, a former colonial enclave. You will also get a front-row seat to the Sri Meenakshi temple's extraordinary ceremony that sees a gathering of hundreds of pilgrims and an intoxicating aroma of incense. 

Main Image: Taj Mahal, India (Dreamstime)