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Gujarat and Tadoba!- Now with fully priced out Itinery


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#1 kittykat23uk

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 05:50 PM

Hi all,

Some will know I am planning a return to India in spring 2013.

We had originally planned for Bandhavgarh and Kanha for tigers and other mammals, specifically dhole and sloth bear, possibly leopard and striped hyena, but we also have chance for those in Gir. However, the latest information that my friend has gleaned from her clients is that Kanha has been less producive than expected whereas Panna has produced some surprise sightings. This is what she says:

"Apparent from this watch tower at Ken River Lodge, Panna they saw porcupine and hare, they (the lodge) were regularly seeing Striped Hyena, but not on the nights that my clients were there. My clients were fairly certain that Hyena had been seen though.

Interestingly Bandhavgarh seems to have had better Tiger sightings than Kanha this spring in two different zones. I had one couple who stayed at Kanha and DIDNíT SEE TIGER in Feb!. It seems there was a lot of human activity and burning of the track edges Ė can you remember when we were there they were burning track sides also? I really wonder if the smell of smoke moves the animals out, as we really didnít have much joy (D.N. to note we saw three tigers on our last trip to Kanha)? Everyone has loved Earth Lodge as a lodge, BUT drive time from Lodge down a bumpy track to entrance of between 30 and 40 minutes has been an issue for some. Several have wanted Ĺ days off from safari drives, just to recover and stretch legs and avoid the bumping around and a half day free of dust. Obviously Kanha has benefits of Dhole, Gaur, (sloth bear hasnít been seen regularly there of late).


I am just wondering though whether we should go with Panna (for porcupine and may be hyena and a lovely river trip on the Ken River where my client had really close views of indian eagle owl and other things) and Bandhavgarh to avoid the comments about the long drive to get to the entrance".

What would be your views? we will definitely keep Bandhavgarh in there. I need to try nd ensure that the trip is appealing for others, but still keeps in the best sites for my key target mammals:


Indian Grey Wolf* (target site- velavadar)
Tiger (Bandhavgarh and Kanha or Panna)
Asiatic Lion* (Gir)
Striped Hyena* (Gir, Velavadar or Panna)
Leopard (any)

Sloth bear (any tiger park - we have seen in Kanha and Bandhavgarh)
Dhole* (Best at Kanha?)
Wild Ass*.

Porcupine would be a bonus!

with a good supporting cast of birds.

The * indicates species I have not seen before.

I have never been to Panna, but I have been to Band and Kanha. :D

Edited by kittykat23uk, 31 May 2012 - 06:31 PM.

If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
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#2 Sangeeta

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 11:17 PM

Jo, not sure how helpful this will be, but my brother just got back from Tadoba and reports that he had phenomenal tiger sightings there.

For striped hyena and leopard, would highly recommend Castle Bera in Bera, Rajasthan. Will be posting my TR soon, but thought I'd post this because you're in the planning phase.

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#3 madaboutcheetah

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 02:56 AM

Leopard - wall to wall Leopard sightings in Kabini (Karnataka)

if you are on FB - sign up to their Kabini FB page. They also have daily sightings report posted there (sometimes twice a day updates)

Edited by madaboutcheetah, 28 March 2012 - 02:57 AM.

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#4 kittykat23uk

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 06:37 AM

Thanks both, to be honest it needs to fit in with being relatively close to Bandhavgarh and the flight up to Gujurat. I've only got just over two weeks for this trip. The other reason Jo is now suggesting Panna is because the reserve is also a lot closer to the airport than Kanha. Meaning we would be able to get out to Gujurat in a day and not have to overnight at Delhi. :D

I believe Tadoba is in completely the wrong direction, unless you know of any airports near there that can make connections to Gujurat? What other sightings did your brother have there Sangeeta? Did he see Dhole or Hyena at all? Any leopard?

Castle Bera sounds great but I don't think I'd be able to fit it in with my plan, but useful info nonetheless for potential later trips (if I return to Rajasthan then Castle Bera would seem like a good site to choose for that).


Personally, I think it really would be a toss-up between Kanha or Panna on this occasion TBH so thoughts on which to choose would be helpful, though I'm currently leaning more towards Panna with less time there and more at Bandhavgarh.

Thanks

Jo
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
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#5 kittykat23uk

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 07:20 PM

Ok so if I summarise:



Our first option combining Bandhavgarh and Kanha would have:



6 safaris at Bandhavgarh

4 Safaris at Kanha

Part of an afternoon local exploration at Rann Riders

3 safaris at Ran Riders

4 Safaris at Velavadar

5 safaris at Gir



Option to book a further safari locally on day 17 if desired.



The new option of Bandhavgarh combined with Panna would have:



8 safaris at Bandhavgarh

1 evening game viewing platform at Panna to search for porcupine and striped hyena (looking to see if we could do a second night of this, is it a pay per activity thing?)

2 safaris at Panna

1 boat trip at Panna on the day we leave.

4 safaris at Rann Riders

4 or 5 Safaris at Velavadar

5 or 6 Safaris at Gir (depending on if we chose 4 or 5 at Velavadar).



Option to book a further safari at Gir locally on day 17 if desired.



So in total:

Each game drive is a half day.

Option 1 22 game drives and a part of an afternoon local birding.



Option 2 24 game drives, 1 or 2 evenings game viewing, and a boat trip and less travel.



Iím not sure whether to spend the extra game drive between Velavadar and Gir.



We do have more flexibility to add on one at Gir on the last day though so maybe we should have it at Velavadar.

Which trip do you think is more appealing. I'm leaning towards the second option.. :lol:
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
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#6 inyathi

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:12 PM

I assume as youíre going to Bandavgarh that youíre hoping to have good tiger sightings there and therefore tigers arenít necessarily a priority afterwards otherwise I would say itís got to be Kahna. I assume you already know that in 2009 tigers were declared extinct in Panna making it the second tiger reserve after Sariska to lose all itsí tigers to poachers. My first thought was that this would rather obviously suggest that itís not really going to be a great place to see tigers, however like at Sariska an immediate plan to reintroduce tigers was put in to action, according to what Iíve read two tigresses one from Bandavgarh and one from Kanha were brought in, followed by a tiger from Pench and then another two tigresses were brought in. Despite some problems persuading the tigers to stay in their new home there are now five adult tigers in Panna and they are apparently doing well and have produced lots of cubs though Iím not sure exactly how many. So maybe there is a chance of seeing tigers in Panna after all, I donít really know, in my experience trying to find accurate or up to date information about any of the Indian parks on the web (other than from news sites) can be quite difficult.

Iíve just had a look at the & Beyond website because they run a lodge at Panna called Pashan Garh and interestingly none of the relevant pages make any mention of tigers, they do though mention sloth bears, wolves, striped hyaenas and dholes. Certainly Panna would seem to be a good place to try and see a striped hyaena but unfortunately I would think that kahna is probably much better for dholes, I had good views of them there back in 04. I donít know about wolves in Panna but I assume youíre chances are pretty good in Velavadar. Judging by the & Beyond website Panna is also a good place for sloth bears although maybe they decided to promote Panna as a place to see sloth bears when they discovered after they acquired the lodge that there were probably no tigers left in the park.

If youíre not really going for tigers and Panna is going to be your best shot at seeing a striped hyaena then I would go with Panna Iíve not been into the park but Iíve stopped at the Ken River Lodge for breakfast and the river certainly looked beautiful and there are good birds there. If however youíve got an equally good chance of seeing the hyaena in Gir or Velavadar then I would opt for Kahna for the dholes, the barasingha and gaur (but then the gaur is one of my favourite Asian mammals) and because my impression is that wildlife viewing in Kahna is generally much better than in Panna. Though this last point might not matter if you only doing two safaris in Panna and then the boat trip which will be more about birds than other wildlife (I assume). Of course Panna is your only option for doing a boat trip, which could make for a pleasant change of scene at least being in a boat for a few hours might be preferable to being bounced around in a jeep. :)

So I guess perhaps it comes down to a choice between hyaenas or dholes and which you want to see more or which you think you will have the best chance of seeing, and maybe also how keen you are to do the boat trip on the Ken River.

I hope I havenít confused matters. :D

#7 kittykat23uk

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 06:35 AM

Not at all, you have just summarised nicely what I know about Kanha and also what I had assumed about Panna. Just to give a bit of background. This will be my fourth trip to India. Relevant to this trip, I have previously visited both Bandhavgarh and Kanha. I saw three tigers in each park on two different trips though I would say Bandhavgarh had the edge for me personally. This will be my first trip to Gujurat. Depending on who else joins me, this could be their first trip. I doubt it would be my last either.

All things being equal I would have no hesitation combining Kanha and Bandhavgarh, however, the issue of the burning in Kanha park is a concern, as I experienced this when I was in Kanha last time, and going by the experiences of this recent group, it seems like this does negatively affect the game viewing. Especially if it stops the elephants going out. In Kanha two tiger sightings were from elephants. Other members of my group got Dhole but I wasn't so fortunate that time. I'm less fussed about Guar, as I saw them before. But the predators would be nice.

But even though I have seen Tiger, I don't think a trip to India would be complete without one! That's why on the second trip it's weighted more towards Bandhavgarh, given we do not expect to get tiger in Panna. There is chance for both Hyena and wolf at Velavadar.

I think the boat trip would be a welcome change of pace from all the driving and I am a keen birder as well as liking my mammals. Plus it just seems we can fit in more game viewing activities this way and less time driving and waiting at airports.
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
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King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#8 kittykat23uk

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:13 PM

The Gujarat section is pretty well worked out but we are still working on the tiger safari. It looks like we have to swap the trip around to get the availability of the best guides to work out for us. So Gujarat will be first with tigers afterwards. This gives us several options which I thought I'd put up for comment.

My friend had originally planned out the tiger trip as follows:

Bandhavgarh and Panna:

Bandhavgarh/Panna

Friday 8th March: Rajkot Ė Mumbai Ė Delhi Ė overnight train
Meals: Packed dinner for on the train
You will have an early start today to check in at 0500 hours for an internal flight with Jet Airways (excluded from the price) from Rajkot to Delhi (via Mumbai) departing at 0700 hours. Here you will say goodbye to your guide. Your flight with arrive in Mumbai at 0805 hours and depart again for Delhi at 1005 hours, arriving here at 1210 hours.
Our representative will be there to meet you outside Delhi Airport (look for Wild About Travel on a placard as you leave the airport building). From here youíll be taken to Nizamuddin train station to catch the 1st a/c sleeper class train (Gondwana Express) from Delhi to Katni departing at 1535 hours.

Saturday 9th March: Katni - Bandhavgarh
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner at Kings Lodge
Your train will arrive early in the morning. Our representative will be there to meet you on the station platform (again look for Wild About Travel on a placard) and youíll be transferred to Kings Lodge, Bandhavgarh. Expect the drive to take around 2 Ĺ hours. Check in is officially from 12 noon, but earlier if your rooms are available and ready. Here you will meet Sanjay Thakur who will explain about the lodge, meal times and how the safari drives work. After breakfast those of you who wish can have a walk around the grounds locally with Sanjay. After lunch you can prepare for your first safari drive
inside Bandhavgarh National Park with Sanjay and/or one of the other Kings Lodge naturalists(Sanjay will alternate between jeeps, if numbers dictate having more than one jeep).
Night: Kings Lodge

Sunday 10th, Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th March: Bandhavgarh
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Enjoy both morning and afternoon jeep safaris inside Bandhavgarh National Park with Sanjay Thakur or one of his experienced lodge naturalists. Relax between safari drives.
Night: Kings Lodge

Wednesday 13th March: Bandhavgarh - Panna
Meals: Breakfast and lunch at Kings Lodge and dinner at Ken River Lodge
This morning youíll take your final jeep safari at Bandhavgarh, then after lunch youíll be driven to Panna for a two night stay at Ken River Lodge, sister lodge to Kings. Sanjay Thakur will accompany you on the journey which should take around 5 Ė 5 Ĺ hours. Staff will explain the activities that are in store for the next day and youíll have the chance to visit a viewing platform in the evening to look for Porcupine and Striped Hyena.
Night: Ken River Lodge

Thursday 14th March: Panna
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Today you will take two jeep safaris inside Panna National Park. In between safari drives youíll enjoy lunch and a boat trip on the Ken River, where you might be lucky enough to see Indian Eagle Owl and other species of birds.
Night: Ken River Lodge

Friday 15th March: Panna Ė Khajuraho Ė Delhi
Meals: Breakfast and packed lunch from Ken River Lodge, dinner at Hotel Justa

After breakfast youíll prepare to leave for the short drive to Khajuraho Airport to check in at 1125 hours for a Jet Airways flight departing at 1325 hours and arriving at Delhi Airport at 1620 hours. Our representative will be waiting outside the airport building (look for Wild About Travel on a placard) to transfer you to Justa Gurgaon for the evening. Enjoy dinner and relax for a final evening.

Sat 16th March: Delhi
Meals: Breakfast
This morning we have included a transfer to the airport. Tour ends.



But she has now come up with some other options adding on one day to the above:


Tadoba/Pench/Kanha

Fri 8th March 7am flight from Rajkot landing at 0805 at Mumbai and then Indigo flight to Nagpur. Arrive Nagpur and drive (4 Ė 5 hours) to Tadoba night at Tiger Trails Tadoba.

Sat 9th March am and pm safaris in Tadoba

Sun 10th March am and pm safaris in Tadoba

Mon 11th March am and pm safaris in Tadoba

Tues 12th March. (Tadoba closed all day). Leave after early breakfast and drive to Pench. Guess 4 Ė 5 hour drive. Pm safari at Pench. Night at somewhere decent. 1

Wed 13th March. Am safari at Pench. Pm drive to Kanha. Night Earth Lodge. 1

Thurs 14th March. Am and Pm safari at Kanha

Fri 15th March. Am and Pm safari at Kanha

Sat 16th March. Later breakfast, depart for Nagpur mid/late morning. Flight from Nagpur to Delhi. Night in Delhi at Justa Gurgaon. (I'm considering if possible to fly straight back rather than spend a night in the hotel if possible, but this way breaks the journey up a bit).

Sun 17th March. Transfer to Delhi airport for flight back home.



Or look again at Kanha / Bandhavgarh

Fri 8th March 7am flight from Rajkot landing at 0805 at Mumbai and then Indigo flight to Nagpur. Arrive Nagpur and drive (5 hours) to Kanha night at Earth Lodge.

Sat 9th March am and pm safaris in Kanha

Sun 10th March Am walking safari from lodge to break things up and avoid another day of two drives (this is something everyone is staying to do) and pm safari in Kanha

Mon 11th March am and pm safaris in Kanha

Tues 12th March. Am safari and pm walking safari from lodge (as tomorrow afternoon you also have long drive)

Wed 13th March. Am safari at Kanha. Pm drive to Bandhavgarh. Night Kings Lodge.

Thurs 14th March. Am and Pm safari at Bandhavgarh

Fri 15th March. Am and Pm safari at Bandhavgarh

Sat 16th March. Take early breakfast and drive to Khajuraho for early afternoon flight to Delhi. Night in Delhi at Justa Gurgaon.

Sun 17th March. Transfer to Delhi airport for flight back home.



Now, you'll probably know plenty about Bandhavgarh and it is a very reliable park for tigers. However, it gets very busy. I saw three tigers there in 2007.

Kanha is another park that is usually reliable for tigers. However, there has been a lot of burning the past couple of years in february. Not sure about March. Which has negatively impacted game viewing. That said, it has mammals not seen in Bandhavgarh such as swamp deer and Guar and also Dhole/sloth bear are more easily seen there.

Tadoba is an up and coming area. The latest news I've heard is that people have recently had phenomenal tiger sightings there as well as dhole. :D Guar, sloth bear have also been seen. Check out: http://www.tripadvis...aharashtra.html


Panna is probably not great for tiger but better for striped hyena and porcupine (though we should have a good chance for hyena up in Gujarat).

Pench is basically a very quiet park, I didn;t see much there but it is a good stop off point for breaking up the jouney between Tadoba and Kanha.

To be honest, I am leaning more towards the tadoba option on the basis of what the recent sightings have been like, and I've never been there before. I'd expect it would be quieter than Bandhavgarh or Kanha. One thing we haven't considered is whether it would be better to spend the time in just one tiger park or that might get too monotonous.? In which case I think my vote would go to Tadoba based on the above.

Be good to get some further thoughts on this though.
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#9 inyathi

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:54 PM

Kanha is another park that is usually reliable for tigers. However, there has been a lot of burning the past couple of years in february. Not sure about March. Which has negatively impacted game viewing. That said, it has mammals not seen in Bandhavgarh such as swamp deer and Guar and also Dhole/sloth bear are more easily seen there.


Just to say on this point that gaur have recently been reintroduced to Bandhavgarh, I donít what your chances of seeing them are but there now 18 free roaming gaur in Bandhavgarh though I donít know exactly where in the park they are and according to this blog another 31 have just arrived.

Gaur arrival in Bandhavgarh

Quite a few things happened in the park in last few days. Major activity was of arrival of more Gaur from Kanha. Now Bandhavgarh has total 49 Gaur, big and small.18 outside of enclosure and 31 inside.

I would guess that the other 31 will have been released from their enclosure by the time of your visit, of course if you go to Tadoba then you'll probably see gaur there.

#10 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:27 AM

Thanks Inyathi, That's good to know but to be honest Guar is down low on my list. I have seen them before in Kanha. But Tiger and Dhole are high and it's always nice to see sloth bear. :D :D Just judging by the amount of tiger sightings this year in Tadoba and sounds like dhole and sloth bear are also showing well there I'm thinking that would be the best bet for next year?? :D

Edited by kittykat23uk, 20 April 2012 - 07:28 AM.

If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#11 Sangeeta

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:30 AM

Jo, though my brother never got back to me about the details of his sightings, he raves about Tadoba each time I have him on the phone. I think that's a good choice.

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#12 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:35 AM

Yeah it was your news that has got me thinking, and with having to swap the tour around the benefits of combining Band and ending at Panna to get to Gujarat would have been negated. Now I'm seriosly wondering whether to spend all the time at Tadoba or combine with Pench and Kanha for this section. If we stay all the time at Tadoba, there will be one day when the park is closed. But then we would be loosing time driving via Pench to Kanha. We also need to think about how marketable the tour will be because we are looking for others to join. So it can't get out of control price wise. :D
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#13 Atravelynn

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 12:45 AM

Never been to Panna, but I thought Kanha was magical. Moreso than any of the other Indian parks I've visited. I really liked them all, but Kanha had a special quality. You are probably reaching a conclusion similar to what I did. Numerous trips to India are needed.
When you think of a rhino, think of a tree (African proverb)

#14 kittykat23uk

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 06:48 AM

Thanks Lynn. Yes this will be trip number 4 to India for me. At present we are going for Tadoba and splitting the time between Svarasa lodge and the more expensive tiger trails. We also will be marketing this as two trips that can be combined. Jo is concerned that the price for both is going to be too rich for a lot of her usual clients (India I think is still seen as a relatively cheap destination in comparison to Africa etc). But we are looking at 11 game drives in Tadoba in total which I think is far more than most people will have on standard tours. :D

Edited by kittykat23uk, 04 May 2012 - 06:48 AM.

If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#15 madaboutcheetah

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 02:23 PM

Kittykat23UK,

I have just returned from 3 nights at Tiger Trails in Tadoba. I must tell you it was fantastic and more ...... place itself is not luxury - but, believe me it is the best spot on the safari trail in INDIA. More details in the report to ensue shortly.

That said, i have no clue about Svarasa lodge. So, it would be unfair of me to compare.

Regards
Hari
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#16 Atravelynn

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 02:25 PM

Quite a tease Hari. Looking for more details.
When you think of a rhino, think of a tree (African proverb)

#17 madaboutcheetah

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 02:28 PM

Oops .... just got home from the airport two hours ago - will post some info tonite before i go to bed.
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#18 kittykat23uk

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 02:28 PM

Thanks Hari! :D Looks like Tadoba is really delivering. Plan is to spend half the week at Tiger Trails and half at Svarasa. :) Shame TT have put up their prices for next year :(
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#19 madaboutcheetah

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 02:35 PM

KittyKat23Uk, will definitely have some info up shortly. I recommend you talk to your agent to sort something out - trust me it's awesome!!!

Shall google Svarasa tomorrow to look up the info.

I don't think you need to book specific camps this far in advance, though ....... recommend you hang on!

Right now, for Tigers and sloth Bear i would not recommend any other reserve in India ........ If anyone is Tiger fixated GO TO TADOBA ...........

Edited by madaboutcheetah, 08 May 2012 - 02:36 PM.

http://500px.com/madaboutcheetah

Botswana in my blood .......

#20 kittykat23uk

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 02:38 PM

Actually they are already booking up by the looks of it. Jo has reserved some rooms now. :D
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”





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