India’s Big Cats Tour
February 22, 2022 - March 20, 2022£2277 – £7240
India’s Big Cats Tour
India is home to an incredible number of different species and with 16 species of wild cat known from within its borders India is the world hotspot for cat diversity. This tour goes in search of 4 of the country’s big cats; Snow Leopards, Tigers, Lions and Leopards. Along with these big cat species there are other smaller cat species which can be seen throughout this tour. In visiting the northern Indian state of Ladakh and the Himalayas for snow leopards there are chances for Eurasian Lynx and Pallas’s cat (although Pallas’s cat is very rare), then down south in Corbett you will have chances for Indochinese leopard cat and jungle cat and then in Gujarat you have the possibility of jungle cats, rusty-spotted cats and desert cats.
This is one of the most comprehensive cat focused tours of India and globally and for anyone interested in cats this tour is the perfect one for you.
Top Animals on Tour
Tour Dates: 22/02/2022 – 20/03/2022
Duration: 26 nights
Type / Focus: Big Cats
On arrival at Delhi Indira Ghandi International Airport you will meet your local guide / driver and be transferred to your accommodation. The rest of the day is free at your leisure, you can organise a city tour with your guide or the hotel reception or just relax around the hotel. You will be briefed on the time you will be collected for your flight tomorrow.
This morning you will leave the hotel and be transferred to the airport to catch the morning flight north to Leh, the capital of Ladakh. Once in Leh you will be met by another local guide who will transfer you to your accommodation for your first taste of life in the North West of India. Your hotel has views out over Leh and the Himalayas. The time spent in Leh before hand is very important as it give your body time to get used to the increased altitude and lower oxygen levels before the trek begins. You will have the afternoon to relax and explore if you wish and during the evening you will meet your naturalist guide for the trek. He will give you a full briefing on the trek followed by a true welcome to Ladakh dinner in the hotel. The hotel is located only a few minutes walk away from the local market, bank and post office. The food here is also very good as the hotel grows the majority of its ingredients on site in its own vegetable garden.
These are your two full acclimitisation days around the city of Leh. During these couple of days you will explore the city and the market which is a great melting pot for Leh and as far as introductions to the Buddhist way of life there are few better. You are free to explore and barter and enjoy the sites, smells and sounds of this market place. There are some true characters here and for the photographer in you some great shots of the hardy Ladahki people. During the winter the market offers just about the only ready source of food and supplies as most roads are closed. During the afternoon you are free to choose a place for lunch and continue souvenir shopping afterwards. During the guided walking tour of this incredible Himalayan town you will visit Leh Palace. The palace overlooks the town in imposing fashion. Based on the iconic Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet it is one of the most impressive buildings in all of India. Over 200 years old the nine storey high is currently being restored; the roof offer superb views of the Stok Kangri and Zangskar mountain ranges. After the palace you will be taken to Victory Tower; here towering above the palace is a tower built to celebrate the victory of Ladahki soldiers over Balti Kashmiris in the 16th Century. You will also be taken on a birding trip around Shey marshes and the Indus valley where species such as ibisbill and solitary sandpipers can be seen. You will return to the accommodation for your evening meals on both of these days.
Hemis National Park
This morning after breakfast you will be collected from the hotel and taken towards Hemis National Park. The first part of the journey is driving along the Indus River Gorge. This is a dramatic entry to the park and one which will introduce you to the kind of terrain we have to scan for snow leopards. When you arrive at the end of the road your camping team including your local naturalist, a camp cook and his assistant, between 6-7 porters and or 3-4 mules will be together to make the final hike into the campsite. During the 2-3 hour walk into the campsite you should keep an eye out for wildlife, including snow leopards as you are well and truly in the kingdom of the snow leopard now. Once you arrive in the campsite you and your spotter will go and start scanning for snow leopards whilst the camp is established, and then returning to the campsite for your evening meal and your first night camping.
Hemis National Park
During the next 8 full days you will be in the company of your snow leopard spotter and spend the days scanning the hills and horizons for the elusive grey ghost. There are several main spotting locations in the park and your local guide will decide where to base yourself on a day to day basis. This will be based on recent sightings, speaking to other guides and other local conditions and considerations.
Snow leopards are of course very difficult to find and see but here in Hemis and particularly the Rumbak catchment area during winter they are seen with some regularity. This is mainly down to the incredible work in local community conservation programmes to promote the plight of the snow leopard. Their local knowledge is exceptional and you will soon realise what an integral part of tracking snow leopards the local Ladakhi people are.
Hemis National Park – Leh
Today will be your last day of of Hemis and your last day we could see a snow leopard. After breakfast at the camp you will begin the trek to Zingchen and the where you left the vehicle to start the trek on your arrival into Hemis. Here you meet the vehicle again and begin the drive back to Leh and your same accommodation as your previous nights in Leh and the hot showers, soft beds and refreshing beers are usually the first things people go for on arrival! You will have your evening meal in the hotel before heading back south to the hustle and bustle of Delhi tomorrow.
After an early breakfast this morning you will be transferred by private vehicle to the airport in time to catch the flight back to Delhi. On arrival in Delhi you will be met by your Delhi guide and transferred in another private vehicle to your accommodation. You will be staying in the same hotel as the previous night in Delhi and the rest of the day is for you to do as you please. The rest of the day will be free at your leisure.
This day is a buffer day as the weather when flying back from Ladakh can be unpredictable and sometimes we need an extra day planned in, in case the flight on day 5 is cancelled and you have an extra day in Leh. So assuming you flew into Delhi yesterday this day will be reserved for a full day city tour of Delhi. Visiting locatons such as Red Fort (ancient Mughal empire palace), Jama Masjid (one of the largest mosques in the world with a capacity for 20,000 worshipers), Chandi chowk (a taste of India in one of the largest wholesale market places), Jantar Mantar (ancient astrological observatory), Raj Ghat (the cremation spot of the great mahatma Ghandi), Feroz Shah Kokla Fort (ancient Mughal fort), Rashtrapti Bhawan (colonial palace), India Gate (memorial in the style of the Arch d’Triumph for 70,000 Indian soldiers lost in World War I), Humayun’s Tomb (tomb in the Mughal style for the emperor Humayan), Qutb Minar (Muslim monument) and the Lotus Temple (spectacular modern temple to celebrate all religions). These are some incredible buildings and the history of the city is clear for all to see as you tour around with the help of an expert guide.
Corbett National Park
This morning you will be transferred north to Corbett National Park (~5 hours) in your own private vehicle. When you arrive at the accommodation you will have time to unpack and settle in. If we arrive in time (depending on traffic) you will also have your first safari into the park this afternoon. Jeep safaris are easily the best way to cover a large amount of ground and therefore increase your chances of seeing wildlife. This safari will focus in the ‘tourist zone’ of the national park and will serve as a good introduction to some of the more common wildlife to be seen here. On your return to the vilas you will have your evening meal and prepare for your first full day inside Corbett tomorrow.
Corbett National Park
Over the next 3 days you will enter the park in the morning and afternoon as you go in search of tigers and other wildlife known from Corbett. During the drives through the jungles of Corbett and following the course of the Ramganga River, there is the chance of seeing one of both species of crocodilian which inhabit the park. One is the fish-eating gharial and the other the mammal specialist predator the mugger crocodile. As you drive along we will be looking out for the tell tale signs of tigers, leopards, fishing cats, jungle cats and other carnivore species. If alarm calls, kill sites, tracks or other signs of carnivores are heard or spotted we will spend some time searching for the predator. You will have morning and afternoon safaris into the park and the core area. The core area is the best for wildlife watching inside Corbett. This is because this area has a better level of protection and no unauthorised people are allowed here. You will return to your accommodation for your meals in between wildlife watching excursions into the park.
This morning you will have one final morning jeep safari before breakfast, then you will begin your journey back to Delhi (~4-5 hours). Once you are back in Delhi you will have the rest of the day to do as you please. You can either sight see, souvenir shop or just relax ahead of tomorrows adventure into Gujurat.
Delhi – Gir National Park
After an early breakfast this morning you will be transferred by private vehicle to the airport in time to catch the flight to Ahmedabad. On arrival at Ahmedabad (the closest town with a flight from Delhi) you will meet your new local guide / driver and be transferred to your accommodation close to Sasan Gir National Park (~6 hours). Today will be a long day and when you arrive at the lodge you will have the rest of the day and evening to relax and prepare for tomorrow’s trip into the park.
Gir National Park
Over the next 3 full days you will be taken deep into the park here in search of the famous Asiatic lions and other desert speciality wildlife. This large protected area is home to the only remaining population of Asiatic lions in the world and a population that has grown from around 20 to over 400 in little over 100 years. This success is so good that there are serious discussions about releasing some of the lions into neighboring protecting areas. But as well as lions there is also a large leopard population here, this is mainly due to the large prey numbers. Herds of onager (Indian wild ass), blackbuck, nilgai, chital, sambar, chinkara, chousingha and wild boar are all seen with some level of regularity. You will return during the heat of the day for your lunch and some relaxation when the sun is at its highest. It is not just the mammalian life here which is fantastic but there are many species of birds here and with over 300 species recorded from the park this is a birders paradise. But the abundant wildlife does not stop there as there are large numbers of reptiles here, such as mugger crocodiles (the largest numbers in India), pythons, tortoises and monitor lizards. All in all you will quickly see that, despite the seeming emptiness of the park the wildlife is prolific here.
This morning after an early breakfast you will be transferred back to Ahmedabad (~6 hours) in time to catch your return flight back to Delhi. Once you arrive back in Delhi you will have the rest of the day and evening to do as you please. You are welcome to sight-see, souvenir shop or just relax before your farewell meal. You will have the use of our zoologist escort throughout the evening if you want to visit any sights in Delhi which you have not seen yet he will be around to arrange your travel to and from these monuments.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home. Alternatively you can arrange your return flight home from Ahmedabad and therefore fly home on day 26 and not onto Delhi as mentioned above.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
This tour visits three distinct locations which will have very different weather conditions. Firstly the weather in Hemis National Park during winter is very cold. The temperature can vary from -20 degrees C to 15 degrees C and the sun can be very strong. There is always the threat of snow and blizzards, so you have to be prepared for; well Himalayan winter weather!
From here it is warmer (but not sweltering hot) Corbett National Park, before hot and dry Gujarat. In general we do not expect any rain at this time of year, snow when in Ladakh is common. But usually dry throughout the rest of the trip.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), where mentioned in the itinerary. Note that some meals when in cities are not included. There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day (not during the trek). We have our own private air conditioned vehicle with an excellent local driver. We have brilliant local guides, snow leopard expert and zoologist escorts (where available).
All our excursions including safari drives, treks, guided walks and park entrance fees are also included.
All camping equipment when in Ladakh are included as are fees for porters, mules and cook are included in the cost as well.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or scope as well as appropriate clothing (which needs to both cater for the very cold Himalayan part and the dry and hot Gujurat part of the trip); which should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as very warm winter clothes, such as down jackets & trousers, walking socks, gloves, hats, scarfs, fleeces etc. Broken in and comfortable walking boots are essential. Sleeping bags are also needed. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day. All your gear should be in one bag and that bag should not weigh more than 15kg (if you intend for the porter to carry your bag), it is a good idea to have important and personal belongings in one smaller rucksack that you will carry yourself, as the porters may walk ahead or behind and so getting things from your large bag maybe more difficult to get out whilst on the move,
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. We have also provided night vision goggles which can record, so you can monitor the area after dark, as well as camera traps which will be set up around the hide for your trip and any pictures / videos taken with these will be free for you to have and use.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any departure taxes applicable when leaving are not included (but may be included in the cost of your flights), Please check this before hand. Due to new permitting regulations in Hemis National Park there is the optional extra for the use of camera traps to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend KLM, Air France, Air India or British Airways as a good airlines for flights to Delhi. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for these flights is www.odopo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for India. These are only obtainable in advance from your local embassy. The easiest way to find information is by visiting http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk/ (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit India, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting India as soon as you have decided on this trip.
There is a risk of altitude sickness during this trek. This can affect everyone and anyone and has no bearing on physical fitness, even if you have not suffered before you may now and if you have suffered in the past you may not on this trip. We take all precautions including many acclimatisation days so please speak to your GP to get more information.
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