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India Wildlife Safari 12 Feb

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All booked for this trip - would like to meet any others going too.

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Joined: 15/09/2010
Posts: 22

Have just returned from this trip ~ you should be in for a really great time. Kamal, the tour leader, knows his game reserves like the back of his hand ~ where there are Tigers around you will find them !

Train travel in India is an experience to be enjoyed. It works.

Be prepared for long days when visiting the National Parks ~ dawn till dusk but is worth it.

A good blend of touristy bits capped by the time spent in rural India.

Hope you get as good a group as ours ~ plenty of laughs: was great fun. Lucky you

Joined: 15/09/2010
Posts: 6

My partner and I have recently returned from this tour and to be honest found it a bit disappointing. As has been mentioned before Kamaal is a very good tour guide, knowledgeable, well organised and friendly.

The hotels, food and transport were all good. The local guides at Agra and other monuments were a pretty good too.

Our disappointment was largely to do with the way the game drives were carried out and lack of knowledge of the local safari "guides", supplied by the parks. These guides are required on each truck and seemed to be job creation scheme for the locals, no bad thing itself, but this didn't make for good guides since they were supplied on some sort of rota scheme (ie. there was no incentive for them to be better guides). Unlike reserves and national parks in Africa, Central America and Latin America, the Indian Parks seem completely obsessed with tracking down and spotting a single species, namely Tigers. Even in Uganda the local guides had some interest and knowledge regarding animals other than Gorillas, who are understanably Uganda's main tourist attraction. To put this in perspective, our least knowledgeable local guide from our many African trips, was better than any of the guides supplied in India. Obviously I'm not including Kamaal in this comment, he certainly knew his Tigers! Sure there is less wildlife to see than Africa in particular, but no effort seemed to be made of promoting or understanding the wildlife they are lucky enough to have.

To this end, we spend virtually all our game drives driving around the parks, often at speed, ignoring "less interesting" animals and birds concentrating almost entirely on finding and photographing tigers. Most visitors seemed happy with this. Our group was split into three for the game drives in Bandhavghar and Kanha, which meant we were stuck with the useless local guides on most game drives - they really were with the exception of one guide, completely useless and could barely identify common birds and almost never stopped the drivers, who in most cases were more skilled in wildlife spotting.

Of course this over-emphasis on Tigers resulted in a few Tigers being spotted, but that experience was often ruined by the number of trucks surrounding the animal, guides and drivers shouting at the top of their voices, engines screaming, jostling each other to get their clients in the best position for that perfect tiger photograph. Bit of circus anyway. Not that the Tigers seemed that bothered.

Sorry for ranting, but we weren't the only one's on the trip disappointed to some degree.

Having said all this, if your one aim is to see a Tiger and the Taj Mahal, then this is the trip for you. We may have been slightly to blame for our disappointment, by not missing more game drives and doing our own thing. Or indeed making it more clear to Kamaal earlier in the trip that we wanted to see all wildlife and not just Tigers. This might have made for a more relaxing and enjoyable trip. I would suggest that the 3 optional game drives aren't really needed, since the ones included are more than enough. The optional drives are also quite expensive and scheduled at the end of the longest travel days.

Hope I haven't put you off the trip. Hope you have a good trip!

Another thing to note is that when leaving India, you must change any spare cash [b]before security [/b]at Delhi Airport. Only Indian citizens can change Rupees in the departure lounge (and even they are limited to 5000 rupees per person). Luckily for us a very helpful fellow passenger changed our Rupees for us, otherwise we'd have been stuck with about £60 of Rupees and nowhere to spend them, except the Duty Free.

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