Day 1 – Arrive Delhi
Arrive in Delhi, the capital of India, where you are met and transferred to your hotel.
Day 2 – Delhi – Ranthambore National Park
After lunch take the afternoon Janshatabdi Express train, with air-conditoning and excellent views of the Rajasthan countryside, to Sawai Madhopur, your base for visiting the stunning Ranthambore National Park.
Day 3 – Ranthambore National Park Safari
Today take a morning and afternoon game drive by shared canter and try to spot the majestic Bengal Tiger and other wild animals. The varied landscapes within the park are attractive and the wildlife safari by purpose built safari vehicles is an enjoyable experience even if wildlife proves elusive.
Day 4 – Ranthambore National Park – Jodhpur
Early this morning visit the magnificent old Ranthambore Fort, now populated only by monkeys. There are fabulous views over the National Park, and this is also a great place for bird watching. This transfer to Sawai Madhopur railway station to board the train to Jodhpur also known as the Blue City and the second largest in Rajasthan.
Day 5 – Jodhpur – Bhenswara
In the morning you visit the impressive and invincible 15th century Meherangarh Fort, a quite astonishing feat of architecture. Lunch taken, your journey takes you to the picturesque Aravalli hills of south west Rajasthan, bordering the great Thar desert. The terrain here is a unique mixture of hills, sand dunes and vivid ravines. The area is relatively untouched by tourism and offers a good insight into a traditional way of life.
Day 6 – Bhenswara
Today you explore the fascinating region around Bhenswara which is home to some of the more pastoral tribes of India. The locals are extremely welcoming, especially the delightful children who will tag along, pied-piper fashion. The rock-strewn region of Bhenswara is also the natural habitat for the elusive leopard and your host at Bhenswara is a keen tracker.
Day 7 – Mount Abu
This morning you drive from Bhenswara to the former hill station of Mount Abu. On arrival, you visit the magnificent Dilwara Temples, one of the finest examples of Jain architecture in India.
Day 8- Little Rann of Kutch
Over the border into Gujarat lies the Little Rann of Kutch. After some relaxation time, you visit nearby villages, inhabited by a number of interesting communities. The women here are experts in embroidery using herringbone stitches interspersed with small mirrors, and occasional chain stitches for peacocks and other motifs.
Day 9 – Exploring the Little Rann of Kutch
This morning, at dawn, you will take a first safari drive to the wetlands area of the Little Rann of Kutch: expect a huge range of birds during the winter period – Desert wheatears, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, stints, plovers, stilts, ruff, godwits, Steppe eagle, Dalmatian pelican, storks, cranes – the list seems endless. Either have a picnic breakfast, or return late to eat at the hotel. After lunch and some leisure time, take an afternoon safari in search of the indigenous and rare Indian Wild Ass.
Day 10 – Dasada – Junagardh – Gondal
This morning you depart early and drive to Gondal. En route you stop at the town of Junagadh, a sizeable town with atmospheric narrow streets in its evidently historically wealthy old quarter and notable in particular for the ruins of Uparkot Fort dating back to 300 BC. After the visit you contine to Gondal and visit the 18th century Naulakha Palace which also houses a private palace museum with some interesting artefacts. Here too you can savour a taste of the royal lifestyle in the Maharaja’s palace, now a heritage hotel and experience the eerie thrill of the passage overhead of Indian fruit bats as dusk gathers.
Day 11 – Gondal – Sasangir – Asiatic Lions
After breakfast take a look at the incredible collection of vintage cars on show at the Orchard Palace belonging to the Maharaja. Continue to Gir Forest National Park. On arrival you will have some time at leisure before you embark on an exciting safari around mid afternoon in search of the Asiatic Lion and other wildlife.
Day 12 – Sasan Gir – Palitana
For those that wish to, venture back to into the park early in search of wildlife. The safari starts at around 6am and should finish around 9:30am. Alternatively, relax in the mango and lemon groves of the hotel grounds, either enjoying the views from the rood-top terraces or your verandah, or venturing down to the rustic bird-hide at the edge of the property. Later this morning we drive to Palitana.
Day 13 – Palitana
Early this morning, around 6am to avoid the heat of the day, you ascend the steps to the top of the hill to see the temples and enjoy the magnificent views. Including those you pass along the way, there are 863 magnificent marble Jain temples, and it is likely you will see many white-clad pilgrims joining you for the ascent. From the top of the hill, a breathtaking panoramic view of the Gulf of Cambay and the countryside makes an unforgettable picture for any traveller. The main temple is quietly bustling with devotional acts and makes for a compelling and privileged visit. You will have plenty of time to enjoy the temples before descending back to the town. Overnight at Vijay Vilas Palace, or similar. (B)
Day 14 – Palitana – Velavadar National Park (Driving time – approx. 2.5 hours)
After breakfast we drive through exensive plains, which gives way to throny scrub, to Velavadar National Park. On arrival, you will have some leisure time before you embark on a late afternoon safari though the park. You will be on the lookout for the beautiful Blackbuck antelope and, if you are lucky, the endangered Indian Wolf. The birdlife and in particular the raptors are also very impressive. Overnight Blackbuck Lodge. (BLD)
Day 15 – Velvadar National Park – Ahmedabad (Driving time – approx. 3 hours)
For those that wish another drive into the park is possible this morning, but if you prefer you can relax in the beautiful surroundings of the lodge. Later, you depart for Ahmedabad where you will transfer to the airport for your evening flight (BL)
For those that wish, extra nights can be booked in Ahmedabad on request.
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