Throughout our natural world, there are certain species that inspire genuine awe in those fortunate enough to see them in the wild. One of these is surely the tiger. Elegant, elusive, an unsurpassed predator, the tiger is a true master of its realm. While in recent years this king of the jungle looked as though it might pass into extinction, concerted conservation efforts throughout its Indian Subcontinent stomping ground have led to a resurgence in the wild population. On this tailor-made trip, you’ll join expert guides as you search for tigers in three of India’s preeminent national parks– Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench. In all three, you’ll stay at lodges perfectly placed for trips into the jungle, returning each day from included safaris to enjoy the likes of campfire sundowners and gourmet dining. And, this being India, we’ve also included stays in four of its finest cities, giving you the chance to experience the colour and clamour of Delhi, the temple jewels of Jaipur, the Bollywood glamour of Mumbai and that most iconic site of all – Agra’s Taj Mahal.
Begin your holiday in style as you’re whisked off to the airport in chauffeur-driven luxury before relaxing, pre-flight, in a VIP airport lounge. Then, board your flight to Delhi, arriving on day two.
Arrive in Delhi where you’ll be met for an included private transfer to your hotel, whose sprawling lawns and swimming pool framed by cabanas and sun loungers provide a wonderfully relaxing contrast to the city bustle outside. Perhaps spend the rest of your first day in India indulging with poolside cocktails and fine dining that spans everything from rich curries to tried-and-tested international favourites before embarking on a full-day tour of the city on day three, accompanied by an expert local guide. Along the way you’ll explore the city’s rich history and clash of cultures showcased in ancient temples, thronging markets and imposing forts.
This morning, a private transfer will bring you across the plains to Agra, the erstwhile capital of the great Mughal Empire. During its 16th- and 17th-century heyday, the city was a centre for arts, science, commerce and culture, it’s status echoes in a collection of impossibly grand architectural masterpieces, not least the impressive Agra Fort – arguably India’s finest – and, of course, the iconic Taj Mahal. You’ll have the chance take in twice, first in the evening as the glow of setting sun casts its changing colours across the building’s white marble façade, then again, the next morning at sunrise, when this ultimate monument to love is at its evocative best. You’ll then head on, through vibrant streets and past busy markets, to Agra Fort where your expert guide will introduce you to its former royal residences.
Heading south, your private driver will bring you first to the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, its audience halls and temples providing a further glimpse of the Mughal’s flair for architecture on the grandest scale. You’ll then head on to Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital where a chaotic maze of city streets is framed by the likes of incense-scented markets, pretty pink-washed havelis and spectacular Rajput palaces. It’s all the backdrop for your private guided tour on day seven, which begins with a drive to the city’s desert outskirts for a visit to the magnificent Amber Fort, its terraced ramparts looking out to sweeping views of Moata Lake. You’ll then return to the city centre to explore the collections at the City Palace Museum and visit the Palace of the Winds and explore Jantar Mantar – one of India’s five great observatories.
Head back across the Rajasthan desert to Delhi for a further night in the capital before your flight to Madhya Pradesh. Spend the rest of the day relaxing at your airport hotel as you look forward to a full week of national park adventures further south.
Stay: JW Marriott, Aerocity
It’s time to leave the colour and chaos of the north behind as you board a flight to Jabalpur for a private transfer on to your luxury Relais & Château lodge in a secluded corner of Bandhavgarh National Park. Here, across two memorable days, you’ll begin your quest to see tigers in the wild, joining top guides and trackers on included jeep safaris deep into the park’s vast forests, which are home to the highest density of tigers in India. You’ll also look out for sambar deer, barking deer, hornbills and kingfishers before returning to your lodge for poolside relaxation, indulgent spa treatments and the chance to relax in your private villa complete with sunken outdoor bath and a veranda looking out across the forest.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included
After breakfast and a final morning game drive in Bandhavgarh, you’ll head on to Kanha National Park and your next luxury lodge – the delightful Siginawa. Set in 58 pristine acres, each of the lodge’s 12 slate-stone cottages offers complete privacy, while dotted throughout the grounds, small watering holes are favourite spots among the native wildlife. You’ll be introduced to the local flora and fauna by knowledgeable owners Nanda and Latika, both avid wildlife enthusiasts. Each day, between included meals and soaks in the heated pool, you’ll head out on game drives in search of tigers, langurs and leopards, taking in the park’s meadows, forests and lakes from remote dirt tracks and spectacular viewpoints alike.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included
A final included game drive in Kanha is followed by a transfer to Jamtara Wilderness Camp in a secluded corner of Pench National Park. Overlooking the forest, the camp’s ten luxury tents are decked out in classic safari style, with roll-down panels to let in the light, and en suite bathrooms for those must-have creature comforts. There’s even the chance to sleep out on your private veranda, with nets and hot water bottles on hand to keep out the mosquitoes and cold. Or, for an even more special jungle experience, book a night in one of the camp’s star beds for the chance to sleep right out in the jungle. During the day, classic safari activities are complemented by a full spread of intriguing alternatives, from village tours and expert-led nature walks to cookery classes and cycle hire. There’s also a pool, perfect for cooling off after a long day’s exploration, while included meals are taken under the shade of a 250-year-old banyan tree.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included
End your stay in Madhya Pradesh with a final game drive before an included transfer to Nagpur and a flight to Mumbai. It’s an old cliché, but Mumbai really is a city of contrasts, home to India’s glamorous film industry, the country’s highest population of millionaires and also Asia’s largest slums. Check into your hotel before exploring the city at your own pace, perhaps taking in the grand architecture of the Gateway to India and the Victorian railway station, or taking a stroll along the sweeping curves of Chowpatty Beach to pick up some delicious bhel puri from a local market stall.
Leave India behind as you transfer to the airport in time for your flight home, arriving the same day. On arrival, you'll be met for your included chauffeur transfer, right to your front door.
"I've put this luxury itinerary together to really showcase some of India's greatest travel icons. While many tours take in the Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – and tag on a trip to Ranthambore National Park for a day or two, this trip offers far more opportunities to spot tigers in the wild, with luxury stays in Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench. "
Low Season from: £3,635 pp
High Season from: £4,240 pp